What is a Language Laboratory? NTPRS offered language courses so that teachers could experience TPRS as students in a language they did not speak. In my first NTPRS conference I was able to watch Linda Li teach Mandarin and was blown away. IFLT conferences developed the concept, bringing in real students and giving teachers the opportunity to observe a more genuine teaching experience. At Agen we offer three hours of lessons every morning except Saturday. In the past we have offered French, English as a Foreign Language, Spanish, Mandarin, Latin and Breton. This year, because of the difficulties imposed by the pandemic, we will only have French, Intermediate English, Advanced English, Spanish and Breton. We encourage teachers who are just getting into the concept of Comprehensible Input to attend the Breton class. Breton is a Celtic Language; its structures and vocabulary are unfamiliar to those who speak a Romance language. A Coach facilitator is embedded in each language lab to articulate the observers’ questions and help them grasp what the teacher is doing, even when it appears quite spontaneous and unplanned. Language Labs begin at 8:30 and the students leave at 11:30. Then the Coach leads a discussion with the observers about what happened during the session. (If you are a teacher who has come to Agen with your family, your family members may attend any of the Language Labs free of charge.)
Do I need to speak French? All the presentations and communication during the conference are in English. If you don’t speak French, you are welcome to attend the French Language Lab as a student. Most of the local shops, hotels and restaurants will be able to serve you using English and sometimes Spanish.
What is CI? CI stands for Comprehensible Input, an expression used by Dr. Stephen Krashen and other Second Language Acquisition researchers to refer to messages in the target language that learners understand. By receiving messages that we understand, i.e., Comprehensible Input, we acquire language unconsciously. Comprehensible Input is the sine qua non of language acquisition. As Lightbrown and Spada put it in 2014, “Comprehensible Input remains the foundation of all language acquisition.” At the Agen Workshop, we explore strategies, practices, and methods that maximize Comprehensible Input (e.g., TPR, TPRS, Story Listening) because of its essential nature. We focus on the aspect of language acquisition on which all agree rather than spending time on areas of disagreement while recognizing teachers encounter a wide variety of conditions in their individual settings around the world.
Is the conference only for CI teachers? We welcome any teacher who is curious about strategies that can make them a more effective “language parent”.
What does the registration fee cover? The fee covers fifteen hours of Language Labs and an additional eighteen hours of presentations, discussions, round tables and hands-on practical demonstrations. Coaching sessions are available during the day and also in the evenings. With our trained coaches you can practice something you have observed and receive guidance and assistance in implementing it. An “apéritif” at the Town Hall on Monday, July 26th, a guided tour of the town of Agen, and a banquet on Saturday, July 31st, are also included with the registration fee. If you are accompanied by family members who wish to follow one of the language labs, they do not have to pay.
How do I register? On this site go to the Registration page and answer the questions. Then you can either pay by clicking on the Paypal button, or contact us if you wish to pay by bank transfer or check.
How is the day organized? Monday through Friday the mornings are given over to Language Labs. We allow generous lunch times so that you can enjoy the food which has given Agen a well-deserved reputation as a gourmet’s delight. We want participants to eat together and share their impressions and insights over a delicious and leisurely meal. Afternoons are given over to presentations, discussions and coaching sessions. Saturday morning will feature a key-note speaker and a closing banquet. Participants may leave Saturday afternoon, but many prefer to stay on so that they have more time to share and say good-bye to many new friends.
Is there a virtual option? No. There are many virtual conferences this summer to choose from. Our ambition is to be face to face while respecting social distancing and sanitary regulations. It will be a smaller conference than it was in 2019 when 120 participants came from over 25 different countries, but we hope that teachers will get to know each other better and leave with many new friends.
Where can we stay? There are numerous Airbnb possibilities in Agen. Just be sure that you are within walking distance of the train station. The Stim’otel offers a special price to Agen Workshop participants if you book directly with them. A single room is 61 euros a night with breakfast and a double room is 72 euros. The hotel is centrally located and within a ten minute walk of both the train station and the Lycée Saint Caprais, where the conference is held. Evening coaching sessions are held in the hotel.
What can my family do while I attend the conference? Agen is small, friendly town that is easy to get around in. There is a free bus that tours downtown every fifteen minutes. The Office de Tourisme offers a free tour for conference attendees and their families. There are parks and swimming pools, and a wide variety of reasonably priced shops. The town museum has Roman antiquities, paintings by Goya and English speaking guides. You can jog along the canal, rent a bike, picnic by the Garonne or visit Aqualand, one of the largest water parks in Europe. https://www.aqualand.fr/agen/
Other questions? Enter them in the comments.