This post continues my account of an event I’ve recently attended.
Wow, that was a really full day! Three symposia (symposiums?) with three speakers each, followed by discussions, comments and more discussions… I’ll only focus on the presentations here, and have a separate post about the discussions.
The first two talks of the first symposium (about the action-oriented approach) were packed with theoretical information. So, if you’ve been wondering if the new companion volume represents a new paradigm, if mediation is really a construct and if plurilingualism can be reliably tested, the speakers are a much better source of information than this blog. My own takeaways are literary rather than academic:
Constant Leung (King’s College London):
‘You’re opening plurilingual spaces: new dimensions, unpredictable and contingent.’
John de Jong (Language Testing Services):
‘Let’s fight hypnosis through scales and levels.’
Mark Levy (British Council, Spain) took a less theoretical stance and told us about the introduction of CV in Spain. Did you know that there was a Royal Decree about teaching and testing mediation?
From that point onwards, more and more words were said about the role of teacher training and development. As Mark said, in times of stress, even if we have developed and changed our habits since, we tend to revert to our original teacher identity formed at the moment of training. This means that teacher education is even more important – but isn’t the responsibility a bit frightening, too?
Symposium 2 was about plurilingualism, plurilingual education and mediation (again).
Peter Lenz (Institute of Multilingualism, University of Friburg) used ESP skills assessment to demonstrate how mediation can be measured.
Bessie Dendrinos (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece) gave a very comprehensive presentation about how multilingual learner corpora and other tools are used in Greece to exemplify CEFR levels.
Déirdre Kirwan (Formerly principal of Scoil Bhríde (Cailíní), Blanchardstown, Dublin).
Déirdre’s talk was perhaps the most memorable of them all: from the bird’s eye view we were transported onto beautiful school premises in the heart of Ireland. Here is a great example of how plurilingualism can work in a certain context provided all stakeholders are involved and on board. Bringing all the richness of multiple cultures into the classroom – makes me wonder if something like this can ever be achieved in our monolingual environment.
Symposium 3 was about descriptors in curriculum, classroom and assessment.
Elaine Boyd (University College London) spoke about CEFR from the position of a materials writer.
Armin Berger told us about a project to adapt CEFR to high proficiency levels at his university in Vienna.
And Elif Kantarcıoğlu from Ankara spoke about the challenges (and improvements) the new CEFR has brought to assessment.
At some point Barry O’Sullivan, who chaired the first symposium, told us an inspiring story. ‘A single shape with a graphic and 3 bullet points’, that’s how we need to communicate with stakeholders.
And this is what this post should have been – but I’m sitting at the airport and my higher order thinking skills are slightly impaired 🙂 To be continued!