My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 13 – Pecha Kucha Evening

Thursday, 22nd March 2012, Glasgow Conference Centre.

IATEFL Day 3 – Pecha Kucha Evening (Hosted by Jeremy Harmer)

Since my first encounter with it in IATEFL Exeter, the Pecha Kucha Evening has always been one of the highlights of every IATEFL conference for me. It embodies the love and passion we have for our jobs, the wit of the conference speaker, our self-deprecating humour and the ability to not take ourselves too seriously, the camaraderie of the online PLNs and the spirit of community…and we don’t have to sit through any of it because at 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide, the speakers have no choice but to get to their point skillfully and quickly, without fear that anyone would wax lyrical for too long.

Thanks to my increased use of Twitter and blogs this past year, I am proud to say that I actually knew the featured PK speakers this year, and felt sincerely emotional about each of their contributions on stage.

As the PKs are available to watch on IATEFL Glasgow online (see below), I will avoid spoiling enjoyment of it, and so will not describe each of the slots in detail. But just to whet your appetite, I will give you a brief outline of what each presenter spoke about.

Vicki Hollett

Who?              Famous for writing multiple groundbreaking Business English coursebooks, Vicki is British but based in America and is an avid blogger about discourse and pragmatics.

What?                         How to speak ‘Merican

My Favourite line?  To all the British speakers in the audience, I need to say, ‘I’m sorry I’ve gone on for a little bit long; and to all the American speakers, ‘You’ve been great! Thank you, thank you, thank you!’

Link? : The IATEFL Glasgow BESIG PCE

Devil’s Advocate versus Vicki Hollett on ELF

Vicki’s blog – How to Speak ‘Merican


Willy Cardoso

Who?              Famous for speaking about sociocultural perpectives in language education, Willy is a teacher/teacher trainer and ELT writer based in London.

What?             Teaching at the Edge of Chaos

My Favourite line? If you kick a giraffe, the giraffe will react according to internal, external factors, and everything around it. So, if you kick a student, oh…I mean, if you teach a student, the output is highly predictable, just like when you kick a giraffe…Get over that crap and come out into the real world where things are unpredictable!

Link?              Willy’s blog – Authentic Teaching


Shelly Terrell

Who?              Famous for being a techno-evangelist, inspiring and changing lives of educators and learners around the world with her ideas, her webinars, her blogs, and her challenges.

What?             I Wish There Was an App for That!

My Favourite line?  Our family gets neglected because we’re always lesson planning, and if you’re on Twitter and Facebook, then you’re always on that as well, and so with this app, it automatically makes dinner, it washes, it cooks, it cleans…

Link?              Shelly’s blog – Teacher Reboot Camp


Barbara Sakamoto

Who?              Famous for creating the Let’s Go series of books for YLs, Barbara is an American-born English teacher based in Japan with an award-winning blog with influential guest educators around the world.

What?            Life, the Universe and ELT

My Favourite Line? There is an inverse relationship between the number of books sold and the respect you receive as an author. Since you have a high-paying university position, you don’t care about money, I know. So what you want to aim for is the serious resource book that hopefully be only purchased by libraries and read by no one.

Link?               Barbara’s blog – Teaching Village


Geoff Tranter

Who?             Famous for writing ‘Using Humour in the Classroom’, Geoff is based in Germany and was involved in developing the revised specifications for the European Language Certificates.

What?             AlcohoLinguistics

My Favourite Line? There are too many…but here’s one… Suggest-a-beer-dear – The essence of this method is to utilize both the left and right side of the mouth in order to increase both intake and output. One disadvantage of this method is the need for multi-media preparation because baroque drinking songs are required for classroom success.


Vicky Saumel

Who?              Famous for being an EdTech guru, Vicky is a teacher and teacher trainer based in Argentina.

What?             The Power of Choice

My Favourite Line? You tap into their creativity and you get amazing results. And the students feel empowered because they take responsibility. So it’s time you made a choice about how you want to introduce choice in your classroom.

Link?             Vicky’s blog – Educational Technology in ELT


Helena Gomm         

Who?              Famous for being the editor of English Teaching Professional and editor and writer of multiple ELT books, Helena started teaching English in Japan.

What?             Don’t Shoot the Editor

My Favourite Line? So what are the men doing while the women are operating, greasing the wheel nuts and fixing the plumbing? You’ve guessed it. Or you may do. They are doing the typing, and best of all, they are doing the housework. In Market D, however, women can’t have jobs at all, and so they want a book in which women stay at home. In actual fact, they’d really rather have a book in which women don’t appear at all, but they can’t say that.


Herbert Puchta

Who?              Famous for being an ex-president of IATEFL and author of multiple ELT coursebook series and methodology books, Herbert has a PhD in ELT Pedagogy.

What?             The Real Secrets of Teaching Teens Successfully

My Favourite Line? Ah, the white slide. You may think something is wrong here. It’s actually a photo of white poodle eating vanilla ice-cream in a snow storm.

Link?              Herbert’s page


Watch the video on IATEFL Glasgow online here:

My IATEFL Glasgow Diary Part 12 – Digital Devices, Digital Storytelling & the NNS Teacher

Thursday, 22nd March 2012, Glasgow Conference Centre.


Not deviating from what seems to be a trend at this year’s IATEFL conference, Claire Hart and Kristen Acquaviva starts off the BESIG Open Day with their talk ‘Applying M-theory to M-practice: Adult learners with mobile devices’. First, defining M-Learning as learning through the use of mobile technologies such as smart phones or tablet computers, and also learning when the learner is not in a fixed location, Claire and Kristen then proceed to do a SWOT analysis of M-learning, giving each section of the audience the task of listing either strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats related to the use of mobile devices.  Among strengths are motivation, engagement, the convenience of having their own learning environment with them at all times, and a more intimate experience between teacher and students.

Use mobile devices to collect, to check, to share, and to recycle!

Use smart phones to communicate, to create, and to collaborate!

Here are some of the practical ideas given by Claire and Kristina:

  • Get students to take out their mobiles and summarise the last three emails they received – a good exercise in paraphrasing;
  • Practise listening skills through podcasts, videos and even recording the learners themselves speaking and doing tasks;
  • Practise speaking skills through show & tells, giving a presentation, real-world tasks with phones, and feedback on speaking activities that were recorded on mobile devices.
  • Get your learners thinking through tasks: design your ideal phone, draw what your phone looks like on the inside, create and take part in quizzes on their mobile devices, etc.

Suggesting some useful apps for MLearning especially in Business English:

  • Roambi;
  • Analytics Visualizer;
  • Howcast;
  • TED talks;
  • Dale Carnegie’s Secrets of Success;

And some useful apps for ESL/EFL:

  • Pronunroid;
  • GFlash (a flash card app);
  • Practice English Grammar.

And also, do not forget to use the functions that already come with the phone e.g. Clock, Voice Recorder, Calendar, etc.

Finally, Claire and Kristen end their very practical presentation by reminding us to check out the British Council website for different apps and podcasts for different mobile devices (and not just Apple ones).

Moving away from the BESIG Open Day, I went to a talk that Graham Stanley had recommended to me that morning – Joe Pereira’s ‘Learn Language – Using Interactive Fiction for Digital Game-based Language Learning’. A man who is clearly passionate about and extremely familiar with his topic area, Joe introduces the audience to interactive fiction – a genre of computer gaming that blends literature and puzzle-solving, and combines gaming and storytelling. First defining a game as something that is voluntary, and where there are rules, goal and feedback on actions, Joe reiterates the advantages of digital game-based learning that was not unlike the strengths of mobile learning brought up by Claire and Kristina, and the power of digital gaming in SLA by Steven Thorne just a couple of hours ago.

Using 9.05 as an example of text-based interactive fiction, Joe then goes on to show us step-by-step how students could advance the story by delivering simple ‘verb+noun’ instructions e.g. ‘get out of bed’, ‘turn left’, ‘examine dead body’, in an attempt to solve puzzles, co-create the story, and find out the different endings the story has in store. Reminiscent of those ‘choose your own adventure’ stories that I was addicted to as a kid, Joe shows how being able to go back and start again from where one last saved the game had the added advantage of helping learners to reread texts, revise lexis, and rethink their strategies all at once. And the best part of this session? Joe was so thoughtful as to give us all a CD-ROM with the games in question. (at least that’s what I think is on it…with the writing of all these blogposts, I haven’t had the time to check!

On a slightly different note, I attended Renata Wilmot and Melanie Johnson’s session where they ask the question ‘Who is the legitimate speaker of English?’ Renata and Melanie were both my colleagues on the MA in Applied Linguistics and ELT at King’s College London, and there was a sense of togetherness and pride as we saw our sociolinguistics lecturer Dr. Martin Dewey walk through the door to support their presentation of their MA dissertations.

Sharing some important statistics with the audience, Renata reveals that there are 337 million Native Speakers (NSs) and 1,350 million Non-Native Speakers (NNSs) in the world, and that 80% of English teachers are NNSs, as she establishes the key themes of her research and student survey – the importance of nationality, cultural knowledge, professional qualifications and accents.

Her very interesting and relevant findings showed that the students surveyed were more concerned with the teachers’ professional qualifications than their nationality, and that although nationality was not important, student preferred their teacher to sound like a NS and expected some knowledge of the target culture. This was a point later brought up by a member of the audience, who suggested that an expat NS teacher who has lived in a NNS country for a long time might not have the knowledge of the target culture that a teacher like Renata, who has been living in London for many years, has.

Arguing that job advertisements for NS teachers or those that specifically ask for certain nationalities are not only ignorant but also discriminatory, Renata and Melanie urge us to fight against such practices. At this point, Melanie takes over by introducing her research on a couple’s language learning experience. Quoting Bourdieu (a second for today – the first being Steven Thorne’s plenary), Melanie explains the importance of one to be accepted as a legitimate speaker in a linguistic community, whichever our learners choose to be a part of.

Such a community might or might not feature the use of American or British Englishes, and an awareness amongst teachers of the importance of raising the acceptance levels of multiple Englishes is now increasing. However, we teachers are still unsure about how to apply this knowledge to the language classroom. Renata and Melanie suggests:

  • We reconsider the role of L1 in the classroom, using it as a way of creating empathy;
  • We prioritise individual context, aspirations and reasons for learning English;
  • We create a Community of Practice (Eckert, 2005) in the classroom;
  • We help students be included in the communities they wish to be a part of.

As I headed back to the BESIG Open Day for the Open Forum, I was filled with thoughts about how we need to take on the responsibility of re-training our learners into understanding that the NNS teacher, in an era of ELF, might be just the role model they need. But interestingly, although I am an NS, I do not look like the typical NS that students expect to see. Here, I am faced with a different problem. Although Renata is Brazilian, looks-wise, she could pass off as a NS. And she certainly sounds like one. I look Oriental and more often than not, people would assume I am an NNS.

As Mufwene suggests, the expectations of someone’s language use can sometimes interfere with perceptions of intelligibility. After all, how many times have people looked at me and said, ‘Huh? Sorry?’ to what I initially say to them? It is possibly the belief that they are going to have a problem understanding my accent that self-fulfills and causes communication problems.

Or maybe I’m just unintelligible.

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