What do the teachers do at the weekend?

Occasionally…very occasionally, we all go to a conference.

That is what Sam, Amanda and Noel did on Saturday 10th May. It was a good one, at Canterbury Christ Church University. Keeping up to date with developments in English teaching is something that we all like to do, and it helps if there is plenty of coffee and a good lunch on offer. In this case, there was.

But the main business of the day was the workshops. There were some famous names there, though students might not know them. We even have big fish in the English teaching world, you know. Sam heard a talk about task-based learning. You give the students something to do together. It makes them talk and listen to each other; they have to, in order to complete the task. The teacher can listen and learn a lot about the fluency and accuracy of the students. They learn about that too. Cunning. It works…usually.

Noel was in a pronunciation talk, by pronunciation ‘guru’ Adrian Underhill. We all wanted to hear if there is any better way to make students’ pronunciation better. We were impressed by the theory, but Noel will let you know about the practice. Noel also signed up for the creative writing talk. Amanda said, “I avoided that one because you will all have to do some creative writing.” Noel thought, “Oh, no!” She was right. But it was pretty good fun, and good to meet Alan Maley, who is also a ‘guru’ of English language teaching. Oh yes, we have a lot of gurus in English Language Teaching. Noel promises never to show you the poems he wrote in that workshop.

Amanda went to a workshop about ‘apps’ that can be used for language learning. Actually, the one she particularly recommends was from the pronunciation workshop. It’s called ‘Sounds:The Pronunciation App’ (www.soundspronapp.com ).

The gurus were very energetic. they even gave an extra workshop during the lunch break. It was about creativity in the classroom. They are worried that creativity is disappearing from classrooms in the UK and elsewhere, as governments and schools pursue academic results. Basically, they argued that teachers should be encouraged to depart from their lesson-plans if something happens in class that everyone is interested in. They called these ‘golden moments’.  What do you think, dear reader?

So there you are. That’s an example of what the teachers sometimes do at the weekend.

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