IATEFL 2012: Horror in the Classroom by Lucy Williams

On the flight to Glasgow

Having arrived safely in Glasgow for my IATEFL talk tomorrow, I had a chance to attend one of the last talks for Thursday.  Having looked at the schedule, I decided to attend the talk given by Lucy Williams named “An ELT Horror Story”.  My initial feeling was that this talk was about a teacher’s experience in a particular country and suggested recommendations to limit ‘horror stories’ from emerging within one’s career.  However, when I walked in to the conference room about 15 people had turned up for the talk and it was about incorporating horror in the classroom aimed for possible teenagers or young adults.  The talk was to hold about 100 people, but possible reasoning why it was not that popular could be related to some other big names giving a talk at the same time.  It was liberating to show some support for the small fish in the big pond of ELT, yet I have never incorporated horror in the classroom and I can’t wait to exploit this in the classroom.

Adjectives used to describe horror movies

Nevertheless, the talk was supported by Macmillan and their website OnestopEnglish.  They were promoting their new developments of the horror reading and listening series on their teachers’ website.  All attendees were given some access to the material which is to be published in the next few months.  Lucy gave an energetic and humorous talk about horror and generated interest by getting attendees to share their experiences of horror stories from their own country.  All I could muster was to refer to “The Lady in Black” and “Jack The Ripper”.  This was supported by guess the movie title by showing corresponding movie posters.  She showed a word cloud of various adjectives used to describe horror movies.

Next attendees were introduced to a new listening activity which supports and develops the “Live in London” series of podcasts, the 2012 Olympics, etc.  This listening series introduces students to different areas of London through the use of a “Ghost Guide to London” (which should be available for download on the OnestopEnglish website in the next few months).  Lucy played the initial introduction of the Ghost Guide and I was impressed by the sound effects, the atmosphere that it creates and the voice actor is wonderful.  I immediately started to think how this could be incorporated in the classroom and some ideas were to get students to close their eyes, dim the lights, and get them to listen to the Ghost Guide.  After listening, you could get students to draw what they saw and describe/share this with other learners.  I can’t wait to incorporate this in the classroom and it is great to see how OnestopEnglish is developing with new material.

The next part of the talk was about the story series and attendees were given a listening worksheet to complete (as part of a pre-listening activity) and fill or predict what to write in the gaps.  This was related to a spooky borror story and it was wonderful.  There are various lessons and materials to be exploited with teenagers, young adults and selected adults.  The story was split into chapters with extra material available to download such as the audio, multimedia websites, video as well as blogs.  The technology really exploits and encourages learners to immerse themselves in the story.  This got me thinking about how iPads and eBooks could be used to develop immersive and engaging lessons.  It would be wonderful to create to a lesson for learners to follow that is accessible on the iPad to gauge how effective it will be in the language classroom.

The SECC where IATEFL is this year

Finally, things were wrapped up and that was the end of the talk and it was great to be introduced to various lesson ideas as well as possible material to be available at a later date.  I can’t wait to attend more talks tomorrow, but tomorrow is the big day with my talk about Dogme ELT, so I might not be able to see as many as I would like.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had much chance to meet many people (as compared to last year) but I hope that tomorrow I am able to meet more people.  I hope everyone is having a great time in Glasgow and looking forward to reading more about the talks various people have attended.

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