The 16th Annual Chinese Teaching Conference, ‘Looking Back, Thinking Forward,’ will take place this week on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th June. IOE CI Teacher Training Coordinator Philippa Vallely is an integral part of organising the Conference and deciding which topics and themes will be most beneficial to delegates. Philippa will also be leading a plenary on Saturday called ‘Expanding Knowledge: Thinking forward to the future of Chinese development and delivery’. Philippa has answered some questions below about the Conference in general and about her plenary.
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Hello Philippa. What exciting things can we expect from the Conference plenaries this year?
I think all the plenaries look excellent and, as always, I am personally very grateful to all the speakers who graciously give their time and expertise to come and engage with our community. If I were to pick some highlights, I am very interested in what Dr. Jane Orton from the University of Melbourne has to say in her address on Friday, particularly as she has such a wealth of experience in the development of Chinese as a language provision in another English-speaking country, which she has critically thought about and gathered in her new book “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language” . Given that her book addresses issues familiar to our community, such as curriculum design, the learning challenges of Chinese oral and literacy skills et al, I think this will be a real treat. I’m also a strong proponent of the holistic nature of language learning, in that I believe it’s more than just a subject or a language. I think it can change your life- I know that certainly happened for me since living in China and learning the language led me to this point- so I’m also looking forward to the final plenary on Saturday which focuses on this topic, seen from the point of view of a student, a teacher and a Headteacher. After all, I would hope that we are all striving as teachers to have that impact on our students!
The workshop strands are very wide-ranging. Can you tell us why you decided on these specific strands?
Our strands and themes are definitely a whole-team effort here at the IOE CI! We actually start planning next year’s conference pretty much immediately after the conference has been held! We consider content in several ways, including (but not limited to) topics our team have been researching, what is happening nationally and globally with Chinese (and other MFL) pedagogy and curriculum developments, and all the feedback delegates give us on the evaluation forms. We look at research papers, publications, global conferences, and other events or people that we know are developing areas of interest, and we think about what teachers are going to find most relevant and thought-provoking. From all of that the team here at the IOE CI then feeds in their thoughts and suggestions and then Katharine and I shape the selection to those that feel most relevant for the coming year.
For this conference a definite theme that emerged was the idea of looking back across Chinese language teaching so far and thinking about how we can take a moment to reflect on our collective knowledge, extract the best lessons learnt, and move forward even stronger. Some key thoughts from this are reflected in, for example, the idea of “leading the way” to create delivery that works for teachers and students alike at both primary and secondary. When I go into schools, and talk with teachers who come in for teacher training, I really do see our community reflected as those who are thinking hard about their practice, and often having to “lead the way” in a field where there is comparatively little material available compared to other languages; the plenary around character teaching on Saturday morning is a good example of this. Another couple of strands- that of developing learner independence and creating opportunities to succeed- are something we’ve seen reflected in the best practice we see, particularly with programmes like the MEP that really require learners to develop their independent learning skills very early on in their secondary school life.
Your plenary, ‘Expanding Knowledge: Thinking forward to the future of Chinese development and delivery’, is on Saturday. Can you tell us in some detail what this plenary will cover?
This is very much a practical plenary in terms of highlighting ways in which teachers can engage directly in developing their own knowledge and practice, through various offerings available at the IOE CI. And what better way to learn about these opportunities, than hear directly from those teachers who have been taking advantage of them! Two of these- the Mandarin Upskilling Course and the Early Leader’s Course are brand new programmes for 2018-2019 that I have created and have been working very hard on this year, and I’m very happy to have the opportunity to talk about them to our wider community. I’m delighted that Zoe Barfield will be talking about her experience on the Upskilling course, and Kai Cheung will be describing his experience on the Early Leader’s Course. Alongside them we also welcome Rose Ren and Alex Ferraby, who will be discussing MTeach and PGCE mentoring respectively. All four of these opportunities help the individual in terms of their subject knowledge and/or leadership development, and demonstrate how committed we (the IOE CI and the Chinese teaching community as a whole) continue to be to developing quality provision of development opportunities to our community.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Conference?
I think I said the same last year, but for me I really look forward to meeting the teachers, especially those who haven’t been able to come to any teacher training across the year. It’s always great to get ideas from each other, and to hear how teaching and learning is going in schools. I also enjoy dropping into workshops- that I have seen develop from an idea in January to a full draft in May- and developing my own thinking and understanding from peers.
To find out more about the 2019 Annual Chinese Teaching Conference, please visit our Conference webpage.