Sunday, 17 June 2012

ALL London June Event 2012 - Thanks!

ALL London had another lovely morning together on 16th June 2012.

I have uploaded a short description to the website here: and if you click on the photo (featuring our own, our very own Prim interacting with her heroine, Rachel Hawkes!) this will take you to the Flickr stream of all the photos taken yesterday by Richard.

Thanks to:
  • The Language Centre of the LSE (and in particular Nick Byrne) who subsidised the cost of hiring the lovely accommodation - and a great helpful reception
  • Our sponsors Vocabexpress, Sanako, OUP and Network for Languages - all coordinated by Stephane Derone of Linguascope
  • The European Commission for all of the freebies!
  • Our fantastic speakers, James Stubbs, Jeremy Harmer and Rachel Hawkes [Click on their names for a link to their online 'presence' and relevant resources)
  • The national President of our Association, Bernadette Holmes who came to support and give us an up-date
  • The committee and other friends who all 'roll their sleeves up' to set it all up
  • The quality 'audience' who got up early on a Saturday morning and comfortably listened and interacted.. you were wonderful!
Personally I found the morning really interesting. Because we had three plenaries I got to hear more of the talks than I usually do (as I usually flit around checking all is OK in parallel rooms!). The speakers had not ‘collaborated' beforehand, but there was a clear link between all talks, and they cleverly drew attention to these links. (I always feel that is a real skill .. to be able to listen the weave a link and a response into what you have planned to say).
After hearing James Stubbs for about the fourth time, I am now DETERMINED to do more about getting more target language into my classroom .. it makes so much sense. So often we hear about the importance of being ‘immersed’ in language for it to ‘fix’ .. and what better immersive experience to exploit than the actual classroom routines and experiences which can all contain core structures which can subsequently be applied to other scenarios. I will never ever forget the difference between ‘why’ and ‘because’ in Spanish now, having had James thow me a pig in two halves (why are you late?) which I then had to Velcro together to answer ‘why’. This reminded me of the key reference sheet I produced some years ago and I have forgotten to issue recently ( I attach it!). And as for songs . . I have absolutely NO DOUBT of the power of song to fix language! When I am retired, perhaps I will devote the rest of my life to a scheme of work through song!!! I already have the publications James has already released, I’ve bought the new DVDs and look forward to getting a further ‘fix’ of his ideas, presented in such an engaging way. Here is the presentation he gave Do explore his blog – it’s wonderful!

I was absolutely delighted that Jeremy Harmer agreed to come and speak to us. I found his talk extremely thought-provoking … (if you go to his blog here you will see the questions he was addressing) ) and the way in which he presented the ideas was entertaining, stimulating and memorable. I will continue to debate the questions internally. I hope it is not simplifying my response too much to say that it reminded me that it really is worth taking time to reflect critically on the nature of learning and what sort of learning takes place in various different types of activities…and I agreed with Rachel’s observation in the lively debate that there is no ‘single answer’. (For what it’s worth, my own feeling is that variety is essential when you are teaching a class of 30 individuals... not all learners suit all activity-types .... but at the same time we must not be afraid of doing what may seem boring / repetitive exercises .. good pronunciation and understanding lots of ‘words’ are key to using language!) Jeremy’s air-bowing of the viola part to Elgar’sSerenade for Strings led to several comparisons between music and language training .. it would be great to have a separate thread to discuss this.  

Finally, it was as always an absolute delight to hear Rachel Hawkes who came along even though she is very very very busy at the moment! Lots of great ideas for methods which will keep pupils on board and learning within the constraints of our heavily assessed regime. Her site is an incredibly rich resource for all language teachers and I cannot recommend it highly enough: Go to the ‘presentation and training’ section and specifically the power point for our event is top right. And true to form, she is so thorough that you can actually read her ‘script’ in the notes layout ., thanks SO much Rachel! She also made reference to resources on the TES .. it is great that she is now overseeing the organisation of these great resources contributed by teachers. The area which particularly ‘spoke’ to me was that of listening. I love her ideas for making listening less ‘threatening.... more of a ‘collaborative learning experience’ than a ‘testing ’ exercise… one example of doing this was to assign ‘odd questions’ to some pairs and 'even questions’ to others before getting their responses . and guiding the repsone to be ‘we think that the answer is …’

And finally, many thanks to the All London committee who give up time to come to meetings during the year and just know what to do when they turn up at the venues! If anyone fancies joining us, just let us know!

Looking forward already to seeing people at our next events: Saturday October 20th 2012 (a social after the Language Show)' Saturday January 19th 2013 for 'The January Event' and Saturday June 15th 2013 for the next 'June Event' organised with Linguascope. (Follow the great page Linguascope has already set up!)

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