lunes, 1 de mayo de 2017

3 years old!

Balloons on the third ...

This month this blog turns 3.

The beginning. It all started because I had a lot to say about pronunciation teaching in my context, after that fab IATEFL 2014 conference where I discussed my experience with E-Portfolios, and got a sneak peek of pronunciation teaching elsewhere. I needed to tell people what we do in Argentina, because many of us love what we do, and we take it really seriously. I wanted a place to write down things I used to say in my lessons but which would probably just stay in my students' notebooks, or class recordings, things I wanted to revisit, or recycle. I needed a place to also have a post-lesson outlet, a place to ask myself questions about what was happening with my students' and my own pronunciation. I guess this blog has also eventually become a sort of diary for me to trace how my thinking has evolved, and to get evidence of a harsh truth I have learned: the more experienced one gets, the more questions and uncertainties one collects.

A new chapter. Now that I am so far away from home, now that I am not teaching, now that I am transitioning from teacher to full-time researcher, I no longer have much of the inspiration that teaching phonetics full time provided me with.  And perhaps I have other aspirations now as well. So this blog is still finding its way, or rather, I am finding my way in this new world. In the meantime, then, I'll continue, whenever I can, sharing with you ideas, reports, reviews, thoughts, anecdotes, in my usual generally informal tone.

Pronunciation teaching today. Now that there are so many other blogs and websites, and conferences (PTLC, EPIP, PSLLT, among others) and a dedicated journal dealing with pronunciation and pronunciation and phonetics teaching, I am grateful I can still have a voice, and I get to engage in dialogue with others. I am so excited to see that more and more people are sharing their pron-teaching experiences from different areas of the world, and I am really looking forward to seeing what others are doing, and how that resonates with my own experience, beyond what you can routinely read in books and papers, which may not have the "dynamism" that online timing has, although those obviously have an academic outlook and may be more systematically based on research. I think that being able to tell others what you do, and how, and why you do it, and see if perhaps it is useful to someone somewhere else, is something that the Internet is good for. And despite the disdain of some academics for blogs like this one, I strongly believe in the value of these informal, sometimes reflective and anecdotal spaces because they are dynamic, and vibrant, and based on experience, and they are accessible to all teachers, and not paywalled. 

(A detour: I study conversation analysis, and one of the values of CA is precisely that of recognising that whatever happens once in  interaction, even if it does not happen again in other interactions, is as valid and interesting for study as what happens a million times. I wonder if the covert "positivist" demands that many people make for pronunciation teaching may be overlooking that tiny important detail that especially for something like pronunciation, we do not all learn in the same way, and that individual work and feedback are essential. So what works in an isolated classroom in a neighbourhood in Buenos Aires may work for that particular group of students or even for one individual, and it is as valid, to my humble mind, as a technique that may work in a hundred classrooms around the world. And I think accent coaches, for example, know this well, because they need to care for the individual, which is something we should all, ideally, do as teachers. So I think teaching pron is both a science, and a craft.)

So, as PronBites turns three, I toast to a pronunciation teaching world where everyone is welcome, and where, hopefully, people will not attempt to bring others down but instead try to build good things in symphony with others (be it the creative activity makers, the ground-shakers, the high brow researchers, the reflective bloggers, the anecdotal ones, the traditional teachers, the innovative ones...), in healthy and stimulating dialogue with other perspectives and views, and in a community-sharing spirit. 

Thank you all, my readers, for these three years of continued support.

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