Italy TESOL, Rome November 2015
By jonhird, Nov 10 2015 09:44PM
I recently attended the Italy TESOL 2015 conference in Rome, at which I gave two workshops. The conference, celebrating '40 years and Moving On' was well attended with teachers from all over Italy and had a nicely positive and interactive atmosphere. The only plenary I managed to attend was given by Henry Widdowson, whose name I've long been familar with but have never seen give a talk before. Speaking from notes from behind a chair placed on a table, and to a packed room, he talked about ENL and ELF. Other plenaries were given by Diane Larsen-Freeman, Russell Stannard and Paul Braddock. I particularly enjoyed Luke Prodromou's workshop on using the performance skills of voice, facial expression and body posture in teaching.
Both my workshops were well attended by enthusiastic and active participants and for me were very enjoyable and rewarding. My first workshop was on ideas for Extended Speaking in the Classroom. As well as proposing a simple tried-and-tested speaking activity, the workshop included a look at the usefulness and importance of planning prior to undertaking the actual speaking task. A simple planning stage allows the learner to begin to formulate both propositional content and lingusitic content, which can result in increased fluency, complexity and accuracy. The workshop drew on a range of research by the likes of Pauline Foster, Peter Skehan, Rod Ellis and Gillian Wigglesworth as well as my own MA research, which investigated the effects of pre-task planning on grammatical accuracy in classroom speaking tasks.
My second workshop, on the Saturday, was on Aspects of Contemporary English. We started off considering David Crystal's notion of non-standard grammar and looked at a few examples of this. This led us into the use of 'innit', the myriad of uses of 'like' and the very recent trend among younger speakers of dropping 'to' and the article after the verb 'go', as in 'I'm going gym'. Along the way we also looked at aspects of teen-speak and discussed its typical transiency. We then moved on to look at verbing, which seems to be being used with increasing abandon and creativity. The session was illustrated by a range of images and other examples of contemporary language use, largely photographed and collected by me.
It was also great to catch up with some of my Italian teacher friends, fellow presenters and colleagues from OUP. And I of course managed to make the most of my time and spend a day or two exploring wonderful Rome, which was enjoying a glorious November summer.
The handouts for my conference talks 'Extended Speaking in the Classroom' and 'Aspects of Contemporary English' are available on the Downloads page.