Today we had the opportunity to listen to a stunning plenary session held by JJ Wilson. His rhetorical skills were just amazing and apart from that he had a very important message to tell. In his presentation he talked about social justice issues and how essential it is, to include these issues in class. In order to achieve this, he presented a “guideline”. First of all, we could use images to raise awareness that there are oppressed people all over the world and how this effects our society. Furthermore we could use literature, roleplays as well as community project methods in order to support the importance of social justice. As a last point he focused on storytelling and how important it is, to continue storytelling because a story is the only thing which could last for more than 10 000 years. In the conclusion JJ Wilson claimed that English Teaching is not just about the language, it is also about bringing global issues into the classroom.
After the impressing plenary session I attended a talk by Kieran Donaghy which really inspired me! He talked about empathy in language teaching and how we can step into our students’ shoes. To be empathetic is a very important skill in communicative language teaching. He showed us many practical examples how teachers as well as learners can be more empathetic. As a teacher it is essential to reveal things about ourselves and our life. In addition to that, trivial matters such as smiling and showing humor about ourselves can create an encouraging atmosphere. He also stressed the importance to get to know our students and to remember personal things. In order to support our learners to improve their empathetic skills, we should give them the opportunity to slip into other characters while a roleplay or to ask them empathetic questions. We should give students time to slip into a new character because they can develop their character much better than.
The IATEFL conference really expands my horizon and I gained a completely new view of the complexity of English language teaching!