Teachers Research! Buenos Aires 2017 and satellite events

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 12.07.04On Saturday 6th May the Second Annual Latin American Conference for Teacher-research in ELT was held at the Instituto de Educación Superior en Lenguas Vivas “Juan Ramón Fernández” in Buenos Aires. The conference featured presentations by 2016-17 British Council Aptis Action Research Award Scheme (ARAS) winners and by other teacher-researchers across Latin America. Before and after the conference, there were two workshops:

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 09.22.19On Friday 5th May, Inés Kayon de Miller and Maria Isabel (Bebel) Azevedo Cunha led a well-attended workshop on Acting for Understanding: Exploratory Practice. The workshop took place at IES Juan Ramón Fernández (the main conference venue) and was organized by APIBA.

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 09.00.16After the conference, on Monday 7th May, Paula Rebolledo and Richard Smith facilitated a two-hour workshop titled Exploratory Action Research for Professional Development at the Instituto Superior de Formación Docente Nº 97 in La Plata. The workshop, with around 80 participants, was supported by the British Council, Argentina.

The Third Annual Conference for Teacher-research in ELT, is likely to take place in Colombia, on 11-12 May 2018. Further information will be posted here when we have it.



APIBA workshop on Exploratory Practice at Lenguas Vivas, Buenos Aires

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 09.22.19On 5 May 2017, two of the pioneers and leading proponents of Exploratory Practice gave a workshop for student-teachers and members of APIBA, the Association of English teachers of Buenos Aires, at the Instituto de Enseñanza Superior en Lenguas Vivas “Juan Ramón Fernández”. This was the third event in the International Festival of Teacher-research in ELT.

Exploratory Practice (EP) was first developed in the 1990s in Rio de Janeiro by Dick Allwright with teachers and teacher educators in Brazil (see Exploratory Practice: Some Introductory Readings), and Inés and Bebel have been tirelessly promoting it ever since, both with their own students at PUC-Rio and with teachers in the Rio area. Three teachers who’ve accompanied them to Buenos Aires will be presenting tomorrow at the Teachers Research! conference. In their pre-conference workshop this evening Inés and Bebel will be defining EP, helping participants focus on puzzles in their and their students’ practice, and then showing how puzzlement can be integrated into regular pedagogic practice via ‘Potentially Exploitable Pedagogic Activities’ (PEPAs). ‘Action for understanding’ will be the watchwords, and notions such as ‘planning for understanding’ and ‘quality of classroom life’ will also be explored.

For Inés Miller this was a homecoming, as she grew up in Buenos Aires and attended Lenguas Vivas as a student before moving to Rio de Janeiro some years ago.

Here are further details, and some photographs and video from the event


First two events of the International Festival of Teacher-research in ELT complete: taking stock

Today we had the second event of the Festival: the final, final round-up session (featuring participant presentations) for a (Jan.-Feb.) TESOL CALL-IS  Electronic Village Online on Classroom-based research . Though there were some technical difficulties with connections, we heard some really good presentations from as far afield as India, Nepal, Oman, Ukraine and Spain. A YouTube playlist of video-recordings from the event is available here.

Alternatively, you can watch the presentations one by one, starting with this one:

1. Richard Smith Introduction and Asli Saglam  – What impact has the EVO had so far?


Then going on to:
2. Alina Sangret (Ukraine)
3. Sonika Gupta (India)
4. Sidney Martin Mota (Spain)
5. Abdullah Al Rwahi (Oman)
6. Manjusha Sagrolikar (India)
7. Ghokal Thapaliya (Nepal)
8. Asli Saglam – final words

Thank you to all the presenters and apologies for technical difficulties! We could still hear some really good presentations though!!

This followed on from a Symposium on Teacher-research for Difficult Circumstances at the IATEFL Conference in Glasgow at the beginning of April, which constituted the Festival’s launch area.

We managed to record this event, too, and individual presentations can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdq3YyaAd3fYDcKm2yvIogMj9SRjQB9ko

There is also an interview with Michelle Evans and Asli Saglam about their talk in the Symposium here: https://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/interview/interview-michelle-evans-and-asli-lidice-g%C3%B6kt%C3%BCrk-sa%C4%9Flam

Coming up: final presentations by participants in Classroom-based research EVO (Electronic Village Online), 15 April 1500 GMT

All are welcome to join us online to hear the presentations on Saturday 15 April at 15:00 GMT (time where you are here):

Introduction – Richard Smith, Aslı Sağlam, Kenan Dikilitaş
0. Asli Saglam will present an evaluation of the EVO
1. Sidney Martin Mota (Spain)
2. Sonika Gupta (India)
3. Alina Stangret (Ukraine)
4. Gakul Thapaliya (Nepal)
5. Al Rawahi Abdullah (Oman)
6. Manjusha Sagrolikar (India)
7. Mary Sunanda (India)

The venue? IATEFL Research SIG’s Adobe Connect meeting room! Just click and you will be able to hear more about the EVO and to hear the presentations! Hope to see you there!

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Further background: Asli Saglam and Michelle Evans gave a very good overview of this year’s (January-February) TESOL CALL-IS Electronic Village Online (EVO) sessions for Classroom-based Research, in their presentation at the recent IATEFL conference in Glasgow and associated interview for IATEFL Online. Further information about the five-week-long EVO can be found here: http://classroombasedresearch.weebly.com/

The sessions themselves are over, but the organizers wanted to give a presentation opportunity to some more of those who participated. Accordingly, this extra presentations session has been arranged, and this will be the second event for the International Festival of Teacher-research. Here are some of the outcomes already shared at the previous round-up event in February.


For the symposium on ‘Teacher-research for Difficult Circumstances’, IATEFL 2017 – Prem Phyak

Unable to be present in person (though the symposium had been his original idea), Prem Phyak contributed the following to be read out during the introduction to the symposium, on 6 April in Glasgow. There was only time to read out the first paragraph, so we reproduce Prem’s words in full here: 

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 00.26.41

Although governments in ‘difficult circumstances’ keep focusing on ‘teacher training’, as the most dominant approach to teacher professional development, the status of English language teaching has not yet improved. For example, in Nepal, the Ministry of Education claims that more than 90 percent ELT teachers have been trained, yet both students’ and teachers’ low level of English proficiency and teacher-centered classroom pedagogy in schools demonstrate inadequacy of ‘teacher training’ for both teacher professional development and effective English language teaching. What is wrong with the current practices of teacher professional development, then? Why are teachers not able to perform well in the classroom? Answering to these questions, first, invites us to engage in exploring and understanding teachers’ own agency, informed by local socio-cultural context. This symposium seeks to explore the ways in which teachers can be engaged in conducting exploratory research activities to unleash and strengthen their agency in difficult and super-difficult circumstances.

I use the term ‘super-difficult circumstances’ as a concept which embraces the complex intersectionality of multitude of difficulties that affect teaching-learning activities and pose serious problems for teacher professional development. This concept redefines difficult circumstance from a holistic ecological perspective and argues that the scope of teacher-research goes beyond fixing classroom problems. While acknowledging teachers’ voice, agency and existing knowledge, teacher-research provides a transformative space for teachers who are dealing with super-difficult circumstances, ranging from natural disasters (e.g. the 2015 earthquake in Nepal) to refugee crises of Europe.

My own ongoing work with teachers, both in-service and pre-service, in Nepal demonstrates that we should move from the discourse of ‘teacher training’ to ‘teacher-research’ to empower teachers in addressing the connectivity of multiple issues such as lack of materials, poverty, distress from disasters, issues of dislocation and low motivation in learning. The governmental and non-governmental agencies have been providing ‘training’ for teachers working in the disaster affected schools; however, what is missing from the current practice is sustained support to enable teachers in exploring and capitalizing opportunities, knowledge and resources available at the local level. As teachers have said, most teacher training programs do not actually address local needs and ‘teacher expectations’.

The papers in this symposium pay close attention to how teachers in difficult circumstances can be empowered so that they see their own selves as a ‘teacher-researcher’ and transform the ‘teacher-vs-trainer’ dichotomy as reproduced in the traditional teacher training discourses and practices. In sum, this symposium contributes to the recent discussion on ‘teacher-research’ by looking at the cases from different contexts of difficult and/or super-difficult circumstance. We would like to invite all of you to rethink the traditional practices of teacher training and redefine teacher development from a teacher-research perspective.

Prem Phyak, Central Department of English Education, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Supporters and honorary president announced

We are very pleased to announce that the following have agreed to support the Festival:


IATEFL Teacher Development SIG,

All-India Network of English Teachers (AINET)

Federación Argentina de Asociaciones de Profesores de Inglés (FAAPI)

TESOL International Association

British Council EnglishAgenda/TeachingEnglish

Professor David Nunan has agreed to be Honorary President of the Festival, and its Steering Committee is chaired by Dr Richard Smith, University of Warwick.

The Festival kicks off on 6 April with a Symposium on ‘Teacher-research for difficult circumstances’ at the IATEFL Conference in Glasgow, about various teacher-research mentoring projects, in Nepal, India, Cameroon, Chile and the Jan.–Feb. worldwide Electronic Village Online (EVO) initiative.