Meet The Speakers: James Taylor

17/04/2018 - 23:31

Room 308
40-minute talk

English Teaching In The Post-Truth Era

James Taylor

“Fake news” is seen as one of the most pressing issues today, but does it have any relevance in ELT? In this talk I will argue that ‘the post-truth era’ provides us with an opportunity to redefine our roles as educators and offers our students the chance to improve a skill that is sorely needed at this time.

James Taylor’s Bio


Originally from Brighton, UK, James has taught EFL to adults and teenagers in Brazil, South Korea, Belgium and Costa Rica. He is the former President and co-founder of BELTA. You can find him producing the TEFL Commute podcast, and he is also a very active member of the online ELT community, writing, mentoring, blogging and presenting at conferences, online and offline.

Why have you chosen this topic for your presentation?

Many moons ago I studied media at university, so I have always been interested in the interaction between it and society. Analysing this in the ELT classroom is useful and important, I think.

What do you want participants to take away from your presentation?

It seems to me that the ELT classroom is perfectly positioned to develop the critical thinking skills that are necessary today. Hopefully participants will come away with a better understanding of why and how.

Summary of presentation

The talk begins with some background information, outlining why there has been a rise in interest in fake news and its history. I emphasise that this isn’t about encouraging students to follow the teacher’s beliefs, but gives them a tool to critically engage with information. I then argue that this is relevant to English teachers because we have the opportunity to use a wide range of materials in our lessons, which makes us uniquely placed to teach skills beyond language.

The talk then has a more explicit classroom focus, starting by looking at the example of a teacher in the USA who taught his 10-year-old students how to detect fake news stories. Suggestions are then made for a collection of practical suggestions for activities, based on a suite of resources, some designed for education and others readily available to be adapted for use in class.

The presentation ends with a reference to research which shows how reliant American adults have become on social media sites for their news and the weaknesses that many teenagers have demonstrated in their ability to identify fake news, reinforcing the need for the skills to be taught in order to have a fully functioning society.

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