3 Apr 2007

Thoughts on Language World 2007

Well now that I've had time to recover, I thought I'd better jot down some things about Language World, the ALL's annual conference. I enjoyed quite a lot this year, and as it's my fourth visit, I would say it has been worthwhile. The venue is probably the best of the ones I've visited, I have to say that Manchester last year wasn't brilliant - especially the room laid aside for lunch, and there seemed to be a few more stalls at the exhibition than last year. I wonder whether anyone actually buys things at these stalls.

Having driven up from Ipswich (or should that be across) at 5.30am, I was ready for some strong coffee, which I got, with jammy dodger accompaniment. Ernesto Macaro's talk was very interesting, and my decision not to take notes was proved foolish when he ran out of hand outs. I'd be grateful if anyone else who was there could scan/email a copy!

I then attended Ewan McIntosh's talk. I saw him at last year's LW, and found him to be very interesting. Having met him in Liverpool back in October, and having had some help from him in setting up the Northgate MFL blog, I was quite keen to listen to him again. I like his style of delivery, and the fact that he makes his presentations very visual. Most stimulating.

Lord Dearing and Dr Lid King were next up on the menu, and it was quite a comforting and reassuring talk. Lord Dearing has put forward some common sense recommendations regarding the future of language teaching, and I think everybody left the room feeling a little more at ease.

After more coffee, and a cheese fest for lunch, I called in to see René Koglbauer's talk on Plenaries. I met René this time last year on a British Council visit to Bavaria, and it was nice to see him again. His plenaries were all very good - he had a PowerPoint nightmare towards the end of the talk - but managed to pull it off well. I do have sympathy with his classes though, who had to trial all of the plenaries to see if they worked!!

To end the day I went to the talk on 'Harnessing Multimedia', run by Fiona Hilton and Richard Henderson, two teachers from the north of England who had been using mobile phones and digital video to motivate students and promote creativity. It's one of those funny things, alluded to in a previous post, as to whether it works or not. The project was supported by CILT, and both school's seemed to rate the outcome. On a positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the end results, but I have difficulty seeing how that could work in my school. I will still have fun trying to investigate the possibilities.

The conference dinner was the usual schmooze fest, seeing friendly faces and meeting new ones. The belly dancing was a novel feature, and I'll leave it at that.

Saturday was a technology day, with visits to the E-Creativity in Language Learning seminar, followed by a trip to see SoccerLingua. The e-creativity seminar follwed nicely in the footsteps of the harnessing multimedia talk from Friday, and it does show that video, used effectively, can serve as a motivational tool for students. SoccerLingua, on the other hand, didn't overly impress me due to the relatively short life span that the materials have.

I then ended my stay in Oxord by taking in Joe Dale's 'Death by PowerPoint' presentation. For me, this was a refresher course in the joys of using PowerPoint. Joe talks very well, and did well to race through his talk in the alloted time. Joe, like Ewan is someone I first came across at last year's LW, and he has proved to be a great help for us with the blogging and podcasting.

Why don't you let me know what you though of this years Language World?

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