Here are a few questions which those going to Glasgow might like to ask IATEFL bosses and a few sponsors.
To the Coordinators of existing SIGs and the other Trustees:
- Why did you turn down the application by Nicola Prentis and Paul Walsh to set up a Teachers As Workers SIG?
- How do you reconcile supporting NNESTs in their fight for equality with your refusal to allow members to form the Teachers As Workers SIG?
- Under what circumstances will you reconsider their request?
To those at the New Oriental (Platinum Sponsor) stand:
- Is it true that the biggest single income stream for your company is from exam cramming courses?
- Did employees of your company steal SAT exams and help students to cheat in exams, as Reuters reported?
- Did employees of your company help to write fraudulent college application essays and teacher recommendations, and falsify a high school transcript, as Reuters reported?
- What comments do you have on criticisms made about the Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School on the TEFL Blacklist website?
To those at the telc – language tests (Platinum Sponsor) stand
- Can you define reification?
- What is the relationship between the can do statements in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and communicative competence?
- At what level can a learner “follow complex lines of argument on a topic which is reasonably familiar”? What counts as (a) following; (b) a complex line of argument; (c) a topic which is reasonably familiar?
To those at the British Council (Gold Sponsor) stand:
- The British Council is a charity tasked with representing UK education services, and yet it also competes with them by offering English language teaching, exam provision and teacher training itself. It has often been accused of keeping valuable commercial information to itself; its staff are exhorted to act ever more commercially; it holds a one-third share in the International English Language Testing System; it competes with an unfair advantage to train teachers for overseas governments. Don’t such activities conflict with the council’s role in supporting other providers?
- Are you aware of how much other language schools abroad resent the priveledged position that British Council centres enjoy? For example, is it fair that the British Council’s not-for-profit status means it is exempt from corporation tax in many countries, unlike its competitors?
- Your Education UK website offers advice to international students looking to study in the UK. While your own services are paraded all over the web site, other schools and colleges have to pay to be on the lists you provide, the ones with the biggest marketing budget getting the best positioning. Is this fair?
- Why is there no pension plan for ordinary teachers, only for the upper echelons of British Council staff?
To those at the Pearson (Silver Sponsor) stand
- What theory or explanation of language learning informs the Global Scale of English (GSE)?
- The nearly 2,000 can do statements that form the backbone of the GSE are based entirely on the intuitions of teachers: no empirical data have been gathered from learners’ experiences. How do you justify this?
- How do you respond to the criticism that the GSE is an example of what Glenn Fulcher calls “Frankenstein scales”, which don’t relate to any specific communicative context, or give a good description of any particular communicative language ability?