EgerOnline

The 22nd international conference for English language teaching professionals by IATEFL Hungary


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Conference reflections by Lenka Kroupová

After each conference I attend I feel a great compulsion to write a follow up blog post. However, this is actually the first time I cannot resist this urge any more. 🙂 If truth be told, I loved the whole event!

Organizers & speakers

Overall, this conference was very special. All organizers were incredibly helpful, ready and kind. I also appreciate the idea of preparing an online channel for the plenaries and the Eger Online platform. What a cool idea to share before, during and even after the conference!

What was also very pleasant was a very nice balance between the local speaker and recognized ELT authors and presenters. In the conference venue and during the whole event there were plenty of opportunities to discuss things. What I appreciated most was the feedback a starting presenter as me could get from much more experienced colleagues. First, I was very nervous to see Ken Wilson and Scott Thornbury in the audience but after all it was cool to have them there because they gave me tips I mostly appreciate and I will use to prepare an upgraded version of “the Jing thing“ workshop.

ICT SIG block

The first TeachMeet event at an IATEFL-Hungary conference

Having SIG sessions was wonderful. The ICT SIG session inspired in the teechmeet model moderated by Barbara Bujtás was very inspiring and Barbi is a highly talented moderator and city guide as well 😉 The 10-minute presentation format was a refreshing approach.

Erika Osváth showed from a different perspective an incredible „cabbage tool“ known also as „the Jing thing“. Understand, a cabbage is a substitute term which represents something incredibly useful just as the cabbage is – cool for playing football, holding pens, making a fine candle stick etc. etc. as teacher suggested during a warm-up activity :).

I just hated myself for leaving my laptop at home and not being able to try all the applications and tools on the spot (I´ve already asked Baby Jesus to bring me iPad this year so it´ll be ready for the next conference).

Eger wine & spa

To top up my happiness with the plenaries and workshops there was also the delicious Hungarian wine to taste and a fabulous spa to soak in. The close connection the Eger region has with vine was proved in the guesthouse I stayed at. The Wi-Fi password was – Egribikavér. 🙂

Basically, a huge thanks to everybody who made this conference possible and came to take part in it.

See you all next year!

Lenka

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Lenka Kroupová´s session material

Title of talk: “The Jing thing“
Presenter: Lenka Kroupová
Time: October 6th, 10:15 – 11:00
Venue: Room 3

Summary

Jing is a great (and free) online tool that teachers can use in their classroom to foster student´s pronunciation and speaking skills and also to capture their professional activities. In this hands-on workshop, we will have a look on different ways of using Jing, an image and video capturing software, that you can directly start using in practice and share the results instantly over the web.

Download: Eger 2012 – The Jing Thing


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Annie McDonald on authentic listening materials design

Annie began the workshop with a snippet taken from a BBC studio interview and participants listened and brainstormed the problems the text would present for a student approaching a B2 level in English.

She then explained that the workshop would be based on a 45/50 minute listening lesson, from which she had extracted approximately 5 minutes of the original programme and divided it into divided into 4 sections. The various generative activities which she presented were based on these texts. For each activity, Annie commented on underlying aspects of task design and how listeners would benefit from engaging with each one.

Firstly, and to right the (deliberate!) wrong committed during the brainstorm, she introduced 4 activity-types which could be used to focus on context and various types of background knowledge. These included: world knowledge, situational knowledge, speaker knowledge, knowledge of setting and schematic knowledge.

The session then moved to a focus on content, which was divided into 2 two parts, the first looking at a variety of activity-types that could be used with different listening texts which help listeners decode, and the second which focussed on helping students build up meaning. Annie told a joke to demonstrate the ways in which the two processes operate in a non-linear two-way manner, and participants shared explanations of their perceptions of what they had been doing while listening.

Before going on to look at specific activity-types, Annie mentioned that it was important to cater for learners who were risk-takers, i.e. those who are happy to make guesses but might miss important details along the way, and those who are risk-avoiders, i.e. those who will be waylaid by their preoccupation to decode everything they hear.

Decoding activities involve recognition of sounds, syllables, words, phrases or chunks, where as meaning building is achieved by using syntax, intonation, co-text etc. to arrive at, well, meaning in context. The first is more problematic for non-expert listeners, who have an incomplete representation of the language to draw on. Problems are compounded by the characteristics of spoken English, for example, with its short forms, assimilation and elision. It is also an area that requires more focus as it has been largely neglected as the focus on listening activities over the past few decades has been in the direction of meaning building. Annie presented activity-types which would help students deal with unknown words, phrases and grammatical structure.

Meaning-building activities are of a familiar type: sequencing, true/false or multiple-choice, and these focussed on the understanding of specific information, meaning in context (figurative language use), the main points and detail, the main point and inference.

Downloads of the activities and a brief explanation, along with two short recordings can be found on Annie and Mark’s website.


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Scott Thornbury on keeping yourself inspired (Plenary)

Scott began by looking at some of the reasons that teachers might get to feel jaded as their career progresses. He revealed his own pet peeve as being the rampant commoditization of ELT, with words from the world of business being drafted in, such as ‘outcomes’, ‘solutions’, ‘value-added’, ‘accountability’ and so on. All of this merely serves to place the humble teacher even lower in the food-chain than they already are. Scott also outlined another reason why many teachers lose their spark. They learn all kinds of exciting and progressive ideas and methods during training, only to find them stamped upon by the authorities that be when they try to put them into practice – for example, no group work because it’s too noisy.

Scott reported on a crowd-sourcing mini-survey he conducted on twitter on the topic of what keeps us teachers going. He classified the responses into four types: 1. Good learner feedback and results; 2. Peer support; 3. External validation eg from your boss, and 4. Your personal intrinsic drive. Very often, 4 is the only source of motivation available to you, so you can you get more of it? To answer this question, Scott looked outside of the ELT world to a motivational book written by a practising surgeon, Atul Gawande, author of the book, “Better”. Scott digested the message of this book into five tips:

  1. Don’t complain. Complaining is a downward spiral. Instead, we should try to ‘keep the conversation going’. A good forum for doing this is to seek out a peer group through the social media and chat with them, seeking positive solutions.
  2. Ask an unscripted question. For example, ask your students something that isn’t just about the lesson – how they feel about different approaches for example.
  3. Count something. In other words, conduct small, informal pieces of action research, such as counting the number of times students ask a question unsolicited.
  4. Write something. Writing helps you to step back and take the longer view. A good way to do this is to take your own initiative and keep a blog.
  5. Change. Try a different way of doing something. Step outside your comfort zone.

 

Written by Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald

Visit Mark and Annie’s blog offering free articles, reviews and a lot more in ELT.


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Conference reflections by Mary Sousa

This was really the best conference we have had in Hungary. I was excited to be presenting again, of course, that was part of it. And the workshop I presented was very well received, too, so that made me feel even better. I came home fresh and ready to teach and try some new ideas — in fact I tried two already in my two Monday classes! Finally, I really want to change my way of preparing for lessons, a little based on dogme concepts, and just to be more effective and time-efficient. And I was thrilled to try karaoke for the first time! I could talk on and on…

The most inspiring thing I got from the conference was Bonnie Tsai’s question, “what are you going to do next in your development as a teacher?” Her question synthesized several vague ideas that had been circling in my thoughts, and now I have decided to rethink how I plan lessons, maybe with the help of a mentor. I am happy that Bonnie’s plenary energized me to do the next piece of my development.

Written by Mary Sousa, conference participant and IATEFL-Hungary enthusiast