Last weekend I had the privilege of being at the 2nd Latin American Conference for Teacher-Research in ELT which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event was sponsored by ARAS (Action Research Award Scheme – British Council). And it was organized by APIBA (Asociación de Profesores de Inglés de Buenos Aires) and FAAPI (Federación Argentina de Asociaciones de Profesores de Inglés).
On Friday night we had the honor of participating in a workshop delivered by the Brazilian professors Inês Miller and Maria Isabel Cunha, from PUC-Rio. Together with their research group, Inês and M. Isabel talked about Exploratory Practice, a concept which was new to me. According to Allwright (2006), exploratory practice is a way of getting teaching and learning done so that the teachers and the learners simultaneously develop their own understandings of what they are doing as learners and teachers. First they introduced the idea of a puzzle:
“The term puzzle represents our concern for developing understandings in relation to issues of immediate interest, whether or not they are ‘problematic’ and whether or not we connect them to theory. What matters is that someone is interested enough in something to be seriously puzzled about it and so willing to work to try to understand it.” (Allwright & Hanks, 2009: 146)
Puzzles are usually formulated in the form of “Why…?” questions. (e.g: Why are some teachers reluctant when it comes to their own Professional Development?; Why do some students believe they can learn English overnight? Why don’t students do homework?).
After that, we were invited to share some of our tried and trusted activities (games, storytelling, role-plays, interviews etc) and adapt them into Potentially Exploitable Pedagogic Activities (PEPAs), which would in turn have us experience what exploratory practitioners call ‘action for understanding’.
Here are some of the things we came up with:
If you are interested in learning more about Exploratory Practice, join Inés and Isabel’s group on Facebook.
On Saturday the ARAS awardees presented either talks or posters. It was a very inspiring day. Sometimes we get so caught up on the European and American ways of doing our profession that we forget how fruitful the Latin American ELT scene is. I met teachers who invest their time and effort to transform the Latin American ELT scene and want to give back to their community.
I had the chance to present a poster and to interview some people there. I hope you like!
In the poster presentation I talked about the Masters Research I have been conducting at UFRJ (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro).
The poster can be seen here:
The video is here.
Click here to watch the following interviews:
- Reading Comprehension Strategies: The Neglected Tools – Teacher Viviana Miglino from Argentina
- Lazy or Dyslexic? – Teacher Yanilis Romero from Colombia
- Enriching Brazilian Public School Teachers’ Practice Through Form-Focused Communicative Activities for Fifth-graders – Teacher Fernanda Gonçalves from Brazil
If you would like to be awarded a scholarship to present at ARAS, keep an eye on their webpage! The process is simple and very fast: you have to submit an abstract and explain why you would profit from going to the conference. It seems that next year ARAS Conference will be in Colombia!