A plethora of perspectives on English language teaching

Reflections on the third annual AINET Conference – Nagpur January 2016

AINET, the All India Network of English Teachers is an IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) Associate in India. January 2016 saw the network host the Third Annual ELT conference in TBRAN’s Mundle English School, Nagpur. The British Council supported 67 Master Trainers and administrators from various English Partnerships projects to attend the conference with participation from Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Chief guests and featured speakers at the event

Chief guests and featured speakers at the event

Some of the take-aways from the conference were issues raised in the keynote address by Prof. Mrs Amritavalli who spoke about dynamic text that excites learners. She also outlined Prabhu’s proposition of repetition versus recurrence in texts that facilitates language acquisition. Our own Jon Parnham (Senior Academic Manager – English Partnerships West India) delivered a plenary talk inspired by Carl Rogers featured three conditions that teachers can create to sustain the teaching-learning environment in the classroom: authenticity, acceptance and empathy.

An interesting talk by Dr. Bradley Horn (Regional English Language Officer, US Embassy) emphasised the role of ELT in US state policy. He spoke about his country’s efforts to establish mutual understanding with India through scholarships and programmes undertaken by RELO.

The parallel sessions presented focused on varied topics and interests. They ranged from effects of dopamine in teaching learning situations to the study of learners’ written errors. Motivation among teachers and learners, adapting activities in textbooks and the learner-centred classroom were also well-attended choices.

A traditional rangoli reworked to illustrate the elements of English language teaching

A traditional rangoli reworked to illustrate the elements of English language teaching

The most popular session was the panel discussion featuring learners from grades 8 and 9. The learners had a few things they wanted their teachers to know! So what did we learn from them? They want teachers to entertain them, do lots of activities, bring material that is based within the Indian context and relevant to their lives, use ICT in classrooms, make writing more interesting, let them speak more in classes and enable them to become contributing members of the society. They also felt that textbooks needed to change and English should play a bigger part in classroom dialogue. Moreover they wanted their teachers to have a good command over the language too. Phew! That is a tall order isn’t it? Will teachers be able to match such expectations?

The concluding event was an open debate over discrimination faced by teachers who do not have access to or use technology. Opinions differed greatly as is but natural. Some felt the skill of the teacher and not apps are what brings teaching and learning alive and some felt that it was inevitable that technology will eventually dominate classrooms. Issues such as accessibility and funding were also touched upon.

Personally, I was very proud to see Master Trainers (MTs) Smita Pore and Mahesh Dudhankar from our English Partnerships projects deliver talks on Enhancing reading skills through peer teaching and Mentoring and its impact on classroom teaching respectively. Moreover it was great to see them inspire other MTs who aspire to present their work at similar conferences. As Master Trainer Mr. Nand Kishore said, ‘after watching Smita present the findings, I feel that I am I just a step away … I too can do this!’

If you wish to participate in the next AINET conference, you will have to wait till 2017 as AINET has decided to hold its conference every two years. However, this gives you time to get on with your own action research in your classrooms and plan your presentation or workshop! Do take a look at the AINET website for more information about this association and to explore their resources and publications for English language teachers.

Ruchi Jain
Academic Manager, English Partnerships, East India
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