Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Joan Shin Kang & the end of the 11th Anglo Congress

The final plenary of the the 11th Anglo Congress invited us to ask ourselves the question 'Are you a 21st Century Teacher?' and Joan Kang Shin started by saying that she believes the most commonly used approach to teaching young learners in the 20th Century led to separation between local and global. 

Joan shared the stunning TED Talk by Eric Whitacre, featuring a virtual choir of 200+ voices singing one of his pieces. This kind of collaboration is an example of what was beyond imagining in the 20th century.

Mentioning Kachru's classification of English as a world language consisting of three circles (1988) and in particular the importance the outer circle has taken, with English being used more by non-native speakers among themselves than by native speakers with non-native speakers, with all that this signifies when it comes to the English we teach in the classroom. 

She encouraged the audience to bring both the local and the global into the classroom through song, first leading the audience through a song about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then giving us a template for a recipe song that she had used to write a song about the Uruguayan chivito.

Among other things, Joan talked about how the tradition of map-making distorts reality and showing students this through tools such as Map fight, comparing it with information displayed on Google maps can encourage them to reflect on the information that is taken for granted and to think more critically.
Joan also suggested getting students to create a time capsule to help them reflect on what is important about their own culture.

Mark Prensky' digital natives, digital immigrants article was cited as an important reason why technology should matter in our classes.

Finally, Joan finished by inviting teachers to participate with their students in the Our Class City Country project, sharing information with students from around the world. 

The end of the Congress

Many people stayed until the very end, for the congress raffle. In the photo (left), Gerardo Vallaza from the Anglo hands out 6 copies of Language Learning with Technology donated by the British Council Uruguay. 

Before the raffle, an announcement was made about the British Council's Action Research Award Scheme, which is an exciting initiative to encourage teachers to become involved in researching their own context. There will be 6 awards across the Americas "for projects of one year duration and £2,000 for projects that last six months." I recommend you take a look to see if you are eligible to apply.

There was also an announcement made about next year's LABCI conference, which is due to be held in Montevideo on July 9th, 10th & 11th. This large conference, held every 2 years is sure to be an exciting event. See you there?