A Review by Eda Saraç

On 24th of February, another successful and intriguing ELT conference took place at Cevre College in Erenköy.  I joined Tony Gurr’s session with extra curiosity simply because I have been following his educational blog for quite a while now. His topic was “evidence based teaching”.  At the very beginning, he had tested us with a Kahoot game on some themes related to English Language Teaching. After that, he started questioning the ELT masters such as “Jeremy Harmer”, “Penny Ur”, and “Jack. C. Richards” and “Scott Thornberry”.  Tony Gurr had specifically emphasized the fact that Jeremy Harmer’s books are still guidebooks for the Celta trainees, who just start their teaching career; adding that this myth needs to change over time. He pointed out that these books, which were mostly written in the 1970s favor over status quo over innovation and novelty. He added that those books also favor motherhood methodology rather than evidence based practice and teaching.

After an intriguing brain storming session in which he questioned the “traditional ELT myths” , he started asking questions about being left brained or right brained. According to Tony Gurr’s mindset, we should not really be obsessed about planning our teaching styles according to right- brain or left-brain mentality. We should regard ourselves and our learners as “whole-brained”, and that our approach towards our teaching style should be holistic. In addition to that, Gurr suggested a wonderful book about “mindfulness”, a concept that has been debated wholeheartedly for a while. The name of the book is “Brain Rules”, and the focus of the topic is mindfulness techniques. If applied accordingly, the mindfulness techniques and classroom practices can actually calm down students, reduce classroom management problems and increase the pace of learning.

He then said one remarkable thing, which I believe we apply really well at the School of Languages: Under the scientific evidence conducted, it has turned out that providing the students with one-on – one feedback and face-to-face feedback is one of the most influential teaching methods and strategies to improve student success.

The second book he had suggested during the session was “How Does This look Like In the Classroom?” Gurr explained that structured grammar input and a focus on structure does not always accelerate communicative language aptitude.

During the session, I was also glad to learn that there was real science behind Kahoot’s popularity among the language learners, it turned out that Kahoot really does accelerate learning process rapidly by stimulating and triggering learners’ enthusiasm. Eventually, he shared another book, which he introduced as a milestone book for the educational field. The name of the book is “The Future of Learning”, and it is available online with no cost at all: https://www.dropbox.com/s/prmop9qv55i1ta0/The%20Future%20of%20Learning%2...

At the end of his thought-provoking and challenging speech, he shared some depressing statistics about the English Preparatory Schools around Turkey, which made me think about the quality of language education in Turkey. Statistics regarding the Prep Schools around Turkey: (Food for Thought) 

1) %90-95 of State School Students cannot possibly jump English Preparatory School right after the university entrance exam. 

2) %70-75 of Private College students cannot skip English Preparatory School right after the university entrance exam- even after 10-12 years of learning English. 

All in all, it was a thought provoking and productive session and made me think that as teachers, we do need to revisit our teaching methods and pedagogies from time to time.