By Valérie Harkness
In the second of three stories from the "Pick of the conference" article in the latest issue of The Linguist, Valérie Harkness celebrates the language teachers.
Some time ago, I had the good fortune to support Sergio, a Spanish teacher and magician who sometimes uses magic tricks in the classroom. Within the context of a sharp decline in GCSE language entries, it would be tempting to suggest that all language teachers should be magicians. My perspective is that they already are.
The teachers I know are gifted linguists, able to teach two or three foreign languages and communicate their passion in the most original ways. Some run trips abroad and/or work experience projects. Others bring music or sport to language teaching. Others still run fun quizzes and competitions. Many a Sunday is spent marking, producing activities which simulate real-life situations, and seeking the most appropriate and up-to-date resources.
But that’s not all. Language teachers are also skilled jugglers. Apart from seeking to motivate all pupils to study languages and persevere in their learning journey, they adapt rapidly to changes in exam specifications and policies while making sure targets are met. Not all teachers are trained magicians, but what they do is close to magic. They need professional development and support from schools, parents and policy makers. But perhaps the first thing we should do to help is to stand by them as they perform wonders.
At the CIOL Conference 2021, Valérie Harkness FCIL CL will speak about the creation of language community schools.
Following the success of CIOL’s Conference in March 2020, just before the first national lockdown, we had hoped that we could run our 2021 event as normal. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. But this has given us the exciting opportunity to move the conference fully online for 2021.
Holding the conference in this way allows us to share with you the knowledge and guidance of your fellow professionals while giving those who would not normally be able to attend in person, especially international members and non-members, the chance to take part. We will be using a platform that not only allows speakers to be seen presenting but also enables delegates to ask questions, and to take part in polls and quizzes.
We know that one of the biggest reasons to attend any conference is the opportunity to network and meet up with colleagues and friends. We are planning to bring delegates a flavour of this by including an option to attend multiple online small-group discussions on both days. The experience may not be quite the same as at previous events, however we are sure that, with the wide range of talks and presentations, it will support the profession as ever. If successful, we will in the future be able to offer delegates the choice of attending in person or online, bringing together a global community of professional linguists.