My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 7 – 52 Subversive Activities & lots of parties

Tuesday, 20th March 2012, Glasgow Conference Centre.


The last session of the day was one that everyone had been waiting for – Luke Meddings and Lindsay Clandfield’s 52: A year of subversive activity for the ELT classroom. Fearing a repeat-scenario of Anthony Gaughan’s talk where the majority were left unable to enter the jam-packed room, some of us literally ran (yes, I mean it literally. We legged it!) at the end of Bruno’s session to Luke and Lindsay’s (as fast as the conference wind would take us!).  Thankfully, the room was big enough to house those that wanted in, and there was no scary bouncer/prison warden/riot control police-like presence in sight (Oi! @Scotchbouncer! Stop tweeting us! It’s scary!).

After the Twitteratti made neat little rows with their iPads and iPhones ready to team tweet and blog (@sandymillin, this was the moment I realized we worked fantastically as a team! Looking forward to more!), Luke and Linsay start their talk by roasting each other. Lindsay, being a famous coursebook writer, and Luke, being a famous founder and advocate of Dogme, were indeed an unlikely collaboration. However whether it be for coursebooks or for materials that act as a departure point for Dogme lessons, it was important to have topics that are stimulating and activities that engage and challenge our learners.

Photo by Mike Hogan

Introducing the concept of the book 52, Luke and Lindsay get the audience to break down the famous acronym PARSNIP, i.e. topics that publishers would like writers to stay clear of.

P is for Politics

A is for Alcohol

R is for Religion

S is for Sex

N is for Narcotics

I is for Isms (some said Israel)

P is for Pork / Pornography

While 52 is about subverting the norm and embracing the PARSNIPs, the co-authors warn that it is not necessarily for everyone and neither is their presentation.

Here are some ways to be subversive:

Subverting dress codes: Teachers could come to class wearing what they don’t normally wear. See if students notice and use that to stimulate discussions. Often, this could lead to conversations about expectations regarding what people wear, e.g. hoodies, veils, etc.

Subverting language points like ‘present simple for daily routines’ could be presented in a subversive and memorable context, e.g. a daily routine of an innocent person in jail, or a corrupt civil servant.

Subverting the special day: Discussion topic – What is a ‘Hallmark holiday’? It is one that exist only for the purpose of selling greeting cards or flowers. Do you agree?

Subverting the typical business coursebook activity: Telephone roleplays – Student A is the vice president and calling his company. You have been kidnapped and you need to speak to the president. Student B is the receptionist. The president is unavailable at the moment.

Subverting expectations using visuals and images: Use this to teach the 2nd conditional!

You can also:

Practice comparatives by asking the following questions –

Which is better? Love without sex? Or Sex without love?

Which is better? Money without love? Or love without money?

Love, sex, money. You can only choose two. Which would you choose?

Or get students to notice the chunks of language used on protest signs! Talk about the lexical approach!

52 is available as an E-book on Amazon for 5 Euros or you can go to and search with the word ‘subversive’.

If you prefer the T-shirts that Luke and Lindsay revealed to us in their version of a semi-striptease, they are available on the Round’s website in 2 colours: black and white.

Photo by Mike Hogan

But what is the Round?

The Round was formed to produce books that might not otherwise get published. Books like 52.

And offers writers more autonomy (and a bigger cut too!) over their books, while providing careful assessment and professional editing for projects.

For more information about the Round, click here.

Leaving the crowd cheering for more, Luke and Lindsay end their presentation with a little book trailer for 52 and getting teachers all excited about being subversive…

Photo by Mike Hogan

And so ends Day 1 of IATEFL Glasgow…

Or maybe not!

That evening saw the International House 50th Years of Teacher Training Anniversary Party.

All week long, International House had been giving out wonderful little blue badges at their stand at the exhibition hall. Badges that said ‘I trained with IH’!

(I sneakily wore two because I figured I should have one for my Celta and one for my Delta!)

The TEFL celebrities present at the party certainly spoke volumes about the results of the IH teacher training courses and the evening was spent amongst delicious nibbles and wine nostalgically reminiscing the days gone by in the different locations that International House London occupied and the memories of the people there. Simon Greenhall introduced the audience to three speakers, Ken Wilson, Susan Barduhn, and Jeremy Harmer, each of whom shared with us a memory of IH London, including the one where Luke Meddings apparently forgot to hand in his assignment on coursebooks.

After a fair bit of catching up with IH colleagues and ex-colleagues based in different IH schools around the world, a few of us proceeded to the ELTChat party where champagne and good vibes filled the room. The best news of that evening was of course the fact that ELTChat has been nominated for the ELTons.

Congratulations, @ShaunWilden, @ShellTerrell, @barbsaka, @rliberni and @Marisa_C ! You deserve every bit of this!)

As we drank the night away (some of us more than others…oops!), we came to the end of Day 1 of IATEFL Glasgow…

Watch this space for Day 2…

…to be continued…

Author: Chia Suan Chong

I am a writer, communication skills trainer and a teacher trainer based in York, UK. I have been English Teaching Professional's resident blogger since 2012 and have a regular feature in their bimonthly magazine. My book Successful International Communication was published in Dec 2018.

7 thoughts on “My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 7 – 52 Subversive Activities & lots of parties”

    1. Absolutely, Sandy!
      Really had fun meeting you and hanging out!
      And thanks for showing me all the cool apps for the iPad I could use in the classroom!
      Looking forward to our next meeting!

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