This year’s IATEFL was superb – lots of polished presentations and an excellent venue made for copious amounts of brain food and ideas to mull over.
It was heartening to see that several presentations drew on ideas and research from outside the world of ELT. I often feel that as an industry, we’re quite resistant to studies and research from the wider arenas of psychology, sociology and linguistics.
One that I enjoyed in particular was ‘Teaching & Research: What has Neuroscience Ever Done for Us?’ by Carol Lethaby and Patricia Harries. As well as disabusing the notion of learning styles (when will it ever die?), they also showed us recent findings to enhance best practice.
In the same vein of drawing upon research outside of ELT, Sarah Mercer used her plenary to show how important psychology and relationship between teacher and learner is for learning, in three main areasL
- Developing positive relationships
- A focus on positivity and growth
- Nurturing your own professional well-being
In addition, it’s great to see people calling for more analysis of our current ideas, based in evidence and data. Silvana Richardson was spot on when she called for more awareness of this, using the principles of the Demand High movement as an example.
Another favourite was Jason Anderson’s ‘Context, analysis, practice: the hidden paradigm in contemporary ELT’. As three-letter acronyms go, ‘CAP’ (or CAPE, if you include ‘Evaluation’) does more accurately describe how a valuable, effective class is structured. Jason backed this up by showing how course book structures also fit this model.
One controversial ‘debate’ was staged by New Oriental school and Jim Scrivener, with New Oriental arguing that CLT isn’t appropriate for Chinese learners (hence they don’t use it to train their 10 million+ students). Jim Scrivener was on the side of CLT, and an interesting debate with Jocelyn Wang ensued.
As a wonderful bonus, I met up with TEFL Training Institute’s Ross and Tracy, and we had time to record a quick chat with us discussing the presentations we’d seen. Download and listen here.