This post actually started its life as a summary of talks after IATEFL 2014 Harrogate which I never got around to posting. Do other people do this too-start a post then never post it? Last year I actually had more unposted posts that I started and never published than ones I got around to finishing!
So anyway, with this year’s IATEFL fast approaching, I thought I’d look back and see which of last year’s talks have stuck with me and had an influence on my day-to-day teaching.
There were so many amazing ideas at IATEFL Harrogate; I kept meaning to go online and watch some of the sessions I had missed, but I never seemed to have the time, let alone find time to revisit my notes and websites for the ones I attended.
The three themes that have stuck in my mind this past year and influenced the way I teach are to try to incorporate more film clips into my lessons, think about how I teach listening and pronunciation, and to use more technology to improve my students’ speaking. Here is a summary of some of those talks and a collection of websites with useful resources from some of the ones I went to.
Using images and video clips
Probably the most practical session that I went to and one that I quite regularly incorporate into my lessons was on using short film clips from the website:
http://film-english.com/ by Kieran Donaghy.
This site has lots of short film clips and ready-made lessons. An absolute gem.
I always meant to try to incorporate memes into my teaching or start using readers with my classes after attending ‘Using Memes’ by Nina Jeroncic and a presentation by Black Cat on integrating film and readers, but somehow never got around to it.
Listening and pronunciation
My students often complain that listening in class is easy but as soon as they walk out of the classroom into London, they can’t understand anyone. Why is there such a discrepancy and what can we do as teachers to help them? I went to quite a few talks that addressed helping students understand authentic listenings and different pronunciations, and although I left inspired, I’m not sure it has translated into practical lesson activities or me being a better teacher of either listening or pron. I’m looking forward to hearing more at this year’s conference and exploring this area more. Websites of my favourites:
ELF Pron by Laura Patsko and Katy Davies
http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/ by Sandy Millin
http://speechinaction.com/ by Richard Cauldwell
Using technology to encourage speaking
I went to a few sessions where practicing teachers explained which technology they have used with their students to get them speaking and how well it worked. I’m not sure if I’m inspired to use any of the websites/apps with my students, but it is always interesting to share personal teaching experiences. This past year I have tried a few new apps but mainly relied on getting my students to record themselves in whatever built-in recorder they had on their phones. These sessions did though confirm the relevance of using technology to get students to make progress and build confidence in speaking. More importantly, like all of IATEFL, they provided a chance to share ideas with teachers from around the world, comparing contexts and experiences, sharing expertise, and developing and redefining best practice. Bring on IATEFL 2015!