Monday, June 15, 2015

The Futuuri Summer Seminar on Future Language Education

It's been a long time between posts, indicative of how busy we have been this year just keeping heads above water.

Late last year we received very kind invitations to provide keynote presentations and give a workshop at the "Futuuri" Seminar on Future Language Education in Jyvaskyla, Finland. The event was held on 3-5 June 2015, in the heart of the beautiful Finnish Lake District. At this time of the year it is light 24 hours a day, which added an interesting complication to the change in times zones between our respective homes at the time and the conference venue. Jet lag has always been a challenge, but there is something a bit special to looking out the window at midnight and finding it bright enough to make one think one's body clock is on the right time after all.

While Michele doubtless has plenty more conference presentations left in her tank, Colin has been hankering after giving all this stuff away for quite some time now. Accordingly, our initial thoughts were to decline, but we are now very happy we did not. As it happens, we had been working on chapters for various handbooks edited by colleagues in Britain and Hong Kong, and were interested in following some of the themes behind what is possible within the templated handbook format. We informed the conference organisers that if they thought these themes would suit their purposes we would be happy to participate. It turned out that the themes were appropriate for the event and so we worked up further ideas on the themes of researching new literacies from a social languages perspective and on creativity and language. These became our keynote presentations.

The two talks can be found here

The seminar, which takes a full-on conference format, is held annually and includes presentations in English and Finnish pitched at educators specialising in mother tonge, second language and foreign language education. It addresses all levels of learning, from early education to tertiary and adult education. We found the other presentations we attended -- in English, our Finnish being limited to essential words like those for lunch, beer, and thank you -- most interesting and informative. Our experiences in Finland have long convinced us that the country has been doing some very good things for the formation of its citizens. We have met fabulous people and had nothing but wildly positive experiences there. Getting a chance to mingle with a good range of Finnish educators was something we welcomed and enjoyed.

There were excellent events planned for the evenings. While the dinner cruise of the lake was fabulous, at least one of us was beyond delighted to clap his eyes on the first National Steel Guitar he has seen in a long time at the pub event on the second evening. There is something quite delicious about being entertained by high quality Nashville-style country music in the heart of Finland just a short distance below the Arctic Circle. There is an absolutely outstanding warp to that, one we enjoyed to the hilt.

We also found good time to get out and about, and have blogged some photos at our joypix site.

For one of us it will be the final ever keynote. It was a very happy way to go out, and we are truly grateful to all those on the conference committee for giving us the opportunity to enjoy such a happy and interesting time.

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