Live webcast: Teacher Educator Conference 2014 from Hall 1

View live webcast from Hall no G01/G02

Day 1: Friday, 21 February 2014

09:30 – 10:00 Inauguration
Sir James Bevan, British High Commissioner to India
Rob Lynes, Minister of Cultural Affairs, British Council India
Sunaina Singh, Vice-Chancellor English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U), Hyderabad
Paul Gunashekar, Dean, English Language Education, EFL-U
Sanjay Arora, English Language Teachers’ Association of India (ELTAI)
George Pickering, International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL)
Chair: Michael Connolly, Assistant Director, English Partnerships
10:00 – 11:10 Key Note Address: Teacher Research for Professional Development, Simon Borg
11:10 – 11:15 Address by Andrew McAllister Deputy British High Commission, Hyderabad
11:15 – 11:45 Networking and coffee/tea break
11.45 – 13.00 Teaching English in Large Classes: An Enhancement Approach to Research and Teacher Development, Richard Smith
14:00 – 15:15 The Pedagogy of Collaboration: Teaching Effectively with Evolving Technologies, Dawn Bikowski
15:45 – 16:45 Panel discussion: Do all experiences lead to learning/reflection?
Panel: Rama Mathew, Vanessa Lee, Padmini Boruah, Jacob Tharu. Chair: Paul Gunashekar
17.00 – 18.00 Road to IELTS:  Integrating online resources into IELTS preparation, Louisa Dunne
18:15 – 19:15 OUP sponsored Debate: This house believes that new learning technologies exclude teachersProposers: Geetha Durairajan & George Pickering. Opposers: Nicky Hockly & Atanu Bhattacharya.Chair: Graham Hall

Innovation in English Language Teacher Education

Post By: Annie Besant

The Teacher Educator Conference 2014 shifted into top gear with a plethora of views, quotes and opinions on technology and what it means for teachers and educators. Speaking on Innovation – the theme of this year’s conference – Michael Connolly, Assistant Director, English Partnerships, British Council India, quoted Irish avant-garde novelist Samuel Beckett: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’ Beckett’s thoughts, perhaps, crisply reflect the conundrum teachers and educators face when embracing and implementing new technology within traditional teaching contexts.

Building on this idea, Professor Paul Gunashekar, Dean, English Language Education,English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U), said that ‘choosing innovation’ as TEC-14s central theme was to provide practices, skills and strategies to deploy to solve common classroom problems.

This was stressed upon by Rob Lynes, Minister of Cultural Affairs, British Council India, who said, ‘innovation is not simply advanced technology…it’s about people, teachers, administrators and academics.’ In his address to over a 1,000 delegates, he expressed his view that everyone has a responsibility to put aside fears and encourage new ways of teaching. He reiterated that ‘innovations are not bright ideas alone but the nitty-gritty of practice, feedback and taking risks, which also means being prepared to fail.’ Rob Lynes’s keywords to the audience were share and collaborate.

Speaking further on the importance of innovation in education was Professor Sunaina Singh, Vice Chancellor, EFL-U. She opined that it was important to focus on how a teacher could transform or innovate oneself before bringing new ideas into the classroom. Professor Singh clearly outlined the need to reinvent and remodel teacher education if new practices in language learning were to be established. She cautioned that a loss of language entails a loss of culture.

Professor Santosh Panda, Director, IGNOU, India, added that it was important to help teachers transform themselves by pointing out that ‘a culturally wrought change in the entire teaching processes’ was the need of the hour. He mused that teaching is often a creative process, but that learning needs engagement, practice and context that is cultural.

These cumulative opinions on the need for innovation in English Language Teacher Education marks the beginning of what is slated to be three-days of presentations, workshops, debates and networking by over a 1,000 teachers and educators at the Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre Hotel in HITECH City.

Should teachers turn researchers?

Post by: Annie Besant

Simon Borg, visiting professor of TESOL at the University of Leeds, and ELT consultant-at-large, delivered a seminal keynote address at the Teacher Educator Conference 2014.

His presentation, titled ‘Teacher Research for Professional Development’, looked at whether teachers should also be researchers. Teacher research, according to Simon, is a practical strategy because it focuses on pedagogical issues. It enables teachers to study student engagement related questions, and understand and improve teaching as well as learning.

Moreover, in his view, teacher research is a holistic strategy for professional development because it’s an ongoing process; one that allows teachers to constantly stay connected to their learning.

Simon’s presentation struck a chord with speakers and panellists who echoed his thoughts in other sessions during the course of the day. To see his full presentation on teacher research, click here

The Guide to Creating Meaningful Online Professional Development Courses

Post by: Annie Besant

Tim Herdon, Senior Teacher Trainer at Oxford University Press, chose for his session at TEC-14 what is probably one of the most debated topics in ELT: Creating meaningful and stimulating online professional development courses.

‘One of the biggest problems with online courses is the dropout rate,’ he quipped as he swiftly explained to the audience the various ways to deliver online courses. He also candidly admitted that the twin obstacles to designing online courses are partly technological and mainly financial.

Elaborating on what e-learning actually entails, he said that “e-learning is exactly like any other kind of learning in three fundamental aspects: Value, engagement and impact.” He touched upon why it was crucial to offer value at the beginning and at the end of the task. Using metaphors, he illustrated that people want value within a framework and that there should be clear frames of reference for activating and sustaining interest.

Since its inception four years ago, TEC-14 has stimulated discussions and debates that are often out of the purview of the common classroom. To know more, join us here #ELTChat

Simplifying Shakespeare in the Classroom – Yea or Nay?

Post by: Annie Besant

Anyone who studied Shakespeare in school probably remembers having a love-hate relationship with The Bard. While his tragedies and comedies offer immense opportunities for teaching strategies, they also pose a very real challenge to students – as well as teachers.

This, John Gardyne says – in his TEC-14 session “Fair is foul and foul is fair”. Using Shakespeare’s Macbeth to unlock meaning and bring spoken language to life in the classroom – is because Shakespeare wrote his scripts as plays to be staged and not as stories to be published.

But Shakespeare is inevitable in the classroom. So, should his language be simplified and modernised to make it more accessible and meaningful to contemporary teachers and students? The audience answered in ‘yeas’ and ‘nays’.

Gardyne explained that it was more important to help students understand a character’s emotions, the intentions and meaning behind actions and words, and character perspectives and choices if we want to make Shakespeare a truly authentic experience in the classroom. This does not pre-empt a contemporary adaptation; on the contrary he introduced to the audience an alternative script written by two young sisters from Chennai.

Titled ‘Macbeth – The Untold Story’, the script was enacted by a group of lively teens from a local school. Interestingly, this version of Macbeth had mention of pizza delivery boys, robot dance moves, and a jaw-dropping pop song peppered with rap.

The audience, comprising mainly of teachers and educators, were enthusiastic in their response to this teenage take on one of the darkest and most powerful tragedies Shakespeare wrote. But at the end of the session, the question remains ‘Are we missing the point when we start to simplify Shakespeare?’

Telling the Untold Story

Post by: Annie Besant


The smiles don’t stop coming for Prithika, Anna and Sanjay. They have just finished their performance of Macbeth- the Untold Story as part of a TEC-14 presentation to tremendous applause and appreciation. These three friends are part of a large group of teenagers from the DRS International School in Hyderabad that put up the contemporary adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most powerful tragedies.

Macbeth – the Untold Story – an extension of John Gardyne’s session on Shakespeare and language – does away with the corrosive and corruptive effects of an ambition for power and replaces it with a hunger for pizzas, cheeky satire, and even a pop song and dance number.

Certain stereotypes apart, the play is vibrant and so are the students who play their roles with a casualness that belies their experience in drama.

‘We are all part of the drama club,’ Anna explains, adding that they didn’t want to pass up this opportunity when their English teacher offered it to them. It is unabashedly slapstick, the three students quip together, but that is what they love about it.

‘It gets everyone interested immediately in Shakespeare,’ Prithika points out. ‘I think plays like this help people understand Shakespeare.’

The form in which the play had been adapted does render it interesting to the myriad students and teachers who struggle with Shakespeare in the classroom. But could such an adaptive play replace the preference for the nuanced language, raging characters, and dizzying twists and turns of a Shakespearean plot? ‘Of course not!’ chime the teens.

Day 2, Saturday, 22 February 2014

09:00 – 09:55 Plenary: Teacher Development as the Future of Teacher Education, Rama Mathew
09:55 – 10:00 Launch of ELT Research Survey of India
10.15 – 11.15 How to Write Papers for Publication in a Refereed Journal, Graham Hall (Oxford University Press)
12.00 – 13.00 CPD in Action, Alison Barrett & Emma-Sue Prince
14.00 – 14.30 Assessment Practice as an Energiser of Self-driven Professional Growth: Prospects and Challenges, Jacob Tharu
14.45 – 15.15 Can the CBB Teacher Training Project Move into the Digital Age?, Lesley Dick
15:45 – 16:45 Panel Discussion: CPD: how do we move from theory to practice?
Panel: Simon Etherton, Julian Edge, Monishitha & Jayagowri Shivakumar
Chair: George Pickering
17.00 – 18.15 Shakespeare for the 21st Century, John Gardyne & Padmaja Anant (Trinity College London)

CPD – What and the Why

Post by: Annie Besant

It’s the question on everyone’s minds and over the past 24 hours has been debated and reflected upon unceasingly at TEC-2014. An integral strand of this year’s conference theme – Innovation in English Language Teacher Education – the need for CPD, its importance and relevance has been everyone’s favourite topic.
Alison Barrett, Director, English for Education Systems, South Asia at British Council and Emma-Sue Prince, founder of Unimenta, elaborated on CPD –with special focus on the CPD Framework in India – in their session ‘CPD in Action’.

The session looked at CPD – the what, and the why. It dealt at length with the new CPD framework for India, and reviewed how the British Council addresses CPD through the work that is done with state governments. The session was very interactive with both speakers engaging participants with various activities.

In one such interaction, Emma-Sue and Alison challenged the audience to describe their CPD in one word. In response, the audience threw out words like sporadic, rewarding and innovative to describe their CPD journey. On being questioned about the different avenues teachers and educators use to facilitate their CPD, members said that a conference like TEC-14 was a part of the CPD process, as well as webinars and workshops at the British Council.

Post a quick look at what CPD means and the framework within which it operates, both Emma-Sue and Alison talked about their own CPD practices. Emma-Sue shared that CPD, for her, was an ongoing practice that is closely connected with personal development. She added that she often tried to make time to watch videos on TED, follow Harvard Online Lectures, and indulge in daily reflections.

Alison’s CPD practices revolved more around reading documents, reviews, research articles and discussing those findings and their implications with colleagues.

Speaking about her work on the CPD Framework for India, Emma-Sue said that process started with trying to understand the needs and competencies of teachers in India. A five-year review of teacher development projects across India followed. This led to identifying gaps and areas that needed streamlining especially in the existing policies.

Alison added that the framework was an organic process and that the competencies for teachers covered areas such as language proficiency, ELT proficiency, planning lessons, professional behaviour, and other inclusive practices such as equity, different language groups etc.

With the audience enthusiastically agreeing to their points, Alison and Emma-Sue touched upon the barriers to CPD that teachers and educators face. Time, motivation, access, and language were highlighted as the main barriers. Alison further quoted Pratham Education Foundation’s ASER report to support her views. Proposed solutions to these barriers included making CPD a mandate across schools and institutions, raising CPD awareness and giving teachers a legitimate space for professional development and reflection.

The session ended with the 60 second Elevator Pitch – an activity that elicited vigorous responses. To sum it up in the words of one audience member: ‘Nobody lives in isolation, so we should stay connected through CPD.’

Important Links:

Can Textbooks be Communicative?

Post by: Annie Besant

Are textbooks meant to be communicative or instructive? Are the two ideas mutually inclusive or exclusive? These were some of the questions generated in a lively and interactive British Council workshop led by Senior Teacher Trainer and academician Shefali Kulkarni.

She said that textbooks take on a communicative form but teachers are often forced to follow models such as narration, interaction and assessment which leads to a straitjacket situation.

Shefali suggested that when trying to make something communicative, new rules can be built to engage students and stimulate collaboration. When disseminating a text, these rules should be crafted in order to create a purpose that is engaging, real, authentic, and contextual. Teacher’s in the room agreed, but pointed out that often teachers don’t have the time to frame and exploit new ideas.

The audience had to adapt the story of the Tiger’s Tail using the models of mime, prediction, active listening and role play. The session was marked by energetic audience participation with an elderly teacher even breaking into an animated dance as penalty for a ringing phone!

Tips from the workshop:

  • To make a textbook communicative, change close-ended questions to open-ended questions.
  • Don’t adhere to the stages of a lesson – pre, while and post reading – but examine if a real and engaging purpose can be created from the text.
  • When teaching grammar, use tools like role play and skits to change focus from fluency to understanding structure.
  • Understand that communication is not to create accuracy but to create coherency.
  • Activities can be extended outside the classroom context. Encourage students to apply a principle or a lesson during their time outside the class.

Day 3, Sunday, 23 February 2014

09:00 – 10:00 Plenary: Innovation in Pre-service Education for English Language Teachers: Issues & Concerns, Julian Edge & Steve Mann
10.15 – 11.15 Digital Literacies, Nicky Hockly
12.00 – 13.00 Teacher Facilitators in English in Action:  Peer Mediation and M-learning in Professional Development, Malcolm Griffiths & Huma Rebecca Rodrigues
14.00 – 15.00 Remote teaching, distance learning, team teaching or blended learning? Graham Stanley
15:30 – 16:30 Plenary: Teacher Education, Mobile Learning and the Challenges of Scale, Tom Power
16:30 – 17:00 Valedictory


TeachingEnglish Radio India – Old technology in new contexts

Post by: Annie Besant

A joint-presentation between Rustom Mody, Senior Teacher Trainer, and Amy Lightfoot, English Language Advisor, British Council – titled TeachingEnglish Radio India: Self Access and Collaborative Resources for Developing Teachers’ Understanding of Learner-centred Methodologies – focused on using TeachingEnglish Radio as a resource in the classroom.

When evolving the programme, the team was often asked the question: why use radio? It would seem that in the relentless surge of technology and apps, the radio is a bit old-fashioned, but that, Amy says, is the reason it works.

‘Radio is an old method of distributing content, but it has been proven to work very well and we get a very wide reach with it,’ she says emphatically.

Rustom adds, ‘Research suggests that listening to audio with some written support helps them (teachers) retain the content better.’

And so exists one of the reasons for developing TeachingEnglish Radio. The other reason for creating this resource is that face-to-face training periods tend to be relatively short, and delivering content regularly through the radio ensures continued support.

‘We are hoping to encourage teachers to use it in small or large groups with a lead teacher facilitating the process,’ Amy says of the initiative.

The resource, aimed at A2/B1 level teachers, will not be used in isolation. The radio programmes, which are a series of 12 episodes of fifteen-minutes each, will be supported by a workbook.

TeachingEnglish Radio has a potential audience of 400,000 – primarily a mix of primary and secondary school teachers, and master trainers. Though it’s early days yet, Rustom shares that quite a few lessons have been learned.

‘There is a tension between having a structured series or a more spontaneous one,’ he says. But the team finally decided on a more fluid process.

Speaking about the production process, Rustom said that it took two months to travel to various schools and record the material. However, the post-production process took over a year. In addition to this, publicity has been continually happening through adverts, flyers and social media.

The TeachingEnglish Radio series is designed to be played in partnership with broadcasters across India. The first series will be aired, in Maharashtra and in the district of Dharwad in Karnataka, on the Akashvani (All India Radio), and will be available on shortwave bands in districts where there is no FM.

To learn more about the TeachingEnglish Radio India initiative, click here

For more details on sessions, please click here

Do you ‘like’ the idea of Facebook in your class?

Post by: Annie Besant

Facebook as a social app is extremely popular. But Facebook as a tool to aid and enhance the learning experience? Steven Baker sees great potential for Facebook in the classroom in his TEC14 session ‘Reasons to ‘Like’ Facebook: Social Networking in the Classroom and for Continuing Professional Development.’

Steven, a Senior Teacher at the British Council, first took the audience through the basics of setting up a Facebook page for their schools before plunging them into how to use their page for everything from homework to revision, and in the case of certain institutions as a source for course details.

He then encouraged the audience to think about some of the advantages and disadvantages of creating a Facebook group.

Audience members pointed out that some of the advantages are that updates automatically show up on student feeds, every student has a chance to express himself or herself, and ideas could be shared in real time.

The disadvantages, they argued, are that classroom bullying is possible on FB pages, and student resistance to teachers viewing their FB activity could interfere with learning.

Steven then veered the discussion to how being a part of professional Facebook pages can help with CPD. Points that floated up from the discussion revealed that teacher’s felt they were often helped by the sharing and interaction that took place on FB pages.

Wrapping up the session, Steven shared a thought provoking quote: ‘A teacher not moving forwards is going backwards.’

When setting up a Facebook page for your class, remember:

  • Have a picture that represents the essence of the page
  • Schedule your posts on Pages, but don’t post it for top of the hour
  • Interact with your FB page audience, but ask questions that are relevant
  • Plan on updating your page at least 3 times a day.
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11 thoughts on “Live webcast: Teacher Educator Conference 2014 from Hall 1

  1. Pingback: Live webcast: Teacher Educator Conference 2014 from Hall G01/02 | India Blog

  2. Mian Md. Naushaad Kabir

    It feels great to be able to listen to Richard Smith online! Hope to enjoy the conference online more. And THANKS to British Council, Hyderabad. (From Dhaka, Bangladesh)

  3. Mian Md. Naushaad Kabir

    ‘Does Reflection then mean being critical about our teaching beliefs and practices?’ – as it seems to be hinted by Padmini, Vanessa and Rama. Well, where would reflection end and critical reflection begin, I mean where to draw the line?

  4. Mian Md. Naushaad Kabir

    Reflections on experiences is also subject to further reflection. Such experience of reflecting upon our reflection on experiences can lead to new windows of understanding, i.e., learning in a way. Is this what Prof. Jacob, perhaps, wanted us to understand?

  5. Dr Vindhya Sathya Singh

    I am watching the live webcast of the speech given by Prof Rema Mathew from Muscat, Sultanate Of Oman right now! I work at the Language Centre at the Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat . Happy to be part of this event and to listen to many brilliant academic minds -several of them my resepcted teachers at CIEFL and known academicians and colleagues.

    1. Dr Vindhya Sathya Singh

      Watching Prof Jacob Tharu speak now. WoW! you are doing well in the football room!Pleasure to see you over the webcast.

  6. Parthasarathy Misra

    Watching the webcast and listening to the discussion made me proud of being a teacher of the digital world. The message of the Conference will empower thousands of English teachers across the globe. A paradigm shift has taken place in ELT and ELT teachers should discover themselves as ELT researchers. What we teach, how we teach and how we reflect on our teaching… all these are equally important for our professional growth. Simon’s observation that ‘teacher research is a holistic strategy for professional development,’ Rama’s forceful argument for transforming teachers as ‘knowledge generators’ and her suggestion for ‘a curriculum for teachers’ should make prompt the ELT policy makers to revisit teacher education programs from a new perspective.
    It is nice that TEC14 has provided such a meaningful platform for all the stakeholders of ELT. Let a new era dawn in the ELT world of India. Teacher Educator Conference 2014 is indeed a trend setter.


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