Our last day at the IATEFL conference

Our last day here in Glasgow started off with rain and pronunciation. The plenary talk in the morning was rather uneventful in comparison to the other ones we’ve heard. Jane Setter talked about the importance of intonation and introduced us to the three Ts: tonality, tonicity and tone. Many of the things she talked about we had already familiarised ourselves with in our Advanced Pronunciation courses. The baseline was that Tonicity (element of focus) is learnable/teachable, but it’s very difficult.

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Afterwards we had a short meeting with the group where we discussed upcoming publications… 😉 Then a few of us where set on attending sessions at the Crowne Plaza Hotel when suddenly the fire alarm went off and the building was evacuated. Luckily, no one was hurt and we quickly found a replacement for our session.

That replacement session opened our eyes to the various ways of dealing with literary classics in school. The focus was on cross-mediality. Max von Blanckenburg explained that the various adaptions of classics should be used in the classroom more frequently, not to challenge the original text, but to broaden the understanding of the work and construct meaning. He also challenged our views by saying that learners don’t even need to read the same text. Using different version of a classic in different media-forms can help cater to students’ preferences and abilities. It can also bring new perspectives to a classic and foster multi-literacy. During such a reading project a teacher should define meeting points for everybody along the storyline to make sure all the students are on the same page. Of course using multiple cross-media versions of a text is a lot of work for a teacher, however, it has many positive effects that easily outweigh the additional workload. First of all, students can have a say in what adaptation of a text they’d want to read, which is also very motivating. Secondly, students can read in and out of class and such reading projects provide new material for discussions and opportunities for reflection.

The last session of the conference for us was about “Teaching with Tremendous Tongue Twisters”. In this workshop a nice Estonian/Dutch lady introduced us to creative ways of using tongue twisters in class. Did you know, for example, that the British Council website has its own section for tongue twisters? Here’s one of them: Kitty caught the kitten in the kitchen. (Say that three times fast J) We were told how to include tongue twisters in Grammar lessons and how to use them for vocabulary building and pronunciation practice.

Here’s a few tips on how you too could use them:

  1. READ IT word by word, student after student, three times in a row and get faster every time
  2. READ MY LIPS: choose one word and mouth it without sound and let your students guess what it is. You can also do that in groups where students have to guess each others’ words.
  3. ADAPT: change verbs, nouns, names, plural/singular forms or just add adjectives depending on your needs. You can also let them make up their own tongue twisters.
  4. START FROM THE END
    g. kitchen
    the kitchen
    in the kitchen
    kitten in the kitchen
    the kitten in the kitchen
    caught the kitten in the kitchen
    Kitty caught the kitten in the kitchen
  5. CREATE STORIES based on your tongue twisters.

The great thing about tongue twisters is that they aren’t just fun but also work with all ages and are easy to include into your lesson.

With this language adventure we officially ended our conference experience on a high note and went on to explore the beautiful Glasgow.

xx Marcella and Julia

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