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Jonathan Dykes: As teachers, we have the opportunity to encourage a lot of people to think about a variety of important issues.

Jonathan Dykes: As teachers, we have the opportunity to encourage a lot of people to think about a variety of important issues.

Can you provide a brief overview of your background and expertise?

I was born and educated in the south of England, but have lived abroad most of my adult life. I started working as an English teacher, but soon moved into management and ended up running a small multinational group of language schools, several of which I started.  I also started a company called Net Languages, which may have been the world’s very first Web-based language school.

I would like to think that I have a certain amount of expertise in language school management, in educational technology, and in environmental sustainability. I was a co-founder of an association called Green Standard Schools.

What are the main takeaways or insights you aim to deliver during your talk, and how do you believe they will benefit the audience?

Language teachers have the opportunity to engage with a large number of learners of all ages and backgrounds, which means we have the opportunity to encourage lots of people to reflect on all sorts of important issues that would probably fall outside the standard curriculum. Issues such as environmental sustainability, physical and mental health, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, etc.  Assuming that teachers agree that subjects such as these are worth discussing with their students, the key question is: how can they be Integrated into lessons, without radically changing the learning outcomes? Working as a partner on two Erasmus+ projects, I have been able to contribute to the development of a range of tools and study materials that have been developed  to address this question, and these will be the focus of this talk. We will also discuss how schools must lead by example, with reference to the accreditation system offered by Green Standard Schools.

Can you recall a particularly memorable experience related to teaching or training that left a lasting impact on you?

For over a decade I was one of the judges for the Ben Warren prize, which was awarded to the most outstanding contribution to language teaching methodology, on an annual basis. This meant I had to read several methodology books each year, and I invariably found a majority of them both interesting and inspiring.

Some of these books, such as ‘The Lexical Approach’ by Michael Lewis and ‘A Framework for Task-Based Learning’ by Jane Willis, stayed with me, and many years later inspired the sort of study materials I helped develop using Virtual Reality technology in another Erasmus project called VR4LL.

Who or what has been a significant influence or inspiration in your professional journey?

The person who has been most influential on my approach to language teaching is undoubtedly Scott Thornbury (who was in fact one of my employees for around 20 years.) But it’s not only Scott’s insights into a DOGME approach to teaching that impress me, it’s also the way he can make almost any subject, yes, even teaching grammar, sound really interesting.

In the field of environmental sustainability, I have been inspired by a large number of activists and authors. To mention just one: David Wallace-Wells, author of ‘The Unsustainable Earth.’

Do you have any passion projects or hobbies that contribute to your broader understanding of teaching/learning?

Over the years I have learned to play a couple of very different musical instruments, and the process isn’t dissimilar to learning a foreign language. A good teacher certainly helps, but it’s the sort of thing that also requires a lot of practice and, to state the obvious, the more time and effort you put in, the better the outcomes are likely to be.

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