The 5th annual Future of English Language Teaching Conference will feature:

Plenary speakers -

  • Philip Kerr
  • Thom Kiddle

And cover the following themes -

  • English for Specific Purposes (ESP)
  • Young Learners (YL)
  • Innovation and Technology (IT)
  • Teacher Education (TE)



The Future of English Language Teaching Conference offers a first-rate professional development opportunity, with a contemporary twist. It is a free online event, and open to all ELT professionals around the world.

At the 2019 conference, delegates from both the UK and abroad participated in workshops and presentations on themes pertinent to English language teachers.

The 2020 conference will be held on:

Saturday 17 October 2020 between 10am and 5pm.


09:30 - 10:00 -  Registration

10:00 - 10:15 -  Introduction

10:15 - 11:00 -  Breakout sessions 1

11:00 - 11:15 -  Break

11:15 - 12:00 -  Breakout sessions 2

12:00 - 12:45 -  Break

12:45 - 13:30 -  Plenary 1

13:30 - 13:45 -  Break

13:45 - 14:30 -  Breakout sessions 3

14:30 - 14:45 -  Break

14:45 - 15:30 -  Breakout sessions 4

15:30 - 15:45 -  Break

15:45 - 16:30 -  Plenary 2

16:30 - 16:45 -  Closing comments and farewell



Plenary 1 (12.45 - 13.30) - Philip Kerr

Plenary 2 (15.45 - 16.30) - Thom Kiddle

This year’s pandemic has brought the issue of personal data into the spotlight, not least the thorny questions around track-and-trace to fight the virus. But with more learning taking place online (often with ‘free’ platforms and apps), more personal data (of both teachers and students) is being shared than ever before. Our students are rarely aware of the implications of sharing their data and, even if they are, they often don’t care. This presentation will introduce the idea of critical data literacy: what it is, why it matters, and what we can do to promote it.


Philip Kerr is a teacher trainer and materials writer who lives in Vienna. He is the author of many ELT coursebooks including Evolve (CUP), Studio (Helbling), Straightforward and Inside Out (Macmillan). His other publications include the award-winning Translation and Own-Language Activities. He has worked on the development of a number of language-learning apps, including the Oxford English Vocabulary Trainer and LearnMatch. He blogs about technology and language learning at 

This presentation will look at the professional competences teachers will need in the face-to-face, virtual (and hybrid?) language classroom over the next decade of the 21st century, and the implications for initial teacher education and in-service teacher development.

We will consider the role of language change and language choices, content and language integration, digital technologies and remote learning, teachers’ assessment principles and practices, and awareness of the learning environment, all as variables in effective teacher development, and how these may empower teachers to deal with the challenges of this exceptional year and the ones which will follow.

The invitation is to consider these competences in the light of the upheaval in teaching and learning which we have all experienced over the last six months, alongside the undercurrent of developments in Artificial Intelligence applied to language education, and to examine how teachers may need to reframe and refocus their role. This choice of areas of focus in this talk is not intended to be exhaustive, nor inflexible, but rather a reflection on trends which have been emerging over some time, and are thrown into stark relief by current realities and discussions of possible futures.


Thom Kiddle is Director of NILE (Norwich Institute for Language Education, Vice Chair of the Eaquals Board of Trustees, and a founding director of AQUEDUTO – the Association for Quality Education and Training Online. He has been at NILE since 2011, after previously working in Portugal, the UK, Australia, Thailand and Chile in language teaching, teacher training and language assessment.

His role at NILE involves strategic and organisational management, and training and consultancy in a range of areas including testing and assessment, learning technologies, materials development and language teaching methodology. He has published in Applied Linguistics, Language Assessment Quarterly, and System journals, and in 2019, two chapters in Routledge Handbooks of Language Teacher Education.

Alongside the scheduled plenaries, delegates will be able to join the following breakout sessions:


Breakout sessions 1 (10:15 - 11:00)

Since Swales’ (1990) influential work on genre analysis, there has been a gradual move away from generic EAP towards a more embedded approach to insessional teaching (now commonly referred to as Language Development, or LD). UAL is a pioneer among UK universities, offering course specific EAP classes to each and every degree programme at all of its six colleges.

Embedding takes on a whole host of new meanings at UAL. EAP tutors are responsible for forming a close rapport with the course teams they work with, familiarising themselves with the theory and discourse of the discipline, and devising an effective scheme of work that often involves collaboration of some kind. Our embedded approach is therefore not merely the use of tailor-made materials. LD tutors are increasingly present at course meetings, events, lectures and students’ workshop spaces, with a view to becoming a core member of the course team.

The tailor-made materials that will be distributed and discussed in this workshop are all from highly successful lessons I have taught this year to BA and MA design students: genre tasks to analyse and evaluate sample assignments; tasks exploring key terms and concepts from course lectures; guided reading of core academic articles from course reading lists. The students reaped the rewards of having a tutor who was knowledgeable about their discipline and course assignments. The course teams saw the valuable impact on the students' learning, which has led to further embedding of LD on the respective courses.

First, key aspects of EAP theory and methodology will be presented and linked to the work done on LD at UAL. The materials will then be distributed for participants to review and make suggestions of how they could be used. The final stage will involve plenary feedback and discussion/Q&A about embedded support at UAL. 

Sarah Vaghefian, University of the Arts


Teaching young learners can be one of the most rewarding yet challenging experiences in the profession, but at times, getting them into the correct mindset for learning can be difficult. This is especially true if they are unruly, full of energy or simply not interested. But what if, through better understanding of our students and of themselves on an emotional level, we could get them to improve their performance and grades in class?

The young learner students we have are not only improving their English with us, but also developing their own personalities, opinions, ideas and world views, it is of vital importance that empathy and EQ (emotional intelligence) comes with that.

Through the use of research in psychology and affective computing, we can introduce emotional intelligence into the classroom via Content Based Learning classes, to help our students become more empathetic to each other and understand the world around them better. Grading to the students’ level, research put forward by the likes of Thayer, Plutchik, Goleman and Wiseman to name a few can easily be turned into classroom routines or activities.

This presentation would like to address some of the issues in the English Language classroom regarding emotional intelligence and offers ways to improve relationships and behaviour in the classroom along with some useful activities we can use regularly in the class, so no student is left behind, they might even surprise you at the end of the year.

Alan Hall

Model-free classroom pronunciation takes phonology away from native models and teacher-led activities, opening up space to include each learner’s evolving identities. Phonological systems differ between languages meaning pronunciation teaching traditionally relies heavily on models, symbols and annotations to present these hard-to-communicate linguistic features. Frequently abstracting phonology from meaningful uses and contexts, these tools limit pronunciation’s accessibility and obscure its relevance in communicative classrooms and coursebooks, leading to impressions that both teachers and learners can largely ignore it. This typically leaves learners lacking a crucial support for their own language processing and reliant on transfer from the L1 phonological competencies undervalued by such approaches, which can generate conflicts between the L1 self and L2 learning, or with other learners or L1 speakers.

Guiding discovery of sounds and prosody values and enables learners’ phonological abilities and choices, focusing on constructing personalised understandings of phonology and supporting student-led, speechsound-based language development. This contextualised and inquiry-based pronunciation teaching recognises learners’ complex needs and individual developmental pathways, and helps learners notice and construct their own understanding of pronunciation. Consequently, teachers’ reliance on models and discrete practice reduces as learners’ relationships with pronunciation move beyond the ability to reproduce sounds as others present them. Deeper awareness gives learners real choice in setting, progressing and evolving individual pronunciation goals supporting their own affective and linguistic needs.

Avoiding models, guided discovery phonology activities build learners’ awareness and familiarity with practical features of spoken and written language, ranging from stress and crush zones, spelling patterns and pitch to developing phonological processing and memory, centred on communicative language use. Participants will sample these activities and gain a set of principles to guide an inclusive approach to pronunciation and phonology learning, core guided-discovery task design elements which help learners explore their phonological awareness and their own developmental goals.

Adam Scott

Why do many learners feel alienated or intimidated by assessment, and what can I do about it? These are critical questions as could have a direct and negative impact on performance.

Through an exploration of recent developments in educational psychology and positive psychological capital, this interactive session explores how engaging the learner as a psychological entity is critical, and can help optimise learning and assessment outcomes.

When a learner undertakes an assessment task, whether formative or summative, they bring their whole self, as a psychological entity, to the experience. However, assessment practice is often driven by content and observed achievement, based on stimulus and anticipated response. This reflects outdated models of psychology, and doesn’t necessarily take the learner and their individual psychology into consideration.

Through exploration into insights into contemporary educational and positive psychology, and how these relate to our teaching and assessment practices, this session explores how the levels of validity and fairness of assessment can be enriched, and how application in our teaching practices can improve the learner experience, and increase learning.

The notion of positive psychological capital is explored, incorporating key themes of Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism. The practical application of these is covered, both through classroom activities and consideration of implications to assessment task design. The talk considers how engaging the ‘whole’ learner as a psychological being can enhance learning outcomes and help ascertain a truer measure of a learner’s skills and abilities in assessment.

The session will enable teachers to critically evaluate assessment tasks from a psychological perspective, gaining an understanding of the central role of engaging the learner’s psychology. In turn, it reveals how an individual’s psychological perceptions and make-up can predispose them to either excel or flounder.

You will leave this session with a clear understanding of positive psychological capital and its central role in everyday teaching and assessment practice. 

Alex Thorp, Trinity College London


Breakout sessions 2 (11:15 - 12:00)

In the last few years, new forms of testing have been proposed by several examining bodies. As it becomes an increasing demand on behalf of English learners, a direct, sound and trustworthy.

I have been working with Google Forms in the last few months, with remarkable success in terms not only of results but also in motivation. The use of these forms, together with some extensions (the so-called add-ons) makes this tool a powerful one to develop students´performance and confidence.

Another outstanding advantage of other programmes and applications is that the use of Google, to this extent, is free. This makes it a usable feature for everyone, accessible and open to endless possibilities for its use and development.

My proposal is simple: expose my achievements on this field, explaining why I do think this is a key point to be seriously taken into account in the near future.

Pablo Morales

Placement tests are all too familiar to everyone who has ever studied abroad: a morning of dread the day after arriving in a foreign and new environment. They are gap-fill or multiple-choice worksheets accompanied by speaking with a stranger from the academic department students have never met before yet they are expected to perform to the best of their knowledge. The results are then typed into a system and used to place students in classes where they only roughly belong (distorted by age, gender, nationality, etc.), in order for a general short-course syllabus to be delivered that rarely takes into account individual differences, needs, and desired language outcomes.

What if the assessment took into account all students’ individual answers and evaluated their strengths and weaknesses? What if students were all offered individual study routes based on their placement tests? What if we could come up with an individual syllabus for each student, which offers units and improvement areas based on students’ real needs? How can we inform our teachers about our students’ strengths, areas to improve, and needs all at the same time?

The workshop/presentation offers an introduction to language assessment and a talk through how language testing became a focal point of language delivery at Bucksmore Education through robust data analysis of more than a thousand tests last summer. The areas covered include online pre-placement tests (linked to areas of development and course offers), actual placement tests and the way they are processed in our summer centres, and how data is analysed post-summer delivery to improve test contents.

Keywords: language testing, summer school, theory and practice, data, young learners, technology and innovation

David Juhasz, Bucksmore Education

Overheard in the staff room:- “If they want to learn English they would have to cut back on their shifts or hours and come to classes.” – How realistic is this?

After coordinating Derby College’s Innovative ESOL Project, I would like to facilitate a creative discussion about providing opportunities for migrant workers in the UK to access English language learning.
The project had three specific strands: community engagement; DWP referrals; in work progress.

We delivered in several workplace settings.
I would like to present a ‘snapshot’ of our experience with employers throughout the project and evaluation from delivery within these settings.

I would facilitate a discussion about these specific areas:-
• The needs/desires of migrant workers for English language learning.
• Options for delivery in/for a workplace setting.
• The assumption that the employer will be motivated to support language learning for their workforce. (The Health and Safety Executive states "You should consider providing English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses for workers who need to improve their English.")

Finally, I would like to give some valuable tips for engaging with employers.

Gillian Kincaid-Dugen, Derby College

As teachers and materials writers, we strive to produce engaging, effective and enjoyable teaching and learning experiences. We work hard to create, select and adjust materials to suit our students’ preferences and needs. However, we usually rely on our intuitions about what ‘works’ and we make frequent use of the same activities instead of using a principled approach (Tomlinson, 2010).

Today, a global, demanding, ethically responsible and eager to stand out (OC&C, 2019) new generation of students, Generation Z, has landed in our classrooms. They are shaking and testing our classroom management and teaching repertoires, but little is being said about how to meet the challenge they pose and bridge the gap between their needs and our ELT response. It is time to look at other disciplines for help and Marketing might hold the key. In practice, marketing and education are not so different. Both personalise their message or lessons to the diverse features of their audience, both put their audience and their product first. In this particular case, marketers have relied heavily on generational research to build marketing strategies that successfully target the very profitable generation Z, so why not use this valuable information to tailor our teaching to our teen students’ needs?

The presentation will explore the unique features of this age group and some key principles employed in marketing strategy to target Gen Zers. The presenter will suggest how we can let this information advise our ELT practice from the creation of materials to the selection of topics, activities and resources. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of their Gen Z students and how to work with them.

Diana Bauducco


Breakout sessions 3 (13:45 - 14:30)

This collaborative workshop will explore how we (as expert-or at least constant) learners can nurture life-long learning for our students by creating supportive learning environments.

The international and national educational policy directives toward the promotion of  life-long learning all highlight the importance of transferable non-context-specific skills to prepare learners of all ages for the increasing complexity of the labour market, for the exponential rate of technological, cultural and social change and to play an active role in democratic life.  Helping our learners to engage within an effective learning environment will impact not only on their language acquisition but, perhaps as importantly, on their wider learning journeys across disciplines. This workshop will look at how we can send our students (and perhaps ourselves) back out into the world as more confident and enthused learners.

Research into Self-Determination Theory (Deci and Ryan 1985)* will frame and guide the activities in the workshop which will aim to provide participants with a list of activities and resources with which they can scaffold and motivate lifelong learning in their classrooms and for themselves. The workshop will explore; key needs that learners must have fulfilled to engage successfully with a learning experience, the features of environments that can fulfil those needs and the kinds of activities and resources exemplify those features. Finally, we will link our collaborative library of activities and resources to the pursuit of happiness and why all of this important for our students and ourselves.

*Deci, E. L. and Ryan, R. M. (1985) Intrinsic Motivation and Self Determination in Human Behaviour. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Joe Brennan

“Where should my child spend their summer study vacation in order to learn proper English?” Is a question often asked at this time of year by parents who want their children to learn ‘real’ English. What they fail to consider, however, is there is an entire planet of people speaking English to one another.

Young Learners and Teens are laying the groundwork to becoming European and World citizens who will communicate with people from all around the world, they will study and work in multicultural environments, thus it is important for them to be exposed to as many varieties of English as possible, from the very early stages of their studies.

Incorporating World Englishes in to the curriculum does not mean removing native varieties from English classes or replacing them with what, sometimes, people mistakenly believe are less-perfect ones; it rather means enriching the available repertoire. It is a different way of looking at the language, a more inclusive, pluralistic and accepting way than the traditional, monolithic British-centred approach. As David Crystal writes: English is a global language, and therefore we must prepare our students to understand the varieties spoken all around the world.

The aim of our presentation is to offer tried and tested activities and materials used in classrooms in Italy, Spain and Ireland to bring more usage of World Englishes into the classroom. These activities have been created after thorough research on the topic, and have been glocalised to suit learner needs.
The aim of the tasks is to expose pupils to “real” language, through didactic and authentic materials, in order to enhance their communicative performance, in both written and oral skills. A critical evaluation of the tasks was undertaken providing feedback and further possible developments noted.

Claudia Schiavon and Alan Hall

In this workshop we will explore the different ways digital tools can be used to enhance the ways teachers can give feedback on their learner’s spoken and written output. This feedback can be corrective - focussing our learner’s attention on errors they have made, enhancing – helping them upgrade/improve their output, or encouraging – helping improve their confidence. We’ll consider teacher-led and peer feedback, evaluating the role more modern tools, such as QR codes, can play. This session aims to explore how formative feedback techniques can impact upon achievement of learning outcomes, with practical examples for professional practice.

Martin Oetegenn, Trinity College London

The ELT industry worldwide has a strong tradition of CPD and the most dominant approach has been top-down, i.e. an approach that places teachers in the role of consumers of knowledge that is imposed on them and that they are expected to implement in their classrooms (Borg, 2015). This approach is usually realised by various institutions, such as private language schools, public schools, universities etc. by offering to their teaching teams a series of one-off workshops where new ideas, information and practical classroom skills are presented (Borg, 2015).

Current perspectives on professional development expose a lot of disadvantages of the conventional, training-transmission model of CPD (Borg, 2015). Borg (2015) points out that teachers usually have limited opportunities to contribute to the content and process of such CPD, they are not in charge of their development but dependent on others, e.g. their line managers, their institutions, governmental bodies, etc. and they are not necessarily able to find immediate applications of the knowledge gained there in their own contexts and classrooms.

Action research is a combination of two different but related activities – action and research (Burns, 2013). It is often defined as ‘a form of self-reflective inquiry carried out by practitioners, aimed at solving problems, improving practice or enhancing understanding’ (Nunan, 1992: 229).

In my presentation, I would like to talk about action research as a bottom-up alternative to top-down CPD activities. Drawing on my MA research, I would like to present AR as a tool teachers can use to investigate their classroom practice and gain insights into what is happening in the classroom and why.

Monika Wierzanska-Villar, Regent's University


Breakout sessions 4 (14:45 - 15:30)

Reliability is a primary concern for high-stakes speaking assessments though this can be at the expense of authenticity. Nevertheless, authentic interaction and representation of the complete construct in speaking assessments remains an ongoing aspiration.

This workshop describes an investigation of the Interactive Task in Trinity College London’s Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE). This task transfers responsibility to the candidate to take control of their interaction with the examiner. The workshop describes empirical research into the practices examiners use so that candidates take and keep responsibility for the interaction.

Using transcripts from the Trinity-Lancaster Corpus, grounded theory methodology was employed to identify patterns of examiner behaviour in Interactive Task performances. A range of examiner behaviour, or strategies, were identified, such as ‘accepting’, ‘rejecting’, ‘parsimony’ and ‘steering’. The data yielded 886 examples of performance that followed these strategies. Nine indices of candidate performance were selected, including measures of fluency, lexical sophistication, grammatical accuracy and syntactical complexity. Using automatic text analysis and statistical methods, the study then quantitatively compared the indices of candidate performance that had been elicited by each examiner strategy. The small and medium effect sizes discovered in the differences between some strategies indicate the authenticity achieved through the freedom afforded examiners to interact spontaneously does not bias performance.

However, there are behaviours that examiners might be advised to avoid in order to exhibit ‘bias for best’ in interaction. The workshop will close with an exploration of some of the strategies in more detail and a discussion of how the study findings can inform the way interaction is perceived and managed in a test environment.

Richard Harris, Trinity College London


While a huge number of EFL teachers find themselves in the young learner (YL) classroom at some point in their teaching experience, few get much formal training in this area. On essential/foundation teacher training courses like the CertTESOL or CELTA, for example, as little as one input session is dedicated to the topic, sometimes with disappointingly little or no real focus, and therefore of little use to trainees.

In this talk, we will first explore what such courses currently offer in terms of YL training, based on syllabuses, training timetables and training room observations.

We will then look at the importance of integrating YL teacher training throughout courses like those mentioned above. In this, we mean moving away from the one input session model to a more integrated one, whereby trainees will be encouraged to consider YLs and their specific needs in a number of sessions. This, we will argue, will be of great benefit to those who end up in YL classrooms, sometimes exclusively.

Finally, we will discuss any gaps we notice between what we currently find and what we might aim to find in teacher training courses and suggest some ways in which these gaps can be addressed, taking elements from such courses as TYLEC and other YL-specific extension courses.

Simon Dunton, Trinity College London

Teenagers often approach their lessons with a degree of apathy particularly in the summer school setting. This can make teaching them difficult for even the most skilled teacher especially when they hear the familiar chant of ‘play games’ on a daily basis. Is it possible to foster truly transformational learning and keep the fun element too?

At Millfield English Language Holiday Courses, we believe that it is both possible and essential. Learning is a process carried out by students rather than the end result of what teachers do. Therefore, students need to be placed at the centre of the classroom curriculum and programmes should be designed to meet individual needs rather than a traditional ‘one size fits all’. It is also important to recognise that learning is not confined to the classroom and embrace the potential in every situation.

This presentation will explore two programmes we have developed which have been developed as a result of these beliefs. One where students choose their own programme and one where they discuss and debate issues which are relevant to their own experiences, while learning about themselves and their place in the world. Both of these programmes, although different in approach, have at their heart the desire to place students at the core of learning and to create personalised opportunities for them to develop language and life skills which will equip them to take their place in the world as young adults.

There will be opportunities for participant discussion and reflection about how the principles could be incorporated into other teaching settings.

Kate Smook, Millfield Enterprises

The increase in awareness of the potential damage done by English monolingual teaching practices in international contexts has led to many questioning the appropriacy of qualifications designed in the last century for the plurilingual present day, where code-switching and code-meshing are commonplace. This talk will identify some of these problems, along with issues relating to the certification of teachers’ CPD, and show how Trinity College London’s new qualification, the Certificate for Practising Teachers (CertPT) can attend to them.

By having overarching pedagogical outcomes rather than specific language teaching ones, the CertPT enables teachers and course providers to focus on local, contextualised needs. With options for plurilingual input and assessment, we will consider how the CertPT can help teachers develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become flexible and independent professionals in a multilingual teaching environment.

Ben Beaumont, Trinity College London


Please note: Breakout sessions and plenaries are subject to change if required.





Bookings are now open. Please head to our event page to place your booking.

There are no costs to attend the Future of English Language Teaching 2020 Online Conference.

The conference will be held using Zoom. We recommend that you download the Zoom Client for Windows here, or the relevant app for your mobile device (Apple/Android).

In order to attend, you will need an internet-enabled device (desktop PC, laptop, tablet) with speakers.

To interact, we recommend that you have a web camera and microphone.

Many devices have these components, please check your device.

Each specified timeslot for breakout sessions will have four talks covering the four strands:

  • English for Specific Purposes (ESP)
  • Young Learners
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Teacher Education

You are able to choose the sessions you wish to join.

You will be provided with a specific link (URL) to join sessions prior to the event.

Reports of attendance will be available for the online conference. Delegates should attend at least 80% of a session and/or plenary to receive this.

The conference will be co-hosted by Trinity College London and Regent's University.

If you have further questions and/or would like to find out more about the event, please contact us at