IATEFL 2019 One-Sentence Summaries

IATEFL 2019 One-Sentence Summaries

What a great conference!

Many thanks to all the volunteers and staff without whom it would have been impossible run.

The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that there’s no ‘Day 4’ review, like I reviewed Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3. I had to travel back home on the last day, and missed the final day’s sessions. I’ll catch up with Day 4’s sessions (and all the other sessions that I missed) at the British Council site.

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IATEFL 2019 Pre-Conference Preparation

IATEFL 2019 Pre-Conference Preparation

It’s nearly here! My IATEFL 2019 journey starts today. I’m sitting on the train to Liverpool, which should only take six hours or so. I’ve booked a large AirBnB flat, which I’m sharing with four IATEFL-attending friends in the centre of the city. Good times!

I’m going to try to ‘live-blog’ IATEFL this year, or as close to it as possible. I’ll write a post each day, summarising the main points of the presentations I’ve seen, and giving my observations on everything else.

This is my fourth IATEFL conference, so while I’m not an old hand, I have developed a few techniques that I use to prepare for the conference.

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Task Design for TEFL

Task Design for TEFL

One area that often gets left out of planning is task design. With everything else that we need to focus on when we plan, designing a task is almost an afterthought. Often we look for any activity or game that’s loosely related to the lesson aim, and go with that.

Tasks are often overlooked when planning, but creating effective tasks is essential.

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What is 'Presentation, Practice, Production' (PPP)?

What is 'Presentation, Practice, Production' (PPP)?

Presentation - Practice - Production (PPP) is a lesson structure, a way to order activities in your lessons.

Whilst pretty old, and heavily criticised over the years, PPP is the probably the most commonly used lesson structure in TEFL today. It’s also still taught on initial teacher training courses like the CELTA and CertTESOL.

Most course books that you’re likely to use will structure their chapters in ways similar or the same as PPP, meaning that you’ll get a lot of exposure to this method.

As the name suggests, there are three stages to this lesson structure, which we’ll look at now.

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TEFL Activity: Instant Interpreter

TEFL Activity: Instant Interpreter

This one is a personal favourite. One student is a two way interpreter, and two other students have a conversation via the interpreter. Below are example instructions to set up and run the activity, and some scenarios to use.

This activity is great for accuracy of language and meaning, and I also love that it brings the learners’ first language (their ‘L1’) into the classroom.

I’d suggest giving the ‘interpreter’ role to stronger or more confident students to begin with, before rotating later.

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Scaffolding and the Zone of Proximal Development

Scaffolding and the Zone of Proximal Development

‘Scaffolding’ is help that we give learners by breaking down the task into manageable chunks.

The term itself is a metaphor for support - just as scaffolding is put around a building that’s being constructed, we provide support to learners while they work on learning.

By providing support, then gradually handing over more and more of the task to the learner, they will move from dependency to independence.

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Teaching is an Act of Persuasion

Teaching is an Act of Persuasion

In ‘Why Students Don’t Like School’, cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham says that just as an author has to persuade the reader not to wander off and do something more interesting, so a teacher has to persuade students to continue the learning journey.

When I read this, I was reminded of a few of my lessons where it took all my powers of persuasion to get my students to stay with me, as we heroically battled through a particularly boring coursebook chapter.

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Do Students Learn What We Teach?

Do Students Learn What We Teach?

How do we know that what we teach is what our students are learning?

In his book, ‘Why Students Don’t Like School’, cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham makes the point that what we think about is what we remember – so we have to do our best to ensure our learners actually think deeply about what we want them to learn.

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The Learning Styles Myth

The Learning Styles Myth

Six years ago, I was delivering learning styles training sessions to colleagues, until one day I found out that they don’t exist.

I felt like a complete moron.

I still see teachers, managers, schools and content writers promoting learning styles. I hope the info here will help you better understand them, what they are and why they’re not a valid educational theory.

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Ethics in TEFL Teaching

Ethics in TEFL Teaching

I’ve never attended a training session that helped me develop my character.

Teaching skills? Sure. Technical, training and interpersonal skills? Also yes. But in 15 years I’ve never seen a workshop on improving as a person, or ethical considerations within the TEFL industry.

At first, it appears unnecessary – most teachers genuinely care about their students, and their work. That’s why they’re teachers.

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4 Foolproof Steps to Become a Teacher Trainer

4 Foolproof Steps to Become a Teacher Trainer

Have you ever asked a teacher trainer exactly how they became a trainer? What answer did you get? I’m sure it was rather long and full of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. At least mine was, when the charming pair at the TEFL Training Institute interviewed me as part of their podcast on the same topic. That chat inspired me to plan what I’d do if I started all over again...

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