Our résumé

Sitting on the airport and waiting for the next flight to be announced, Marisa and I reflect on the past few days in Glasgow. We have seen many new people and experienced a bunch of new methods. Before the trip we did not know what to expect (we couldn’t even answer the question on the first day in the interview about IATEFL) and now we know how precious this experience was for us. We have learnt so many new things, we are full of ideas and now even more excited about becoming a teacher. All the speakers seemed to have so much experience and knowledge about their fields and it is awesome to listen to them. They made us reflect more deeply on teaching English as a foreign language because they were so enthusiastic and all the other teachers around us from so many different nations encouraged us to discuss new things. We talked to many British teachers but also to Russian, Italian and Brazilian teachers. It is so inspiring to hear all these people and their stories from their own countries. What really stroke us is that the teaching methods in those countries basically work the same even though they happen to be in different institutions and environmental surroundings. We could definitely recommend IATEFL as an annual “Freies Wahlfach” because it is crucial to gain such an experience in order to raise awareness that there are so many different approaches to teaching. Not just those that we are taught. We hope that everybody enjoyed the conference like we did and we would be grateful to join another one within the next years.

Marisa & Sophie

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This week has been so great! We learned so many new things and met inspiring teachers from all over the world 🙂

Sadly this excursion is coming to an end, but before we leave the country i want to share some pictures of the last nights in Glasgow 🙂

After collecting so many booklets and freebies packing our suitcases was a challenge 😉

Infected with IATEFL-power!!

IATEFL

Attending the IATEFL conference is one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve made on my way to become an English Teacher!!! The choice of talks and courses throughout the day overwhelmed me! To start the day with a plenary session is a great idea because everyone gets together and the plenary sessions were so inspiring that I got hungry for more exciting talks! 😉

Over 2500 English teachers attended this conference and some of them were not just visitors, but also lecturers. It is an awesome idea to give teachers from all over the world, with different backgrounds and different teaching environments, the opportunity to present their strengths in front of others and to exchange ideas and teaching methods. This conference provides a great chance to expand everyone’s personal horizon! The atmosphere at the conference was so encouraging and exciting! I always got the feeling that I want to learn more about English language teaching and about all the different perspectives to consider!

The conference was very good organized! The IATELF app was a great way to get a good overview of the planed sessions and talks. Furthermore the program was really diversified and it was almost a challenge to decide on which talks to attend. During our breaks we got the opportunity to walk through the materials exhibition and that was really interesting too because there was a wide range of books for learners of every language level. It was also very nice that there were staff members at every corner who could help us to find the way to the next talks.

I can’t believe that today was already our last day at the IATEFL conference! But I am sure that I’ll come back because I’m infected with the IATEFL-power!

Conference insights

Everyone asked us students whether we were enjoying the conference. I am of the opinion that everyone of us answered – honestly – with what normally one has to say when someone asks you to marry you: “I do!”. To begin with, I loved the plenary speeches. The best were definitely J. J. Wilson’s and Sarah Mercer’s talks. They were so inspiring and motivating for us as future teachers. Especially Sarah focused also on the strength of the teacher which everyone of us likes – praising oneself. J.J. Wilson’s talk was about social justice. Not only is this topic important in our career where we might have to deal with children from different backhgrounds… He also managed to persuade us. His presentation was so good because of his stories and jokes that I would have believed him everything. Since I am quite a romantic person I was really caught by the fact that he presented a poem which he absolutelly loved… And he told us that he found this text so good that he decided to marry the writer of the poem. How romantic is that? 😍 However, I did not only like the plenaries, I also liked most of the other presentations. I just want to mention the talks about pronunciation. All of the presentors of those speeches were so entertaining and since we in Austria don’t really focus on pronunciation, I found some ways about how we still could integrate this competence as well into our teaching. We learned that it is not so important if you as a teacher speak an accent as long as you are consistent and self-confident in the use.

If I had to find one word that describes the conference, I would pick the word inspiring. I think that especially the plenaries were really motivating and encouraged us as future teachers again and again. I was so reinforced in my decision of becoming a teacher so I don’t think that we will struggle a lot after having seen the motivation and fun at this conference…

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The usual behaviour at the conference: some are heading to a talk or workshop, others are returning from a forum and everyone is happy about having the possibility to see this event.

 

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

Travelling through Space and Time

If anyone is wondering how life would have been as a teacher years ago, the Scotland Street School Museum is just the right for you!

Yesterday, Verena and I decided to check it out and we were both gripped and delighted by that highly interesting museum. The building used to be a school during the 20th century and was designed by Charles Mackintosh. After its closure in 1979, it was restructured as museum, where school classes from different periods of time can be seen.

Typically designed classes from Victorian age, the 50s and the time of the Second World War are exhibited in that former school. In particular, the class of the Second World War caught our attention since I did not know how the war really affected schools and teachers. I must confess that it was a little bit oppressive to read through all the stories, told by former students who visited that school during the Second World War. Also the fact that the students had to wear gasmasks in boxes around their neck was pretty scary… Still, it gave a great insight into the historical background of British schools.

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By the way, the classrooms can also be rented for some hours by schools. So, if you have time and money left at the end of a school year, you can go there with your class and react a typical school day in former times.

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Funny fact at the end: Boys and girls were not allowed to visit the same classes. They even had to play on different playgrounds during the breaks. They even had separate entries for school!!!!!!! (on the picture above we can see the entry for BOYS) Weeeeeeiiiird Past!!!!! 😛

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Last day…

After a lot of good talks and even better plenary sessions it is our last day at the IATEFL conference. The day started with a talk about intonation. Jane Setter is a great speaker and told us how important it is to teach intonation. She even provided us with some fun ways to do it:


If you are interested in more songs you can find her on YouTube.


My second session was “Let’s listen to the learners” by Brian Thomas. He talked about giving students more choice. Give them several activities so they can choose one or let them find a text to read in class. His time management was not the best so we could not hear the end of his session. So next time you teach and your time management is a bit off, don’t freak out, it happens to the best… 😉


The best talk of the day was “Motivational teaching” by Nicholas Thorner, not only because he started his session with handing out chocolate to motivate us but also because he had some brilliant tips for us. He talked about how studetns can be motivated and how demotivated students feel.


He also mentioned that simple tricks like a good task sheet can help them. If you have a easy starter exercise they can finish easily it will help them gather motivatin for the more involving exercises. Also include some rewards if they hand in homework several times in a row.


And for teachers it can help to make your lesson plans look more fun. The one he showed us is also avaliable online, if you can’t read it on the picture.


Nicholas Thorner has also written a book if you are interested in more tips. Motivational Teaching.

My last workshop of the day was about TED talks. If you want to read more about that you have to read Christina’s post.