Interviewer: Please introduce yourself
Scott Thornbury: My name is Scott Thornbury and I am presently the associate professor on the MA TESOL at the New School in New York, although I teach mostly from my home in Barcelona in Spain, teaching online. I teach face-to-face on the programme in the summer. And I’m also the academic director of new initiative called the International Teacher Development Institute, which aims to make available teacher training packages for teachers in a variety of contexts. It’s about to launch very soon. That has been my latest interest.
Interviewer: Can you tell us something great that you’ve seen at IATEFL?
Scott Thornbury: For me, what was exciting and quite moving was I went to the Hornby scholars’ presentation yesterday morning. There were 15 young teachers chosen from around the world and given subsidies to attend IATEFL, among other things, and do a short presentation. They were fantastic. They were really well rehearsed but there was certain spontaneity. They had a genuine enthusiasm for teaching and wonderful slides of their different contexts and interests. It was really, really validating and affirming. I thought what a wonderful scheme the Hornby scheme is.
I went to it principally because I’d been reading about it in the latest ELT journal. Richard Smith wrote a piece about the history of the Hornby scheme and you can’t help but be moved by it. This is all the money from the dictionaries that Hornby wrote – the Oxford Advanced Learners
Dictionary – that has been ploughed into this really, really worthwhile scheme, so that was great.
Interviewer: How should language education use technology?
Scott Thornbury: With my particular field being teacher education I am actually on a daily basis involved in using technology for education, particularly through the online teaching that I do. This new initiative is all delivered online. And therefore the reach is massive potentially. So that’s the good news. In terms of language learning, the good news is the access and facilities and tools that learners have for continuing their language education and language use out of class. The potential is just massive. Which for me then… The negatives are when all those wonderful resources that are good for outside the classroom are used in the classroom at the expense of what classrooms are really good for which is the human factor. So it’s not the technologies themselves it’s where and when you use them. As I say, I do see potential for continuous learning, autonomous learning through technology, but at the same time it could become… it can become… it can encroach upon the affordances [sic] that are available in the classroom.
Video transcript: Scott Thornbury, IATEFL conference 2012