BIODATA. Scott Thornbury teaches on the MA TESOL program at The New School in New York, but works mainly from Spain. His previous experience includes teaching and teacher training in Egypt, UK, Spain, and in his native New Zealand, and he is a frequent presenter at international conferences. His writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology, including Teaching Unplugged (co-authored with Luke Meddings) and The New A to Z of ELT. He is also series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. His website: www.scottthornbury.com
PLENARY 1. Educational Technology: Hype or Hope?
Despite a paucity of evidence to show that digital technology enhances language learning, the fever for new tools and apps continues unabated, creating a continuous cycle of ‘hype, hope, and disappointment’. To guard against the hype and to avoid disappointment, vigilant teachers need to ask: What is the problem for which this technology is the solution? In this talk I reduce language learning to six ‘problems’ and evaluate the solutions that technology offers.
PLENARY 2. Teaching Unplugged
Teachers, I will argue, could learn a lesson from the Dogme 95 group of film makers, who have pledged to rid film-making of an obsessive concern for technique and to rehabilitate a cinema which foregrounds the story, and the inner life of the characters. In a similar spirit, I will be putting the case for what is called “a pedagogy of bare essentials”: one in which dependence on imported materials is reduced, and in which the learners’ texts and meanings are foregrounded. I will be looking at practical ways of achieving these goals.