Jack’s plenary focussed on competence and performance in language teaching and the implications for teacher education and it is his belief that in order to plan for the professional development of English language teachers, we need to have a comprehensive understanding of what competence and expertise in language teaching consists of. We also need to look at what essential skills, knowledge, values, attitudes and goals language teachers need, and how these can be acquired.
Jack’s plenary explored these questions by examining ten core dimensions of skill and expertise in language teaching: language proficiency, content knowledge , teaching skills, contextual knowledge, language teacher identity, learner-focussed teaching, specialized cognitive skills, theorizing from practice, joining a community of practice, and professionalism.
Joining a community of practice and the role of teacher associations in supporting beginner teachers was something I was also keen to ask him about. Enjoy the interview!
Jan Blake has been a storyteller for twenty-three years, touring, performing and inspiring others to get up and tell a tale or two themselves.
In her own words: “Despite what might sound an obvious job description – storyteller – there’s often confusion about what that actually means. When I tell people I’m a professional storyteller and that I perform stories for a living, I often hear, ‘What does a storyteller do then?’ So let’s explore the what, why, and how of storytelling; and in turn use this to discover how stories and storytelling can enhance your own experience and enjoyment of performing in the classroom.”
Jan was everywhere at ISTEK, telling stories not just in her plenary but also when we were out visiting Istanbul. See Luke Meddings’ account of Istanbul on Ken Wilson’s blog.
Jan specialises in stories from Africa and the Caribbean and has a reputation for dynamic, witty, and exciting storytelling. In addition to performing at all the major storytelling festivals, she works regulary with the British Council, leads storytelling masterclasses for emerging storytellers, gives workshops for teachers and school children, and devises teaching tools through storytelling for English language teaching.
Jan is not an ELT person but it was an inspired choice to invite her to be the opening Plenary speaker at ISTEK. She set the tone for the rest of the conference and joined in all the events including a great performance at the Karaoke night. Thanks Jan for coming and really setting the conference alight with your incredible storytelling ability.
Stop! Think before you test! Mark wanted in his session to get teachers to reflect on the exam choices they make, given the huge market that there is in “external” exams.
His talk was encouraging teachers to stop, reflect on and scrutinise their chosen communication tests – to look at the ingredients, not just the label – and to ask themselves: ‘What do we want to know about our students’ communication skills? Is this test telling us what we need to know?’
There are many competencies in being a proficient user of English and Mark urged us to look closely at exams to see which particular competencies are focussed on in different exams and then to decide which are appropriate for which context. Mark has wide experience in language exams and it is good to know that Mark thinks that more communicate exams are having a very positive backwash in student performance.
Mark is a professional linguist and language consultant who has been involved in the field of ELT for some 20 years now. During his career, Mark has worked with a wide range of learners, from young children through to adults, in a broad range of educational settings, from language schools to teacher training colleges and universities, working as a teacher, lecturer, teacher trainer, school manager, academic researcher and examiner.
Enjoy the video.
Judy Boyle was somebody I had never met before, neither had I heard of THE NO project.
In general, people still know little about the extent of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and all credit to Burcu Akyol for including this in the ISTEK programme. Human trafficking is a crime of unbelievable cruelty, one of the fastest growing crimes on the planet and one which generates massive profits for traffickers through the torture, dehumanizing and forced exploitation of other human beings.
The NO Project is an independent anti-human trafficking public awareness initiative thatfocuses on the role of increasing demand for labour and sex trafficking victims and it also targets youth awareness through music, the arts, education and social media as Judy mentions in the video.
Judy’s workshop was received very well and has led to more initiatives as you will hear in the video. The conference was enriched by Judy’s presence and I hope that this video will contribute more to what it is a horrendous activity and one which we should strive to eradicate from our planet on all fronts. Thanks Judy for your contribution.
Jeffrey in his ISTEK session focussed on an often neglected area in our profession which he talks about in the interview and it has been through working with such groups as “The Disability Access Campaign” during his time in Greece that he has come to recognize the true importance of teaching the skill of Critical Thinking.
“When we can question the world around us and look at our environment, not just the physical one, but all of them that we exist in, that we can really learn to create and become a part of a better society. If I can help spread this group’s message, started by my friend and colleague Paul Shaw of Thessaloniki, Greece, then I am doing something good beyond my classroom. Please feel free to contact any of the addresses listed and learn more about us.” Jeffrey Doonan
Below the video you can read about the Disability Access Friendly Campaign. You will be able to find out more about it on
http://www.disabled-accessfriendly.com/ the website is under construction at the moment. They also have a facebook page Disabledaccessfriendly and can be reached on email@example.com
It was great to meet Jeffrey and I hope this inspires people to take more interest.
The Disabled Access Friendly Campaign
“The best schools have always done more just prepare students for tests. They raise awareness of the world in which we live and try to make it a better place.” Dr. Luke Prodromou
Philosophy of the campaign
To encourage language teaching that raises awareness of the needs of people with physical disabilities.
To sensitize children to the needs of people with physical disabilities, both in and outside the classroom.
The best schools already extend the work they do in language teaching to raise pupils’ awareness of the society in which they live and try and make it a better place. This awareness of the world in which we live and the belief that through their own actions students have the ability to make improvements, is at the heart of education. People with physical disabilities are currently disabled more by infrastructure, other people and their attitudes than by their own physical situation. Only by showing children that people with disabilities do not have to be an invisible minority, but vibrant and valued members of society, can we expect future generations to want changes. Only by providing children with the information necessary to allow them to put themselves in other people’s shoes, to understand others and to feel what others feel can we expect those changes to be made. Only then can the future become a more enlightened one.
Scope of the campaign
Foreign Language Centres and Schools
Children with mobility problems
This campaign is aimed at privately owned Foreign Language Centres, where the vast majority of children attend in order to learn foreign languages, usually English. The campaign is aimed primarily at children with difficulties in walking and in wheelchairs.
Aims of the campaign
To provide teachers with materials
To encourage improvements in accessibility at educational facilities.
The campaign aims to provide teachers of foreign languages (not just of English), with materials that can be used in teaching and skills building as well as examination practice, but that will at the same time raise awareness about issues affecting people with physical disabilities. Also, language centre owners will be encouraged to make small changes to their premises so that students (and teachers) with physical disabilities will be able to enter and leave their premises with dignity and ease, and participate in the centre’s activities. These efforts will contribute to forging stronger bonds between the Foreign Language Centre and the community.
How do we do this?
Website with materials and information
Forum to share experiences
The campaign’s website (www.disabled-accessfriendly.com) is addressed to both people with and without physical disabilities as one community. It provides Foreign Language Centre owners with useful information on the needs of students with physical disabilities, provides teachers with materials and worksheets for use in the classroom, and provides all of us with a forum to share our experiences either as, or with, people with physical disabilities.
Anna was one the people I watched ISTEK with last year, but she was in Greece and I was in Hungary. It was an amazing experience and one which I will never forget. We both went in for the roving reporter competition when it was announced, we both got to the voting stage and thankfully we both ended up in Istanbul.
I was interested in asking Anna about how it felt like to be actually in Istanbul this time as well as about her session.
Anna, together with Marina Kollatou, did a workshop entitled ” Is the kid Inside You Alive? This is the Workshop for You” It was about teaching young learners as they started teaching very young learners in Greece this year and they put the participants in the role of young learners. You can see Anna’s slides from her talk here.
Anna is a keen tweeter and one of the many people I met in Istanbul face2face for the first time. It makes such a difference to actually meet up and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we run into each other at another conference but we’ll definitely keep up online.
I caught up with Valentina on our Bosphorus boat on the last night. Valentina had been one of the best tweeters and retweeters during the conference. We hadn’t had a scheduled interview in our makeshift conference “studio” but I really wanted to interview her about her ISTEK session.
She looked at different ways of handling learner accuracy and discussed the challenges and opportunities which arise from the digital permanency of learner “mistakes”. She also looked at how the web-based platform English360,of which she is the learning manager, can enhance and personalise the learning experience even more.
Check out the English360 website http://www.english360.com/ and enjoy the inteview with Valentina with the disco raging downstairs and the Bosphorus bridge changing colour in the background.
“As the best teachers are learners themselves, professional development for practising teachers is essential regardless of the stage in their careers. What does professional development stand for? Is it attending lots of conferences and workshops? Is it taking part in institutional induction programs or training sessions? Is it observing peers or being observed by teacher trainers?”
These were the questions that Burcu was addressing in her concurrent keynote session at ISTEK and she explains here how she likes to use food metaphors. We are at different stages in our careers and Burcu wanted to offer different recipes for teachers depending on where we are in our career trajectories.
It was good to be reminded that there are as many conferences as teachers present and that it is good too to also see conferences from other people’s perspectives.
Enjoy Burcu speaking about her keynote performance.
Nicky Hockley is the Director of Pedagogy of the The Consultants-E and Gavin Dudeney is Director of Technology for The Consultants-E. Check out their website here http://www.theconsultants-e.com/ Both Nicky and Gavin have made an enormous contribution to our profession in their role as teacher trainers and writers and have inspired thousands of teachers to try out different new technologies both inside and outside the classroom.
At ISTEK they were looking at recent developments in mobile and handheld learning (mLearning) and the rationale for bringing connected, mobile devices into the classroom.
Gavin and Nicky won the prestigious Ben Warren Trust Prize in 2008 for their book “How to Teach English with Technology” and I always recommend their work to students of mine who are writing both MA and BA dissertations on using modern technology in ELT. Enjoy the interview.
I didn’t have much opportunity to go to sessions at ISTEK apart from the plenary talks as I was doing interviews all the time but one person I singled out to go and see was Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken. Check out her website. I emailed her beforehand, went to her session and then interviewed her. Our interview is 10 minutes long, longer than nearly all of the others but I felt that Deniz was and is one of the key people in ELT in Turkey and that she would deserve more time.
Her session was “Hi, This is My Space Calling”. What particularly alerted me to her session was the part she described in the programme as “My Space keeps calling yet our lives are often engaged or we are not available. We know that our well-being matters; that our happiness affects all aspects of our lives; and that our motivation and inner peace is a prerequisite for greater effectiveness in our work.”
Trying to understand quality of life inside the classroom was something which inspired me to start blogging and I really enjoyed meeting up with someone who seemed equally motivated to find out about what this is and what it might depend on.
The other special thing about Deniz was her emphasising the importance of reading around and outside of ELT for fresh ideas, there aren’t many people either who draw on birdwatching for terminology in their ELT work.”
I wish Deniz all the best in her work and with her book which is just out and entitled “The Less Easily Definable in Effective Teaching. Thank you for the interview Deniz and for allowing me a glimpse into your work. One thing I also read about was that Deniz was the first graduate of the PhD in ELT methodology at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara in Turkey in 2000.
In many countries it is an uphill struggle to get ELT methodology recognised in universities as being a serious area of study and hats off to anybody who manages to further our profession in institutions which aren’t always sympathetic to what we are doing. I hope you enjoy the interview it’s worth staying with for the 10 minutes.