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TELLConsult contributed plenary presentation to EU project ETALAGE conference

on Tue, 11/01/2011 - 20:56

On behalf of TELLConsult I contributed a presentation, entitled 'Task-supported language teaching and technology-enhanced learning'  to the final meeting of the EU project ETALAGE in Budapest. (more on this below) 

 
 

The fourth and final meeting / Conference of the Etalage project took place in Budapest from Sunday the 9th of October until Thursday the 13th of October 2011. Eötvös Lorand University and Madách Imre Gimnázium, Budapest, hosted the event for colleagues and their guests from 9 European countries. 

In his presentation 'Pedagogical changes brought about by ICT integration' at the EUROCALL 2011 Conference , Ton Koet, the project coordinator, explained the project's mission as follows:
[...]The acronym ETALAGE stands for European Task-based Activities for Language Learning; a good practice exchange. As is clear from the acronym, the project is firmly founded in the tradition of Task Based Language Teaching (TBLT; see Ellis, 2003) and it is European in the sense that it is based on the Common European Framework (CEFR; see Council of Europe, 2001); what is not clear from the title is that the project hopes to use ICT to further the implementation of both TBLT and the CEFR.
He then elaborated on the pedagogical changes the project aims to support: a) a move away from a traditional language instruction approach (grammar and vocabulary teaching) to a task-based approach; b) the implementation of the CEFR and c) a third change, particularly urgent in the Netherlands,  more frequent use of the target language. It was hoped that the use of ICT would encourage teachers to abstain from using the native language.

Among the other plenary speakers were Ágnes Enyedi, faculty member of the DELP, who presented “Who is teaching and who is learning in our classrooms?” arguing the relevance of socio-constructivistic pedagogical approaches and Tibor Prievara, expert teacher trainer and editor-in-chief of “Tanárblog”, a leading ICT site in Hungary (www.tanbarblog.hu), who provided the participants with ample examples of how ICT is used at the school and in his class in particular (e.g. interactive whiteboard exercises, use of Nicenet, mindblogs, facebook, Quizlet.Com (test generator), google streetview, Classtools, NGAkids interactive Dutch dollhouse, microblogs in Grammar, ITL 21st century skills, Twitter).
See his blog for the full presentation. 

Tibor, a certified SMARTboard trainer and active user of the interactive whiteboard for his EFL lessons, was very much in support of my proposal to offer an iTILT dissemination partnership to his school, the Madách Gimnázium.

Having been involved with the project as external evaluator  I started my own presentation by presenting a set of criteria developed by Westhoff  (2006) that could help in evaluating the learning potential of MFL tasks. 

On the one hand to be transparent as to my approach in the evaluation of a number of the tasks developed by the Etalalge project but also because these guidelines, with the acronym FLIRT, have proven to be an efficient tool in the related Council of Europe Project: LanguagQuest  (2004-2007)

Activities should be:

1.      Functional (serve a purpose), lead to something
2.      Lifelike /current
3.      Informative (the learner finds out new things about life)
4.      Providing rich input (address all sorts of skills / register should vary)
5.      Tempting (doable – in zone of proximal development)

I then presented an overview of how the ICT-element in the project tasks, one of the ETALAGE design criteria, could be enhanced. 

To this end I made an inventory of what applications had been included in the available ETALAGE tasks and made suggestions for other ICT tools and applications that could provide added value to or facilitate specific task phases.
 
The international audience at the conference also provided an excellent opportunity to disseminate  progress and results of other projects and initiatives TELLConsult is involved in. So in addition to personal communication I could inform colleagues about  NIFLAR & EUROversity (3D in (MFL) Education), EUROCALL and the ITILT project (IWB in MFL Education) in my presentation and by distributing flyers and DvDs.

The PDF version of the presentation is available at Slideshare
 
I was impressed with a number of aspects of the project and the conference: a) the organisation b) the team spirit that could be felt among the attendants c) the subtle balance between theory and grass-roots practice and d)  the professional level of the work done and presented in the various poster sessions and workshops.