Attended the BESIG conference in Poznan last weekend, with fellow English360′ers Paul Colbert and Brian Anderson. As always it was great to actually meet with colleagues that had previously been only virtual: met Karenne and Anne face to face finally. Discussed an interesting new project that Cornelia and Paul have cooked up. Met with lots of folks that I only see once a year.
Vicki Hollett‘s plenary and subsequent session were great. My take away was her discussion on teaching functional language for authenticity when establishing relationships, whether they be business or social relationships. Main point: those nice lists of functional phrases we have in BE coursebooks need an upgrade.
Another highlight was Jeremy Day‘s session on “Results-focused ESP”. Jeremy gave us an observation that was new to me. I’m paraphrasing here but he was discussing the question “Who is the most important person in the learning process?” and we were all thinking “the student” (as opposed to teacher-centered, or materials-centered classes of course). Jeremy’s point was that another perspective, especially in ESP, is to see that the most important person isn’t even in the classroom. If we are teaching English for nursing, the most important person is actually the patient, who will be communicating with the nurse (our student). If we are teaching English for students who work in a call center, the most important person is the customer, who will need our student to resolve an issue with a product. This expansion of who we prioritize as stakeholders in the learning process is spot on.