Connect, Grow, Thrive

38th Annual Conference and AGM, Workshops (Jan 2022)

Saturday workshops:

A1 Rob Dean: Future skills: What will make our students employable in 2030?

A key role for educators is to prepare students for the workplace, but at a time of great change in job markets, how do we know where to focus our efforts? Some jobs, it is suggested, will all but disappear and today’s students will be applying for roles which currently don’t exist. So how do we prepare these learners for such future uncertainties? What are the skills of the future that will ensure a place in tomorrow’s job market? This session will grab the crystal ball and take a long hard look at what skills might just come in handy in 2030 – and suggest how these can be integrated into our classrooms, lessons, and curricula.  (Sponsor: Pearson Schweiz)

A2 Carol Waites & Breanna Kuypers: Cool writing tools and websites to engage your students

Get students writing more effectively in their academic, personal, or professional lives. Nowadays everyone needs to write more, but also shorter and more concise texts! Whether it be for academic success, for professional purposes, for blogging, texting, or emailing – everyone needs this skill. Come along to discover cool free materials and websites for teaching academic and professional writing skills. With cool tasks and tools, it never ceases to amaze them how they can assess their own writing independently and analyse their areas for improvement. We will share our key tips and sources for your writing classes for adults or young adults to improve their writing and awareness, and thus become more autonomous.

A3 Olaf Lenders: The long and winding road of developing criteria for assessing presentations

Giving presentations is one of the core skills our students will need in their future careers. That's why I integrate presentation skills in all of my classes. Over the past 20 years, I have done presentation skills with a wide range of students, from civil to sustainable engineering, from computer to social sciences. Almost as many versions of my assessment sheet have seen the light of day. From brief to extensive and all the way back again. In this workshop, I would like to share and discuss with you the rationales behind the different stages of evolution of my criteria for assessing student presentations.

A4 Jillaine Farrar: Intercultural communication and leadership

Central topics of intercultural communication and leadership will be discussed using various approaches. This multiperspectivity provides an insightful look at the means to shape effective and interculturally sensitive solutions. Being aware of cross-cultural communication differences and similarities is a first step to making teams competent communicators locally, globally, and virtually. Language barriers, trust-related issues, communication styles, cultures, as well as personal characteristics and experiences can play more significant roles in doing business than first imagined. This could be compounded in the future with increased virtual communication. Linking theory to practice helps us shape interculturally sensitive solutions. The aim of this session is to provide additional tools and resources for those wanting to turn intercultural challenges into opportunities.

A5 Chiara Bruzzano: Teaching listening: Research and strategies

This interactive talk will discuss how listening works in English as a Foreign Language and how research evidence can be harnessed in everyday teaching. Drawing on existing evidence (including the presenter's own research) and practical examples, the talk will explore how listening works, how it develops in students according to Information Theory, what difficulties students may have, and how teachers can use awareness of these areas to develop their teaching practices related to listening.

B1 Susi Pearson: Can an online course on UK education replace the face-to-face UK experience?

In 2020, Covid forced the academic team at the Norwich Institute for Language Education to rethink how we could deliver our long-standing 3-week summer UK school placement experience online. Since then, we have run our Insights into the UK Education System course for almost 200 primary and secondary participants from three different Swiss Teacher Education Institutes, with very positive results. This talk will outline how we went about building and delivering this online course, with examples from the course content itself, and tailoring it where necessary to different institutions’ requests. It will also look at how participants have said they have benefited from the experience in the absence of the opportunity to have a face-to-face placement. (Sponsor: NILE)

B2 Lee Shutler: What I think about when I think about teaching elementary students

Although I am misquoting Haruki Murakami's book title, my presentation will look at the things we must think about when we find ourselves in front of a group of elementary adults or young adults: what we should consider about the student, what we should expect from ourselves, and what we can make work in the classroom – whether online or face-to-face.  This presentation will also take notice of the limitations imposed upon us by the pandemic - things that may influence the classroom for a while yet. There'll be time to share ideas and to try out a few activities, too.  (Sponsor: Hilderstone College)

B3 Sharon Acton: Speaking and writing and marking -- Oh, my! (Easing the burden of exam prep.)

Helping students prepare for the WRITING and SPEAKING sections of exams is labour and time intensive! Often students come to us with very short deadlines. How can teachers skill up students quickly and create opportunities for feedback while at the same time reducing their workload? You will walk away from this workshop with ideas on how to

  • improve speaking + writing skills
  • manage student work submissions and
  • reduce your marking load without compromising learning quality

This workshop will use TOEFL as an example, but most of the teaching and management tips are also pertinent to preparation for IELTS, Cambridge exams, and any course which involves speaking and writing.  A swapping of ideas with other participants will follow.

B4 Nicolas Brandenberg: Artificial intelligence in language learning

Have you ever noticed that traditional coursebooks usually only supply quizzing or audio-visual inputs? That active speaking time in classrooms is scarce and practice outside of the classroom is limited to writing skills? Due to that, building speaking skills is a big challenge for students. We wanted to help younger learners gain confidence in speaking in a meaningful and motivating environment by using Gamification and AI speech recognition. This presentation will outline how we co-creatively built a working prototype for the language game “soda serving!”, which challenges remain, and how the ESL classroom can benefit from new AI-based approaches.

B5 Rachel Studer-Doherty: Introducing literature into the classroom. How can we understand it?

My aim as a teacher, specialized in English Literature, is to make it fun, and to enable the students to read between the lines, use their minds and unconscious to delve into what literature means to us today, and how it relates to our society which we are living in.

C1 Katherine Stannett: Exam hacks for stress-free success

In this workshop, I will be sharing some practical tips to support our students through the stress of studying for, revising, and taking exams. Using material from "New Close-Up," as well as specially-created activities, I will look at how, with a balanced focus both on well-being and on academic study, we can help our students to achieve exam success. (Sponsor: National Geographic Learning)

C2 Gabriella Kovacs: Supporting language learners for workplace communication

This interactive workshop addresses coaching from the perspective of how it supports autonomous language learning and communication development for adults. Language coaching is an applied methodology incorporating coaching fundamentals into the language learning context. After a brief contextualisation of the theme, attendees learn techniques and activities to apply that increase efficiency and decrease stress around challenging scenarios for learners. We will explore a novel framework that moves away from planning, expectations, and fixed solutions towards a fresh perspective focusing on guiding and supportive actions. Teachers open to understanding how coaching can be applied will enable confident learners/users to communicate in the workplace to learn and succeed with more motivation and resilient learning strategies. (Sponsor: ILCA: The International Language Coaching Association)

C3 Alice Delorme Benites: Machine translation in the language classroom

This workshop is based on the findings of a large project on machine translation literacy in university contexts. We will first present results from a survey conducted throughout all Swiss universities on current practices and attitudes towards machine translation (DeepL, Google Translate, etc.) and language learning in higher education. We will also highlight recent relevant work on integrating MT in language-teaching settings. Based on this input, the participants will work in groups to develop concrete scenarios to exploit the potential of MT for language classes, and will then share these in plenum. This workshop is primarily aimed at teachers involved in secondary, tertiary, and adult education. However, teachers at other levels are also welcome to participate.

C4 Geoff Tranter: Training strategies for the spontaneous and creative use of language for humorous purposes

Humour can be an extremely useful resource in challenging situations, e.g. to relieve tension in difficult discussions, or to break the ice in presentations. The ability to spontaneously and creatively play with words, whilst still being aware of possible sensitivities in groups, is also a valuable skill when socializing or in small talk. This session will not simply be a presentation of strategies for creating verbal humour "on the spot", but will provide opportunities for active participation in groups to ensure people attending can try out and develop such strategies themselves. Starting with a brief reference to Grice’s Principles of Cooperation, we will see how these can be a perfect springboard for spontaneous verbal humour in context (i.e. smile "Grice-fully").

C5 Rob Dean: KV reform and the future of ELT: What does it mean for me?

Few people like change, especially that imposed on us without any choice. Change can be stressful and time consuming to assimilate, and may challenge previously held beliefs about how things should be done. Perhaps that’s how many teachers are feeling about the KV reform. This session will aim to allay fears by starting off with a brief overview of the reform, looking especially at the positive aspects of the change. We will then move on to demonstrate through a series of practical approaches and activities that in fact many of the things that we already do – along with many of the materials that we already use – already equip us perfectly to fit in with the ideals of the reform. (Sponsor: Pearson Schweiz)

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Sunday workshops:

D1 Sylvia Goetze-Wake: Developing collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking by including sustainability in the classroom

How can we introduce the topic of "sustainability" in the classroom while getting students to move beyond simplistic solutions and pat answers? In this hands-on workshop, we will consider how using frameworks such as the "Life Cycle Analysis" and the "Sustainable Development Goals" can develop the kind of creative problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking that are increasingly necessary to solve the challenges of our world. Participants will look at everyday examples (such as making a pizza or buying socks) with new eyes, trying to decide what the "more sustainable" option really is. Content can be easily adapted to English learners (B1+) of all ages, from primary school to tertiary study. (Sponsor: The University of Lausanne)

D2 Laurie Theurer & the co-author team: Famous Swiss women? What famous Swiss women?

Whilst doing the research for her book Swisstory: The Bloody, Untold and Absolutely Real History of Switzerland, award-winning author Laurie Theurer stumbled upon a great many amazing and inspiring Swiss women...but nobody seemed to know much about them or hadn’t heard of them at all! She decided this needed to change. With a team of four co-authors (Katie Hayoz, Barbara Nigg, Alnaaze Nathoo, and Anita Lehmann) plus illustrator Mireille Lachausse, she created 50 Amazing Swiss Women: True Stories You Should Know About, a powerful, inspiring, and accessible collection of short, illustrated biographies, published by Bergli Books on 7th February 2021 – exactly fifty years after women got the vote in Switzerland. The book is available in English, French, and German, and is suitable for ages 8 and over.

In this session, the authors will share their passion for this book and the powerful message it conveys. They will discuss how the stories lend themselves for use in the classroom and will provide simple and inspirational lesson plans.

D3 Hans Platzer: The effectiveness of Quizlet for vocabulary learning

This study examines the effectiveness of Quizlet for vocabulary acquisition based on two cohorts of first-year business students. The findings reveal that the use of Quizlet has a significant impact on vocabulary retention. However, the relative efficacy of  Quizlet's seven self-study activities depends on the type of retrieval required, i.e. recall vs. recognition. A regression analysis suggests that the recognition-based "Match"-activity has no impact on vocabulary scores. By contrast, recall-based tasks ("Flashcard, Write, Spell, Gravity") and mixed recall/recognition activities ("Learn, Test") make a significant contribution to lexical retention. Furthermore, the data might indicate a preference among stronger learners for the more effective, recall-based activities while weaker learners tend towards the easier, but ineffective, "Match"-activity. However, this conjecture still requires confirmation. NB: This talk is scheduled for 30 minutes.

D4 Rob Dean: Using English to get things done: Developing real communication in the ELT classroom

Why do some of our students study English? Some would say it’s because they have no choice, others would say to learn the grammar of the language, maybe in order to pass exams. But surely the key reason for learning a language is to be able to communicate in work, leisure situations out in the big wide world. With this in mind, this session will showcase some ideas, approaches, and materials that we can easily employ in the classroom to help prepare our learners for real situations where getting things done in English is the key consideration. (Sponsor: Pearson Schweiz)

D5 Jeff Aristy: Learn how to teach Fierce!

The World Economic Forum and others have reported that as jobs are transformed by the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, interpersonal skills will increasingly become important in the workplace. This talk will look at how business English trainers can incorporate critical soft skills in the classroom, and outlines an exciting new accreditation process for trainers who want to integrate soft skills into their training routines. (Sponsor: Fierce Trainer)

E1 Matina Gatsou: Practical ways to engage your students in the online classroom

Are you new to, or have you recently started teaching online and have noticed how engaging your students online is different from face-to-face? Join me in this talk to delve into specific, practical ways to engage students effectively in online environments. We will start by unpacking the different facets of student engagement in the vastly digitized ELT world of today and subsequently explore why engaging students is an important consideration when planning and delivering our lessons online. We will then examine the ways we can engage our online students by using both good teaching techniques and the tools online platforms offer in imaginative ways.

E2 Tania Pichierri: Empowering language learners with life skills for work and higher education

This workshop will review what life competencies are and demonstrate how they can be embedded throughout a language course. Developing life skills is an ongoing process, and the English language classroom is particularly suited to facilitating their growth. Learning an additional language already involves many of the identified life competencies, such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking, which are indispensable at a workplace or university. Indeed, there are many opportunities to integrate these competencies into our English lessons even further. Tania will show you how Cambridge University Press incorporates life competencies into language lessons to ensure learners are ready for success in higher education and the world of work.  (Sponsor: Cambridge University Press)

E3 Jayne Kyte: IELTS Writing test – Preparing your students for writing success

With the increasing importance of IELTS in Switzerland, it is important that we prepare our students thoroughly, in order for them to achieve the Band they need. In this interactive workshop, we will look at useful activities aimed at improving our students’ planning and writing skills in preparation for taking the test. The activities will be appropriate for both face-to-face and online classes, as well as being adaptable for one-to-one lessons.  (Sponsor: CEL Cambridge English Languages)

E4 Diana Bosio: How "old" are your students? Breaking down barriers to reading

The concept of a graded reader book has long been established, as well as the CEFR levels. But recently the industry has started to introduce new ways to categorize them. Next to the different "levels", lexile measures, "book bands", and "reading age", we now can see "interest age". Each child can then be described by several "ages" as we start to take into consideration all their interests and special needs. We will explore the different “ages” but also what makes these books special and how they help the teachers to attract struggling and reluctant readers into the world of reading. Finally, we will present a few books by independent publishers leading the way to make the reading world more inclusive. (Sponsor: Treasure Trove - English Books in Geneva)

E5 Yuval Shomron, Rose Travers, Phil Schiller, & Caroline Ambrosi de Magistris Verzier: Independent teachers round table part 2

Following the success of our first round table discussions at PD Day 2021, we will meet again to see what we have learned in the meantime. Everyone shared openly in small groups at PD Day. This session will be in a slightly different format.