IATEFL Liverpool: Day 3

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Session 3.2: Moving into academic management: tips for teachers. Stephanie Dimond-Bayir& Vicky McWilliam

A wonderfully accessible and interactive session aimed at new managers (of which I a one!) It looked at the broad strokes of managing, and how to leverage our skills as teachers into successfully managing programs and staff. There were experienced managers present ( all part of the Management SIG) who had lots to add to the discussion.

Session 3.3. A Dogme approach to coursebooks. Hugh Dellar 

An interesting presentation that first laid out the tenets of the Dogme teaching movement, and then showed how one can incorporate coursebooks into this approach, especially in terms of input. This is in contrast with the commonly-held idea that Dogme teaching is materials-light/free. What I liked about this idea, as well as other such as the Demand High, is that it encourages teachers not to simply recycle any particular teaching methodology or fad wholesale, but rather to think critically about what you want to achieve in a given class, and adapt, adapt, adapt: to the materials, to your students, to the language that emerges naturally in your class.

Session 3.4. Engaging the digital native: a form of cross-cultural communication
Jennie Toner 

In this session the presenter looked to disspell the myth of the digital native, using examples from her own university teaching in Turkey. I personally find that that thinking about ease of technology use and integration in terms of “natives” and “immigrants” is helpful, but that it is in no way a rule that corresponds with the year someone was born. We can all think of examples to the contrary of age-related ease with technology.

ELT Journal Signature Event: (online here)
The motion: ‘Published course materials don’t reflect the lives or needs of learners’
To propose the motion: Scott Thornbury 
To oppose: Catherine Walter

A lively and entertaining debate, if an age-old one. There were lots of good points brought up: the global coursebook’s capitalist and materialist imagery, PARSNIP (topics that are avoided in global coursebooks), etc.

At one point Catherine Walter brought up the point that perhaps she didn’t want her own reality represented in the coursebooks she used. In terms of global justice, maybe it’s a negative thing that students all over the world are repeating dialogues about going to the county club or going shopping in Manhattan. But in terms of learner motivation, social identity, and especially Dornyei’s ideal L2 self , etc., these books could actually be helpful. Many learners learn English for aspirational purposes directly related to “moving on up” in the world or because they aspire to a Westernized/Americanized/etc. lifestyle. Yes, many times this is due to global injustices, and based on a very narrow stereotype of what life in the West/America is like. But as misguided as these images may be, they may turn out to be quite a strong motivation for learners, and therefore power them to make great progress in their journey toward language fluency. So if the global coursebook can serve language acquisition in some indirect way, then perhaps they are not all bad.


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