This weekend I’m at the NATECLA National Conference, this year held at the University of Warwick, where the theme is ‘Language and Learning’.
I was at the conference last year, when it was held in Guildford, and it was a really enjoyable event. Some eye-opening and interesting sessions were coupled with a great opportunity to network with fellow professionals, not just ESOL but also teachers of other community languages as well. I think this is where the appeal of the NATECLA comes from, the linking of teachers of different languages, bringing them together to share ideas on our practice and learn from each other. Having said this, in my experience, most of the delegates I spoke to were ESOL teachers, and the sessions I went to were more related to the teaching of English than of other languages.
I said that last year’s event was a great experience for me, but I think that this year is going to be even more interesting. It seems to have grown, attracting speakers of the calibre of Russell Stannard (showing off some of the gems on the web he’s found) and David Warr (demonstrating his Language Garden approach to working with English and other languages), but there is also a space at the conference made for discussion of where ESOL is headed in light of the recent government cuts in education budgets and subsequent campaigning by groups like Action for ESOL.
The weekend also sees another presentation for the British Council for their ESOL project (now dubbed Nexus following awarding of EU funding), which will see Amanda Wilson, Phil Bird and myself talking about how we, and another colleague, Callie Wilkinson, have been using technology to help us differentiate (catering for the different needs students have in our classes) in our teaching. There’s also going to be a meeting of all the people working on the project, including ourselves and others who have been recruited more recently, so I think you can expect some interesting developments in the future!
I’m excited – how about you? Any interesting things coming up for you professionally??