#ILILC was brilliant. People who actually teach (predominantly) sharing what they do in their classrooms – not airy fairy ideas from a golden age but what actually goes on in classrooms up and down the country. And what should go on in more schools. Ideas that have been tried and tested on all kinds of pupils- the motivated, the bored, the disaffected, the enthusiastic and the ‘why should I?’ of all ages. And I’m not talking just about the ‘presenters’ – the tips, ideas and insights being shared over coffee (and stronger beverages) were just as interesting and important as the sessions attended. The problem was finding enough time to share it all. Thank the little blue bird for Twitter! And blogs. And audio recording. And the willingness of MFLers to share whenever,wherever.
The power of community – the ‘MFL Twitterati’ was much in evidence and more were added to the number.
The strength of support offered to others shown over and over – story swapping, idea sharing, shoulder lending, email exchanging, Savlon providing (thanks mutton chops!)
The conviction of many that the national plans for language learning are not going as they should for the good of learners – but rather than just moaning, offering ideas and solutions of alternative, better approaches. And those ideas can’t be way out or wacky as they seem to be fairly consistent – independent, creative, questioning, challenged, skilful learners; knowledge is important but the ability to select the relevant knowledge and apply it is far more valuable.
Noise. I know I contributed plenty of it – ‘down an octave Stevens’ was a constant instruction from Chris Fuller – but language teachers are a noisy bunch. I guess our trade is communicating so I shouldn’t be surprised. The addition of a number of parrots, toucan and hens (???) made it even louder! Especially once Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch was invoked.
Laughter. I have not laughed that much in a long time. Whether tickled by a mistweet (IanBootle was added to our number last night and @blaggers may well be confused man today!), laughing at exploding Red Bull cans and accident prone delegates or guffawing at a shared joke, the sound of laughter has refreshed me – and I suspect many others who are in need of some camaraderie and light relief from the job of doing our best for our learners.
As Chris Harte so eloquently put it this morning, Language teaching is not broken, it just has some out of date files, needs defragging and rebooting. This weekend I’ve met and spoken to, and heard from many people who I think have a really good idea about what our new upgraded device should be able to do.
Just hope that those deciding what type of device we get will delete the correct files, add the right programs and gives language learning the operating system that it needs and deserves.
Let’s hope they read and hear the voices that I’ve heard this weekend. we’re shouting as loud as we can!