ELT and Biscuits – Conferences and workshops for English teachers in Turkey 1991-2013

The Henry Brothers on stage at the MEV Izmir ELT Conference, Spring 2011

Too crowded or too small, too narrow a focus or too random, inspiring speakers or the same old faces, too academic or just routine? Activities for professional development are always open to a variety of perceptions in the audience and ELT conferences are no different. This page is a record of some of the many events for English teachers in Turkey that we’ve been involved in, with our personal impressions, and links to find out more about the other speakers and topics. This page also functions as a record of our work as the Henry Brothers, known on the ELT conference circuit for our lively active presentations of poems and stories, ballads and folk tales.

Kamishibai Man in Bursa, Eskişehir and Ankara, May 2011 This spring we delivered a series of storytelling activities under the title Kamishibai Man from the wonderful book of the same name by Asian American author and illustrator Allen Say. Kamishibai (“paper theatre” in Japanese) is a traditional art form that declined since television but is now reappearing, especially in schools and public libraries. So it’s very relevant to us and Say’s personal account of this history forms the centerpiece of a set of involving, interactive stories that we presented at ELT conferences in Eskişehir Gelişim Koleji, Ankara Büyük Koleji, and Nilüfer Okulları Bursa. The other activities in the set included “The Asian Art of Pung Chu“, Stone Soup and the narrative poem Football Story by John Foster. See here for a full report. As Paul said at the time Eskişehir in particular was “a great conference, great audience. The auditorium wasn’t full but the enthusiasm and eager participation of the good people of Eskişehir more than compensated. Teachers had also travelled down from Yalova and Istanbul. Really enjoyed the day and hope we get invited back next year”. Kamishibai storytelling has great potential as a classroom activity for teachers and learners (see this website for ideas). So what do the Henry Brothers want for Christmas this year? A proper kamishibai wooden theatre.

“Keeping it Real” The 4th Dünya Aktüel & Cambridge University Press ELT Symposium, Antalya, May 2011
Antalya – Turkey’s Gold Coast – a great hotel looking out at the Mediterranean with the dramatic backdrop of the Taurus Mountains rising steeply behind. The food is always delicious and the drinks are free!! Our symposiums are prestige events hosted by Dunya Aktuel, exclusive distributors of Cambridge University Press ELT products in Turkey and consisting of two days of plenaries by Cambridge authors, academics and teacher trainers. The speakers in 2011 included academic and CLIL guru David Marsh encouraging university language schools to integrate more closely with content lecturers; coursebook author Adrian Doff on “Speaking English in the Real World” with examples of how this insight is reflected in the teaching materials he writes; Branko Stojanovich of Cambridge University Press on English Profile a huge research project which adds a layer of language analysis to the Common European Framework scales; dynamic London-based academic Hayo Reinders presenting “Learn English or Die!! Fostering Learner Autonomy Through Computer Games; and award-winning magician Doruk Ülgen drawing parallels between the skills of teaching and magic, while putting eggs in teachers pockets and making the furniture fly through the air. We’re sure that the whole weekend put ideas in people’s heads as well as food items in their pockets. See here for a report from the Sabanci University School of Languages blog.

We work hard to organise and arrange the symposium and we’re very proud that they have become well known as top-quality seminars for language teachers. Our programme is always a mixture of practical methodology, theoretical and managerial skills. At the 2008 symposium the practical methodology was covered by Scott Thornbury author, academic and editor of the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series speaking on the use of dialogues in the classroom, see here for Scott’s A-Z of ELT – a long list of interesting debate.  Other symposium speakers in ’08 were author Liz Driscoll on authentic reading, and Tom Godfrey of the Istanbul Training Institute doing what he does best, modelling drama activities for the classroom. The theoretical was present in ‘An introduction to the English Profile project’ by Heather Daldry of Cambridge ESOL examinations, while the managerial featured in ‘Strategies for communicating with teachers in your department’ by Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken Director of Sabancı University School of Languages, who came back in 2010 with “What About Me?” a motivational closing plenary.
The keynote speaker at the first symposium in 2006 was Penny Ur, who has thirty years experience as an ELT professional and Cambridge author. Penny has written a great range of resource materials for language teachers including Discussions that Work, Teaching Listening Comprehension, Using Newspapers in the Classroom. For our symposiun her topic was English as a lingua franca (please go here to download all the materials for that talk including a summary and references).
In April 2011 we added to our program The Cambridge / Dunya Symposium for Schools. Aimed at school teachers rather than university of schools of languages, the presentations included “What’s Next; a Review of Trends in Language Teaching” by Jack C. Richards, specialist in second and foreign language teaching, applied linguist and educator, and author of professional books for English language teachers; “Beyond materials, techniques and linguistic analyses: The role of motivation, beliefs and identity” by young learners expert and Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming Herbert Puchta; “Motivational magic and alchemy with simple digital tools” by digital publisher Brendan Wightman, and of course the Henry Brothers.

Year after year it’s a real pleasure to welcome hundreds of people to a quality weekend of real value.

A beautiful image from Sandy Millin’s blog – http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/

IATEFL Brighton, April 2011 The annual IATEFL conference doesn’t take place in Turkey (yet at least!!) but since about 2008 there have been so many English teachers from Turkey speaking and attending that it well deserves to be listed here. Presenters from Turkey in Brighton 2011 included teacher trainer and educator Burcu Tezcan-Ünal of Bilgi University on vocabulary learning; Işıl Boy EFL Instructor & ICT Coordinator at Yildiz Technical University with language teacher and a material developer Beyza Yılmaz on how do teachers react to the use of educational technology (click on the link to see that presentation);  and Eilidh Hamilton from the Istanbul British Council as co-presenter of a fun workshop on “Chanting Creatively with Young Learners”.

The highlights of Brighton included meeting old friends and colleagues from all over the world, including the vice president Herbert Puchta, an long term colleague of ours; participating in a lively workshop on kinesthetic activities to improve spelling by our friend Jo Stirling; walking to work along the Brighton seafront every morning (what a grand commute!!); getting a free Easter Egg from the Cambridge stand; and the opportunity to hear legendary Merseyside poet Brian Patten reading some of his witty and streetwise verse, which the Henry Brothers have both enjoyed since our childhood. Much of the conference was recorded and is archived online here. Also a google search for IATEFL Brighton will turn up many conference reports, blogs and other feedback, such as this example from Vladimira Chalkova who reviews workshops she attended in Brighton on a number of topics: ideas for improving students writing; choosing images for the classroom (“from that (workshop) on, I took pictures of shadows, close ups and absolutely anything that could lead to further use and discussion in classroom.”); authentic materials (“go off the piste when you are teaching and use authentic materials but choose carefully what is authentic and what purpose it serves in your classroom.”); and lots of technology topics such as using mobile phone technology, Jing and other software available on the internet,

How to Cope with Digital Bees: E-learning Practices in Secondary Education” Çankaya Üniversitesi, Ankara, April 2011 For this we brought over Cambridge University Press digital publisher and experienced conference presenter, cricketer and the best-looking man in ELT, Brendan Wightman to give a talk called “Bees, Honey and Educational Multimedia: Theyre All Sweeter Than You Think.” Here are recordings of a workshop on digital materials for the classroom that Brendan conducted recently in Russia. Brendan’s the guy that developed Cambridge’s i-dictionary, so he has a proven track record in e-learning.

The interrupting bureacrat of Izmir – the question mark on John’s T-shirt is probably asking “why is this happening to us?”

“Empowering the Educator” The 1st Izmir MEV College ELT conference, January 2011 We enjoyed this conference in Izmir, the fast-beating heart of Turkey’s Aegean coast. The MEV school is out in the suburbs on the way to the weekend resort of Çeşme. We had a great time at MEV and are really pleased to have been invited back for the second one this autumn. But we will always remember it for an amusing moment in our closing plenary. The topic was “critical thinking” so we presented out “Stand to Reason” series of puzzles, games and other brain teasers like Grey Elephants from Denmark, The Cabbage, Wolf and Goat Problem, and The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. About half way through the door opened and in walked a procession of men in dark suits. They were not the mafia but a string of dignitaries from the local ministry of education and the school authorities. We were asked to stop our workshop for a moment as “the director wants to make a speech?”
The Safety at Work awards - which of these situations is the most dangerous? and why?Luckily we were just setting up the Safety at Work awards, in which the audience have to work in pairs to describe some rather absurd situations in the workplace, and decide which is the most dangerous. So we gave the instructions, left the images up on the screen, and withdrew to the back of the stage while the Director gave his speech. So when he left we were able to pick up where we left off saying “We’d like to thank the director of the Izmir Ministry of Education… (pause)…. for building in plenty of time for you to think about this activity”. Laughter leaps hurdles like that every time.

The 6th Yüce Koleji Foreign Language Teacher’s Conference, Ankara, March 2011 We were pleased to be plenary speakers at this event and proud to be on the same program as storytelling guru Andrew Wright (wearing his storytelling coat for the occasion), and John’s ex-classmate on the Aston MSc TESOL Wayne Trotman of Izmir High Technology Institute. We gave our well-practised workshop Bridging the Language Gap on body language and pronunciation. Dressed in the appropriate mime costume of course we ran through activities such as the Henry Brothers Maori Haka, the Antalya policeman (who can give complex directions using only the word ‘yes’), Tongue Twisters, and the now-famous Pung Chu, (punctuation Kung Fu) routine. Andrew’s a great artist as well as a storyteller and ELT methodology writer – you can find more about all these areas of his work on his blog – Andrew’s articles and stories.

The residential suburb of Kadıköy on the Anatolian side of Istanbul has much to offer even you’re not a fan of their beloved Fenerbahçe football club. It has it’s own coastline, the tea gardens of Moda on the shore, great shopping, and a relaxed atmosphere all round. The spring ELT conference season in Istanbul begins in a particularly leafy corner of Kadıköy in late-February. We do love this time of year – the real winter chill is over and if you’re lucky you can get a lovely sunny day. The Çevre Schools ELT conferences is lucky more often than not and these are popular, well-attended events. The Henry Brothers have spoken at every one of them. At the beginning the organisers had a focus on drama in language teaching and while the scope has now widened drama specialists have always been a regular feature of the program, with keynote speakers including Ken Wilson, founder of the English Teaching Theatre, and Tom Godfrey founder of Istanbul drama group Speech Bubbles. The Henry Brothers are used as part of the warm-up for the first plenary speaker, after a motivational video montage of happy, hardworking learners accompanied by a rousing song along the lines of  “Simply the Best”, and then some other entertainment. One year we were on stage with a Michael Jackson impersonator, then a magician (of which more later). Ours is a short routine – a sketch, a poem or two, a story or two – always light and always interactive, getting the audience on their feet and stretching at the beginning of the day. We’ve had the audience here performing Pung Chu, Football Story, Michael Rosen’s poem We’re Going On a Bear Hunt (click this link to watch Michael Rosen himself doing it), and our rousing, shouting Mbele feasting song.
For “The Magic of Getting the Best Out of Students” The 7th Istanbul Çevre Schools ELT conference, February 2011 the Henry Brothers decided to explore what the two trades of magician and teacher have in common. And to do that we called on the services of a professional magician Doruk Ülgen. See here for a full report and video clips. And here for a clip of the Henry Brothers doing our famous Pung Chu routine as part of the warm-up. And here’s the thoughts of plenary speaker Ken Wilson on the Çevre conference, including Ken’s “Ten Golden Rules for Conference Presentations”.

Workshops for parents on digital learning materials, Doğa Schools (around Turkey), January 2011 – John Henry, Devrim Özdemir, Ahmet Coşkun, and Feyza Ünlü from the Cambridge office in Istanbul, in cooperation with the English coordinators of Doğa Schools, wrote and delivered a series of workshops to familiarise parents with the variety of multimedia learning materials on the market today. The aim was to inform and motivate parents to then assist and encourage their chidren to use the CDROMs and online tools that come with so many English coursebooks. The large auditorium was full of interested  parents and we began with a game, on the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? format with questions raising awareness of technology and it’s terminology, and then went into demonstration of a wide range of e-learning materials from Cambridge including the popular Primary i-dictionaries, showing how software can make homework more meaningful as well as fun. With software your children will learn songs, play games, practise pronunciation (repeatedly but without realising it), and much more, and much educational software includes tools for teachers and parents to monitor their students progress. (We extend our thanks to Duygu Özkan of Doğa Schools for instigating this activity and helping to set it up).

Added Teaching: Cashing in on CLIL”  the Bahçeşehir Schools 6th ELT conference“Value Added Teaching: Cashing in on CLIL” Bahçeşehir Schools, Istanbul, May 2010 – Bahçeşehir Schools and Bahçeşehir University take turns organising one of Istanbul’s most prestigious and best-attended events for language teachers. In 2010 it was the turn of the schools and to support them we brought over one of the leading consultants on CLIL, David Marsh. Here’s a video of David being interviewed and here’s an article he wrote for the Guardian newspaper arguing for “a sensitive and collaborative integration of language and content”. This by the way is also one of the best-located ELT conferences we attend, right on the Bosphorus in Bahçeşehir’s Beşiktaş campus. The view from the terrace where they hold the after-conference cocktail is just gorgeous.

The appropriately huge banner of the ISTEK Conference 2010, Turkey’s biggest ever ELT event

“ELT in the globalized world:Exploring new opportunities and meetingthe challenges of today” The 1st ISTEK ELT Conference, Istanbul 2010 – ISTEK stands for the “Istanbul Education and Culture” andin 2010 the ISTEK foundation gave us a full weekend of both. The opening plenary of this groundbreaking event was given by Cambridge University Press author and IATEFL President Herbert Puchta Attended by 1000 teachers the 1st ISTEK conference was the biggest event for English teachers ever held in Turkey. Driven by the incredible hard work of conference organiser Burcu Akyol everything about this conference was on a grand scale: A full two-day program plus evening events; a thousand-plus seat ampitheatre full to the brim; an unparalelled list of speakers from abroad and from Turkey; live-streaming video of the conference for those who could not attend; an ongoing conference blog; and a fabulous closing performance by a professional dance group.

The ISTEK conference is also a testament to the power of social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter. The organisers clearly worked extremely hard using these tools to publicise the conference and to build a network of ELT professionals that they could draw on as presenters. The conferences are good, solid examples of the tangible results that can be achieved by efforts put into marketing through these channels.

John in his football shirt for the "pecha kucha"

John in his football shirt for the “pecha kucha”

Our participation included a pecha-kucha presentation “The language of football” by John Henry, wearing his Birmingham City FC shirt. See here for Burcu’s blog post on the event which has links to more feedback and comment including a blog post by author Jeremy Harmer which quite plainly tell us “What Makes a Good ELT Conference”.

And in 2011 ISTEK followed up with another BIG one! “Reflections and Innovations in ELT” The 2nd Annual ISTEK Schools International ELT Conference, Istanbul 1,000 people in the audience again, speakers from all over the world- again, a full two day program -again, a successful pecha kucha night – again, and a fabulous closing spectacle – again, . We provided keynote speakers Professor Jack Richards and IATEFL president, Eric Baber. Click here for a video interview with Jack Richards at ISTEK on approaches and methods to language teaching, and here is Eric talking about his topic, electronic innovations in publishing. Also our colleague in the CUP Istanbul office, Devrim Özdemir gave a workshop on using images in the classroom. Paul Henry attended the 2nd ISTEK conference from the comfort of his own bed, here’s his full report, including high praise for London-based professional storyteller Jan Blake, and here’s lots more information on the conference blog.

Front View

Bahcesehir University

“Professional Development: Challenges and Opportunities” Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul, April 2009 – Who better to talk on the professional development of language teachers than a man working full-time on the professional development of English teachers, Professor Scott Thornbury.
And in 2011 A World To Come for Teaching And Learning:Remodeling Perspectives and Trends” at Bahçeşehir University featured an appearance in Istanbul by than legendary language learning specialist Stephen Krashen. It was comprehensible and then some!! He talked on the power and pleasure of reading. Here’s an article on reading by Krashen from an IATEFL SIG some years ago. The conference by the way doesn’t take place in the satellite suburb of Bahçeşehir but in a building the university owns on the Bosphorus at Beşiktaş.

Maiden's Tower...

Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi)

“The Henry Brothers Poetry Jam” – an in-service training activity for Uskudar American, Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul – We’ve had the privilege to work in some spectacular locations: John once gave a talk to teachers at the Misr Language School in Giza, Cairo and found it hard to concentrate as the three great pyramids were lined up outside the window; we’ve worked all around around Turkey from the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts to the mountains of the east; and in Istanbul we’ve worked at conferences on the Bosphorus at Bahçeşehir University and Kabataş High School. One of the best however was right in the middle of the Bosphorus. Kiz Kulesi, the Maiden’s Tower, is an island rock just off the shore at Uskudar. Once an Ottoman tollbooth it’s now a cafe and restaurant and we were invited by the English department of Uskudar American college to present our poetry jam there as part of back-to-school orientation week. The poetry slam is a series of activities for getting students to play with the English language and write their own verses to rubrics that we provide, and they get to fall in love with footballer David Beckham, walk in the dark, dark wood and go on a bear hunt. It never worked better than that day after lunch out on Kiz Kulesi, when spirits were high, the creative juices were flowing.

Technology 2 Teach – Kabataş High School, Istanbul, 2006 – This really happened. Interactive electronic whiteboards came into ELT in the early 2000s and were immediately attractive to schools and teachers. Thanks to Cambridge-Hitachi, a collaboration between Cambridge University Press and the Japanese electronics giants, we were the first to market with interactive whiteboard software for ELT courses, and here in Istanbul we spent much of 2006 and 2007 demonstrating it, along with the CDROMs, videos and all the other components that come with coursebooks now.  We were all set up for such a presentation in Kabataş when at the exact moment that John Henry began with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Technology2Teach”, a worker elsewhere in the school drilled through a power cable and shut the whole place down. However Kabataş is right on the Bosphorus and both audience and presenters were glad for the excuse to spend more time hanging out on the waterfront while they put the power back on. We go up and running eventually.

It is sad though that this was one of the last ELT conferences organised by a state school in Turkey. In the 80s and 90s the Anatolian High School system delivered an excellent ELT program consisting of a one-year intensive prep class to 11 year-olds followed by 6 years of solid language education including maths and science lessons in English. The results were excellent – John remembers state school students taking American literature and TOEFL. Unfortunately the programme has been gradually dismantled. Maths and science teaching in English was abandoned in the late 90s, and then the system was changed so that the prep class was not taught until students were aged 14 (thus leaving only three years for post-prep consolidation – not enough). Then in 2005 the Ministry of Education published New Bridge to Success their own, heavily criticised and compulsory in all high schools, coursebook series. Then the number of English lessons in the first year of high school were cut from 24 down to 10 per week and then cut down further still.

A Henry Brothers audience – hands in the air


“The Henry Brothers present Do They Really Speak Like That?”, Berceste Restaurant on Bolu Mountain,mid-2000s
– Before the Bolu tunnel was built all Istanbul-Ankara traffic had to come off the motorway and take the old road over the mountain. It was a steep climb and lined on both sides with restaurants and service stations. One of the best known of these was Berceste, whose grilled lamb chops are especially delicious. So what better place to hold a workshop for language teachers in the Bolu area? Well we got a good turnout, over 40 teachers is not bad for a mid-week evening in a fairly small town. However in our planning the details of the venue had been eclipsed by the thought of the food. Berceste had no seminar facilities at all. They put us in an overspill area of the restaurant to one side, where we set up our “stage” in front of a buffet stand and crammed the audience in. We talked over the crashing of saucepans and dishes in the kitchens behind, with the occasional waiter banging through the kitchen door with steaming trays of hot food. Worst of all it was a hot afternoon in May and there was no air-conditioning, only a fan that was even noisier than the kitchen, and if we opened the windows the sound of huge diesels churning up the mountain road drowned all of that noise and our speech as well. This was particularly unfortunate as our workshop that day was “Do They Really Speak Like That?” – activities for teaching features of spoken English such as intonation, ellipsis, and discourse markers. They’re fun, light and very adaptable for the classroom but they do need the audience to be able to hear what we’re saying. So we kept the windows closed, kept going as long as we could before people began to pass out, and swiftly moved everyone out to the terrace for the main attraction – the lamb chops. Which were so tasty we came close, very close, to agreeing to repeat the event the following year.

Paul Henry did agree later to go to another event in Bolu which was even more badly organised, with only three people in the audience it holds the record for our worst attended seminar ever. (The low point of three in the room is shared jointly with a private college event that’s mentioned on this page in another context. But we’re not going to name names).

D’Artagnan de Grammar and the Four Skillsketeers – a sketch to open the Kultlur Koleji ELT conference in 2004

Istanbul Kültür Schools ELT conferences, 2005, Ataköy – Kültür is a private educational foundation with a number of schools and a private university, all located on the European side of Istanbul, in the suburbs out by Ataturk Airport. These were the biggest ELT events in Istanbul in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, with the best plenary speakers and a full program of workshps the 600 seater auditorium was always pretty full and in 2006 when we brought Herbert Puchta as keynote speaker it was jam-packed. Herbert talked on motivating teenage learners and was as professional as always, while Hugh Dellar of the University of Westminster chose to use part of his plenary to poke fun at the legacy of renowned author and teacher trainer Mario Rinvolucri. We do like Hugh for his street tough attitude, teddy boy sideboards, and for being on one of the small group still brave enough to just stand up and talk without powerpoint. But books like Challenge to Think and Grammar Games are full of activities that make the lesson into a puzzle, a brain teaser, and we do love that. So we were pleased that Herbert Puchta was there to defend the Pilgrims Humanistic approach, which made for some entertaining sparring (see here for Pilgrims Humanising Langauge Teaching website).

The Henry Brothers meanwhile were in a good mood as the day had begun with one of our sketches. The Kültür primary school English department had always begun their conference with a sketch that somehow reflected on the theme of the day and from 2005 we began to write and perform those sketches with them, starting with D’Artagnan Du Grammar and the Four Skills-keteers, first fighting and then joining forces.

Taylan Tugut wearing the costume of Hippo, from Hippo and Friends by Clare Selby, with the Henry Brothers

This was our first outing on the main stage at a conference so a real thrill for us. We later became a regular fixture at Kültür with sketches like “The Pung-Chu Asians” performing “Tell me and I’ll forget; Show me and and I’ll remember; involve me and I’ll understand”.

The Henry Brothers and Ibrahim Güngör as the Flintstones in “technology 2 teach” at Kültür Koleji ELT Conference

A year or so later, when called on to introduce the theme of technology in language teaching, we naturally decided to do it dressed as characters famous for their willingness to embrace new equipment in their daily lives, The Flintstones. And when technology came up another year we back again as another iconic user of sophisiticated tools of his trade, James Bond.

Our sketch would lead straight into the first plenary by speakers such as Puchta, Rinvolucri, Paul Seligson, and George Pickering. I think it was at Kültür where we first heard Scott Thornbury talking on vocabulary and discourse while holding up his text for the day, a tea bag wrapper. “….the following text came off a tea bag wrapper. It is dense with top band words, two of which are used twice: “For the perfect cup, use one tea bag per person and add freshly drawn boiling water. Leave standing for three to five minutes before stirring gently. Can be served with or without milk and sugar.” This one text has the potential to generate 12 different lessons, one for each of the top band words embedded in it…..” How’s that for succinct!!! See here for an article by Scott on key vocabulary, from that same year.

Ironically we’ve forgotten the name of another excellent speaker at Kültür from those years, an American educator outlining multiple intelligence theory and the way a primary classroom should be arranged to encourage memory and cognition. The presentation ended on musical intelligence, with us all singing a song he’d written called “Grow More Dendrites”!!!. If anyone can tell us his name we’d really appreciate it.

The Sezin Schools ELT conference memento plate.The 1st Sezin schools, ELT conference – a special place for us for the close friends we’ve had working at the school over the years, Sezin is also notable for the nicest gift to presenters we’ve had: a lovely Kutahya plate with an Iznik design. We’ve had some other good mementos over the years: nice pens from Cevre Koleji; from the coal town of Zonguldak a statue of a miner with a headlamp that lights up (thank you to Zonguldak TED College for that); a treasured glass ornament from Maltepe University (the only one inscribed to The Henry Brothers rather than our individual names) (thank you Yıldız Can).

The launch of English in Mind, 2005 – This was the book that changed the shape of Cambridge University Press in Turkey, our first really successful schoolbook. It was a real joy to launch this course with a series of well-attended events, As . Author Herbert Puchta as keynote speaker, was a real buzz. Well over 1,000 teachers came to listen to Herbert that week, at the Marmara Hotel in Istanbul, at the lakeside “carnival tent” venue we use at Sapanca, between Istanbul and Ankara, and in the capital city itself. Herbert’s topic was Motivating Teenagers – “If you can teach teenagers, you can teach anyone”!!

The first Doğa Schools ELT conference  – Organised by Burcu Akyol. Doğa means nature in Turkish and the school is in a beautiful location in the forest north of Istanbul, towards the Black Sea coast. To suit the setting the workshop spaces were located in the woods, under trees. The day ended with a bonfire picnic and a concert by first-rate professional musicians. Our theme was, of course, “A Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, (thanks to Ela Moorcroft for lending us her bear collection to decorate the area), and the show culminated in everyone performing Michael Rosen’s “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” The school’s own report on the day quotes them as saying “We were idealistic in setting out to change the concept of the ELT conference that had been the same for years”. Congratulations are due to Doğa for that.

Not every poem and story for British schoolchildren works in an ELT context. There are issues with the vocabulary load and with cultural relevance. A whole range of things from Chrismas to conkers (google it) to the ice cream van are cultural icons for British kids that are challenging for the ESL teacher to bring alive in the classroom. “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” however has everything the language teacher needs: lots and lots of repetition (there’s a recurring chorus as you go on the bear hunt and then the whole thing is recycled backwards as you run away from the bear when you eventually find it); a lexical set (the hunt takes you through a nice collection of landscapes (river, forest, cave, long grass etc.); actions (the class performs the poem on their feet and moving, waving their arms as they push through the long grass, stumbling through the forest, squelching thorugh the mud…); some lovely onomatopoeiac words that children can have fun with (splishy splashy, stumble trip etc.); and of course it has an animal in it, a bear no less. So please have a look at the author Michael Rosen performing Bear Hunt in his inimitable way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytc0U2WAz4s

Paul dressed as Max from the primary coursebook Playway to English at an exhibition stand

“Partnership for Prosperous Performance” The Florya Schools conferences – The school takes it’s name from it’s location, the suburb of Florya, out by Istanbul airport. Organised by NLP master practitioner and English teacher Belgin Öğrek, these conferences focussed on learning and the learner. At the time when NLP was a real buzz-word in ELT the Florya conference was one of the best-attended in the city. The Henry Brothers gave our first conference workshop at Florya and returned for a number of years. Our memories include a solid workshop on NLP techniques like “mirroring” by Denise Özdeniz of Sabanci University, and a particularly windy day one year when all the exhibition stands blew over, and the grounds of the school were strewn with salad which had blown off the lunch plates, which were being served outside. And it was at Florya that the Henry Brothers presented our first conference workshops: Cut It Out,  craftwork activities from the coursebook Primary Colours and Laughing Matters – Humour for the language classroom. Based on the book Laughing Matters by Peter Medgyes, this was a collection of stories, jokes and activities including the Mbele Feasting Song and Dark, Dark Wood. Q: What do ducks watch on television? (Answer at the bottom of the page).

The Speakeasy,  Dünya Bookshop and Cafe, Istiklal Caddesi, Beyoglu, Istanbul, 2002.  – The beginning of the Henry Brothers. Now it’s a Starbucks, then it was cafe on the upstairs landing of a bookshop on lstanbul’s busiest shopping street and nightlife centre. Paul Henry Zarraga had moved to Istanbul from Britain a couple of years earlier and had begun working with John Henry Moorcroft, who had moved on from teaching English to giving workshops on the ELT conference circuit for Heinemann ELT and then Cambridge University Press.  Together we set up these informal evening gatherings for English teachers to come and participate in poetry and drama activities.

How I Met Myself: Using Graded Readers in the Classroom, 2001 – Click the link for full details. This was John’s first workshop for Cambridge University Press, a reflection on the reading process and a series of activities for exploiting Cambridge English Readers, our series of original fiction for young adult learners.

The International House workshop for language teachers, Istanbul, early 2000s – This event was held in a downtown hotel to launch the (temporary as it turned out) return of the IH chain of private language schools to the Istanbul PLS market. The keynote speaker was Scott Thornbury then introducing “Dogme for ELT” for the first time, and this time the heckler was John Henry, who as representative of an ELT publisher wasn’t going to stand for that. We’ve since made up with Scott, and Paul Henry Zarraga is indeed now a dogme advocate himself. We can’t remember the name of the other speaker, a rather narrow-minded grammarian from University College, London who seemed to be unhappy that the event was (partly) supported by Cambridge University Press and not the other one.

The British Publisher’s Conference, the British Consulate, Istanbul, late ’90s – A grand event jointly organised by Longman, Heinemann and Cambridge in a grand venue, the ballroom of the British Consulate. Built in 1801 by the same architect as the Palace of Westminster, Pera House was home to the British Embassy in Constantinople. The capital of the Republic of Turkey is in Ankara so the building remains as the Istanbul consulate, still impressive with it’s courtyards, gardens, and chandeliered ballroom, where we were pleases to host over 300 English teachers to an evening of presentations. John was working for Heinemann back then and our speaker was the excellent Colin Granger, who came to ELT from a background in theatre, and still today runs a comedy club and theatre in Brighton.
Pera House however, has always been unfortunate, an embassy that was demoted to a consulate by accident of history, in recent years it’s suffered a major fire and a terrorist bombing in which the consul was killed. So we’re not sure when or if we’ll be back there with large groups of ELT teachers again.

Marmara College, ELT conference, Maltepe, Istanbul, 1994 – John’s first ELT conference, indeed back in the early 90s there were only one or two conferences per year in Istanbul, unlike today when it seems like there’s two or three every week. The dominant events on the Asian side were hosted by Marmara College, a well-established private school in the suburbs that run along the shore of the Marmara Sea. The buzz of a popular ELT conference is always impressive and Marmara was always a lively day with a full program and hundreds of people crowding through the corridors to get to workshops. The organiser was Yıldız Can, who is still setting up ELT conferences today in the hilltop campus of Maltepe University, the flagship of the Marmara College group.

Weekend workshops at the British Council, Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul, the early 1990s. – The British Council is still a valuable resource for teachers in Turkey. See their website for online resources for teachers and students, and information on courses, exams and events. But the Henry Brothers still hanker for the old BC library and teacher’s centre on Istiklal Caddesi, with it’s terrace overlooking the rooftops of Beyoğlu to the Bosphorus and beyond. Run by Ann Hazinedar the teacher’s centre used to buzz with people coming in for workshops, to take courses, borrow books, browse the library for ideas and activities, get information on courses and exams, or just to hang out. John Henry spent a number of years treading a triangular path from home to school to the British Council while taking his Delta teaching certificate and then an Aston University distance learning master’s degree in TESOL, both organised through the centre which was always a marvellous environment, (especially at Christmas when mulled wine and mince pies were served!!). The weekend workshops were well attended (50+ participants regularly) and were always fun. Presenters we remember include Rebecca Michel, now at Exeter University, and an inspiring workshop on storytelling by Andrew Wright, wearing his trademark storyteller’s coat even then.
Sadly, the British Council moved from Istiklal in the early 2000s and closed to the public soon after.

a: duck-umentaries!!

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