In this very practical talk we shall look at why we might want to increase student levels of agency in the classroom. We will consider how we might go about doing that and what the appeal of it all might be for our learners. We shall explore the difference between a class that is well behaved, on the one hand, and a class where action on the part of the students has simply been suppressed, on the other. We will think about how classes with increased student activity might feel (for the teacher, students and casual observer) in terms of dynamics, and how they can be managed most effectively to result in greater language practice. We shall look at how to link language to events, both planned and unexpected, how to increase our students’ levels of responsibility, freedom of movement, investment and engagement and also how to introduce elements of personalisation. Our examples will be drawn from primary, secondary and young adult classes and there will be photographs, anecdotes and examples of student work from my own lessons. The ideas covered will be suitable for new teachers, seasoned veterans, and anyone responsible for training teachers or supporting them.

About the speaker

Chris is an ‘ideas man’ based at ELI, a language academy in Seville. He considers himself a 4x4 or ‘all terrain teacher-trainer’ covering primary, secondary and adult, and continues to teach all three on a weekly basis. He is a regular speaker on the international conference circuit and has worked with teachers in a wide range of contexts including as tutor on Trinity Certificate and Diploma courses for OxfordTEFL, Barcelona, and as trainer of state school teachers in both Catalonia, Spain, and Aleppo, Syria, for the British Council.

His ideas on methodology can regularly be found in English Teaching Professional magazine and he has authored supplementary materials for well-known editorials including CD-Roms for primary coursebooks and online business English materials. His current areas of interest are student cross-talk, the psychological terrain of a teacher’s working day, task design, the workings of fun and how we might raise the technical level of young learner classes. His ELTon nominated methodology book Understanding Teenagers in the ELT classroom is available from Pavilion Publishing, UK.