David Crystal's Question and Answer Session

Sanja Bozinovic's picture

A few hours after the plenary session a group of teacher met for the follow-up session with David Crystal.
The first question was about positioning the verb early in the sentence to make it easier to process the load of information in the sentence - a teacher wandered what happens if our students' mother tongue is one of the languages that have that kind of sentence structure that actually makes it easier for them to deal with the long beginning before the verb. Professor Crystal mentioned some research in the field and replied that the issues like this are to be addressed by the experts in the field of teaching and his role as a linguist is only to spot the issues and make the teachers aware of them. 
There was also an interesting question about which of the many varieties of English the teachers are to teach. Professor Crystal reminded us of the fact that there are more and more varieties because different kind of English evolves in different parts of the world because of the speakers' characteristics, different accent, stylisic variations, cultural background, etc. It affects teaching: we can decide which variety we teach in terms of production, but when it comes to comprehension, we can't ignore the varieties, we must expose our students to various of them. The teacher's decision about which varieties the students will be exposed to must be based on the needs analysis. The professor also spoke about the role of literature which makes public the distinctiveness of the local variety, it means the institutionalization and what was considered breaking the rules becomes accepted.
 It was a short session, too short for all the questions the teachers had prepared and only the luckiest and the quickest got their questions answered.