Recently, there has certainly been lively discussion, and sometimes polarised opinions, over issues of crucial importance to individuals, societies and the planet. Aspects such as identity, nationalism, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic differences, the origin of life, environmental protection and climate change are all contested areas. Teachers, like other people, often have strong views on these issues; in their classrooms they have a platform to express these views and a more or less captive audience. The ELTJ debate at IATEFL will consider if, and to what degree, teachers and other educators (materials, curriculum designers and so forth) should use their position to promote their own values. The ELTJ Debate at the IATEFL conference is a yearly event that marks the close working relationship between IATEFL and ELT Journal. After one year break due to the pandemic, we return to this event with a timely topic for discussion – the possibility of teaching values in the English classroom. This is the motion we have chosen for the event this year:
This house believes that the job of the English teacher is to teach English rather than values
We have selected two well-known speakers Guy Cook and Harry Kuchah. For Guy, who is proposing the motion, teaching values is neither possible nor appropriate. He will argue against imposing values on students and, instead, opening up the possibility of expanding knowledge of critical topics. Harry, on the other hand, takes the position that English cannot be separated from the values that it carries and that these will have to be brought to the surface, discussed and critically examined in the classroom, in order to help students understand the complex network of culture, identity and ideologies.
Who is who at the debate:
Guy Cook is Emeritus Professor of Language in Education at King’s College, London, UK. He writes about language teaching, literary stylistics, ecolinguistics, applied linguistics, and discourse analysis. He was Chair of the British Association for Applied Linguistics 2009-2012 and co-editor of the journal Applied Linguistics 2004-2009.
Harry Kuchah is Lecturer in Language Education at the University of Leeds, UK. He has served as a consultant on language policy and practice with the British Council, the Council of Europe and Windle Trust International and is currently President of IATEFL, Joined coordinator of TELCNet and member of the British Council ELAG.
If you want to know more and express your opinion on these topics, join us!
The debate takes place at the IATEFL online conference on Sunday, 20 June from 14:10 to 15:25 (BST).
Alessia Cogo is Editor of ELT Journal and senior lecturer in applied linguistics at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.