10.25-11.10: Janet Enever (Umea University, Sweden) - 'Early language learning in Europe: are we delivering the promise?'
In this paper I will provide a short review of the findings from a large scale study of early foreign language learning in Europe (ELLiE 2006-10), funded by the European Commission with further funding from the British Council. This four-year longitudinal study traced the progress of over 1400 primary school children from 6/7 years to 10/11 years, learning foreign languages in seven European countries including: Croatia, England, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden. In England, the study concerned French and Spanish, whilst in the six other participating countries the focus was on children learning English as the first foreign language.
Specific themes of the presentation will include:
i. A comparison of national language policies
ii. Factors contributing most effectively to the success of early language learning.
iii. Children's linguistic and non-linguistic outcomes.
I will present key indicators that have emerged from the study - the largest transnational study of early language learning in Europe today. Delegates will be invited to engage in a discussion of the potential wider relevance of the ELLiE findings for the future of early language learning. Further details of the study are available at . The presentation will also introduce the forthcoming book publication of the study:
Enever, J. (Ed) (2012) ELLiE. Early Language Learning in Europe. London, UK: British Council.
11.10-11.45: Coffee Break 11.45-12.45: Deborah Bullock (The British Council) - 'Discovering research – a teacher-friendly approach' (Workshop)
The workshop is aimed at teachers and those responsible for teacher development and falls into 4 parts. There will be a short introduction to enable participants to reflect on and discuss their attitudes to reading research, their practices, the benefits, and what factors make research accessible to teachers. I will then go on to briefly introduce the British Council Research Papers Series online: the aims of the scheme, areas of activity covered, details of published and freely available articles in addition to upcoming projects which may be of interest. The bulk of the session is hands-on. Participants will work in groups to come up with ideas on how to make a range of sample texts more accessible and relevant to teachers e.g. guided reading/discussion activities. There will then be feedback including ideas from my own experience as a teacher and trainer. Although the focus of the workshop is engaging with research, engagement in research will also be encouraged at the end of the session. Focusing on their own contexts, participants will be encouraged to see the relevance of the research and will be encouraged to find links, identifying questions and areas which might be worth investigating in the light of what they have read. I will provide a list of resources and suggested further reading and handouts for them to take away so that they can follow up on this.
12.45-13.45: Lunch break
13.45-14.15: Maggi Lussi Bell (Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland) – 'Academic oral presentations – look who’s talking'
The talk will begin with a brief explanation of the motivation for my study (my interest in oral exams, especially co-construction of exam interaction, and my doctoral studies). I will outline the context in which the study was set (a university of applied sciences in Switzerland) and describe how academic oral presentations are used as the students’ final EFL exam. The advantages of academic oral presentations as an efficient, effective means of assessment, highly relevant to academic programmes, will be given. The likelihood that their use will increase alongside the growing number of European degree programmes taught in English outside the UK and Ireland will also be mentioned, together with the need to gain greater understanding of issues which may affect their validity.
Turning to the study itself, I will give the aims and present my research questions. I will explain my choice of methodology (Conversation Analysis) and outline its principles. I will describe how the data for my study was collected and analysed, and present the results, using extracts from my Conversation Analysis transcriptions to illustrate salient points. The findings shed light on a) the nature of questions posed by examiners (open, closed etc.), b) the nature of examiner additional utterances (e.g. comments on content, corrections), and c) their effects on candidate performance. Implications for testing practice will be discussed and recommendations made to maintain the validity of the exam.
14.30-15.15: Manzoorul Abedin (University of Cambridge, UK) – 'Researching ELT in Bangladesh: practice, perils and pitfalls'
The paper is concerned with processes of research enquiry set in a developing country. The context for this work is ELT (English language teaching) research works carried out and published in Bangladesh in recent years. The processes by which researchers reach conclusions are crucially important because they determine the quality of the findings. Drawing on examples of a number of state-level, NGO, institutional and individual research-works, the paper highlights the importance of quantity, diversity and quality of evidence required to fully probe the complex dynamics that influence English teaching and learning in Bangladesh. In doing so, the paper underscores two primary concerns: (1) methodological concerns that discuss the rationale behind apparatus selection, analytical choices, and data interpretation procedures, and (2) theoretical concerns that include synthesising of existing body of research, conceptualisation of constructs and development of arguments. Additionally, the paper considers problems faced by researchers who are outsiders (foreigners or city-based) designing research in non-western or rural settings. These include issues surrounding bureaucracy, politics, economics and culture among others. Overall, the purpose of the paper is to outline the challenges a typical ELT research set in Bangladesh faces by considering the relationship between the research problem, methodological assumptions, instrumentation, and the culture of the research setting.
15.15-15.50: Coffee break
15.50-16.20: Larysa Sanotska (Lviv National Ivan Franko University, Ukraine) – 'Critical thinking: from creative to academic writing'
My experience of teaching undergraduate university students allowed to presume that such weaknesses as unclear focus of discussion, vagueness of discourse, or plagiarizing in their library research papers might be caused by several reasons, underdeveloped critical thinking among them. The report is built on the qualitative and quantitative data of the experiment conducted in a multilingual group of bachelor university students (Chinese, and Ukrainian/Russian) in Ukraine. The purpose of the research is to study effectiveness of combining creative-writing activities of ‘free style’ with ‘academic proper’ writing training in teaching EAP students in order to improve their study and writing skills. Considering the fact that, in wider perspective, EAP courses combine teaching Academic English with overall development of academic study skills, critical thinking is among crucial subskills in EAP. Insufficient ability to think critically leads to struggling with studies and, eventually, subconscious plagiarizing. The research proved that developing critical thinking at ‘creative writing’ stage is more enjoyable. Students more willingly learn to focus on clarity of discourse, build proofreading and rewriting skills, and develop paraphrasing techniques. Even a short ‘encounter’ with writing ‘free narratives’, which are not restrained by ‘academic’ limits, provides clear insight into the area of ‘academic –non-academic vocabulary/ structures’, helps distinguish between them by contrasting one with another. Undoubted ‘intrinsic motivation’ stimulus of creative writing alongside with extrinsic motivation, which students already possess enrolling for EAP courses, breaks students’ psychological barriers, allow them to avoid anxiety, and build the bridge between reluctance to write and successful academic writing.
16.35-17.20: Claire Walker and Niamh O'Leary – 'Teacher research – an organizational approach'
Enhancing the research skills of EFL practitioners can make a significant impact on both their professional development and quality in the classroom. However, strong support and a clear framework are critical for the success of such a project. Its success depends heavily on the availability of effective mentors in each country in supporting teachers throughout the project. We’ll therefore present a framework illustrated with reference to an actual research programme involving 11 teachers, 9 mentors in 8 different countries in East Asia.
Using this innovative programme as a model we’ll focus on the context and the key features central to its design and the implementation model which was used. Reference to participants’ feedback will provide data for evaluating its effectiveness.
Based on the research model described above we will highlight key areas which need to be considered such as research questions, course content, participant support, organisational constraints and sustainability. We will also address the challenges we now face with the implementation of such findings across the region.
By the end of this presentation conference delegates will be more aware of the challenges of action research as well as the elements to be considered in the design and implementation of teacher research programmes.
17.35-18.35: Research SIG Open Forum [Panel Discussion and SIG Business Meeting]
Richard Smith (University of Warwick / Coordinator of the Research SIG) opens the forum by making some general points relating to the Research SIG Day presentations and inviting presenters and the audience to respond. Then comes the Research SIG’s annual report (2011/12) and an opportunity for all present to express their views and contribute to the planning of future activities.