Learning Technologies SIG P.C.E. – Adrian Holliday “Web-based learning, cultural travel and claiming the world”

I had an email through yesterday, telling me this P.C.E. would be streamed live and so it is that at 11.00 C.E.T. (10.00 B.S.T.) I’m waiting for my first IATEFL Harrogate experience to begin unexpectedly early! Happy days, as I was disappointed not to be able to attend one of the P.C.E.’s in person this year. 

I first discovered Adrian Holliday during my M.A. ELT studies at Leeds Met last year – The struggle to teach English as an international language featured, as did a chapter in an edited book from Routledge about Applied Linguistics that I read, not to mention the journal articles. He comes across very strongly in his writing – a man with opinions, which he isn’t afraid to express! So I was delighted to discover that I have the opportunity to watch him talk via the live-streaming despite not being able to attend the P.C.E. day.

Here are the notes I made during this talk:

Adrian Holliday: Web-based cultural travel and claiming the world

Adrian says he has never thought of himself as a technology person but does like technology, and is happy to be here in his home area, able to eat in Betty’s restaurant, and to have had a good night’s sleep!

The topic connects with something he is very interested in – cultural travel and claiming the world. What tech does is bring out something that has often been hidden. Web-based and digital tech liberate a world that has been hidden.

“Young people on the march” – teachers in Iran can’t cope, there are so many youn people learning language and they are way ahead of their teachers. Inspiring but can be worrying if we don’t allow things to open up. This is what this talk aims to do.

Multi-literacies and claiming secret sites of learning

Holliday cites a secondary school in Hong Kong, demonstrating the power of technology to reach students, then a Sri Lankan secondary school with American textbooks with glosses scribbled in by learners that characterise their interests. They write their own script onto the dialogue. They convert what they get, out of sight of the teacher. He speaks of the amazing creativity of university learners in Kuwait and then inner-London secondary schools in the UK, where students play with each others’ languages, demonstrating incredible skill, and Chinese secondary school students’ diaries again demonstrating immense creativity. Teachers may think learners lack autonomy, but in fact learners may practice their autonomy in private by themselves.

Autonomy, authenticity and choice

Holliday believes that everybody has the innate ability to be autonomous and that people practice it privately, but that it is not always visible in the classroom because the classroom doesn’t allow it to work. He provides an example of technology bringing creativity and choice into the language learning environment, making it visible where it was hidden and secret. He is strong in his views that British or American models should be moved away from, but accepts that learners may choose them as not the core but something exotic. They are attracted by the “brand”. He says it becomes in the domain of motivation rather than that of model.

We are moving away from a native speaker norms:

When we think about technology, we need to remember that a lot of research has gone on that has changed the way we think about language. English can attach itself to any cultural reality. He quotes Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche’s use of “How did you come out this morning?” as a greeting between people in a book of hers, and says we all know what it means, but that most teachers would not allow that kind of language in the classroom but that we should actually allow language learners the freedom to work by themselves and bring stuff like this in from their communities, expanding English as never before.

Holliday moves on to discuss India and how people may speak five different languages, a multi-lingual society. So you become a native speaker not of a particular language but of the whole linguistic repertoire that you use. (Quoting Rajogopolan, 2012) and then a Syrian student who he described as travelling within the language according to her use of it.

“You speak the language, not let the language speak you. ….To stamp the language with your identity”(Clements and Higgins, 2008) Holliday thinks that technology allows this sort of thing to come into clear view.

Taking care of identity

Holliday describes coming from your own cultural background and claiming the world, as taking it on in your own terms – a kind of “bottom-up globalisation”.

He describes Norton (2014)’s quote “Learner’ – camera – ‘journalist'” – mentioning the questions that were attached with regards to who gives the camera and why do they need to?

The internet provides incredible exposure to things across the world. So is there an existing cultural capital that has the resilience to withstand the images from elsewhere? For the picture of Italian learners that Holliday displayed earlier, he thinks yes. He doesn’t believe that anyone lacks cultural capital or identity but that we have to be careful, and this is where the role of the teacher comes in. There is a large role for the teacher in providing social support. As young people are very able to work with new devices, they might not know the strategies this could be used for. He is interested in the ethics, morality and control of using blogs, as discussed in Gollobin (2014). When the students in that study began to blog, they were freed from their identity. They don’t lose anything but they can be whatever they wanted to be. You wouldn’t know age/race/gender/class from their writing. Any newcomers could go on the blog and work out exactly where they should be on the programme and position themselves.

Underlying universal cultural processes

Holliday offers us some theory from his own work:

Cultural background: national, regional or religious ‘culture’ doesn’t confine you or bind you but provides you with cultural resources. Different people will bring different cultural resources. This explains why somebody in Gollobin’s (ibid) class who has never done blogging before, as soon as they work out the basics of what to do, they knew what to do. They drew on experiences and skills which they could bring to this. But there’s something else there that ties everything together. Universal underling cultural processes. How we all engage with culture everywhere in a similar way, in terms of constructing and engaging with social rules and relationships.

Holliday is a cultural traveller when he reads Jane Austen. We are all cultural travellers whenever we go anywhere or read anything. We bring things from our own background that help us to unlock what is happening elsewhere. When you visit the family next door, as a child, that is your first major culture shock. And you have to work out how to be yourself in a completely different domain from what you’re used to. It’s this underlying ability that enables us to travel culturally. All the students referred to earlier in the talk are doing this, but doing it outside the classroom. Holliday thinks that technology should enable use to bring it INTO the classroom.

Holliday doesn’t think you need to learn another culture in order to learn another language. You need to recognise existent cultural resources and how they can be used.

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But there are somethings that get in the way. What? 

  • outdated ideas about English and Culture: he has spoken to young people who tells him that their teachers tell them they must speak British English or they won’t be understood. In this day and age, teachers and parents are telling their children/students this.
  • cultural disbelief: we must never believe that people come from somewhere that makes them wired in a way as not to be able to use technology: we mustn’t deny the value of existing experience, it is rich and productive, wherever people come from, whatever their experiences.
  • institutional structures which don’t allow space: they’ve kept the creativity of students hidden and marginalise what can be done with technology.
  • empty bullet points
  • existing curriculum:  clinging to positivist research approaches
  • do not get beneath the surface: what we know about society across the world is struggling at the margins because the big narratives tell us that people can’t, when actually people can. We have to learn from the margins.
  • Top down globalisation: the western idea that certain people don’t have autonomy etc.

Holliday thinks that we need to be strategically unobtrusive. Language learners are more creative than we imagine, but we don’t see it, then teaching can actually get in the way. Technology puts technology and experience between teacher and student, somehow. Holliday thinks teachers need to step back and let the technology work by itself. To allow students to be who they want to be and bring what they can from their background. Somehow you have to allow space to be there, which the students can populate in their own terms. So what we mustn’t do is go around telling people how they should behave with technology. Holliday worries about the larger than life language teacher, always there in the middle. He thinks autonomy needs to be de-centred.

You need to ask questions without dominating questions and not ask questions which push your agenda. The technology is there, the opportunity is there, people have the wherewithal to stamp their own identity and take things where they want them to go.

Holliday finished there, and there were a couple of minutes for questions…

Q: Do you think the identity is because they are learning a new language and later their identity would in fact be seen in their writing?

AH: This wasn’t a matter of removing identity but protecting identity. When you learn a new language you bring your identity into the language and populate it, there is expansion and things move on. But you’ve got to protect peoples’ private choices about what they do with their identity. But I don’t believe that when you learn English, you get a new identity, you expand your existing one into the language. 

Q. Are emergent and secret forms of learning a threat to the teacher? 

A.H: Yes I think they are. I think you have to be quite an agile and confident teacher to deal with this sort of thing. The job is shifting from someone who projects a model of the language to someone who facilitates learning. We are asking a huge amount of teachers to be able to field and work with this emergent creativity.Going back to the example of the lang students in Hong Kong, the story goes that the teachers weren’t able to deal with the creativity of the students so used the excuse that cultural background wouldn’t allow them to be creative, so the teachers were using the excuse to protect their domain, have to be very careful. 

At this point I had to depart – duty called! But thank you to Adrian Holliday for a very interesting talk and to the LT SIG for streaming it! A great start to IATEFL 2014, for me! (An aside: Adrian  Holliday doesn’t look anything like I imagined! )

Here is a screen shot of the references slide – not very clear, sorry,  but am sure the references will be available elsewhere online anyway!

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IATEFL Harrogate 2014: What *I’m* looking forward to…and how about you?

It’s nearly time for IATEFL 2014! I’m sure we’ve all been trawling through the programme pdf and the app, seeing what’s on and getting excited – well, I have anyway! I think anticipation is such a fun part of it all!  

Here are the workshops/talks/events going on that have caught my eye so far:

Wednesday

(Unfortunately I’m going to miss most of Wednesday, but if I were going to be there on Wednesday, my timetable might look like this…)

  • Plenary session by David Graddol: English and economic development [at least this I can catch the recording of… I wonder if I will be able to watch some of the live stream while travelling? Time will tell…]
  • Session 1: Either EAP writing: getting down and dirty by Richard Hillman [because I’m hoping to be teaching on a pre-sessional course at a university this summer] or Demand High and lost learning by Adrian Underhill [because who doesn’t like watching Adrian Underhill talk!]
  • Session 2: Global coursebooks: helpful scaffold or debilitating crutch by Heather Buchanan and Julie Norton [because I participated in the research that fed into this talk and and am curious about the outcome; also because Heather was my tutor and dissertation supervisor during my M.A. ELT at Leeds Met, so I know that what she has to say is good value!]
  • Session 3: More than just a worksheet: writing effective classroom materials by Rachael Roberts [because she has a great blog full of useful and interesting ideas, as well as lots of materials writing experience, so I could learn a lot from this session. Plus she’s involved with MaW SIG and has, in that capacity, already commented on some materials I’ve made, so I’m very interested to meet her! 14.05-14.50…will I have arrived yet? Will it be recorded? Have to wait and see…]
  • Session 4: Do materials writers have principles? by Jill Hadfield [Another MaW SIG SIG day speaker, and another person I’m interested to meet! Also because I read a lot about materials development during my M.A. and am interested in the topic and the process. The question is, will I make it in time?]
  • Session 5: Tech Hacks for classroom activities, materials writing and course design by Andy Johnson [because this workshop sounds really useful and practical and relates to technology AND teaching AND materials writing AND course design – what more could you want! 😉 Hmmm, I might actually have made it to the conference by this point! Here’s hoping!]
  • Session 6: Materials Writing Special Interest Group Open Forum  [Please let my flight/trains not be delayed, so I’m at least there in time to go to this session! Golden opportunity to meet other people who are interested in materials writing and the MaW SIG committee!]

Thursday

  • Session 1: How to get published in a refereed journal with Graham Hall (08.15 to 08.45) and Plenary session by Kathleen Graves [because I want to be published in a refereed journal at some point and Kathleen’s talk looks really interesting!]
  • Session 2: Academic writing materials: from research to online delivery [because this looks like a really interesting materials writing project, involving making and using a corpus.]
  • Session 3: A fresh approach to advanced listening practice by Sheila Thorn [because this sounds both interesting and directly useful – ideas to take into the classroom and try with my advanced gang as soon as I get back to Palermo!]
  • Session 4: Content, consumption and production: three types of ELT textbook research by Nigel Harwood [because I got to know his name during my studies and I’m intrigued to put a face to it… Also because the talk looks interesting!]
  • Session 5: Upgrade! Demand High to bring a grammar lesson alive by Jim Scrivener [because he’s always a pleasure to watch and generally sends you away armed with tons of ideas that you can try out next time you walk into a classroom!]
  • Session 6: Sit out – to remember what on earth it is I am going to say in Session 7
  • Session 7: Bridging the gap between learning materials and an English-speaking environment by Lizzie Pinard. [Well, I had really better attend my own talk, hadn’t I!!]

Friday

  • Plenary session by Michael Hoey [because who’d miss it! Michael Hoey is awesome – I saw him present at MATSDA last year, never seen a more crazily energetic presenter: should be the perfect way to energise oneself for the day, better than a coffee!]
  • Session 1: How do engineers say that? Encouraging academic independence by Julie Moore [because this talk combines my future professional needs – how to EAP – and my current professional interests – how to help learners become more independent!]
  • Session 2: Teaching English for Academic Purposes: insights from experience by Penny Ur [because it sounds like it will be a very useful session, where I can hopefully learn from her and everybody else’s experiences, which will help me when I move into EAP teaching]

[Looking at my planner, the next few sessions are where it gets complicated! – read: multiple overlaps!]

  • Session 3: I need to choose between… i. Making the most of minimal material by Kate Evans [because personal experience of learning from her means I know what she says is worth hearing! Plus it looks interesting!]; ii. Professional development in the experimental practice jungle by Christina Rebuffet-Broadus and Jennie Wright [because it sounds like a lot of fun as well as useful take-away tips] iii Stepping into the real world: transitioning listening by Sandy Millin [because there will be lots of useful take away and Sandy does awesome stuff!]

Which to choose? Answers on a postcard… 

  • Session ? [getting confused now, lots of little numbers in the app!] but the tail-end of the creativity symposium that starts in Session 3 – I’d like to see Brian Tomlinson’s talk Creative use of the coursebook because I’ve discovered we share similar ideas with regards to the role of the teacher and the role of learning materials, and because it sounds like there will be some useful take-away that I can apply directly on my return and beyond.

Saturday

  • Session 1: How to move from being a teacher to becoming a teacher trainer with Silvana Richardson and Plenary session by Sugatra Mistry [the first because teacher training is an avenue I’m interesting in exploring in my career and then because Sugatra’s talk sounds intriguing!]
  • Session 2: Twenty things in twenty years: this much I know by Hugh Dellar [because his blog has inspired me a lot, as did the talk I saw him do at IATEFL last year. Am looking forward to seeing him talk again and hopefully meeting him this time.]
  • Session 3: Write here, write now by Fiona Johnston [because I’m using various online communication platforms with my learners, so this talk interests me as another potential avenue to explore within this.]
  • Session 4: Motivating students in the EFL classroom by Elizabeth Davies [because she motivated me hugely when I was a CELTA trainee at Sheffield ELTC and because the role of motivation in language learning is hugely interesting to me – I’ve read a lot about it during the last six months as well as studying it during my M.A.]
  • Closing plenary: session by Jackie Kay, to bring it all to an end for 2014. [Shhh, don’t think about that yet!]

What talks are you looking forward to?

Comment and see if you can convince me there’s something else I need to see too! 🙂 – Or help me decide between my clashes…!

Non-talk related things I’m looking forward to:

  • Meeting people! As in meeting new people and catching up with old friends/colleagues/various lovely ex-tutors… IATEFL is such a grand social occasion! So please say hi if you see me! 🙂 And all the talking that goes with it. Nothing like a good discussion!
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This is me! (I shall try and carry this turquoise scarf with horses on it around either on my neck(!) or tied to my bag so you can identify me! 😉 )

  • Leeds Met M.A. ELT/Delta Q and A: I shall be hanging out with the Leeds Met lot, in capacity of ex-student willing to answer questions about my experience, probably on Friday morning during the break. Come and see what it’s all about if you like! 🙂 [Exact time and location tbc – I will update this post with details of location once I know them, so check back if you are interested!]
  • The exhibition: When I’m not running like a headless chicken from talk to talk, I must make time to have a look round all the lovely, colourful stands and see what all the exhibitors are so keen to show us all! 🙂
  • Just…being part of it: Just being there, part of all the buzz, soaking up all the positive energy and idea-sharing going on – a recipe for motivation and renewed vigour if ever there was one! 🙂

What else have I missed? What are you looking forward to?

Tell me what you’re looking forward to, what you’re excited about,  by commenting on this post: The more excitement, the merrier!

See you in IATEFL in a few days! 🙂

IATEFL 2014 – “Chain Reaction” interview with Mura Nava

“I choose two or three of this year’s registered bloggers and introduce them on my blog. These bloggers then in turn choose other registered bloggers and interview them… and so it goes on until you all have a good idea of who will be blogging about this years event.”  

I did my first chain reaction interview with Sandy Millin. This second one is with Mura Nava, who I discovered via my interest in and series of blog posts on wordandphrase.info (which is an interface for analysing a corpus – the COCA in this case) : Mura has a keen interest in corpus linguistics too. (For a list of the talks at IATEFL which are related to this area, see Mura’s first IATEFL 2014-related post .)

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Nearly time for IATEFL, wherever you are in the world! Click this image to find out how to follow online.

Here are Mura’s answers to the questions I got from Adam and adapted for use with Mura, who isn’t attending live but will be following avidly online:

Please introduce yourself

My name in Mura, I work as an English teacher in France. I have a soon to be 2 year old son who is at that age which is really interesting if you are into language learning. His current favourite word now (after ballon) is pantalon.

Which sessions are you looking forward to watching live or online this year? 

Well only the plenaries have been revealed as being filmed so for sure has to be Michael Hoey’s session. I have also heard that Russ Mayne’s (@ebefl) talk will be taped so will watch that.

I am hoping that Simon Smith’s session on Using lecture notes to create domain corpora will be taped, if not maybe one of your Harrogate-2014-going readers will cover it 🙂

Why are you interested in the areas represented by the talks/workshops you want to see?

I have seen Michael Hoey talk before and he is both informative and entertaining, I know Russ Mayne from twitter so be great to see him chat in real life and I am very interested in corpora and language learning/teaching so the session by Simon Smith suits me great.

What do you hope to learn from the sessions you plan to watch?

From Simon Smith’s session how to get students to build their own corpora as I am part of a project that will deal with similar issues.

Do you blog? Could you tell us about your blogs (s)?

Yes I do at eflnotes.wordpress.com though I am more active on the Google+ community for corpus linguistics – https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101266284417587206243

What other aspects of the conference are you looking forward to?

The online forum discussions sometimes throws up good stuff.

Why did you sign up as an IATEFL registered blogger?

I have been doing it last 2 years and in fact in 2012 coincided with me launching my blog (properly, as I had written first post sometime before then) so I remember how it helped me with an instant audience.

Thanks, Mura! I hope you enjoy following IATEFL online and that lots of the talks you’ve ear-marked are covered via filming or blogging! 

 

IATEFL 2014 – “Chain Reaction” interview with Sandy Millin

In the lead up to the IATEFL 2014 Harrogate conference, Adam Simpson has started a ‘chain reaction‘ blog challenge:

“I choose two or three of this year’s registered bloggers and introduce them on my blog. These bloggers then in turn choose other registered bloggers and interview them… and so it goes on until you all have a good idea of who will be blogging about this years event.”  

I have firstly decided to interview Sandy Millin, with whom I attended my first IATEFL and who got me into things like blogging, using Edmodo and not using ten words where three will do when it comes to writing instructions! She’s an inspiration to teachers and students alike. For this interview, I used the same set of questions that Adam gave me.

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Follow all the conference goings on at IATEFL online!

Here are the questions and Sandy’s answers:

 

  • Please introduce yourself

My name’s Sandy Millin. I’ve been the Director of Studies at International House Sevastopol since September 2013. As I’m sure you’ve probably seen in the news, it’s in Crimea, which is probably now in Russia, although some people may argue with that! I’ve been teaching EFL for seven years, and have previously taught in Borneo, Paraguay, the Czech Republic and the UK.

 

  • Could you give us brief details about your session at IATEFL 2014?

My session is called ‘Stepping into the real world: transitioning listening’. It’s on Friday 4th April, 14:35-15:20 in Room R. It’ll also be available on my blog afterwards if you can’t make it: http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/iatefl2014

 

  • What should your audience expect to learn?

It’s a workshop, so there’ll be practical activities showing how to help your students prepare for real-world listening, which can often be quite different from coursebook listening.

 

  • Why are you interested in the area you’ll be presenting on?

I got interested in this area while working in Newcastle in the UK. My students came from all over the world, and no matter how high their level was, they almost all had trouble with listening, both to other students in the class and people in the outside world.

During my Delta, I did one of my observed lessons on listening, and read John Field’s Listening in the Language Classroom at Lizzie Pinard’s recommendation. It was really useful, and completely changed the way I approach listening. I’d like to share some of that at IATEFL.

 

  • Do you blog? Could you tell us about your blog(s)?

I have three blogs, although two of them having been ‘sleeping’ for a year or so.

My main one is at http://sandymillin.wordpress.com. I normally write about teaching and share materials, although recently I’ve been writing a lot about the situation in Sevastopol and Crimea. That’s where I’ll be doing my IATEFL blogging too.

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Visit Sandy’s blog!

Independent English is designed for students. On it there are ideas for how to become a more autonomous learner.

Infinite ELT Ideas is a set of prompts. The idea is that people look at the prompts and leave comments suggesting how they would use them in class. This worked better when I first started the blog!

 

  • What other aspects of the conference are you looking forward to?

My favourite thing about IATEFL is the social side. I can honestly say that IATEFL Glasgow and IATEFL Liverpool were two of the best weeks of my life. It’s great to be surrounded by passionate educators, and people who really want to improve themselves, and I always go away on a huge high. I’ll particularly enjoy IATEFL Harrogate as it will probably be my last one for a while – it’s not so easy to get there now I live in Crimea!
This year I’ll also be adding two whole new experiences to my repertoire: I’ll be presenting at the Pecha Kucha evening on Friday 4th April. If you’ve never seen one, a Pecha Kucha is a presentation made up of 20 slides, each lasting 20 seconds. The presenter has no control over the slides, and just has to keep up with them for the 6 minutes and 40 seconds they run for. If the test runs I’ve done are anything to go by, I’ll be very out of breath by the end, but I’m really looking forward to it! The other new experience is the fact that it’ll be livestreamed, so you can watch it at IATEFL Harrogate Online  🙂

 

  • Why did you sign up as an IATEFL registered blogger?

I’ll be blogging a lot while I’m at IATEFL, so it makes sense to be a registered blogger! It also means you’re part of the patchwork of the IATEFL experience, and you can get a fuller picture of the whole event. Only a few days to go now…

 

Thank you Sandy! I hope you have a great IATEFL 2014 and am looking forward to seeing you there! 🙂 

See you at IATEFL?

It’s that time of year again, nearly time for the 2014 IATEFL annual conference,this year to be held in Harrogate. Are you going?

I am – thanks to the kindness and support of my employers who are allowing me to attend! Also thanks to the generosity of Leeds Metropolitan University who are fully funding my attendance via a scholarship. And, this year, I shall be presenting for the very first time. (!!)

The title of my talk is:

“Bridging the gap between learning materials and an English-speaking environment”

Here is the abstract:

Private language schools often send their learners out to interview people in the streets, but could these learners get more out of this activity? This talk explores how task-based learning and an intercultural approach can be combined to develop materials that enable learners to benefit more fully from a potentially rich learning opportunity and develop their intercultural communication skills. 

My talk will take place on Thursday the 3rd April at 1745 and will last until 1815: 20 minutes of me talking (but don’t worry that includes you talking too!) and 10 minutes for questions/discussion. The room I’m in apparently holds 180 people – the more the merrier?! This talk is based on the approaches I used in my materials that I made for my dissertation project (which were recently shortlisted for one of the British Council ELTons). If you are at IATEFL and haven’t already tootled off to the pub by that point, it would be great to see you in the audience! (Am *really* hoping not to find myself presenting to an enormous room with about five people in it…)

Of course, if you aren’t able to make it to Liverpool, there will be lots of talks and interviews recorded, and some sessions streamed live. You can find all this and more on the British Council IATEFL Harrogate online website. (Click on the image below)

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Bring IATEFL Harrogate 2014 to your sofa! 🙂

I’ve also registered as an IATEFL Harrogate 2014 blogger and aim to upload a few posts based on the presentations I watch, as well as my conference experiences. I will also post a write-up of my talk and my references in due course. So, watch this space! 🙂

I’d love to meet any of you who read my blog, so do come and say hi if you happen to see me!