Has a focus on communication drawn our attention away from expression: the inner process of turning an idea into language, which then emerges as speech? Is mastering expression what actually leads to mastery of a language? When your classes ‘go well’, is it because the language and engagement of the learners has been personally meaningful and of personal significance? Or is it something else?

To serve the language learner, we must first examine the inner domain of L1 speech, which we will call ‘expression’, and ask ourselves what it requires for our students to develop an equivalent facility in L2.

This event aims to explore these questions involving the concept of expression in language learning. Through a combination of engagement with the main speakers and participant-driven tasks, this workshop will look at practices in which students’ powers of expression are the point of reference. We will develop new criteria against which we can examine, challenge, and adapt our current practices. We will aim to collate together workshop findings in an account of the day, which may be emailed to all participants as well as published through TDSIG channels and Developod.

Call for mini-speakers

We’re very interested in your ideas during this workshop! We’re looking for a small number of participants to lead a 5-minute response (no visual aids required) to the following quote, plus a 15-minute breakout discussion where groups can talk about your ideas more personally with you.  Within 50 words, respond to the following quote with material from your own direct experience as a language learner or teacher…

“It is neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about or remember information about which one has had no emotion because the healthy brain does not waste energy processing information that does not matter to the individual.”

Source: Immordino-Yang (2015) in How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures. (2018). A Consensus Study Report of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, p. 29.

Submit here: https://forms.gle/mogiUVpTURbk96sg6

Deadline to submit: 30 July 2019. Selected mini-speakers will be notified by TDSIG in August and will be given free admission to the event. Everyone else will have opportunities to give input during the day.


This event will be held at The English Language Centre, 33 Palmeira Square, Hove, Brighton UK BN3 2GB. Limited parking is available on-site and car parking facilities are nearby at Norton Road NCP car park near Hove Town Hall.


Registration for this workshop is open here. Refreshments will be provided. Lunch is not included but participants will have access to a good range of nearby eateries.

  • £24 – IATEFL TDSIG member (always) & Early bird pricing for everyone (until Sep 30)
  • £30 – Everyone else after Early bird pricing closes

Workshop leader bios

Adrian Underhill

I’m a trainer, consultant, writer and speaker, past president of IATEFL, current IATEFL ambassador, ex director of International House Hastings, and series editor of Macmillan Books for Teachers. I work with newly emerging forms of leadership to develop motivating workplaces and schools that learn, and on incorporating natural human faculties such as intuition, playfulness and improvisation into classroom learning.

Roslyn Young

I worked for most of my career at the University of Franche-Comté where I taught English and sometimes French in intensive courses. I met Caleb Gattegno in 1971 and worked with him until his death. Through his work, I realised the importance of expression in the classroom and have used expression-based teaching ever since. I wrote a PhD on Gattegno’s model of learning and its relevance to language teaching, and have published several books and many articles on both learning and teaching. I am active in teacher training.

Piers Messum

I have taught in Japan, France and the UK. I have presented many times at IATEFL events and I am the treasurer of PronSIG. My interest in how pronunciation is learnt led me to do a PhD on how children learn to pronounce their first language. I have a more general interest in learning, partly expressed through my co-authorship of How We Learn and How We Should be Taught.


Your bio goes here!

Day schedule

  • 9.30 Registration period (Refreshments)
  • 10.00 Welcome & introduction / Outline of workshop theme
  • 10.45 Part A
    Mini-speaker responses
    Small breakout group discussions
    Mid-morning mini-break
    Mini-speaker responses
    Small breakout group discussions
  • 12.30 Lunch
  • 1.30 Part B
    Implications for classroom practice
  • 3.00 Afternoon tea break (Refreshments)
  • 3.15 Reflective writing time
  • 3.45 Wrap-up insights from the day
  • 4.15-4.30 Close