Carl Dowse has put videos of Mark Powell’s plenary from the recent BESIG conference up on Youtube. It was such a terrific talk, just in case you missed it, I’ve stuck all the videos at the bottom of this post.
There are lots of great jokes and ideas here and I love Mark’s pragmatism. Like ‘English as a lingua franca’ (ELF) researchers, Mark is urging us to set sensible priorities for what we teach and it makes a lot of sense. For the many English learners who won’t be needing English to communicate for native speakers (NSs), why faff around with frilly stuff that will have little value when we can go ‘lean’.
Mark had me chuckling with what he had to say about business English text books’ obsession with phrase banks. (Video 4 below) Ha! Yeah, they bother me too. I enjoyed hearing his current thinking on the lexical approach (Video 3) and would have loved to hear more on that. And I also enjoyed his thoughts on performatives, hedging and indirectness. (Video 1 below) He describes a class with French and German speakers where his students were converging on forms that worked for all. Speech accommodation like this seems to be a key feature in ELF conversations.
There was something that puzzled me though. After enjoying watching Mark argue what seemed like an extremist ELF position in the early part of his talk (“The German version works better”), I was surprised to hear him to dismiss ELF as “just pretty obvious” at the end. (Video 5 below) Does anyone else find this puzzling?
So hat’s off to the BESIG BOT for capturing this gem on video for us and hats off to Mark for giving us lots to think about and lots of fun. And, as always, I’d love to know what you think.