Annual Conference 2014



This year’s Annual Conference was held on the 21st and 22nd August 2014 in Riga at the Education and Information Centre of Riga City (RIIMC), Kaņiera 15, Riga.

The Conference was kindly supported by The British Council in Latvia.

You can see photos and read the conference abstracts below, as well as visit the pages for previous conferences.

Susan Maingay: King’s College London

Pronouncing English today: variation and change in the accents of English and what this means for the language teacher

In this short session we will be discussing (amongst other things):

Current variation & recent changes in how English is pronounced
Attitudes to accents
The phonology of international communication
Models and norms for the classroom

The session will be based around a presentation in which I’ll introduce some current ideas on these themes, but the format will be very informal and will leave space for ongoing interaction and discussion. The aim is not to offer recipes for the teaching of pronunciation but to provide opportunities to reflect on the wide range of English accents we can hear around us today, to share classroom experiences, and to reflect on the implications of all this for current practice in the teaching of pronunciation.

Dr Christopher Tribble: King’s College, London University

Teaching Writing: bringing it all back home. or: “What lessons can the general English teacher learn from the state-of-the-art in English for academic purposes writing instruction?”

In this plenary talk I will first discuss recent research in writing instruction in academic and professional settings and its implications for EAP instruction in higher education settings. I will summarise how current research in EAP teaching (e.g. Wingate & Tribble, 2011 / Wingate, forthcoming) tells us that genre knowledge is an essential starting point for writing instruction, and that scaffolded approaches to teaching writing appear to offer some of the most effective ways of dealing with the challenge of teaching writing in these settings. I will also discuss the growing understanding that learning to write in English is a challenge for native and non-native speaking students alike. In other words, in professional or academic settings, there’s no such thing as a privileged “native-writer”….. [see programme for full abstract]

Dr Christopher Tribble: King’s College, London University

Teaching Writing: practical applications of genre analysis in writing instruction

In this interactive workshop we will consider a framework for genre analysis which draws on Halliday’s concepts of Field, Tenor and Mode, and work by John Swales and his followers in the application of genre analysis in curriculum and materials development for writing instruction.

At the beginning of the workshop I will present some materials which I have developed with colleagues at King’s College to support the writing development of Undergraduate and Master’s students. These materials are based on high and low scoring exemplars of student writing. In a later stage participants will then consider how to apply these ideas in their own teaching contexts, and will be given a framework they can use to develop future teaching materials relevant to their own classrooms.

Robert Dean: Pearson

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say – Developing Real Life Communication

Many may remember speaking in a foreign language in their school days as merely being oral repetition of grammar structures, reciting language that was designed with little regard for communicative relevance or true meaning. Things of course have changed, and the classroom of today is much more closely geared towards preparing learners to communicate for real in English for a variety of purposes, be it for business, travel or leisure purposes.

This session will look at practical ways of aiding the development of the speaking skill, and will pay particular attention to the importance of REAL functional English as opposed to the artificial grammaticised variety from the classrooms of years gone by.

Robert Dean: Pearson

And They All Learned English Happily Ever After!

Fantasy, Fun and Computer Games in the Primary Classroom

Once upon a time, there was a classroom full of energetic and happy pupils, who no matter what their background, no matter what their ability, all enjoyed learning English.

They loved their classes, and were thrilled when their teacher included the magic of stories, fun characters and exciting activities and even computer games in the lessons. The teacher was rather happy too, as s/he could see quite clearly how beneficial such ingredients could be to successful learning, and how in turn the right contexts and activities could have a positive effect on smooth and effective classroom management.

The teacher was even more thrilled to discover that Pearson’s renowned Fly High and Our Discovery Island courses had been making all this possible. Is this all a fairytale? No, it is reality, and this highly practical workshop will show just how real it all can be in YOUR classroom

Robert Dean: Pearson

Make Reading and Use of English Manageable with the 3 M’s

For many students the Reading and Use of English sections are the Achilles Heel of all the exam papers. How can we help students to improve in their areas of difficulty, whilst at the same time help them feel positive about the process of preparing for the exam? This highly practical session will attempt to deal with these important questions.

During the workshop, we will see how the 3 M’s: Motivation, Memorisation and Meaningful context and practice can work together to prepare for a successful performance on the big day. The session will contain a number of easy to prepare practical ideas and tips ready to take away and use in class.

Gareth Davies: Oxford University Press

Learning to Fail, Failing to Learn

In this talk we will look at how we as teachers can help our students learn how to fail by teaching them to address problem and how to learn from mistakes. That will mean our students will be more willing to make mistakes, more willing to take risks and help themselves fail to learn.

DACE MIŠKA: Oxford University Press


The session will discuss how CLIL applies to the demands of the 21st century. Focusing on the most powerful aspects of CLIL as a teaching tool, the session will provide teachers with examples of ready-made CLIL activities, related to the OUP new primary course based on CLIL, Oxford Discover, that is going to be piloted in 3 schools this year.

DACE MIŠKA: Oxford University Press

Spoken Grammar

Michael Swan won the ELTons 2014 British Council lifetime achievement award in May. Join us to celebrate his contribution with this session where we will revisit his approach to teaching grammar and discuss the aspects of teaching Spoken Grammar to our students.

Natassa Manitsa: Express Publishing

Differentiated Instruction: What Best Teachers Do

Further to the development of thinking skills, emotions are also crucial and form an indispensable part of any learners’ identity, behaviour and receptiveness. Certain students need to feel emotionally intrigued and secure before they start any cognitive or critical thinking skills development. That is why teachers should put special emphasis on tasks which offer an opportunity for learning from a more emotional perspective.

Natassa Manitsa: Express Publishing

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking leads to active learning by teaching students how to think rather than what to think. Teachers who wish to promote critical thinking should encourage a number of skills (such as reasoning, analysis, inferring, etc.) as well as qualities like open-mindedness, observation and self-reflection. The speaker will discuss all these implications in the usual classroom structure.

Tatiana Ginzburg: Express Publishing

Making Your Lessons Meaningful (Content in a Language Classroom)

On the one hand, we keep hearing that pupils nowadays have short attention span and expect to be entertained rather than put in some effort in their learning. On the other hand, we cannot avoid the responsibility of educating them, as opposed to simply drilling some grammar rules and a set of lexical items into their heads. In this talk we’ll look at the whys and ways teachers can ‘mediate’, i.e., shape their pupils’ learning by bringing topics to the aimed to have personal value, purpose beyond ‘here’ and ‘now’ and challenge. The talk is aimed at teachers working all ages of school pupils.

Andrzej Raczkowski: Cambridge University Press

Coping with the Challenges of Virtual Learning and Teaching

Learning a foreign language presents different challenges for different people in different contexts. The term ‘blended learning’ can refer to any combination of different methods of learning, different learning environments, different learning styles, etc. The talk discusses three integral parts of the process of learning and teaching – the learner, the teacher and the pedagogy – from the point of view of challenges involved when technology comes into play.

Robert Buckmaster: Cambridge University Press

Complete IELTS Writing

The written paper of the IELTS exam is often the part of the examination where candidates do not do as well as they should. These candidates do not know how to analyse and approach the questions and so do not answer it properly. In this workshop I will explore how Complete IELTS helps you and your students prepare thoroughly for the IELTS examination by looking at real exam questions and you will go away with a better understanding of the examination and a set of essential tips for examination success.

Iveta Vitola: Pearson

The Art, Craft and Science of Language Teaching

Teachers today face many challenges. They need to equip students to be able to function and be successful in the 21st Century World.

Integration of technology into the classroom enables to make content more useful, more personal, more valuable and it demands a change in the student-teacher relationship.

Learning gradually becomes a true partnership between teachers and students and classrooms are moving towards a form of blended learning.

Larisa Goncharova: Baltic International Academy

Bringing Creativity and Imagination Into EFL Classroom: the Promise of Poetry

The workshop is dedicated to one more way of creative writing session organization. The potential of the activities employing imagination and creativity in the EFL classroom will be discussed and demonstrated. The participants will be presented with examples of students’ creative work, offered to tackle practically some of the engaging and captivating tasks and experience their potential from the inside.
Ināra Dimpere: Riga Medical College

At last My European Language Portfolio for Young Learners which was developed seven years ago is in a digital form and very soon it will be available to each schoolchild in Latvia. In this talk you will see how it looks and how it works. We will also discuss what opportunities it presents for language teachers in differentiating learning activities.

Nick Kiley: International House Riga-Satva

Becoming a More Reflective Teacher

A useful tool for any teacher is the ability to reflect on your own teaching and identify areas for development. In this talk I’ll look at some ideas for self-reflection and further development. There’ll be some soul-searching! And maybe some soul-soothing…

Vita Valdmane: Public Administration School

Power and Control Issues Inside and Outside the Classroom

Teachers, no matter who they teach, often have innate or acquired quality to control things happening both inside and outside the classroom. The exertion of power and control can lead to relationships that are either submissive or conflicting. Neither of these types of relationship is particularly healthy or productive.

On the other hand, is learning/teaching possible without the element of power and control present? Who should exercise more power and control – the teacher or the students? What do our students favour more – control, power or communication? How much are we aware of our own issues of control and power? Are they our friends or enemies? These are the questions that the facilitator would like to cover during her workshop.

Inga Saulīte-Bēniņa: Baltic Council for International Education

Cambridge TKT – a valuable investment towards teachers professional development

The Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) is a test of the skills teachers need to be successful in teaching English to speakers of other languages. It is suitable for teachers of all age groups and abilities. There are various test modules available. TKT gives you an internationally accepted qualification that proves your language-teaching abilities.

The qualification is suitable if you are a new teacher and want to build your confidence and skills, or if you are an experienced teacher and want to specialise in a certain area, or are starting to teach English for the first time.

TKT is also a good foundation if you want to study for a further prestigious qualifications in teaching English, such as the Celta or Delta.

Silvija Karklina: Public Service Language Centre

Support Towards Language Learning

The present paper deals with the development of common support tools for language learning in the context of lifelong education, which fosters for the needs of an individual in the labour market and caters for cohesion of society as a whole. The theme of the research is determined by the growing demand of employers for multilingual specialists whose skills of several languages is of utmost importance. The issue of plurilingualism is of utmost importance not only to smaller nations and countries but also the bigger ones. Thus, the concepts of multilingualism and plurilingualism should be discussed specifically in the context of language teaching and acquisition in the adult education nowadays; the activity can be implemented when learning languages both in formal and non-formal education……. [see programme for full abstract].

Dzintra Kņaze: Youth and Children`s Centre “Altona”

Some impressions from a Course for Teachers of English at Primary Level in Portsmouth, England

I would like to share with my colleagues some interesting ideas which I got during a 2 week course for European teachers of English at primary level in Portsmouth, England.

There I met with fantastic people, like Dr Diana Hicks, Mark Skipper and Michel Fennell.

There was a fantastic day at Isambrell Junior School, too.

Inta Augustāne and Rita Skara-Mincāne: University of Latvia

British or American English

There have always been changes in the English language, differences between British and American English. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to Britishisation of American English, as well as new words and phrases being used in the UK.
Andris Purvlīcis US Embassy Latvia

US Embassy offers – opportunities for teachers, students and schools

Robert Buckmaster

Language, Change and Teaching

In this short closing plenary I will consider three aspects of our profession – language, change and teachers’ teaching – and will weave these three strands together in a reflective summation of the conference we have just enjoyed.