Thursday, February 20, 2020

27th Tesol Macedonia Thrace Annual International Conference - An interview with Leo Selivan

Our fourth speaker is Leo Selivan, a talented speaker and ELT professional who has honoured us with his presence at our Conference once more. Leo Selivan has been involved in ELT for 15 years in various roles: teacher, examiner, teacher trainer, senior teacher, materials writer, e-moderator. He considers himself fortunate in three respects: (1) starting his ELT career with the British Council; (2) having Penny Ur as his Master's thesis supervisor; (3) getting to work with Scott Thornbury on his book Lexical Grammar, which saw the light in 2018 (Cambridge University Press). His other professional writing credits include articles in Modern English Teacher, EFL Magazine, The Guardian Education, Humanising Language Teaching as well as his own aptly-named blog Leoxicon ( Leo's plenary session entitled "On Eclecticism and Other Exotic Fruits " will be focusing on the following questions: As the trends in ELT constantly change, eclecticism has become a popular position among EFL teachers. What is eclecticism? What does it involve? Is it cherry-picking or a mixed salad of different methods? As we go on a journey through the history of ELT methodology, this light-hearted presentation will address these questions, and allow you to reflect on the methods and techniques you use in your teaching.
His pre-plenary session entitled "Mind the ______: Gap fills reimagined" will touch on the issue of gap-fill exercises which have been criticised for being boring, unauthentic and mechanical: they promote only receptive knowledge (of vocabulary) and focus on the correct form paying little attention to meaning (for grammar). Let's discover how, with a bit of imagination, we can put a 'spark' into gap-fills, thereby making them more effective and meaningful tools for language practice and review.

1. What do you hope participants will gain from your plenary talks and follow-up sessions?

The participants will have a chance to look back on various language teaching methods that have come and gone (and come back!) and reflect on their teaching. There will be lots of food metaphors throughout. One thing I can guarantee is that participants will never look at fruit the same way again!

2. The title of our Conference is "ELT-Reimagined". What are the changes that you feel will shape the future of ELT?

It may come as a surprise but I don't envisage any radical changes in terms of teaching methodologies. There might be occasional designer methods popping up now and then, like we've had Dogme ELT or Demand High in the last couple of decades, but on the whole the post-methods era looks set to continue. There will also be greater recognition of the status of non-native speaker teachers and learners' L1s, which is something that's already happening. This means native speakers will no longer be regarded as role models for learners; the shift will be towards bilinguals or monolinguals who can function in several languages effectively, regardless of whether they speak English as their mother tongue. Another change that is already underway is learning becoming more 'bite-sized': language courses are likely to become shorter and also more customized to suit very specific needs (English for VERY Specific Purposes?). Learning will increasingly occur online, on the go and on demand (e.g. via video chat or mobile apps). This is mainly due to increasing pressures of modern life, as a result of which learners can devote less time to focused study, as well as shorter attention spans. I'm not saying it's a good thing; it's just where things seems to  be heading.

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