IATEFL 2019 Talk Summaries

Below are some notes from some selected presentations that we particularly enjoyed and learned a lot from in terms of their content and relevance regarding teacher training issues.

Zhanna Sevastianova and Professor Simon Borg presented a summary of their extensive research supported by the British Council in Ukraine in their session called ‘Developing teachers and enabling reform and internationalisation in higher education’ Their research is associated with the aim of the internationalization of Higher education (HE) and at its core is what they call English for University (EfU). This is linked to English for Specific Purposes (ESP)/English-medium instruction (EMI) to increase academic quality, strengthening the role of English, HE reform and improving the quality of ESP and EMI teachers. Thirty-one HE institutions were included in the study, which took place between 2014-2018. The researchers conducted preliminary visits to the universities, which followed a set of f2f training on pedagogy, action planning, course design improvements, symposia and meetings with heads of departments. They provided ESP training for 3 weeks and EMI training for 1 week to content specialists focusing on teaching excellence. Then in 2018, they studied the impact of the training of 15 HEIs out of 32. This involved 331 ESP and 207 EMI instructors in their study via observations, field work, interviews and questionnaires.

In conclusion, 90% of the ESPs responded positively and included more interactive, student-centered activities in their classes, their classes were more professionally oriented with a greater focus on speaking. EMI instructors described the support provided as ‘a miracle, unbelievable, etc.’ mainly because they had not been equipped with the necessary pedagogical knowledge to begin with. They commented that their confidence increased and they used clearer and more graded English while instructing.

The closing plenary talk was given by educational technology enthusiast and prolific course book author Lindsay Clanfield. He critically evaluated the Ed Tech craze, which has not fulfilled the miraculous promises that it once set out to make, for example, predictions such as “MOOC will take over the role of universities” or “traditional books will die as they will be digitalized.” Ten years later, we can see that while there are people who benefit from it, free MOOC courses are hard to maintain, and there are many people who demand traditional books to digitalized ones. Lindsay also criticized the fact that everything related to Ed Tech was promoted with positive connotations such as transforming lives, unleashing power, technology enhancement, computer assisted, whereas other important things in education such as exam development, teacher research and curriculum design do not get the same degree of enthusiasm.

Lindsay referred to the fact that many educational technological tools make use of established educational theories such as behaviorism in the context of gamification where users are encouraged to continue when successful and given warnings when they need to pay more attention. It was interesting to see his self-reflection and criticism of a topic he was once advocating for so fiercely.

Another closing session I found interesting was where four speakers (Katherine Bilsborough, Evan Frendo, Amol Padwad and Mercedes Viola) shared their thoughts on the future of materials, workplace readiness in English, and our roles as teachers. In terms of materials, it seems like there is a need to include diverse topics and inclusiveness of gender differences. Also, the quality of the materials that are accessible to teachers worldwide through the internet seems to be an issue that needs attention.

Secondly, the topic of including occupational English and soft skill development was reiterated, by referring to the fact that students need to be skilled in non routine activities that robots cannot do, to be employable. We should not be focusing on the 95% of routine interaction that robots can do, instead we should focus our attention on the 5% of interaction that involves problem solving, decision making, leading meetings, impression management, building credibility and leading virtual teamwork skills. Finally, Amol and Mercedes mentioned that our roles as teachers will continue to be important in the foreseeable future as influencers and game changers. The need for teachers will be a global challenge as the world will need 69 million teachers, half of whom will have to be English teachers. It will be hard to find qualified, empowered and motivated teachers who will need to be problem solvers, life-long learners and collaborative and critical thinkers.

Job applications in 2030: Do students have the right skills? by Tim Goodier and Mike Mayor was another session that we enjoyed and learned from. Highlighting the need to cater for the needs of 12-year-olds (now) who will be seeking jobs in 2030 that are probably nonexistent today. They both shared free resources that teachers, programme developers and trainers can make use of – Pearson Education – Global Scale of English https://www.pearson.com/english/about/gse.html

Even though it seems they are for English teachers only, we think that these tools could provide guidance to colleagues in the colleges. For example, this links shows the reading needs in academic contexts and at CEFR different levels.


The next speaker, Mark Mayor, also shared some relevant and free resources prepared by colleagues who work for the CEFR, reiterating that the framework descriptors are not prescriptive – https://rm.coe.int/cefr-companion-volume-with-new-descriptors-2018/1680787989 . This could be used/referred to while preparing courses and materials both in pre-tertiary and tertiary institutions.

In short, the main message behind all these sessions is that we need to re-think how we teach our students so that we are in line with how the world of work is changing. We need to improve our skills in teaching and training to enable students develop their employability skills for their future jobs and careers.

TTEd received a Fair List Certificate
The Fair List, UK celebrates excellence of gender balance in plenary speakers, keynote presenters or speaker panels at ELT events, annually, in the UK. (Please see www.thefairlist.org for more information). TTEd SIG was invited to the Fair List event for the PRON & TTEd Joint PCE event organized in Brighton, 2018. The event took place on Wednesday 3rd April 2019 from 7.00 to 8.00 pm at ACC Kings Dock Liverpool. The participants were asked to bring in balloons, streamers and noise makers.
A micro introduction was made about the Fair List. Then the certificates for 2018 events were presented to the representatives of the SIGs. Then it was time for refreshments sponsored by Greenall Florent Books. The scene was highly cheerful. TTEd SIG’s event coordinator Prof. Birsen Tutunis participated in the ceremony and received the certificate on behalf of the team.

TTEd’s Scholarship winners and their presentations
Teacher Training and Education Special Interest Group (TTEd SIG) had the chance to support two young colleagues’ participation in this year’s annual conference, as their application to TTEd SIG’s Gillian Porter Ladousse Scholarship were successful in 2018 and 2019. Eleni Symeonidou from Greece was our 2019 scholarship winner and Liverpool 2019 was her first IATEFL conference ever. Eleni presented her session called ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall: reflective meta-skills’. Her session highlighted how tricky oral and written reflective practices of novice teachers could be and involved practice-based techniques that were designed to guide developing teachers’ reflective skills. Eleni has been collecting feedback to improve the tools she has shared with the audience. More details of her work can be reached at TTEd SIG’s Spring 2019 Newsletter.

Elena Oncevksa Ager who come from North Macedonia is actually our scholarship winner of 2018. Elena’s scholarship had to be transferred to this year, as she was blessed with the happy occasion of being a mum. We are proud to announce that Elena’s joint workshop with Sarah Mercer took place in Teacher Development SIG’s Showcase Day ‘Drawing on positive psychology to support language teacher well-being’. Elena and Sarah emphasised how the well-being of teachers influences their work, which is instrumental the quality of their everyday work with their students. Elena and Sarah shared the details of the online course that was inspired by the principles of positive psychology they jointly developed and encouraged the participants to try out some ideas during the session. Elena will write an article to be published in our Fall 2019 newsletter.

TTEd SIG Show Case Day, Liverpool April 2, 2019

Tessa Woodward’s Workshop
Teaching and Training for a Long Time

Tessa Woodward stated at the beginning that she has been in the Teacher Development Programmes where they did lots of activities which she already knew. So, she said she would offer different ones which might catch teachers who have been in the field for long. She did four activities:

Activity 1- Generation Gap
They keep getting younger
Making a mindset would remind us the people we are working with.
Tessa wanted the audience to jot down the three things your students/trainees would do but you would never do, as well as things you would do but the trainees or students would never do.
We encourage the readers of this summary to the same.
The audience enjoyed doing this task on their own first, then sharing the ideas with the person sitting next.

Activity 2- Doing what makes sense
Tessa invited the audience to think about the following and complete the sentences below considering materials, beliefs, activities, habits).
Again, we invite the readers of this text to the same.
I used to………. and still do
I used to do…. but don’t anymore
I didn’t use to do ,,,,, but now I do

And, Tessa asked the audience to discuss in pairs ‘Why did it make sense to you to continue/stop/start?’ and we also invite you to reflect on these.

Activity 3 Talking shop
Tessa invited the audience to chat saying that good conversation can be invited but not commanded on a topic that is light hearted but heartfelt and set the ground rules as:
● No interrupting
● No unsolicited advice giving
● It is voluntary
● İt is confidential
The readers may wish to try it out with a colleague at work to get the sense of it.

Activity 4 What did I learn from this

Tessa finally invited the audience to reflect on their learning from the session and shared a reading list.

Maley A and N S Prabhu (1989) Interview The Teacher Trainer 3/3 pp 28-30 Pilgrims
Clark C (2001) Talking Shop Teachers College Press
Woodward T, Graves K and D Freeman Teacher Development Over Time (2018) Routledge

Connecting teacher education and teaching materials (Kathleen Graves & Sue Garton)

This was the first of two talks in our SIG Showcase for which we’d been allocated larger rooms – and a good thing too, as we had a really great turnout. Kathleen and Sue began by explaining the rationale for a focus on connecting materials and training: bridging the divide between trainee experiences on pre-service courses and the reality of teaching, and recognising the ubiquity of textbooks and other materials in teachers’ daily lives.

They explained that despite the prevalence of published teaching materials, most teachers haven’t been prepared as part of their training to evaluate, use or adapt materials, and that the way materials are actually used is subject to a host of external factors like teacher beliefs, class size, and so on.

Teacher educators therefore need to develop three areas:
1. Trainees’ understanding of the principles that underlie the materials they use – they can do this by analysing materials to uncover the principles they represent, and work to do prepare materials based on specific principles.
2. Trainees’ understanding of their own beliefs and assumptions about teaching – trainers can uncover these using metaphors, or sentence stems such as Language learners succeed best if…
3. Trainees’ skills in adapting or developing materials to meet the needs of students in specific contexts – these can be developed by evaluating materials with specific groups of students in mind, and dividing trainees into groups to design activities for specific groups of students, then comparing the outcomes and discussing differences.

From EFL to CLIL teacher in Estonia: Pain and gain (Nina Raud & Olha Orehhova)

The introduction of CLIL to state education curriculums is a growing trend, so it was fascinating to hear Nina and Olha from the University of Tartu talk us through their research on how teachers handle the transition to delivering CLIL lessons.

CLIL has a long history in Estonia as an approach to teaching Estonian in Russian-medium schools, but it’s only recently that the same approach has been applied to English. Nina and Olga tracked the progress of 17 EFL teachers embarking on a blended in-service training programme to develop their CLIL teaching skills, using two instruments to measure the teachers’ self-reported development.

What they found was that the course made a meaningful difference to teachers’ awareness and use of CLIL teaching practices, but concerns around the lack of time allowed for lesson preparation and support from school managers remained, even once the training programme had ended.