Tag Archives: IATEFL

Why Jane?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is the English most beloved writer. I admit that I have lost count of how many times I have read Pride & Prejudice and of how many film  adaptations I have seen. I am simply addicted to it. I have also read Emma and Sense and Sensibility a number of times and I never get tired of them. On the contrary, every time I meet her characters my love and hate for them grows exponentially.

Shakespeare is by all means our most revered  writer, the most talked about and the greatest of them all. Undisputable. The Lord of the Rings is the nation’s favourite book, according to a BBC survey. Totally agree! But Austen is our dearest one. Why is it so? Why do we love Liz Bennett and Mr Darcy so much? Why does Emma infuriates and enchants us?

To try to explore some of the possible answers for these questions, this week we are having a discussion on Jane Austen at the IATEFL LMCS SIG Yahoo  Group fielded by Laurence Raw. As he puts it,

From the first publication of Pride and Prejudice to recent film versions of her life and work, Jane Austen continues to provoke controversy and inspire fantasies of peculiar intimacy. Whether celebrated for her realism, feminism, characterisation, imagined as a conservative or someone challenging the existing relationships between the sexes, Austen generates passions from readers all over the world – passions not only shaped by her readers’ trends and beliefs, but by her memorable stories, characters, and narrative techniques. This week’s fielded discussion will look at why she continues to be so popular, both as a subject for reading, as well as in the cinema, on television, and in the classroom.

To join the Group and the discussion, please go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LMCSSig/

Hornbies in Glasgow

For the ones not familiar with the Hornby Trust , here goes some basic information. The Trust was created by A.S. Hornby, who was also the creator of the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary, with the objective of helping teachers from less developed countries and countries in transition to further their studies in the UK. Every year the Hornby Trust and the British Council award scholarships to teachers to do their MA degrees in a partner academic institution in the UK. I am an Alumnus myself: I did my Masters in TESOL Education at the University College Plymouth St Mark and St John in 2008-09 thanks to a Hornby Scholarship and I have very found memories of that. More information is available on the Hornby Trust website.

Every year, as part of their programme, Hornby Scholars organise a group presentation at IATEFL Conference. This year’s Hornby scholars presented their ‘experiences of how aspects of ELT work successfully in very different contexts across the globe.’ Aspects explored included ‘ways of teaching, motivating learners, educational leadership and planning, and ELT materials design. They showed what factors support their success and help ELT work in action.’

Here is an interview with this year’s scholars. Fadhel Abdullah from Yemen, Evelin Ojeda from Venezuela and Timothy Bata Hyna from Nigeria  where they share how they became Hornby scholars and the experiences they’ve had in the programme so far.

And  here is the interview given by Awgichew Arega and Getachew Melaku Yitbarek from Ethiopia where they discuss their research on teacher development from both an autonomous and a structured view point.

However, Hornby Scholars work and involvement with the larger ELT community does not end when they go back to their countries. On the contrary, once a Hornbie, always a Hornbie! Alumni also have the opportunity to come back to the UK to present their work at IATEFL and here are the sessions given by three of them.

Florence Muluh,  from Cameroon, presented on ‘Overcoming the challenges of teaching speaking in a multilingual context.’ In her session she  discussed ‘research carried out into the teaching of English language speaking skills in Cameroon secondary schools. This showed that small-scale changes in teachers’ practice could improve the learning of speaking skills.’ She also presented ‘some of the interactive speaking activities that these teachers then developed to complement the coursebooks in use.’ I attended Florence’s session and I was really impressed by her work.

Laxman Gnawali, from Nepal, presented a session called ‘Showcasing a trainer preparation programme for ELT.’ This session ‘discussed how teacher trainers are prepared in the Nepalese context. It looked at the local conditions and how the course has been developed to meet the local needs. It discussed how participants themselves reflected on the course and put what they learned into practice. It also discussed particular lessons to help others establish a similar programme.’

Kalyan Chattopadhyay, from India, is also an Alumni  and presented a session called ‘Social networking sites for CPD of Indian English teachers.‘ He focussed on ‘how Indian English teachers are using a variety of social networking sites in their social lives and professional contexts. Drawing on that, he suggested ways to make pedagogic use of these sites for supporting teachers’ continuous professional development, and demonstrated how they may fit into teacher development programmes.’

The 2011-12 scholars are: Awgichew Arega Abebe (Ethiopia), Getachew Melaku Yitbarek (Ethiopia), Baka Timothy Hyua (Nigeria), Yosra Hamid Abdelkareem (Sudan), Hawpage Dona Bimali Niroshini (Sri Lanka), Mala Palani Palanichamy (India), Manisha Kundanmal Dak (India), Evelin Amada Ojeda Naveda (Venezuela), Ricardo Llanos Garcia (Mexico), Nargiza Kuchkarova (Uzbekistan), Akhter Jahan (Bangladesh), Yohana Gratiana (Indonesia), Fadhel Mohammed Ahmed Abdullah (Yemen), Nadeem Abdulbaqi Abdullah Al- Murshedi (Yemen). Facilitated by Martin Wedell (Leeds University).

Language Learner Literature Awards 2011

The photos below were taken during the Extensive Reading Award Ceremony this year at IATEFL in Glasgow.

Aladdin – adapted by Gill Munton, illustrated by Kristin Varner. Published by Macmillan.

Judges’ comment: It is amazing that this well-known story is absorbing and fun.

Just So Stories – by Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Elizabeth Ann Moore, illustrated by Daniele Fabbri. Published by Black Cat.

Judges’ comment: These enchanting stories have the incantatory quality of oral literature and are simply a delight to read. Easy and engaging. Gorgeous illustrations.

A Little Trouble in Dublin – by Richard MacAndrew. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Judges’ comments: This exciting book features a set of twins in Dublin, in Ireland, on a school trip, and a false bank note. The clever twins solve a mystery that has an unexpected ending.

The Everest Story – by Tim Vicary. Published by Oxford University Press.

Judges’ comments: This was one of the most interesting non-fiction readers we have come across for a long time. It will be of interest to most young adult readers. Mount Everest is eternally intriguing, and here, the mountain itself is like a character from a novel.

Dragons’ Eggs – by J M Newsome. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Judges’ comments: Excellent storyline, very good development of characters, this story is pitched not only at the right level, it will also appeal to the major target group of readership, young adults. This book is hard to put down as it takes you on unexpected paths.

Robert O’Neill,  recipient of The Milne Innovation Award 2011.

Thinking in the EFL Class

This is the title of Tessa Woodward’s new book for Helbling. I am writing about it because I attended Tessa’s workshop at IATEFL and it was one of the best presentations I have been to in the conference.

First of all, Tessa really knows how to get people with her because she is really enthusiastic about what she is presenting. She is natural, spontaneous and honestly engages with the audience. Secondly, she bears the hallmark of a good teacher trainer: she never patronises her audience  and makes everyone feel that they are constructing the session together. And this was exactly what she did when she worked with some activities that are in her new book.

I gave a talk on using imagination in teacher education in Harrogate, but that was all from the theoretical point of view. What Tessa did was to demonstrate, in practical terms, that imagination, thinking outside the box, and playing with language can be fantastic ways to promote language development, reflection and critical thinking.

What I also liked was that, in spite of being all-tech, I really believe that the best activities are the ones that require low technology and rely mostly on people’s imagination and creativity. Tessa’s activities required almost nothing apart from paper & pen and our brains. Just brilliant!

I just have one regret: I didn’t have a copy of her book at the time and missed the chance to get  an autograph. Too bad!

Woodward, T. 2011 Thinking in the EFL Class. Helbling.