Wednesday, 18 May 2022

I woke up feeling much more relaxed. I’d already presented, so I could finally enjoy the conference without worrying about my talk.

I had breakfast with the lovely scholarship winner ladies and then headed to the ICC auditorium.

1. Plenary: Reading the word and the world. Gabriel Diaz Maggioli

Gabriel is a brilliant public speaker! Knowledgeable, passionate and he really knows how to engage his audience.

Gabriel asked : What is reading?

I wrote:

Then Gabriel projected this slide and asked us to choose the ones that best describe our understanding of reading. At the end, we went back to this slide to see if our attitudes had changed:

Next, he taught us a reading lesson – watch this funny clip!

How do we understand texts? By using contexts such as:

  • grammatical
  • semantic
  • situational/pragmatic
  • intercultural
  • schematic

Gabriel asks: Do your texts tackle all contexts?

Key takeaways:

Reading is a bridge to us relating to the world.

Make teaching reading 3-dimensional.

Meaningfulness in every single activity.

The main focus of the pre-reading stage should be to start with a connection between the reader and the text

  • Activating background knowledge
  • Predicting
  • Previewing: What would you do if..


  • Vocabulary work (synonyms, antonyms)
  • Comprehension questions
  • questions about content, organization and purpose of the text.

Post-reading ideas include oral/written summaries, comparing themes

You can also read Sandy’s summary here.


During the break, I had a lovely chat with Abeer Okaz. It was great to finally meet Abeer after months of Zooming and emailing! Silly me, I thought I’d taken a pic with masks off but it turns out I never pressed the button.

2. Text mediation -Riccardo Chiappini

This was one of my favourite sessions. I’m very interested in mediation and I’ve found Riccardo and Ethan’s book really useful. It was also great meeting Jason Anderson there!

So, back to Text mediation. Here are the key elements

  • The text is the message, the information that needs to be passed on.
  • From one person to another. The people are: the mediator and their audience.
  • For a specific purpose, e.g. the audience don’t speak the language, don’t understand technical terms, or were simply absent.

See the formula and examples below

There is a source text (written, spoken, multimodal) which contains information and the target text, what the mediator will pass on to their audience.

Some of the mediation strategies we often use are:

  • identifying key information
  • translating
  • paraphrasing
  • expanding
  • summarising

These are things we do on a daily basis. Here is a real life example:

Source text: My IATEFL talk

Mediator :me

Audience: My mother

Purpose: My mother wasn’t there but she wanted to know what it was about.

Some details: She’s Greek and she’s not a teacher.

Target text: I had a video call with my mother about my IATEFL talk.


Identify key points

Summarise the key points ( I don’t need to bore her with ELT jargon)

Translate from English to Greek.

Here are some examples that you can use in class. Meaningful, engaging, productive.

Let’s get serious

I did some hard thinking that day with fellow PronSIGgers (George Palomino, Stella Palavecino and Ana Paula Biazon Rocha) and Ethan Mansur. 😂😂

Lunch stories

I looked for Khanh-Duc Kuttig , because she’d been planning a group lunch, making sure nobody would eat alone! You’re a star, Khanh-Duc with your Can-do attitude! I also met Jo Sjoke, Shilpa Pulapaka and Gerald Smith that day.

Remember my ‘small world story’ with Frank from this post? Well, here’s another small world story!

Gerald first contacted me when he was writing this article about me and Inlingua for the ELT Gazette. Later, I discovered that he works closely with Katerina Charaktinioti, who went to school with one of my sisters AND was one of my English teachers when I was 10 or so! 🤯🤯

I’d never met Shilpa before IATEFL but it was wonderful to spend some time together and I look forward to meeting her again!

I was familiar with Jo’s work; I’d read some of her articles and watched recordings of some of her webinars which I found extremely practical. I’m so glad she came! We had lots of fun and I also attended her brilliant session -but more on that in my next post!

We grabbed some food and looked for chairs! There weren’t any. So we just sat on the floor and had a laugh about it! Nothing wrong with that!

3. Pronunciation instruction for all with the Colour Vowel Chart -Liz Bigler

I attended this one with George Palomino and Stella Palavecino. It’s official, I’m addicted to these people! 🥰

Liz has created this chart to teach vowel pronunciation. She uses colours and key words rather than phonetic symbols to help students pronounce vowels correctly.

Here’s a clip where Liz shows us how she uses the colour vowel chart

4. Transitioning from General English to business English -Marjorie Rosenberg

This talk was also very helpful , as I have recently started teaching some Business English classes.

Marjorie asked us to reflect on the similarities and differences between General and Business English

She then suggested the following:

  • Always start with a needs analysis
  • Identify and focus on specialised language
  • it’s more about how to do business rather than about business
  • consider you will need to report to HR or boss

Marjorie advises us to prioritize these skills.

  • turn-taking, interrupting
  • back-channelling
  • exchanging information
  • clarifying
  • asking for/giving opinions
  • speculating/hypothesizing
  • agreeing/disagreeing/negotiating
  • reaching consensus

Marjorie shared some really practical daily office activities as well as books for Business English teaching.

Her main conclusion was that there is not much difference between the two: you will still use activities like information gaps, ordering, gapfills, question cards and board games. You will still need to build rapport and make sure students enjoy your class.

Thanks for all the activities and books you mentioned, Marjorie!

5. Embedding assessment into classroom activities – with a twist! Leo Selivan

I went to Leo’s session with a fantastic group of people: Gabriela Pozza, Sebastian Lesniewski and one more lovely person. If you’re reading this, please contact me! I’m sorry I forgot your name, we had a really great talk and would love to connect with you.

Leo first asked us which types of assessment are formative and summative. The difference between the two is as Leo said:

formative: measures the distance you have covered

summative: the finish line

It is also represented in this lovely metaphor below:

Then, in a highly interactive session, Leo gave us some tasks such as:

  • repeating a monologue 3 times -3 minutes each time and then do peer assessment
  • having a debate and then summarising what our partner said using some sentence stems
  • Oral cloze – Listen and fill in the gap

My key takeaways from this session:

1. Assessment: Give them anything BUT tests!

2.In gap-fills , place the gap near the end of the sentence to build anticipation. I think this makes a lot of sense and I will definitely remember this when creating gapfills.

Pic by Bruno Leys, shared on twitter

3. From 4-3-2 to 3-3-3

Nation’s 4-3-2 is a technique I have used many times.

Students repeat a monologue three times to different partners, with an increasing amount of time pressure:

  • first telling in 4 minutes
  • second telling in 3 minutes.
  • third telling in 2 minutes

The reason:

task repetition+increasing time pressure = oral fluency and automaticity, what Thornbury calls : the ability to perform a task ‘without conscious or deliberate effort’.

Leo was skeptical about the 4-3-2 and he proposes the 3-3-3 technique instead. This means students still repeat the monologue three times, in the constant time condition (3 min → 3 min → 3 min).

What I noticed: When I was retelling my story, I changed it a bit every time. I added more detail. I improved it. If there was time pressure, perhaps I wouldn’t have done that. So my question is: what do we want/expect from students? To say it faster or to make it more interesting?

What I thought: I guess it’s up to the student to time themselves if they want to. For some it could be helpful but for others, that time pressure could cause extra stress? And stress could reduce fluency?

What I read later: Leo shared a reference, so I downloaded an article from here

One thing I learned from this article is that I can use consciousness-raising activities or corrective feedback between the first and second delivery. If I do that, the activity does not only focus on fluency but accuracy too.

5. Leo was the only non-Greek who pronounced Tsateri correctly in Belfast (and without any help from me!)

6. If you sit in the first row you might end up on stage. True story!

Thanks for the photo, Gabriela!

You can also read Sandy΄s summary here.

A confession

I attended a couple more sessions but I was too tired, or it was too dark and I couldn’t take notes. There’s a limit to how many talks you can successfully attend!


Frank and I went to Mourne Seafood Bar . Did anyone else go there? The oysters and seafood linguini were out of this world! Thanks for finding this place, Frank!

And that was the end of day 3.

You can read about:

day one here

day two here