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

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By the end of my session, the participants will…

… probably not take what you expect from your session.

I love how we all take different things from different sessions. An activity that one teacher might do immediately on Monday morning, another might not touch with a barge-pole. A message that might change a teacher’s attitude for life, might simply go over the head of another.

Today, I attended both the YL SIG event, led by Szandra Zeffer and Mark Andrew’s presentation on Devon Unplugged and I took (and didn’t take) a lot from both sessions.

At the SIG, I loved Szandra’s activities and the sharing of ideas and I admired the dedication she shows to her work and her obvious affection for her students.

At Mark’s session, I found it impossible not to be inspired by his enthusiasm and his love for what he does. (He had obviously had a similar effect on those who participated on the course he did with Luke Meddings in Devon.)

So already a productive morning. However, I think the thing that struck me most in both of sessions was the power of a visual diary. The power of seeing examples of what is being presented or discussed: Szandra with video clips of her students in action and real copies of the work that the students had produced and Mark’s compilation of photos, videos, quotes and feedback to help us live the experience of his two weeks in Devon.

This may not have been Szandra’s or Mark’s aim when planning their sessions, but I am grateful to both of them for making me think about how I could/ should take the opportunities I have to do a similar thing.

What did you take from today?

Hamish Buchan


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Any questions about questions?

The power of questions
Workshop by Margit Szesztay

I always enjoy workshops and presentations by Margit Szesztay. She is always good value and has a seemingly instinctive way of getting you to reflect on what you do and think about things from a different angle.  Her session on the power of questions was no different.

Margit suggested that the job of the teacher is to open doors and the key to the door is… a good question, so we tried out a number of activities, which not only encouraged us, as teachers, to think about the questions we ask, but also to pass control to our students and encourage them to think and ask questions themselves.

Activities like predicting what was behind a covered part of a photograph, talking about holiday photographs as if they were ours, and explaining where we took photographs which weren’t ours encouraged us to be creative and was a natural stimulus for questions.

We then focused on the kinds of questions we ask in class…not thinking about the Wh or Yes- No types of classification, but the range of questions we ask and what the questions we ask actually do, for example encouraging exploration, checking comprehension and encouraging reflection.

So questions to encourage reflection and tasks to encourage reflection. This sums up an extremely interesting session. Now as one participant reflected, how do I put into practice what I have learned?

Hamish Buchan