Experiences of an English Language Teacher

English UK 2012: Annual Teachers’ Conference

The Shard reaching into the clouds.

On Saturday, I travelled up to London for the 2012 English UK Annual Teachers’ Conference and was fortunate to give a talk on my favourite subject … Dogme ELT.  I met up with a colleague, from my school, on the train but had to get up very early.  Around 5am to be honest.  Anyhow, we arrived at the venue on time for the registration and collected our badges.  At the venue (nearby Borough), we were greeted with juice, coffee, croissants, pain au chocolat as well as a range of other goodies and a good chance for a rather needed breakfast.

Before the first plenary, I was able to meet with some of the publishers and was able to say hello to a few familiar faces.  I had an hour so managed to sit down somewhere for a bite to eat, a coffee and a chance to catch prepare my final things for my talk.  I met Tom from English UK who helped show me the presentation equipment for my talk and I was able to go through my talk one last time.  Of course I had some butterflies in my stomach but wasn’t overly nervous and was looking forward to my talk.

Anyhow, the Opening Plenary was by none other than Jeremy Harmer (who I last met at Bucharest at an ELT talk).  He decided to go through the Opening Plenary with no overhead slides, no videos or any images – it was decidedly refreshing.  Jeremy developed six questions for his talk and provided the attendees the opportunity to offer their insight and experience.  Some of the questions focused on issues such as the use of IT, CLIL, as well as language testing.   After his talk, we were guided back into the main hall and was given the opportunity to collect some more coffee and biscuits before the key talks for the conference started.

The first talk I attended was by Josh Round about “Putting the C and P into CPD“.  He delivered a very interesting presentation through the use of Prezi.  Personally, I am keen to learn a bit more about cloud presentation software available on the internet and I have much to learn about Prezi.  Anyhow, Josh looked at activities available for teachers to continue CPD, the role CPD could play in future job prospects as well as developing an effective CPD programme in a language school.  There was also reference towards Twitter and role it has played in language teaching or the sharing of ideas or teaching experiences.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any talks during second session as I had my talk.  For those that missed my talk, I have attached a copy of my slides and eHandout below.

English UK 2012: Balancing Dogme ELT in the Classroom

English UK 2012: eHandout

The final talk that I attended was by Nick Robinson about the opportunities available for budding ELT Authors. He gave a first-hand account of being an author and the expectation for those that were keen to get in this field.  Nick was able to refer to his personal experience and the majority of attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions or share personal experiences.  During the talk, I was introduced to the Pomodero Technique for completing various tasks (something that I haven’t heard before and something that I will definitely include in future tasks when writing).

Nick talks about the act of using a cat as a writer.

Nearer the end, Nick echoed something that Josh mentioned during his talk earlier that any teachers that were keen to get noticed needed to demonstrate potential.  Nick mentioned that teachers needed to demonstrate potential through the use of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) with Twitter, blogging, the creation and sharing of material and some other areas.  When I was on the MA course at Sussex Uni, one of the students had co-authored a coursebook for Cambridge University Press.  She gave a talk about becoming an author and much of what she mentioned was echoed in Nick’s talk.  As in both talks (at English UK and at the University of Sussex), I found myself being referred to as a case-in-point (blogging, Twitter, etc) – get yourself noticed through your blog, market yourself and create a following.  It was great to meet Nick in person, having been following him on Twitter for quite a while.  I also hope to meet Nick at future conferences in the near future.

Chia starts the Closing Plenary.

That was the end of the Conference today and I was looking forward to attending Chia’s Closing Plenary.  I haven’t attended a talk or plenary held by Chia and was keen to see her in action (so to speak).  She started the talk by introducing herself and her ideas about language teaching.  She was incredibly energetic during the plenary and her presentation was visually engaging: videos, pictures, etc.

Chia covered all ELT theories in her talk (which was a first for any plenary or talk that I had attended) and the attendees had the opportunity to guess or predict theories that were presented.  Chia successfully incorporated some highly amusing videos with her talk to show the use of particular language theories and methods.  One of the most amusing videos that was shown during the talk is below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-4WbjV1Jmo]

Chia and Jeremy after the Q&A Session.

Finally, Jeremy and Chia finished off the conference with a Q&A Session.  Some of the attendees were offered to the opportunity to answer questions from the attendees, which they handled superbly.  There were various questions about CLIL, Dogme ELT, the focus between teaching methodology versus learning methodology (which I attempted to ask), as well as a range of other points.  There were some interesting debates developing but the Q&A Session finished and attendees were guided to the main hall for drinks and a good chin-wag.

I was able to meet other attendees over a few beers and ended up having a conversation with three other attendees about Dogme ELT and my proposed “Balanced Approach” which developed further for my talk.  It was a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and insights into language learning with other likeminded individuals and I would highly recommend other teachers to attend the English UK  Conference next year.


  1. Thanks for this, Martin. I had a very similar experience to you and found that the whole event and all the speakers really broadened my horizons, especially concerning the online opportunities for development. Unfortunately I couldn't attend your talk, so I very much appreciate the materials to look through!

  2. Martin, thanks for the summary for the people that couldn't make it.

    Seeing as you're interested in 'prezi', here's Josh's and mine from IATEFL-Hu.

    If you click through, I think that you'll see that mine is a bit snazzier than Josh's – we have a friendly rivalry ongoing about prezi! 🙂

    Bren Brennan

  3. Tom, I look forward to any blog posts or conference summary from the English UK talk in the future.

  4. Thanks Bren for your comment. I look forward to trying out Prezi in the future and will blog about this in due course.

  5. Thanks for the recap. I have been very impressed with recent presentations (both by professionals and my students) using Prezi. It's refreshing to see something other than PowerPoint being used.

  6. I agree Trotamunda. I am really keen to get my Dogme ELT talk on to Prezi and possibly use it for my next talk. I wonder if you need a wifi connection though or are you able to download the Prezi in preparation for the talk?

  7. Hi Martin, thanks for the mention here. Was a pleasure to meet you. One of the benefits of having an online PLN is the actual face to face meet-ups when they happen.

    Prezi is getting easier to use with recent improvements they have added. You can save a downloaded version to be certain when presenting in case the wifi fails (the only thing then is any youtube videos you might have embedded won't work).

    All the best
    Josh Round

  8. Robin Yu

    Hi Martin, the free version of Prezi cannot be downloaded but if you take one of the premium options, it can. As mentioned by Josh below, though, videos will not play without a connection.

  9. Thank you Josh. I will look at Prezi other the next couple of weeks to get a bit more information. So far it looks pretty impressive.

  10. Nick

    Thanks for the mention, Martin. Very kind of you. Great to meet you in person.

  11. It was wonderful meeting you in person as well Nick and great to learn more about publishing in ELT.

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