I don't know whether the new format – 30 minutes for talks, 45 minutes for workshops – is the way to go. I felt 30 minutes presentations (including mine) were somewhat rushed while 45-minute workshops didn't have anything workshop-y about them. I stupidly put myself down for a talk and had to cut my presentation by half from its original 60 minute length - as it was given at TESOL France 2012. To do so I had to get rid of all the interactive bits – not of the "talk to the person sitting next to you about what you had last night for dinner" variety but tasks where I ask participants to think of one-word equivalents for multi-part verbs or brainstorm the mistakes their learners make that may be caused by lexical voids (yes, I explain the term in my talk). But some, longer presentations I saw did not have any interaction with the audience and, in my opinion, did not merit the tag Workshop. Perhaps in future the organisers should make it clear - and be strict about – what constitutes a workshop. For example, this TESL Toronto programme makes a clear distinction between different types of sessions – scroll down to page 3.
Surprises and disappointments
Penny Ur and Jeremy Harmer's double act at the pre-conference event (PCE) organised by TTED SIG restored my faith in PCEs. Although I couldn't imagine two speakers with such radically different presentation styles, Penny and Jeremy struck the right balance between the amount of input and "output" giving us, the participants, plenty of time to discuss their ideas in groups and feed our conclusions back to the audience.
The British Council's forum on Continuous Professional Development (CPD) highlighting CPD activities in three different countries was logically organised and masterfully weaved into a coherent thread by Jane Cohen. Among other presentations by the British Council colleagues there were two presentations on using video: by Susanne Mordue and Sirin Soyoz who introduced lots of useful websites (still need to check out www.simpleenglishvideos.com and www.esl-lab.com/videoclips.htm) and Elana Boteach Salomon and Jonathan Rickard who shared lots of practical ideas - see the recording here.
As usual, the conference wasn't without a share of disappointments - and I am not talking about a severe lack of catering points at the venue. There was one session held in the biggest auditorium (capacity: 850 people!) where the speaker, whose name I won't mention, rushed through her slides apologising all the while that she was running out of time and finished within 30 minutes instead of the allocated 45. Constant references to the language learning experience of her four-year old grandson - an L1 speaker - in a presentation on L2 grammar learning, whose title didn't match the title in the programme, didn't help either.
Am I a closeted dogmetician?
- I tweeted from Willy Cardoso's talk. Willy addressed the issue of published ELT materials not reflecting the dynamic nature of the curriculum in a room with a heavy presence of the Dogme crowd. Unlike Willy's session, there were surprisingly no Dogmeticians in the audience at Nick Bilbrough's talk on working with emergent language in writing, which I also enjoyed. Otherwise there was clearly "the coursebook strikes back" feel this year with Hugh Dellar, Rachael Roberts and Herbert Puchta – all coursebook writers – arguing that teachers can focus on emergent language without necessarily chucking the coursebook out of the window. The Dogme vs coursebook stand-off culminated in a lively debate between Scott Thornbury and Catherine Walter which you can see here.
Social lifeI find that the more I go to IATEFL the more I benefit from networking and interaction with members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) - teachers from all over the world - and the breaks between the sessions are never long enough to catch up with all my friends. Thank you all with whom I had a chance to interact - over lunch, drinks or at the karaoke night - for making the conference special.
|Lunch at Revolution in the Albert Dock with (from left to right): |
Naomi Epstein, Sue Annan, myself, Katie Davies and James Taylor
Photo by Sandy Millin
Memorable quotes"Seductive approach to teaching grammar" - Paul Seligson referring to Contrastive Analysis as a missing link in addition to deductive and inductive approaches
"PPP - Present Practice Pray" - Paul Seligson again
"PPP is like Margaret Thatcher; it's always there" - Anthony Bruton answering a participant's question about what PPP is (Present-Practice-Produce)
Chia Suan Chong proved once again that she is the most prolific ELT blogger turning out session summaries in real time - often while the sessions were still in progress! See her summaries here
More IATEFL summaries, including one of my talk, can be found here on Jonathan Sayers's blog
Sandy Millin was tweeting extensively from the conference - you can read recaps of her tweets and session summaries over on her blog: