Conference Update (III)

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Following the Professional Development Day on Tuesday, in the last 2 days I have attended (and been awake during Smile Regular in Conference Update (III)) 17 presentations including two 75-minute keynote addresses.  Speakers dealt with topics ranging from:

the use of Interactive Whiteboards (IWB),

teaching collocations (so-called “language units/chunks”) as opposed to solely teaching discrete lexical or grammatical items),

issues of needs analysis in designing Business English courses,

to reports on projects based on empirical research looking at: 

the effectiveness of the use of the European Language Portfolio

classroom-based observation and

teaching with technology.

I also listened to talks by Jeremy Harmer (author of “The Practice of English Language Teaching – one of the very first books I read about English Language Teaching pedagogy), Scott Thornbury (author of “How to Teach Grammar” which some of us in the English department use or have browsed and which is available in the library) and David Crystal (author of “English as a global language” which I use as the main source of background information in my World Englishes Level 3 English class). I must say that I really appreciate the fact that most presenters (the ones I have listened to so far) have been very practice-oriented, attempting to relate theory to practice.

Two areas of focus which stood out for me in these sessions were:

the idea of us shaping conditions for helping students through their struggle to establish a place for themselves in the future (their “imagined”/”aspiring to” future) in the way we “invest” them in the learning experience within the classroom (in the way we empower them) and the view of teaching in multiple ways (to address multiple literacies/intelligences) which helps students take greater ownership of their learning.  In addition to these key issues, motivation also came up as an important theme in language learning with some speakers suggesting that the classroom teacher can promote motivation in the very way he/she creates a stimulating atmosphere in the classroom and most importantly by the way he/she helps students to make the meaning they want to make, where they become real people in real experiences.

Any comments on these issues?  They are full of debatable ideas. What feel do you get of the conference (through my eyes Smile Nerd in Conference Update (III)).Will look out for your comments.Tanyasha Yearwood.

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