HELTA Members’ Day 2017: Voices from Within

What a fantastic day!

Our Members’ Day 2017 at Berufsschule City Nord was a whopping success. About 40 people showed up to see our keynote speaker Dr. Catherine Walter and nine of our members speak.

Materials from our speakers can be found in this GoogleDrive folder. It’s open access, so anyone can upload documents. Just make sure you upload PDFs and not PowerPoints; this way nobody can nick your intellectual property without some serious tinkerin’.

As the jam-packed programme left only very limited time to discuss some of the hot-button issues that came up during the course of the day, we want to invite everyone to use the comment section to share their thoughts. Here are just a few of the questions that we had:

In teaching phonology, should we focus more on receptive than productive skills?

What is the character of the English language? Do teachers focus too much on hard and fast linguistic definitions and neglect the ‘story’ of English? 

Is explicit grammar teaching (always) better than implicit grammar teaching?

What are the benefits of external assessment? Are tests good for students?

Is writing manuals good practice just for students of technical English, or all of them?

Contract English: an indispensible part of every teacher’s toolkit?

What do we do with notions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in the age of World Englishes? 

What are the most important life-lessons of EFL-teachers?

Where does ‘Business English’ come from? We’ve seen it borrow freely from military language, sports jargon, and even humanistic lingo. What’s next?

What are some of the best (and worst!) practices teachers have found to keep track of lessons and resources?

Is there anything you can’t teach in game-form?

and finally

Should the group Golden Girls have been given a full point for writing “Webster’s dictionary” in part three of the quiz?

Discuss! 🙂

Thanks again to everyone involved. Can’t wait for the next one!



3 thoughts on “HELTA Members’ Day 2017: Voices from Within

  1. It was good to see so many members attend and support Members’ day this year. We were lucky to get some very good speakers with interesting and relevant topics. Roll on next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A comment from our member Lawrence Harris:

    “What are the benefits of external assessment? Are tests good for students?”

    The benefits are numerous – the most obvious is that it is completely independent of any kind of bias or concerns for students by their teacher. Another is that in the case of disputed results, for example at a state school or language institute, taking an independent test with a formal body could provide evidence of a student’s abilities, as was the case with a 13 year-old boy under my tuition.

    As we all know, the German state school teachers love their red ink pens and do their best to demoralise their students by noting every little error with a swipe of the said pen, and a comment in the margin. What these teachers fail to understand is that language is about communicating and not like mathematics where the answer is either right or wrong. I could speak with my young student quite easily and he had a surprising range of topics to talk about. Yes, he had a few problems with his tenses and other odds and ends, but in general, his written work was clearly understandable. Yet the test results from his school (a Gymnasium) were always around the Noten 4 level. This was completely unacceptable to me, so I encouraged his parents to let him take the Cambridge KET for Schools test this summer. We did a few practise exercises, which to him were a’doddle’.

    In the test he received a merit grade for his written work and a distinction for his listening and speaking parts, equating to a CEFR of A2-B1, or a Noten 3 in the 1 – 5 grading system. He now had positive independent proof of his true abilities, which were presented to his school’s teacher via the parents’ association. Seemingly there were many complaints about the teacher.

    From my view point, the style of tests devised by Cambridge are reassuring for all concerned. My young student took the test with a group of other young learners and said he enjoyed it and was completely stress-free. Ability, or lack of it, might be confirmed by a test, but at the end of the day, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.


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