I’ve written lots of conference workshop abstracts over the years but this is probably my favourite ..
The Communicative Approach has emphasised the need for realistic and authentic models of language, and for meaningful language use. But is this always the best way of making language accessible, interesting and memorable? Come along if you’d like to experience a range of activities which focus on the meaningless, the absurd, and the downright silly. This workshop may contain nuts.
I first ran this workshop at IATEFL about 10 years ago and then also at various other conferences around the world. It looked at practical classroom based ways of what I saw as implementing Guy Cook’s ideas from “Language Play, Language Learning” This book in many ways is critical of the communicative approach and its obsession with natural, authentic models of language, calling instead for an increased emphasis on playful, creative language use. I’d say it’s one of the books I’ve read which has had most influence on me as a materials writer.
But there’s also another side to being playful, or silly of course. That is going with the flow, doing things which break from the monotony of planned exercises from the coursebook, being spontaneous, having fun..
My feeling is that these are the moments in classes which are often the most engaging and memorable – for students and teachers.
Yesterday afternoon was a case in point.
I was doing a very quick zoom link up with one of our longest standing volunteers, Sahar Salha in Jabalia refugee camp, Gaza. We were basically doing it to test whether the internet was fast enough to start doing sessions again, but some of her students were around and they wanted to talk to me. We chatted and then I suddenly decided to do something a bit silly. I showed them two eggs – one real and one made of plastic and asked them to tell me which one they thought was not a real egg. I promised to balance what they said was a plastic egg on my head.
Unfortunately I only started recording the session at that point but here’s what happened next…
What about you? Anything spontaneous or silly ever happened in your English classes that you’re willing to share in the comments below?