The Languages World conference was held on the 22nd and 23rd of March in the Holywell Park Conference Centre, at Loughborough University. British Council Languages Teacher Training Scholars had the opportunity to attend the second day of this event thanks to a collaboration between the Association for Language Learning and the British Council. Language World brought together practitioners from the Primary and Secondary education sectors in an opportunity to share ideas and best practice.
On arrival, I had the opportunity to meet some other British Council Scholars. The day started with an opening plenary by ALL’s President Jane Harvey, who emphasized ALL’s support to teachers at every stage of their career. After this warm welcome, Professor David Crystal delighted us with the Mary Glasgow Plenary lecture with some very interesting insight of languages museums around the world, such as Mundolingua in Paris or the volunteer-run Multilingual Library in Newcastle.
Attendees sent their choice of workshops and talks prior to the event. The first of the talks I attended was Marion Pellon’s Easy go-to-activities to practise a range of skills, with practical examples of activities that aim to maximise pupils’ output at sentence and text level while reducing preparation time. The audience worked in tables to try out some of these activities and I enjoyed particularly the language domino for high frequency language in TL and the use of silent dice – made of foam, ideal for classroom games.
More than thirty exhibitors attended the event, including the Institut Français, the Consejería de Educación and the Goethe Institut. All exhibitors kindly delivered useful information regarding CPD opportunities and resources for teaching in different formats.
The afternoon sessions started with an introduction by Professor Anna Lise Gordon, ALL past President, followed by Dr Rachael Hawkes’ talk Curriculum Design: Intent, Implementation and Impact. She clarified points for the interpretation of Ofsted’s reviewed focus on the curriculum and explained the benefits of teaching vocabulary, taking into consideration its frequency of occurrence in the language.
Current and former British Council Languages Teacher Training Scholars were then invited to attend a networking lunch. We were welcomed by the British Council team and during the session there was an opportunity for scholars to obtain expert advice on essential aspects of teaching such as differentiation, lesson planning and SEN support from a range of delegates. This was a great opportunity to ask questions and discuss many of the aspects of teaching and learning considered during the conference.
Ann Befroy and Susanne Burton led the next workshop: Stay on target: Teaching for spontaneous language use. They explored different theories about second language acquisition and language learning, stressing the importance of pupil motivation. They also provided the audience with useful activities to practice vocabulary with the purpose of using the content taught in lessons with a communicative purpose to ensure memorability. The second day of the conference came to an end after my last chosen workshop which was delivered by Jane Millington. This workshop explored effective strategies to teach grammar in the classroom and how to increase pupils’ confidence. Examples of these were the use of kinaesthetic games or using English to deepen grammatical understanding. Jane explained her approach to target marking with the purpose of encouraging pupils to take ownership of their corrections and learn from mistakes. These last two sessions emphasized the idea of facilitating a classroom environment where pupils feel safe to make mistakes and fostering an atmosphere of peer-support in lessons.
Attending the Languages World Conference was a fantastic experience where we were inspired by speakers, shared ideas with colleagues and celebrated the passion and enthusiasm for language teaching and learning. I would like the thank the Association for Language Learning and British Council, as well as the sponsors and exhibitors, whose dedication and support made possible this delightful experience.
Isabel Remache, British Council Languages Teacher Training Scholar