Tag Archives: Harrogate 2014

Creativity in language teaching

I see teaching and learning as intrinsically creative activities. They require from all those involved the capacity of thinking in different ways, taking risks, and changing a present situation into something else because, otherwise, there is no learning. Nevertheless, it is no unusual for teachers and learners to get stuck in classroom routines and be driven by the need to perform well in examinations which take the novelty, experimentation, creativity and fun out of the process. Having these things in mind Alan Maley and Chaz Pugliese have  brought a group of like-minded people together to think of ways of promoting creativity in language teaching, we are calling ourselves the C Group.

One of the first initiatives of the C Group was to organize a symposium on creativity at IATEFL where six of us presented on different aspects of creativity in teaching and learning. Here is a summary of the presentations.

Creativity – for a change Alan Maley (Freelance) Creativity is much proclaimed but little practised. Teachers suffer from the twin plagues of routine and institutional control. In his presentation, Alan suggested  that more creative forms of learning and teaching are possible. He  focused on constraints, heuristics, improvisation and the random principle as ways of rendering our teaching more creative.

Getting our students in flow: the creative teacher’s ultimate challenge Chaz Pugliese (Freelance) We’re in a state of flow when we’re so immersed in what we’re doing that we become oblivious to anything and anyone around. But what can a teacher do to promote flow? In this session, Chaz analysed a few useful strategies to design activities that are rich, enjoyable and may help the students pay attention and stay focused.

Why do we still need creativity in a language class? Hanna Kryszewska (Pilgrims Language Courses, Humanising Language Teaching Magazine) Humanism and other schools of thought considered creativity a vital component of learning and teaching. At present, creativity seems to be less prominent. Has it become obsolete? This talk focusesed on reasons for and ways of promoting creativity in EFL in the 21st Century, with reference to Gardner’s recent theory of education (Five Minds for the  Future).

Putting the human centre stage Mark Almond (Canterbury Christ Church University)
Mark talked about how the focus in language classrooms around the world has moved from
person-to-person interaction to person-to-screen interaction. He argued that, though much of the new technology available to teachers is quite staggering in its innovation, more meaningful, richer and creative communication should be going on between the people in the room.

Creative reading in teacher development Chris Lima (University of Leicester) In this talk, I discussed how integrating the reading of literary and creative material into teacher education and development programmes can give ELT professionals the opportunity to better understand the role of literature in language learning, participate in discussions of relevant issues, engage with different points of view, and develop their own language skills.

Creative use of the coursebook Brian Tomlinson (Anaheim University) Brian demonstrated how teachers can stimulate their learners to be creative by using their coursebooks in creative ways. He showed how consciously articulating principles of creativity can generate a menu of creative activities which can help the teacher and the students to come up with ideas for using each coursebook unit in novel ways.

Alan Maley also gave an interview to the British Council Harrogate Online where he talks about the importance of creativity in the ELT industry and introduces the C Group:

To visit the C Group website, click here

Hornby Scholars at IATEFL

‘The name of A.S. Hornby is highly regarded in the ELT world, not only through his publications and ideas on teaching methods but also through the work of the A.S. Hornby Educational Trust, set up in 1961. This was a farsighted and generous initiative whereby a large proportion of Hornby’s income was set aside to improve the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language, chiefly by providing grants to enable English teachers from overseas to come to Britain for professional training.’

The Hornby scholars this year presented How assessment influences the classroom teaching and learning of English. Research over several decades into the test washback and impact agrees that the content and format of English language assessment may influence classroom English teaching and learning in complex ways. In their talk the current scholars discussed how English language learning is assessed in schools in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. they looked at the influence of assessment on classroom teaching and learning, examined common factors and differences between the countries, and proposed how assessment practices might be best used to promote learning in these contexts.

The Hornby scholars this year are: Simon Ruiz Hernandez (Venezuela), Saraswati Doradi (Nepal), Tomas Andujar (Cuba), Zainab Cengiz Umaru (Nigeria), Santi Budi Lestari (Indonesia), Deepa Ellepola (Sri Lanka), Dame Diop (Senegal), Abayneh Haile Mengesha (Ethiopia), Patrick Musafiri (Rwanda). Facilitated by Martin Wedell (University of Leeds).

Here are two interviews given by some of the scholars for the British Council IATEFL Online. In this first video Hornby Scholars are talking about their experiences and the processes they had to go through to become scholars. They also have some helpful tips for anyone thinking of applying for a scholarship.

Dame from Senegal, Yasir from Sudan and Simon from Venezuela give an overview of some of the issues affecting English teachers in their countries, and what is being done to support those teachers.

Dame from Senegal, Yasir from Sudan and Simon from Venezuela give an overview of some of the issues affecting English teachers in their countries, and what is being done to support those teachers. – See more at: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/sessions/2014-04-04/interview-simon-ruiz-dame-diop-and-yasir-el-hag-hornby-scholars#sthash.hppo6Wr3.dpuf
Dame from Senegal, Yasir from Sudan and Simon from Venezuela give an overview of some of the issues affecting English teachers in their countries, and what is being done to support those teachers. – See more at: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/sessions/2014-04-04/interview-simon-ruiz-dame-diop-and-yasir-el-hag-hornby-scholars#sthash.hppo6Wr3.dpuf

Three Hornby Alumni will also be presenting. The alumni are: Kuheli Mukherjee (India) presenting on Hornby Scholarship Impact on Teacher Education in West Benegal and May May Win & Tara Siddhartha (Burma) presenting on Leading Teacher Development Programmes in Burma.

Hornby Alumni have been quite active during the conference indeed. As the culmination of a discussion process started 2 years ago at IATEFL Glasgow between former scholars  Laxman Gnawali and myself and the Trustees. A working committee has now been established to carry out establishment of the Hornby Alumni Association.  The official announcement of creation of the Association was made  during the Hornby dinner on 3rd April at the Jinnah Restaurant in Harrogate.

The working party consists of Harry Kuchah (photo), Laxman Gnawali, Natalya Eydelman, Kuheli Mukherjee, Kalyan Chattopadhyay, and myself. More news on this soon.

Literature matters at IATEFL

Starting with the Literature, Media and Cultural Studies Pre-Conference event on Tuesday. We had a full day reading and discussing World War II in literature, film and song. It was a very moving and at the same time entertaining day. Alan Maley and David A. Hill guided the 25 participants through many pieces of WWI poetry and a reflection of the lasting influence of the conflict in politics, policies, and our views of the world. Papers and classroom activities used in the workshops will soon be published in the LMCS SIG Newsletter, so if you want to have access to a number of fantastic activities to explore WWI in literature with your students, join the SIG to get your copy.


The LMCS SIG Day was on Friday and you can see the presentations that were part of the programme below. Presenters will also be writing papers based on their presentations  which will be then published in forthcoming issue of the SIG  newsletter.

Literature and learning technologies: an experience in pre-service teacher education
Mariel Roxana Amez (IES O. Cossettini – ISPI San Bartolome, Rosario, Argentina)
Mariel showcased tasks and activities, based on digital technologies, implemented in
literature classes in pre-service teacher education in Rosario, Argentina, and the selfassessment of online performance through criterion-referenced instruments. She also
invited reflection on the contextualised development of e-competencies in new learning
environments as a means to contribute to learner autonomy. Very interesting indeed!

Graphic narratives: ideal choice for both reluctant and ambitious readers
Janice Bland (University of Vechta) The traditional skills that can be exercised with literary texts include text analysis, literary interpretation and learning to change perspective. Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, remediated as Scorsese’s prize-winning film Hugo, offers the EFL classroom more. Janice discussed the narrative and cinematic devices employed in the book, and how and why they appeal to the EFL student.

Versatile beginnings Elsbeth Mader (Private School, Switzerland) In this hands-on interactive workshop, Esbeth tapped into your own creative potential and find out how the beginnings of novels can help you to exploit your students’ imaginations, while providing them with practice in all four skills and raising their language awareness.

Remembrance and memorials: constructing cultural memory. Alan Pulverness (NILE) Warhorse or Regeneration? Birdsong or Blackadder? How have novels and films  contributed to the construction – or reconstruction – of national memory? Focusing on the gap between the experience of war and its memorialisation, in this workshop Alan showed showed ways in which the classroom can develop critical reading skills and awareness of key cultural concepts.

Reading for pleasure: a path to learner autonomy? Amy Brown (International House Newcastle) Through the experience of establishing an extensive reading (ER) library within the Personal Study Programme (PSP) at International House Newcastle, this talk Amy reflected  on how we can use ER to promote and support learner autonomy as a whole. She discussed the practicalities and pitfalls of such an approach and review experimentation with a reading-aloud group.

Mariel and David on the LMCS SIG Day

Mariel Amez and David A. Hill on the LMCS SIG Day

We also had our SIG Open forum on Friday when the SIG committee members told participants about the SIG’s current finances and state of affairs and about the initiatives for the year ahead. A sad note was to say goodbye to David A. Hill as the coordinator of the SIG. David has guided us for six years and is now stepping down to take care of personal issues. I want to publicly thank David for his support and for being such a great friend. The good news is that David will keep supporting us from a little bit afar and also keep writing his literature column for Voices.

I am now at the helm and counting on the support of both my current colleagues in the SIG committee and the new members coming aboard. More SIG news soon.



IATEFL presentations recap

IATEFL is always a bit overwhelming. There is so much going on at the same time that it is utterly impossible to attend everything that is worth attending. Here is a summary of the some presentations I manage to attend and also some that I missed but I believe are worth mentioning. Apologies to some of the friends for being absent – I am sure you sympathize. If you want to know more about the presentations and the work people mentioned below have been doing, I suggest you try to contact them directly.

Read, play, love changing perceptions of L2 reading Andreea Pulpea (British Council Jordan). Andreea shared activities that ‘encourage reluctant readers to engage with texts, develop autonomy and gradually change reading behaviours. Her survey of Middle Eastern learners revealed negative perceptions of reading (solitary, boring, forced). These were challenged through interactive, fun, exploratory activities that help build life-long skills, involve minimal resources and are suitable for all levels.’ Well-done Andreea.

Using drama to improve creative writing in the ELT classroom. Alicja Galazka (University of Silesia, Educational Centre FUTURE). In this practical workshop, participants learned how to use selected drama strategies such as hot-seating, freeze frame, thought–tracking and conscience alley for stimulating creative writing. Drama can help writing by the presence of tension, the degree of engagement, time for incubation and a strong sense of purpose.

Building academic language support for international students
James Beddington (The University of Winchester). Tracking the (re)development of English Language Support in Academic Contexts (ELSAC)  at the University of Winchester, this talk described the support services offered to  students who do not speak English as a native or academic language. The presenter explored the development of these services, their uptake through academic literature, personal reflection and feedback from service users, and subject tutors.

Building a student-generated glossary in the EAP classroom
Patrick McMahon (Plymouth University). This talk described how the presenter built a student-generated glossary of subject-specific  vocabulary, by collecting the vocabulary that students had picked out of newspaper articles and presented in class. he also discussed a number of other benefits that were derived from using ‘newspaper article talks’ in the EAP classroom.

A guide to pseudo-science in English language teaching
Russell Mayne (University of Leicester) This focused on aspects of English language teaching which have little or no scientific credibility. Practices such as neuro-linguistic programming, learning styles, multiples intelligences and brain gym will be examined. The presenter asked why, despite the evidence, these approaches/methods remain popular. He also included a guide to spotting pseudo-science in education. Russell managed to stir some healthy controversy among the audience indeed!

Narratives: to enhance university prep students’ English Esma Asuman Eray (Isik University, Istanbul, Turkey). This session was about storytelling in university prep classes. It aimed to show how stories and storytelling are effective when teaching learners new words and helps them enhance their English, using and recalling these words referring to previous research. There was also collaborative storytelling with pre- and post-activities by sharing practical ideas to be used in class.

Academic writing materials: from research to online delivery. Adam Kightley (British Council) & Hilary Nesi & Sheena Gardner (Coventry University) EFL research often fails to filter down to learners, resulting in materials with little theoretical grounding. The ‘Writing for a Purpose’ EAP materials, free online, are based on an analysis of a new classification of the student assignments which make up the BAWE corpus. The talk took participants from the creation of the corpus to the finished materials.

Acquisition versus performance: reconceptualising plagiarism in English for
academic purposes. Olwyn Alexander (Heriot-Watt University) Scholarship and plagiarism are positive and negative aspects of academic practice. Often the teaching focus is on plagiarism, assuming that weak skills and language deficit give rise to inappropriate use of sources. Access EAP: Frameworks focuses instead on demonstrating scholarship, viewing students as novice members of a community of practice, learning its norms of behaviour.

Ways of promoting creativity in the classroom. Maria Victoria Saumell (Instituto San Francisco de Asis). This session explored the current issues regarding creativity in education, especially for teaching and learning a language. What is creativity? Who can be considered creative? What are the barriers to creativity? Vicky shared her experience of different tips and strategies for promoting creativity in the classroom with the help of web tools.

Teaching English for Academic Purposes :insights from experience
Penny Ur (Oranim Academic College of Education)This session presented some practical recommendations growing out of a feedback questionnaire completed by participants, as well as Penny’sown reflections on teaching an advanced academic English course. Most of the session was devoted to open discussion, during which participants in the session contributed insights from their own EAP experiences.

Popularising the classics: creative activities inspired by the movie industry
Robert Hill (Black Cat Publishing) Classic stories are often filmed, and some of the ways used by the film industry to popularise the classics really make students think and be creative. Rob showed us how to exploit film posters as well as taglines and loglines – those short, exciting texts used to promote films. The stories referred to are all from Black Cat’s graded readers. Rob is my favourite IATEFL presenter and I find it a delight to attend his talks – it was the cherry on the top of the cake on Saturday morning.