FAAPI Conference, Santiago del Estero, Argentina, September 18th., 19th. and 20th, 2014
This year the Conference of teachers of English as a foreign language was held in Santiago del Estero. A city which is called "The Mother of Cities", because it was here where the first Spanish settlers decided to establish the first settlement before continuing funding cities such as Córdoba and Salta. The whole province is also famous for its dance "The Chacarera", which is a lively folklore dance with clapping, easy choreography and swinging of skirts (on the women´s side). In this province they manufacture an instrument which is an important element in all folklore songs: the "Bombo Legüero". These drums made of emptied tree trunks and animal skin (my husband´s has goat and donkey skin) are beaten with sticks and they accompany most of our folklore songs with its rhythmic beat. The name of this drum "legüero" (league drum) comes from the fact that its sound is so loud that it can supposedly be heard from the distance (leagues) across the empty flat pampas.
What I heard at the conference was the voice of my fellow teachers. And I liked what I heard. Teachers who love their jobs and their students. Teachers with no wifi connection in the schools. Teachers who teach a first year of 60 teacher training college students trying to find a clean space on the wall to project their slides, again with no wifi connection. Teachers who decided to get together with colleagues to study about autism and who decided to present in the conference in front of a full house of teachers who shared the same concerns and similar scenarios. Teachers who volunteer their time to put together a journal of applied linguistics without getting any money out of it, just for the sake of the development of the profession. Teachers from the "Plan Ceibal", from Uruguay, brave educators who partner with classroom teachers who don´t know the English language, but volunteer to offer their students the chance to learn a foreign language from the distance. Teachers who came from Colombia or Ecuador to attend the conference.
The theme of the conference was "Teaching in the Post Method Era" . The way I see it this is the best time to be a teacher of English. We are freed from the dictatorship of a single method, but at the same time we have a huge responsibility: to question ourselves about everything we do, to share our practices and to reflect on what we do. A call to theorize our practices. A call to use our common sense, to work with what we have and to make the most of it. A call to get together to start meaningful conversations. The point of my presenting in congresses is to share my journey so that other teachers can benefit too. I hope that in the future more colleagues embrace the challenge and make their voices heard frrom the distance, like the sounds from the "legüero" drum.
AJAL, Argentinian Journal of Applied Linguistics