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Final Day at the 5th ELT Conference in Malta

Published on Friday, March 24, 2017

As early as 7:30 this morning participants started walking into the La Vallette Hall at the Mediterranean Conference Centre (you can see the view this magnificent building boasts of in the image). The final registrations were completed, and soon it was time for the third plenary of this conference to take place.


Scott Thornbury started off the day and certainly kept everyone interested. Between laughs and thought provoking ideas, he gave his talk entitled "The SLA Hall of Fame". He presented characters like Alberto, Wes and Nora who are relevant figures in studies which are related to Second Language Acquisition.Scott Thornbury explained how these figures still have relevance to today's classrooms.


The main idea of this plenary was to make teachers aware of how different students find their own identity through language acquisition and how this can give them confidence to use the language in areas which they feel interested in primarily. There have been various studies which are full of "rich data" and it is extremely interesting to look at what matters the most to each and every individual. Through the characters of Alberto, Julie, Wes, Takahiro, Nora, R., Almon, Eva and Mario, Scott Thornbury brought out words that resonate with different aspects of SLA. This list of words included integration, immersion, willingness to communicate, interaction, alignment, priming, identity, appropriation and agency. His final thought was that every individual may have different perceptions on how to learn a language and even though it may be something new, even for the teacher, if it works for the learner, it needs to be taken into consideration as well.


The following plenary was given by Kieran Donaghy who presented the subject of Empathy in ELT. He described how empathy can distinguish an average teacher from an excellent teacher in the eyes of the student.


Once the morning plenaries were over, participants moved into various rooms to engage in more workshops until it was time for the conference to end with two final plenary sessions given by Odette Vassallo and Sarah Grech as well as another session given by Anne O'Keeffe and Geraldine Mark.


That's all from Malta this year, and to add a final side comment, I must admit that it's been an enriching experience for us as well given that we also have a background in ELT. So thank you ELT Council for yet another splendid conference...and we'll definitely see you next year for the 6th ELT Malta Conference.

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