Written on 16/10/2010 – 8:48 pm | by mikeharrison
Today I was at the Language Show, which was this year held at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre (the West Bromption section of the building – Earl’s Court is massive!). I’d like to give some general impressions I’ve had of the event, as well as some things I took away from Jeremy Harmer’s informative (if brief!) talk about using music and poetry in language teaching.
I suppose I have quite a rosy view of the Language Show, as it was as a result of the 2009 event that my journey on Twitter and blogs following and interacting with ELT people started – if you read or have read my very first post, you’ll know this. And regular readers here and at www.mikejharrison.com will know that I share the opinion that both Twitter and blogs are enormously helpful to me in my practice as an English language teacher.
However there are a couple of things that bug me about the Language Show, despite the positives that can be taken away from this event. I’ll go over these first and end with the good stuff =)
First, there always seems to be something very strange about the juxtaposition of different conference/exhibition events at places like Earl’s Court (and this is the case with the Language Show venue for 2009 – Kensington Olympia, just a stop on the London Underground from Earl’s Court itself). Last year, there was some sort of dance/yoga event going on at Olympia 2 next door to where the Language Show was happening. Ok maybe there is a link there – teaching is stressful (sometimes); yoga and dance can help lower stress levels (for some people). But this year, in the main part of the Earl’s Court exhibition centre was UFC – Ultimate Fighting Championship! I can’t quite see a concrete link between the two events there. I put it down to the organising staff/schedulers having a laugh!
Secondly, I found there to be a fundamental flaw in the way the show is organised physically, and can now understand a bit better why Ken Wilson thought this about the show:
There really is little respect, I think, for those who speak at the Language Show – the whole place is really focused on what it calls the TEFL Fair, where you’ll find English and other language course being promoted, book stands, teacher qualification courses touted, jobs advertised. It’s quite noisy with everyone going around and getting stuck into all of that. Then, all the different sections are divided off using pretty thin moveable partitions (the kind you might find in an open plan office to split up the desks and areas), and this includes the ‘rooms’ where the language seminars take place. Now the idea of these is great, as there are usually interesting topics covered and the seminars would be of value as professional development for most teachers. The problem is you can’t hear what’s going on very well over the noise of the show going on outside.
However, those are just two gripes that I have, as on the whole it was an enjoyable day for me, despite the fact that I lost my grandmother in the morning due to London Transport, having to head back home to close a window that had been left open and my grandmother not having her mobile phone! Some good things about the day:
- Seeing Phil Bird (@pysproblem81), Callie Wilkinson (@CallieWallie1), Amanda Wilson (@Amandalanguage), Melissa Cudmore (@bcseminars – sometimes that Twitter ID’s also used by Michael Carrier) and Philida Schellekens to talk about things we are going to do for the British Council at various upcoming ELT events (more on this in future posts)
- Jeremy Harmer’s very interesting talk about using poetry and music in the ELT classroom with some practical tips for doing so (I’ll give my summary of the talk in the next post here)
- Meeting Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses) and Sharon (@britsmiles) – apologies for not chatting properly with you, ladies, I was worrying a little about my errant grandmother!