IATEFL 2019: Breathing life into language learning for secondary learners with Amanda Davies

secondary learners amanda davies

The International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language or IATEFL Conference, taking place in Liverpool from 2nd-5th April 2019, is a major event that the entire ELT industry looks forward to each year.

It gathers over 3,000 ELT professionals from more than 100 countries to share their experience, pass on their knowledge and discuss the industry’s prevailing challenges and trending topics.

Pearson is a proud sponsor of the conference and we hope to see many of you at IATEFL in Liverpool.

You can keep up-to-date with everything going on with our dedicated IATEFL 2019 page.

In anticipation of the conference, during the next few weeks, we will be introducing the presenters of the 14 Pearson sessions that will explore some of the ELT industry’s biggest challenges.

In our last IATEFL post we spoke to Leonor Corradi, who told us about monitoring learners’ progress with the Global Scale of English Teacher Toolkit.

The next speaker we would like to spotlight is Amanda Davies, who will be speaking about language learning for secondary learners – how to set learning objectives and engage with teenagers to improve their learning experience.

Her talk will take place on Wednesday, 3rd April at 3:00 pm in Room 3a.

Real-world, relevance, resonance – breathing life into language learning for secondary learners with Amanda Davies

As with any age group, teenagers come with their own unique set of challenges. They are not always the easiest to motivate and are much more likely to question what they are being told than other age groups, not only by their teachers but by their parents and peers too. The result? We spend a lot more time responding to statements and questions such as ‘It’s boring!’, ‘What’s the point?’ and ‘But we already know this!’.

As teachers, there are a few ways we can respond. One option is to abandon the learning activity completely. Sometimes it’s not until we’re in the classroom that we realise we’ve misjudged a task and the students are actually right – it misses the point. In this case, it can be best to move on to something else entirely to make the best use of the limited time we have with each group.

Another option is to adapt what we are doing so that it better meets the needs of the students. Perhaps we realise it was too difficult or too easy in which case we can add some scaffolding or additional challenges.

The third option is to plough on regardless. Sometimes we teachers really do know what’s best, and the students just have to get on with it. After all, learning isn’t easy, and in life we constantly have to do things we don’t want to do. But too much of this approach will do nothing to establish an atmosphere conducive to learning in your classroom.

There is another option and that is to really engage with what the students are telling you. If they think the task is boring, why exactly do they think this? Is it too easy? Too challenging? Too complicated? If they can’t see the point in doing something then perhaps you need to help them see the benefits. If they tell you they already know something – great! Acknowledge their insights, praise their contributions and adapt your lesson plan to focus on the things that they don’t already know. Highlighting the gaps in their knowledge will motivate them to work hard and see the value in the time they spend in the classroom.

But what is the best way to gather this information, and at what stage of the lesson? Time for language learning is limited, and teenagers are not always the best at articulating their feelings.

What will you learn?

In this session, Amanda will share a series of lesson ideas based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The practical ideas give teenagers plenty of choices so they can take control of their learning and focus on the real-life issues that matter to them.

She will also show you how you can further enhance this by sharing learning objectives to ensure that students, as well as their teachers, are fully aware of the progress they are making and what they need to do to improve.

What will you take away from the workshop?

By the end of the session, you should feel confident constructing your own learning objectives or using a tool such as the Global Scale of English’s ready-made bank of objectives.

Are you coming to IATEFL 2019? Get to know our authors, chat with experts, meet colleagues from around the world and exchange ideas with the brightest and the best.

Find out more about what’s going on through our dedicated IATEFL 2019 page.

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