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One teacher's experience of the annual IATEFL conference.聽Vol.2: Hello Liverpool! 馃槂

Updated: May 3, 2021

Does that seem like a fitting start to this post? Yes! When you hear: Liverpool, you think: The Beatles 馃槏馃帶"

But that's just an added perk. The reason I went to Liverpool was this:

It was my third IATEFL conference. Last year I blogged about it everyday and you can read about here. Blogging about the conference and the sessions I attended made me remember so much more of what I've learnt that I could not NOT do it again this year! So now it's time to share and reflect. This year I am going to write only about the session I liked best. So here goes!

Day 1

The first session I attended was the the first plenary session of the whole event. It was delivered by Paula Rebolledo and dealt with teacher empowerment ... or rather, as it turned out, lack thereof. Rebolledo talked about how in our profession there exists a certain obsession with gurus. We wait for them to give us answers to all our questions and problems. She claims that because of that, we are disregarding and silencing the voices of the real experts - ourselves, the teachers teaching in the actual classrooms around the world. So what really happens is the empowerment of the gurus not the teachers. She said, and I quote, "teachers are used and abused but rarely empowered" in the true meaning of the word. She suggested that one possible way forward is teacher led professional development. But why am writing about all that when you can see it for yourselves here 馃榾

After the first session a theme started emerging for me. Learner autonomy is a very important and interesting subject for me so naturally I'm drawn to anything with "autonomy" in the title. This year, however, another word seems to be a trigger for me - coaching. I didn't plan it but somehow I've ended up attending five different sessions on language coaching throughout the conference 馃槄

So, one of the session on language coaching was done by Rachel Paling, director of Efficient Language Coaching and creator of Neurolanguage Coaching庐. She said a couple of interesting things and I'd like to mention three of her points:

1) Our brains like certainty so they need to see the big picture ("when will I be fluent?"). She said that what we should do is present our students with the whole concept of, let's say, the PRESENT and then chunk it down and teach the chunks. So the PRESENT would be: Present Simple + Present Continuous + stative verbs + present for future + 0 Conditional. If students see this before they start learning about, eg. Present Simple, they know exactly where they are in their learning process and that "calms the brain down".

2) The brain ALWAYS wants to connect with the native language. She claimed that our brains automatically go to native language comparison when they encounter a foreign language. Paling said that because of this during language coaching you should constantly ask, what she called, powerful questions which are questions relating to the native language of the student, like "what is this in your language", "how do you say that in your language". As a language coach one should provoke the associations with the native language. The more I know about the native language of my student the more I鈥檓 able to understand difficulties they might be experiencing.