Schedule, Teachers' Day 2021


Teachers' Day kicks off with the Keynote presentation on 04 October 2021. The workshops will follow on subsequent days. Registration deadline: 27 Sept. 2021 (recently extended)

Zoom meeting links and passwords will be sent out via email to participants a few days before the keynote / workshops.

October 4th / 3:15 pmKeynote: Holger Limberg.Pragmatic Competence in Foreign Language Teaching.

An important area in foreign language teaching is pragmatics, the situationally appropriate use and interpretation of spoken and written language. Foreign language learners who are pragmatically competent are able to deal with meanings as they are communicated by a speaker or writer. EFL learners need not only the knowledge of vocabulary and grammar to express a communicative intention, but also have an understanding of the situational and sociocultural context in which the language is used. This is not an easy task. Contexts are versatile and rules of language use are often subconscious and subject to change. Yet, pragmatic competence is an essential component of communicative competence – the fundamental goal of foreign language teaching – and must therefore be developed in the foreign language classroom.

The talk highlights the importance of teaching pragmatics in communicative language classrooms. It presents some research findings to argue that pragmatics can be taught, discusses the adequacy of textbook material, reflects on the role of the teacher and, finally, makes some suggestions how to develop pragmatic skills and raise pragmatic awareness of EFL learners.

WORKSHOPS(Concurrent workshops [Workshop A and Workshop B] on each day)
Workshop A,
October 5th / 3:15 pm
Holger Limberg. Making “sorry” more meaningful – Learning how to apologize and respond in different ways.

Being late, stepping on someone’s foot or forgetting something are typical situations in our daily lives that usually require some form of apology. While a casual expression of “sorry” may sometimes suffice, it is often overused and the speaker does not take responsibility or offer repair for the offense committed – two actions which may seem necessary in order to restore social harmony. The nature of the offense and the sociocultural speech norms of the target community have an effect on how apologies are communicated. So, learning how to apologize in a FL involves a close inspection of this conventionalized speech act as well as a careful mapping of the linguistic forms which are used to apologize as well as their contextual meanings and pragmatic forces. This can be achieved through different reception, production and reflection tasks as well as by using authentic scenarios.

In this workshop we are going to take a look at different apology scenarios, learn about pragmatic strategies that can be used to apologize and respond to apologies, and discuss some exercises and tasks that help learners acquire the pragmatic competence of apologizing appropriately in English. The learning outcome is to sensitize learners to this ubiquitous speech act by raising their awareness of its context-sensitive use.

Workshop B,
October 5th / 3:45 pm
Zoe Grigoriadou. Enhancing Students' Inference Skills and Visual Literacy through the Use of Wordless Books.

Pragmatics is the study of making meaning of language by taking into consideration the specific contexts it is used within and its purposes. It does not only focus on the comprehension of verbal communication but also on the understanding of its connotations by drawing connections and making inferences. Wordless books are often used to enhance and foster students' inferencing skills by giving them the opportunity to deduct meaning from a range of sequential pictures. They find out how authors/illustrators use communication to convey meaning in a specific context by drawing the students’ attention to particular elements of pictures and supporting them to inference upon their story line.

In today’s world of mass media and digital storytelling, students need to be able to make meaning of visuals, understand their content and reflect upon them. Along with other forms of visual narratives, wordless books are increasingly finding their way into the English classroom to enhance students’ visual literacy and stimulate their imaginations and cognitive skills.

The term visual narrative encompasses all stories that are told and documented by a sequence of pictures. They include comics and graphic novels, videos and films, and photos and paintings of all sorts. Each visual was created with a special purpose in mind and it is up to the readers and viewers to find out about the meaning it conveys and determine its overall hidden message.

In the classroom, wordless books and graphic novels are becoming increasingly popular. They are used because of the mesmerizing pictures that capture the readers’ attention and motivate even reluctant readers to engage with the books. In addition, they stimulate the readers’ imaginations and creativity to narrate a story that matches the pictures. While seeing and contemplating the illustrations, the students need to understand and analyse what is shown in the pictures so that they can retell their content. The students’ active participation and engagement with the books supports them in creating their own unique story. Students bring the characters in the visuals to life and make them feel and speak; students determine the setting and create a plot.

Reading wordless books and constructing their content require the application of multiple thinking and reading strategies. The students carefully look at the illustrations and develop ideas about the content. While taking a picture walk through the book, the students acquire a repertoire of thinking strategies they can apply flexibly to deduce the meaning of the illustrations and comprehend the meaning they convey. 

They read and analyse the story by describing what they see and visualizing the content, drawing connections to their own knowledge and experience, wondering about the content, building predictions, and drawing conclusions.

In the workshop we will be focusing on various strategies of how students can comprehend sequential images and interpret them. We will be looking at how various reading comprehension and thinking skills can be acquired and used to make meaning of texts. Several activities will be shown that foster students’ inferencing skills and support them to narrate a story line. 

Workshop A,
October 6th / 3:15 pm
Sam Harding. Negotiating in speaking exams.
Ancillary materials:
The science of the deal
Structuring the dialogue

Negotiation, meaning a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement, takes place in many different situations from hostage negotiations to negotiating with a child who is refusing to eat their greens. A speaking exam can also be, or at least simulate, a negotiation depending on the task. What can teachers who create or prepare students for speaking exams learn from negotiation theory?

Negotiations are often viewed as a type of conflict and compared to battles of will or wit. In the context of a speaking exam, and perhaps in life in general, it can be more helpful to compare negotiating to dancing. It becomes a question of moving elegantly, with each participant alternating gracefully between leading and being led, in order finally to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement. The essential moves include finding common ground and using questions to clarify a partner's point of view. Familiarity with these steps can provide students with the confidence to temporarily disagree with their partner in a speaking exam and subsequently negotiate their way to a better grade. The acquisition of these skills can be embedded within the study of dramatic real-life instances of negotiation such as hostage negotiation, which has the added benefit of making exam preparation more interesting for students and teachers.

Workshop B,
October 6th / 3:15 pm
Geoff Tranter. Breaking the Rules – The ‘Comedy of Errors’.

Humour and humorous situations can result from a number of different contexts. There is, for example, the ‘banana-skin’ type humour, where by-standers gain amusement at the cost of the unsuspecting victim, or the creativity-driven humour when verbal acrobats play with words and in many cases often produce loud groans on the part of the people within earshot.

A further more learner-friendly source of humour consists in the errors made by people in their social and/or linguistic behaviour regardless of their language proficiency – often but not always unintentionally. And this is a very useful source for incorporating humour in the EFL classroom. We can (and should) all learn from our own mistakes, as ‘painful’ as some of them may be, but it is far more fun and probably far more effective to learn from the mistakes other people make.

After a brief theoretical introduction, in which we will acquaint ourselves with Grice’s principle of Cooperation and his four Maxims, we will consider a number of different areas of language teaching where this can be exploited.

The workshop will be as practical as possible offering a number of examples that can be used in the English classroom, and will include group work in which participants will have the opportunity to develop their own ‘sense of humour’.

Workshop A,
October 7th / 3:15 pm (CANCELED)

CANCELED:  Dr. Daniel Becker. Long Live the Short! Using Digital Short Texts to Develop EFL Learners' Pragmatic Competences.


'Long live the short!' That might be one way to describe the omnipresence of short written texts on today's social media platforms. Whether one takes a look at Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, written language in the form of short comments, captions, posts, tweets, memes, or hashtags can be found all over the digital sphere and, thus, represents an integral part of communication in an internet age. As such, these texts, which are defined by their strictly limited size and number of words, are also relevant to EFL learners who want to actively participate in a digital culture.

In my workshop, we will take a closer look at some of these digital short texts in order to explore their potential for the EFL classroom. More precisely, we will examine how these texts can be ideally used to foster learners' pragmatic competences. Given their limited size, short texts often leave certain things unsaid. They presuppose knowledge on the reader's part and/or require the reader to actively infer meaning from its linguistic and social context. With this in mind, they become a valuable foundation for teaching pragmatics to EFL learners.

(This workshop has been canceled. Registered participants have been contacted by the TD Team and will be given the opportunity to attend Workshop B [see below] on this day.)

Workshop B,
October 7th / 3:15 pm
Prof. Stefan Diemer and Marie-Louise Brunner, M.A. Using examples from virtual conversations and Social Media to teach pragmatic strategies.

We focus on the demonstration and discussion of pragmatic strategies in an international English-language context as a means for successful intercultural communication. Examples from virtual conversations and social media enhance students’ language awareness and help them recognize how pragmatic strategies can be used to increase communicative flow, to create rapport, and to avoid or negotiate critical incidents.

Our examples show that communicative issues do occur in online discourse, in particular in connection to culturally sensitive, unwelcome, or problematic topics. Discourse participants can employ shifts in content and stance, use evasive strategies such as disalignment, topic shifts to more neutral ground, or let-it-pass strategies, or address and negotiate the problem openly before resorting to verbal or multimodal escalation strategies.

We will provide participants with a range of examples and exercises through which students are encouraged to integrate pragmatic strategies in their communicative repertoire.

(Virtual) location: Saarland University

Book exhibition (online presentations on workshops days)