Session Reports by Anna Conway

My name is Anna Conway and I am delighted to be chosen to be one of British Council's roving reporters for the Glasgow IATEFL Conference 2012.

I was born in Yerevan, Armenia and was doing my BA in American Studies when I had a job offer to teach English to 18-19-year-old sportspeople at the Olympic School of Yerevan. I loved the job so much that I decided to become a professional English Teacher.

From 2001 to 2009, I worked in Kazakhstan and Russia as an in-company teacher of General and Business English. In Kazakhstan, I also designed and delivered Training Courses for Russian-English-Russian Interpreters in Presentation skills.

In 2009, I came back to Armenia and have been teaching English to adults and also training teachers.

In terms of Professional Development I have done a CELTA course and a British Council Course in Learning Technologies for the Classroom.

Over the last few years, I have become very interested in online teaching and my aim now is to become a moderator on online courses.

My next project is to write a multi-level Russian Language Course book for non-native speakers.

 

Gavin Dudney started the final plenary and said that 50 000 people visited the site yesterday, 400 000 page views with Turkey surfing the site most.

And then it was time for Derek Dick (Fish)

His songs have been translated into 7 languages and have been used in the classrooms and even have been a university thesis topic.

Derek said: As a kid I hated English lessons (they were reading and writing back then). As an adult Scotsman, I understood that you need to learn English properly.

This workshop with Jane Harding da Rosa was very inspiring, it also made us all feel energetic and put us all in a good mood.

 

This workshop with Sarah Milligan was particularly interesting to me. I have never given webinars only attended a few but I would like to take online/blended teaching one step further.

The first question discussed was "Why give webinars?" Webinars are easy to access, useful for professional development, for collaboration with teachers around the world and they are fun! 

It is the last of the conference today and quite a few people have already left Glasgow. The conference centre feels empty as I am walking around the exhibition hall and the centre itself.

All the exhibiting companies are packing their stuff and OUP are giving away cups of chocolate.

 

The talk by Geoff Hardy-Gould was about how to become comfortable with challenging our students because, apparently, there are teachers who "shy away from" making their students feel challenged or are worried that their students will think that their teacher is being unfriendly by making them do something more difficult than usual.

 

The talk by Suzanne Cloke was about tools to use when teaching pronunciation, something that many of our learners are struggling with.

 

I will not go into the statistics because I would like to share the advised sites with you. Suzanne advises to practice pronunciation with students systematically. She did it over 10 weeks for an hour and half with two groups of her Italian learners. As listening and pronunciation go together, by the end of the course her students imrpoved their listening skills by 95% and their pronunciation skills by 91%.

 

This was a fantastic talk given by Jeremy Harmer. It was actually quite a funny one too. Jeremy Harmer has such a great sense of humour.

 

During his talk Jeremy read 6 statements and we had to stand up if we agreed and stay in our seats if we disagreed. The blog entry will be very long if I go into details of what has been discussed during this session. So I thought I will just post the questions and then if you are interested we could discuss them through comments.

 

So the questions are:

1. Does a good teacher have to be tech savvy?

Steven shows a picture of his tiny daughter sitting in front of the computer and typing something being very concentrated. As Steve says she has managed to send out some emails to his contacts from his email account. :) This is the proof for what he said previously: Technology use starts early! Funnily enough my younger son also manages to do such things on the computer that it makes me wonder where he gets this knowledge from. Is this perhaps some kind of inborn ability that modern children have? How else could they be computer-literate while still 2 or 3 years old?

 

As a big fan of PLNs and PLEs, I got up early today to get to SECC by 8am for Nik Peachey's 'How to...' session. The conference centre is so quiet at this early time in the morning that it feels a bit strange.

-Personal Learning Network is really about people who you learn from and connect to, - says Nik Peachey at the beginning of his 'How to...' talk. 

Although I have been using Prezi for quite a while, I decided to go to the session mainly because when I met Hakan in the morning he said that even for people who know how Prezi works the workshop will still be interesting. And he was right!

I actually only used Prezi for presentations or summaries but Hakan Senturk's workshop made me see other possible uses of this great web 2.0 tool. Hakan uses Prezi to develop his learners' reading skills and I think it must be enjoyable for his students.

The talk by Ruth Hamilton caused a lot of debate around what teachers need to be able to do when starting to teach.

 

The talk is being given by Rachel Clark and Madeleine du Vivier and is focusing on 4000 word writing assignments in DELTA Module 3 course.

Actually while I was doing my CELTA course I found the writing assignments quite daunting although they weren't as long. So I imagine how stressful it may be to write the assignments for the DELTA course.

Apparently as failing rates were high due to failure to complete the writing assignments, there was a decision to change the approach to setting the task and helping course participants. Some of the changes have been:

 

This is only the second day of the conference but there is already a sense of community among the participants. It is so nice to go down to the restaurant for breakfast I meeting people to discuss the sessions that we have been to and sessions that are still to come then to get together to travel to the Conference Centre.

 

I was especially intereseted in Przemyslaw Stencel's talk about real versus online classroom as I myself find that online teaching has so much more to offer to the learner than traditional teaching.

 

This talk focused on some of the applications of Facebook in teaching.

 

At first Evelina Miscin gave us some social networking vocabulary to discuss in pairs and to decide what they are for and what they do. We had a lot of fun doing this task. Some of the abbreviations were hard to understand. Social swarming and social networking fatigue are easy to understand. But how about MoSoSo and SoLoMo? Can you guess what they stand for? We had a hard time trying to work out what they were and failed. :(

 

This talk was given by Iffaf Khan who designs and teaches IELTS courses online. As an IELTS teacher I was very interested in this talk as I cannot imagine how effective an online IELTS course would be. 

Nikolina started the session by asking participants to work in pairs and draw/discuss what culture is. This kind of appraoch made everyone to interact and get to know the person sitting next to them.

The Conference has started and now we are listening to the first Plenary Session by Adrian Underhill.

Adrian started with a great joke about IATEFL conefrence going in between Sting and Fish performances and put evrybody in a good mood straight away. 

His advice to teachers that I loved was 'Give up trying to be interesting; instead try to connect!'

Adrian Underhill played the guitar at the beginning and the end of the talk! 

The songs made everyone laugh and I think everyone is ready to go to the talks and workshops of the day.

 

IATEFL 2012 is soon to commence and I am having a problem.

 

I have spent quite a few days looking through the Conference Program trying to decide which sessions I would like to attend. The answer? All of them!

 

Well, that's impossible you would say. I know that. So I tried to narrow down my choices to at least three for each time slot and then to choose from those three. Failed. I cannot choose sessions that I wouldn't want to attend. They all seem so interesting to write a report about and useful for professional development.