IATEFL Liverpool 2013

Posting this a bit too late because life at IATEFL is too intense and there is hardly time to sleep here. Anyway, first things first.

Monday was the day of the Pre-Conference Events organised by each SIG. Unfortunately, I had to sort out some things at the University before coming and I just arrived quite late in the afternoon. This means that I missed most of the presentations of the LMCS  event that was on Beckett and Pinter. Fortunately, though, I could still catch Alan Pulverness showing creative ways of getting students working with Pinter.The good news is that all the presentations will be soon be uploaded to the LMCS website and papers on the presentations will be published in the next issue of the LMCS newsletter. In the evening we had the official opening with a reception and time to see friends that i usually only see once a year at IATEFL. Believe me is more or less like meeting your extended family after a long time. Then dinner – thanks Philip, Jeremy and Judy for a lovely evening.

Tusday was the first conference day per se and certainly the most intense of them all this week. It kicked off with Professor Crystal’s opening plenary of blending. If you are not sure what that means in terms of language, check it here:

The first session I attended this year was Vicky Saumell’s ‘Attracting a real audience for learners through e-publishing’. Vicky shared with us brilliant web tools to help our students to publish their work online. Just great! Click here for the slides of her presentation and here to follow Vicky’s blog. After that I attended Jeremy Harmer’s brilliant and provoking presentation of the parallels between practising music and practising language. the question he asked was, ‘Is there any connection between music practice and language practice?’ Jeremy interviewed amateur and professional musicians, conductors and music teachers and asked them how important it is to practise and how do they practise playing their musical instruments. The implications for the way we expect our students to practise language can be significant.

In the afternoon, it was the time to attend the Hornby Scholars’ presentation. I think it is very important to listen what people who work in Less Developed Countries telling us about their teaching contexts and struggles. For me it does help to put lots of things into perspective. I will devote an entire post to that in the weeks to come and give you more details of the work on the Hornby Trust then. The evening was devoted to the ERF reception and awards ceremony, but that deserves a special entry.

Besides the general conference programme, Wednesday was the Literature, Media and Cultural Studies SIG Day. The programme started with Jez Uden on ‘Making the jump from graded readers to ungraded novels.’  Jez responded ‘to Honeyfield’s (1977:431) question whether the use of graded readers really promote[s] learning by providing for a smooth progression to full English.’ Jez reported on his case study involving four learners who engaged in a graded reading programme. To know more about Jez’s work, check the seminar he conducted in 2011 for the British Council: Café culture in ELT: the importance of reading for pleasure.

This was followed by Julie Blake presenting ‘Poetry moments: 10 mini adventures into language, voice and culture.’ Julie first showed us a couple of interesting websites to work with poetry and them made us do some short fun activities to explore the language of poetry using the ‘wealth of free resources available on the Poetry Archive website. Next in line was Claudia Ferradas presenting ‘Empowering teachers to become designers of intercultural tasks.’ Claudia shared the ‘initial results of a teacher development programme aimed at empowering teachers in diverse areas of Argentina to express their identity in English and design activities to develop intercultural awareness.’ After that we had Judy Steiner presenting on the Israeli national programme for teaching literature integrating it with high-order thinking skills (HOTS). she shared with the audience the challenges and on implementing a programme that aims at promoting high school learners’ engagement and learning autonomy through the use of literature.

After that, we had the SIG Open Forum followed by Andy Curtis’ ‘When film studies met language studies: new technologies, new literacies. Andy showed us how he uses very short scenes of films to discuss language, culture and identity. In his talk he focused on scenes of The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks. Last but not least. we had Thorsten Morse discussing gay-themed literature in the EFL classroom. he offered the audience some ‘hands-on criteria for selecting literature from the field and demonstrate[d] the potential and challenges for [exploring] such texts in class.’

It was very diverse, dynamic and engaging day and the quality of the presentations was really good. I hope people attending it have enjoyed as much as I did