Going to IATEFL 2016?

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Birmingham_Logo_webHere’s our annual round-up of the talks which – according to the information in the official conference programme – appear to be related to pronunciation/listening for ELF, or ELF in general.

Oh, and by the way – Laura will be attending this year’s conference, so look out for her! We’re always happy to chat about issues surrounding pron teaching and English as a lingua franca.

Wednesday 13 April

10:40-11:25 – Hugh Dellar (Hall 1) – English futures: retooling teaching for tomorrow’s learners

It’s not super-clear in the programme how ELF-oriented this talk will be, but the abstract reads: “As a global lingua franca, English is seen as a vital ’21st Century skill’. However, the real future needs for English will be at the high proficiency end and the low, with little need in the middle. This raises questions about our inherited 20th Century approach to teaching grammar rules and word lists. I aim to unpick these thorny issues.”

12:35-13:05 – Hassan Qutub (Hall 10a) – Arab EFL teachers: foreign accent strength and pronunciation corrective feedback

The abstract for this session reads: “This talk aims to present some parts of a doctoral research work in progress. I, the researcher, have looked at the relationship between EFL teachers’ degree of foreign accent and their perceptions of accented speech. I have also investigated the relationship between Arab EFL teachers’ degree of foreign accent and their views of providing pronunciation corrective feedback in the classroom.”

We’re curious to see how the researcher defined and assessed the “degree of foreign accent” of the teachers in this research.

16:00-16:45 – Rudi Camerer & Judith Mader (Andante) – Cultural concepts and language: progressing from EFL to ELF?

At last year’s conference, the room for Rudi Camerer’s talk was completely packed, and it seems they’ve given him a marginally bigger room this year (70 people capacity). The abstract for this session in the conference programme reads: “Is English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) really a language without cultural roots? And will using English globally always be successful, as long as both parties speak it “well”? There is empirical evidence to the contrary. What does this mean for the teaching (and testing) of English? Practical examples and teaching suggestions for written and oral communication will be given.”

16:00-16:45 – Maria Parker, Carson Maynard & Brenda Imber (Hall 10a) – Assessing intelligibility: teacher-friendly materials and activities

The conference abstract for this session acknowledges how problematic the notion intelligibility is, given that it is so dependent on who is speaking to whom. And of course, a major focus of this very blog is the fact that native-speaker listeners are increasingly unlikely to be the judges of L2 speakers’ intelligibility in today’s world. So we’re a bit disappointed to see that the speakers in this session nevertheless focus on “NS audio models” to assess L2 speakers’ intelligibility.

Here’s the full abstract: “Intelligibility is “a moving target, depending on the interlocutors … and other elements of context” (Levis 2010). Yet teachers must provide actionable recommendations and measure student progress. Using a free web resource featuring NS audio models of high-frequency lexical bundles, participants will assess selected pronunciation features of NNS recordings, compare responses, and discuss how to curate provided materials to their own settings.”

Thursday 14 April

12:30-13:00 – Lewis Lansford (Hall 5) – The world’s language: using authentic non-native input in the classroom

This speaker looks likely to cover a topic we’ve also blogged about – using authentic recordings of proficient L2 speakers in class to help learners accommodate to a wider variety of English accents than the native speaker varieties which typically feature in coursebooks. (Here’s a post Katy wrote featuring numerous TED talk videos, and here’s another post Laura wrote featuring a lesson plan to follow to develop learners’ ability to understand different accents.) The abstract for this session reads: “Globally, the majority of English-language conversations don’t involve a native speaker. Using TED talks by non-native English speakers, this session will explore these questions: What are the teaching implications of English as a Lingua Franca? How should we approach non-standard or ungrammatical input? What materials prepare learners for real-world communication?”

17:25-17:55 – Robin Walker (Executive Room 2) – They don’t do Scottish accents

Robin’s work has greatly influenced ours, and we’re happy to see that he has a session focusing on accents and variation in pronunciation in this year’s conference. (We’re less happy to see that the room only has a capacity of 50 people! Do IATEFL really predict that this session will be so unpopular?) Here’s the full abstract: “When you are learning a new language, the last thing you want to have to deal with are different accents. Or is it? Accent variation is the reality of living languages, and this is especially true of today’s globalized English. This talk explores how we can deal with accents in the ELT classroom. Or should we just stick to RP?”

17:25-18:30 – Marek Kiczkowiak, Christopher Graham, Burcu Akyol & Josh Round (Hall 11a) – Forum on “Tackling native-speakerism: NNS, recruitment, teacher training and research perspectives”

Though not strictly about ELF or pronunciation, this forum is likely to cover topics of relevance to this blog. Here’s the full abstract: “Native speakerism is the belief in the inherent linguistic and instructional superiority of native speakers (NS). It leads to discrimination of non-native English speakers (NNS) in ELT through unfair hiring policies. This presentation addresses this problem from NNS, recruitment, teacher training and research perspectives advocating an ELT industry which values qualifications, experience and professionalism over a teacher’s native language.”

Friday 15 April

11:00-11:30 – Dita Phillips (Executive Room 7) – I’m a non-native English-speaking teacher — hear me roar!

Like the forum above, this talk doesn’t seem to focus explicitly on ELF or pronunciation, but it does cover relevant and related areas of thought. The abstract reads: “How do non-native English-speaking teachers see themselves? Is ‘nativeness’ an issue teachers worry about? Could this impact on their development? What can teacher educators do to combat the native/non-native speaking teacher dichotomy and empower non-native English-speaking teachers? This talk will offer some answers based on the presenter’s experience with pre- and in-service teacher training courses.”

16:50-17:20 – Sheila Thorn (Hall 8b) – NESs write and speak English perfectly: exposing the myth

Another session that’s not strictly about ELF or pronunciation, but addresses the unrealistic, unhelpful and unnecessary nature of comparing native and non-native uses of English: “There is a perception amongst non-native teachers of ESOL that NESs have a perfect grasp of the English language. I shall demonstrate that this is definitely
not the case using authentic recordings and written texts. In light of this evidence we shall discuss whether teachers put themselves and their students under too much pressure to speak and write English perfectly.”

Saturday 16 April

9:00-10:10 – Scott Thornbury (plenary session, Hall 1)

Scott will be offering a critical history of ELT over the past 50 years, including questioning the notion of Standard English and suggesting the possibility of “re-configuring EFL/ELT/ESL/TESOL as simple LE: language education.”

10:25-10:55 – Tatiana Tkacukova (Executive Room 9) – Assessing language proficiency in English as a lingua franca

The abstract for this session reads: “The talk discusses the implications of the research into English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) for language proficiency assessment and the provision of English language teaching. The materials analysed draw upon video-conferencing sessions of international students from two European universities. The analysis shows strategies used by students with various degrees of proficiency for effective communication in ELF.”

11:10-11:40 – Yumi Hato, Katsunori Kanzawa, Nic Underhill, Yasushi Tsubota, Haruhiko Mitsunaga (Executive Room 7) – Developing a CBT speaking test of ELF

The abstract for this session reads: “This presentation reports on the development of a computer-based speaking test at Kyoto Institute of Technology, designed to assess university students learning English as a lingua franca. The evolution of the test specification, format and rating scales will be discussed, focusing on its secondary aim of creating positive washback for the teaching and learning of English in the ‘expanding circle’.”

One thing that strikes us when compiling this list is the low expectations IATEFL seem to have regarding interest in ELF. For example, the rooms for Saturday’s talks can only accommodate under 50 people (only 20 people in Executive Room 9!). The exception is Lewis Lansford’s talk on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how many people attend this session!

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