Category Archives: IATEFL

IATEFL Interviews 10 April

Liverpool Online

I decided to spend the evening watching some of the interviews because there are quite a few that I haven’t watched and I wanted to watch at least some of them.

The first interview I watched was with Jamie Keddie whom I really like for his enthusiasm and ideas. Jamie is also the author of a very good book called Images.

Jamie starts the interview by telling a story about a seal and a polar bear and actually because he didn’t finish the story in his interview I got on his website and found the lesson plan and the video for it because I wanted to find out how the story ends. I assume that’s the whole point of videotelling (a technique which combines traditional story telling with video): making the listener want to find out what happens next. I did!  Jamie’s website has more lesson plans for any teacher interested in doing some videotelling in their lessons. The website Jamie recommends looking at at the end of his interview does have some interesting material.

Next interview I watched was with Jeremy Harmer and I love him a lot. Jeremy says that he is interested in finding out whether there is a relationship between the way people practise music and the way people practise a language. I also became interested in the question and did some Google searching. I found quite an interesting article which is written by Benny Lewis who asked about the similarity between language learning and learning to play a musical instrument on Twitter. Some of the replies are really interesting.

Jeremy Harmer refers to research which shows that the length of practice doesn’t mean much if the practice is not deliberate, i.e. involving full concentration, problem solving, involvement and engagement. If we think of that then we may actually find that when we do something because we have to do it, we do not remember much of it later. This is the case with language learning in Armenia where many teachers ask their students to memorize texts which they do just to repeat the texts in the lesson but two days later they forget what it was that they memorized. Jeremy Harmer says that a little homework which would require problem-solving could benefit a learner more than a lot of homework which they would probably do while watching TV. I totally agree!

The last interview that I watched was with Vicky Saumell. She is a teacher who encourages the use of technology in learning. Vicky talks about getting learners work published online (wikis, blogs) and getting teachers and learners from other countries to comment on the published work so that learners know that there is going to be some interaction and their work will not go unnoticed. One project that she talked about sounded quite interesting – a type of videotelling but done by learners. I actually even found the wiki that Vicky was talking about. The amount of work that Vicky’s students have done is impressive. Vicky also mentions online projects with other countries, the benefits of which I know from my own experience as we did one with a school in Uruguay last year and are doing another one with the same school in Uruguay and a school in Brazil this year.


Second Day of IATEFL Liverpool

Liverpool Onlinee
I started the day first by watching the interview with Deborah Healey who has arrived from the USA and this is her first time at IATEFL. I really enjoyed it because she was talking about use of technology and games in teaching. My cup of tea, really.

The basic point that I agree with is that teachers shouldn’t tech the classroom without thinking about how their learners will benefit from it. We should have the learner in mind whenever we incorporate technology in the lesson plan. Nik Peachy actually asked a question that I always get asked by teachers: if learners play games, how do we teach grammar? As I have already discussed in my previous posts, we can teach many things through games: grammar, vocabulary, writing, speaking, etc.

At this point I was already getting the feeling that I was at IATEFL. Next, I watched David Crystal’s plenary talk with 309 people online. Not too bad, is it? (I will not go into the plenary because by the time I decided what to blog about Graham Stanely already blogged about it). There must have been more people in Liverpool, but the online audience was also big. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in the online chat, which was very lively, because I had some students writing tests and didn’t want them to think that I was chatting and ignoring them, which might have been true.

Next thing to do was to get on Facebook to see what was going on. Some friends shared photos from presentations that they attended, some mentioned their own presentation. I wished them good luck. Marcos Benevides shared the link to Vicky Saumell’s presentation which was very nice, because now I might even think that I was there as well as Hakan Senturk and Burcu Akyol.

Next I read our roving reporters Sanja Bozinovic, Branca Segvic and Addeh Hovassapian’s reports on teh sessions they had attended and got a full feeling of being in Liverpool. Now I get down to teaching feeling completely happy. 🙂 Later in the evening I know that I can watch some of the sessions and some more interviews, read more reports and see more photos. 

First Day of IATEFL Liverpool – Interview with Gavin Dudeney

Liverpool Online

The first day of IATEFL in Liverpool and I am on the IATEFL online website reading roving reporter’s blog posts and watching some interviews. Actually you don’t have to be in Liverpool to be able to enjoy the conference. I know that being there is better but not knowing anything at all is worse.

I was hoping to get away from my lessons to watch the livestream of LTSIG workshops but,unfortunately, I didn’t manage to do so, which means that I will be watching the recording of the workshop. But that will do.

So the first interview I watched was with Gavin Dudeney. Gavin and his team are responsible for the online presence of IATEFL conferences and I have to say they are doing a great job. It only takes a second to log into Facebook and Twitter to know all the news related to IATEFL. It is easy to find out who is a presenter and which hotel they are staying in, where they are having lunch or what places of interest they are visiting. This sounds odd as one may think why someone would be interested in this, but, strangely enough, that gives you a feeling of being part of community and being present at the conference even when you are far away.

Gavin mentions that when 6 years ago they started the online part of IATEFL, everyone thought that people would stay at home and just watch it online, but I don’t think this will ever happen. Gavin is right in saying that the face-to-face meeting with people who you know virtually or meet just once a year is a completely different experience. For those who couldn’t go for whatever reason it is a good place to keep up with what is going on and still participate by posting comments or blogging about it. For those who did manage to go, it is a good place to organize meetings with friends after the conference as the conference hall is huge and you may actually be there for a week and never see somebody you know that is there.

Gavin also mentioned the book Digital Literacies that I have pre-ordered being on sale at the conference which actually made me want to be there just to get it because I will only get it by the end of May. But well, I suppose it is worth waiting for.



The conference finished and we are all back home and back to work. I spent one evening going through Youtube and found quite a few videos of interviews with some of the presenters at the conference and decided to save all the videos in one post. It might be of some use to some of you too!

Scott Thornbury

Nik Peachy

Penny Ur

Herbert Puchta

Paul Maglione

David Heathfield

Vicky Saumell

Ronaldo Lima Jr

Sirin Soyoz and Adam Simpson!!!

Day 2 of the Conference

This is only the second day of the conference but there is already a sense of community among the participants. It is so nice to go down to the restaurant for breakfast I meeting people to discuss the sessions that we have been to and sessions that are still to come then to get together to travel to the Conference Centre.
 You know who is going to the conference because of the name tags we are all wearing. So this morning when we tried to find a cab to get to SECC, we saw two more conference participants who were also going to the centre. As there was only one taxi, we shared it and had a great chat on the way. Even on the way to the centre you can network. Isn’t it great? 
 And now we are all at the plenary session listening to Diana Laurillard giving a talk about using technology in teaching.
The Plenary Session with Diana Laurillard can be viewed here:

Closing Plenary – Fish!

Gavin Dudney started the final plenary and said that 50 000 people visited the site yesterday, 400 000 page views with Turkey surfing the site most.
And then it was time for Derek Dick (Fish)
His songs have been translated into 7 languages and have been used in the classrooms and even have been a university thesis topic.
Derek said: As a kid I hated English lessons (they were reading and writing back then). As an adult Scotsman, I understood that you need to learn English properly.
Derek sang some great songs (Brother 52, Family Business, etc) We danced like butterflies and balerinas and sang the Russian way. Great singer with great songs and ideas!!!
There was a raffle at the end of the plenary session. The prize was an iPad and the winner was Sophia R. from Toronton. 
After that on the way out of the conference centre everyone got a bag with a can of drink and chocolate. Now it is time to do the touristy part! 🙂
Complete session can be viewed here:

Singing, Chanting and Rapping

This workshop with Jane Harding da Rosa was very inspiring, it also made us all feel energetic and put us all in a good mood.
 Jane started by rapping: “I like it, I like it a lot.” That was amazing. This could work as such a great warmer activity. In this first part Jane used affirmative and interrogative sentences plus short ‘yes’ answers in Present Simple. This could also be used as a drilling activity for this tense. She also suggested another option with it going like “Why did I do it? I shouldn’t have done it, etc.” A simple idea and such a great one!
 Then Jane introduced a chanting activity to drill vocabulary (vegetables in our case). The pictures were shown quickly and Jane kept on pointing at the places where the pictures had appeared (almost dancing) and we had to remember what was in that place and as it was done very quickly we were all chanting involuntarily. I loved this idea too!
 There were many other activities that were based on rythm and intonation. We all sang, chanted and rapped! Fantastic!
 Thanks Jane! 

12 Steps to Webinar Success

This workshop with Sarah Milligan was particularly interesting to me. I have never given webinars only attended a few but I would like to take online/blended teaching one step further.
The first question discussed was “Why give webinars?” Webinars are easy to access, useful for professional development, for collaboration with teachers around the world and they are fun! 
Webinars are similar to f2f meetings in a way that they are synchronous and have the same aim. They are different because people are not in the same place and they are audio and internet reliant. 
There are a few platforms for organizing free webinars, such as Skype, Elluminate, Wiziq and Join the meeting. 
The rules for webinar success are the following:
1. Decide on the type of session you are giving. Is it a presentation, workshop or training?
2. Get the message across. Make sure that your participants know that the webinar is available. To do this you can use Eventbrite.
3. Prepare and remind participants (and then again)
4.  If you have a guest speaker, let the person practise the speech online beforehand.
5. Manage your participants. (Post  a set of rules, give and take back control.)
6. Have the sound checked before the webinar. 
7. Materials should be readable and not with a lot of text on each slide.
8. Go slow! Try not to speak or go through slides fast online due to your participants’ web connection speed.
9. Interaction and tasks. (Introduce-Demonstrate-Interact-Give tasks-Give feedback)
10 Share details and hand-outs with your participants.
11. Give Feedback.
12. End on time.

The Last Day of the Conference

It is the last of the conference today and quite a few people have already left Glasgow. The conference centre feels empty as I am walking around the exhibition hall and the centre itself.
All the exhibiting companies are packing their stuff and OUP are giving away cups of chocolate.
 There isn’t the usual gathering of participants outside the centre and it makes me feel sad to realize that this is the end of this event. Tomorrow the place will be empty and the last participants wil have left by tomorrow evening in the hope of meeting next year at the conference in Liverpool again. 
 We have exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch. Isn’t it funny how quickly we make friends and how difficult it is to part?

Sound Advice or Pronunciation Practice

The talk by Suzanne Cloke was about tools to use when teaching pronunciation, something that many of our learners are struggling with.
 I will not go into the statistics because I would like to share the advised sites with you. Suzanne advises to practice pronunciation with students systematically. She did it over 10 weeks for an hour and half with two groups of her Italian learners. As listening and pronunciation go together, by the end of the course her students imrpoved their listening skills by 95% and their pronunciation skills by 91%.
With her learners Suzanne used:
 But the most interesting sites are: – a site where students can watch and listen to the videos in slow motion by clicking on the snail icon for better understanding of the sounds and repeat them; and where students can shadow speeches. I use this technique as well with my students so I was really happy to hear that it helped Suzanne’s students.
I hope this will help your students too!