Plenary Speakers

Picturebooks as vehicles for the road ahead together

Picturebooks are a magical, multimodal form of children’s literature and, in the field of foreign language education, have been considered a rich and authentic source of meaningful input for over four decades. Although associated with younger learners, it is now widely accepted that contemporary picturebooks are not age limited, for a good picturebook will invite readers of all ages to use their critical interpretative skills to reflect deeply on the often-complex issues they find there. Carefully selected picturebooks are valuable as resources for integrating other areas of the curriculum such as contemporary citizenship. They can become the vehicles to support and foster the development of necessary competences for the three pillars of democratic citizenship - Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law.

In my talk/performance I will be sharing picturebooks with you that present opportunities for integrating contemporary citizenship issues into the language classroom - issues which, until now you might not have considered as part of a language teachers’ roadmap. My aim is to (re)introduce you to the picturebook, to signpost the compelling and challenging themes it can embody and encourage you to take a less-travelled route towards intercultural exploration and civic engagement. I will challenge you to adventure along a different route, to contemplate the role of language learning in education today and to consider picturebooks as the vehicles to help you get there.

Sandie Mourão

Sandie Mourão is a researcher at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, with over 30 years’ experience as a teacher, teacher educator, materials developer, researcher and reader of stories. Her work revolves around early language learning, but she is passionate about children’s literature and has researched how language learners respond to picturebooks, as well as the potential picturebooks have for taking learners, of all ages, beyond their classroom walls and into the real world as active citizens. Picturebook-related projects Sandie is involved in include: A blog - www.picturebooksinelt.blogspot.com PEPELT - www.pepelt21.com and ICEPELL - www.icepell.eu She has published widely in the field of ELT and children’s literature and is the author, with Gail Ellis, of the award-winning Teaching English to Pre-primary Children (Delta Publishing, 2020).

Scott Thornbury

Scott Thornbury has taught and trained in Egypt, UK, Spain, and in his native New Zealand. Until recently, he taught on an online MA TESOL program for The New School in New York. His writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology, including About Language (Cambridge) and The New A-Z of ELT (Macmillan). His latest two books are 30 Language Teaching Methods and 101 Grammar Questions (both Cambridge). He is also the series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers and a trustee of the Hands Up Project, which promotes drama activities in English for children in under-resourced regions of the Arab world.

The road less travelled by

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

[Robert Frost]

As we emerge from the pandemic and face the road ahead, you may – like me – feel we have been forced to take a long and often unpredictable detour along the path of online teaching. And you may be enjoying – or looking forward to – a return to the well-trodden road of face-to-face teaching. In this talk, I want to extend this metaphor and explore some other ‘less-travelled’ roads we might have taken, or might yet take, and the kinds of choices we are faced with, as language educators, as we stand at the fork in the road.

Authentic and Experiential: Principles of Creative Approach to Language Teaching

Global changes and social dynamics of the last years have affected the ways we think, learn and teach. Current need for maximum flexibility and smooth adaptability has brought language teaching to close collaboration with research. Referring to findings from disciplines such as Psychology, Neurology or Computer Science, language teaching has experienced major shifts and blended with a range of soft skills. Creativity seems to be one of the most prominent ones, a phenomenon we can hardly escape.

Creativity can improve teaching, provide new tools for collaboration and increase motivation for learning, which is why it can be beneficial for teachers to understand the nature of creativity and its various types. This talk is designed to familiarise language teachers with the Creative Approach to Language Teaching (CALT). It offers a practice-oriented insight into ways creativity fosters community-of-practice, a style of work based on shared understanding between teachers and learners where learning happens through interaction and knowledge and skills are co-constructed. The talk presents creativity in the context of several theoretical concepts and addresses questions of creative potential, processes, situations and barriers. A number of working examples combining authentic and adapted materials, synchronous and asynchronous activities, as well as online, hybrid and on-site techniques will demonstrate the wide range of possible applications to language teaching creativity has. The talk participants will be exposed to authentic creative situations, they will gain hands-on experience with some best CALT practices, and have an opportunity to reflect on their own creativity and identify creative skills that could broaden their teaching repertoires.

Libor Štěpánek

Libor Štěpánek is Assistant Professor in English and Director of the Masaryk University Language Centre, Brno, Czech Republic. He is also an EAP/ESP teacher, researcher and teacher trainer in the Creative Approach to Language Teaching (CALT). Libor focuses on experiential and authenticity-enhancing methods, encourages global perspectives in language teaching, complex professional development of language teachers and teacher autonomy, he eagerly and enthusiastically advocates research driven education. He is an author and co-author of articles, book chapters such as A creative approach to language teaching: a way to recognise, encourage and appreciate students' contributions to language classes (British Council, 2015) and books such as Academic English (Grada, 2018) and Videoconferencing in University Language Education (Munipress, 2018). Libor is the President of the Czech university language centres' CASALC association and an active member of the Coordinating Committee of the European Confederation of University Language Centres (CERCLES).