It’s not every day one gets the chance to talk with blind Russian musicians and hear their stories. But that was one of the best moments of the October 2018 Regional Conference for Teachers of Foreign Languages at Kursk State University.
The day began with a 2-hour Master Class on methods of interview practice and how they improve student speaking ability. Using the American job interview skills taught in-presentation, local professors practiced interviewing one another before recording video on their phones, which they then analyzed in critical evaluation.
After a quick (and much-needed) coffee break, the next hour was spent fully engaged in conversation with blind musician students from the Kursk College of Music. Johanna Campbell, the English Language Fellow invited to present, was spell-bound as she listened to this awe-inspiring group. They talked about the books they enjoyed reading, and she asked, “do you read in braille?” No, came the answer – audiobooks. Their spoken English and overall pronunciation left her speechless.
The conference came to a close with a 90-minute workshop with Access high school students. They worked together through the inquiry method and applied it to teaching English through fine art. They did excellent work and presented their findings in front of their peers in the packed auditorium.
Afterward, the Access students, Dr. Sergey Umerenkov, Head of the TFL Department and conference chair, and the Language Fellow shared dinner and English conversation practice.