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 10 – Willy Cardoso on Sociocultural Perspectives to Teacher Training

Wednesday, 21st March 2012, Glasgow Conference Centre.


If there was one session that I went to this IATEFL conference that really pushed me to think, if there was one session that I went to that made me want to stand up and cheer by the end of it, if there was one session that I went to that I think no one should have missed, it’s Willy Cardoso’s ‘Dialogue in Teacher Training: A Socio-Cultural Perspective’.

Exploring the way teachers learn to teach and the theories behind them, Willy reminds us that nearly everyone has ideas about what teaching should be like because we all have had experience of being a student at some point in our lives. It is such Apprentice of Observation (Lortie, 1975), alongside theories that show how cognitive development is mediated by social activity (Vygotsky), that clearly point towards the fact that learning (whether learning a language or learning to teach) is a dialogic experience, i.e. I cannot make sense of anything unless I am in co-existence with someone else.

Quoting the following, Willy demonstrates the connection between the socialization process, one’s cognitive processes, and the way they conceptualise teaching and what one does in the language classroom:

‘The socialization processes prospective teachers experience during practicum can have a powerful influence on their conceptions of language teaching and of what it means to be a language teacher.’ (Borg, 2006:57)

‘It is not that social activity influences cognition…but that social activity is the process through which human cognition is formed.’ (Lantolf & Johnson, 2007:878)

‘how external forms of social interaction become internalized psychological tools for thinking.’ (Johnson, 2011)

Teachers are learners themselves, and they should always be constant learners of teaching. Their epistemological stance is therefore important in determining what underpins their classroom practices and even the meta-language used to describe what they do. Take for example language like ‘The learner is slow’ or ‘the teacher is dynamic’. Such discourse has a history of usage in our field and it is vital that we examine what we mean when we use them, and how the acquisition of such discourse fits our social contexts.

Such is the discourse that we export to the rest of the world when we export our teaching methodologies and approaches through teacher training courses. Yet, teachers are clearly NOT contextually isolated technicians. They are not machines that copy techniques they have learnt in one context and apply them without regard for the appropriacy of such practices in a different culture or context.

So if we do agree that social processes and cultures could influence cognition, which in turn could influence the way we learn or expect to learn, surely, reflective practice is the key to continual professional development?

Surely, the deepening of knowledge and understanding of the applicability of the techniques and discourse we acquire can only take place through having space for reflection and examination of our beliefs?

Surely, reflective practice is itself learning how to teach?

If so, then, why do we spend hours upon hours on input and planning in teacher training courses?

How often do we expect our trainees to simply ‘copy and paste’ the techniques and discourse into their teaching practices (regardless of the contexts they will teach in)? Is that why we do demo lessons?

Why do we spend such little time on feedback and reflection?

Why is the feedback session to teaching practice lessons only 30 minutes long?

While Dogme is a way for us teachers to allow for more reflective practice and adapt content and structure to context, what about teacher training?

Do we build upon the prior experience of our trainees as learners and as people?

Do we allow space for them to adapt and reflect?

Are we training them to be technicians? Or reflective practitioners?

Encouraging us to use the following framework suggested by Borg (2006), Willy pushes us to ask the following questions as trainers:

  • What are the characteristics of trainee’s classroom practices during the training course?
  • What influences underlie these practices?
  • How do trainees’ exit mindset, pedagogical principles, and scientific concepts compare to those they entered with?

Without doubt, a session that has left us trainers breathless and inspired.

In the communicative era of teaching, we constantly preach a student-centred approach to teaching. We constantly preach that context is most important. We constantly preach that student talking time is what matters.

Hence, when it comes to teacher training, should we not push for a more trainee-centred approach?

Should we not focus our attention on ways our trainee teachers can adapt what we give them and shape it into what would suit different contexts while making it their own?

Should we not allow for more trainee talking time where they could engage in dialogue with not just their tutors, but their colleagues and their students, to help them make sense of their learning process and mediate their development?

Maybe it’s time for a communicative approach to teacher training.

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