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Plenary speaker Hugh Dellar

Plenary Speaker Hugh Dellar

Hugh Dellar is a teacher and teacher trainer with over twenty years’ experience in the field. He is also the co-founder of Lexical Lab and co-author of two five-level General English series, Outcomes and Innovations (now in its second edition), both published by National Geographic Learning. His first methodology book, Teaching Lexically, came out via Delta Publishing in 2016 and he has co-authored one level of the forthcoming high school series, Perspectives. Hugh is also a lifelong supporter of Arsenal football club, an enthusiastic cook and a collector of obscure 60s vinyl!

We asked our plenary speakers seven questions. Here are Hugh's answers.

1.      What are you working on right now?

I’m finishing off a teachers’ book for one level of a forthcoming high-school series based around TED talks called Perspectives. My writing partner Andrew and I wrote the student book as well, so it’s nice to do the teachers’ notes that go with it. I’ve also been working on a sample unit for a new course book. Not sure what will come of it yet. Let’s wait and see.

2.      What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

The best piece of advice I’ve had depends on the area of life we’re talking about: in terms of being a parent, “Don’t let the kid win” was pretty great; in everyday life terms, my dad’s advice to try and stay alive and not get arrested if you can possibly help it worked well. In terms of teaching . . . hard to say, but teach the probably, not just the probable is pretty high up there, as is make sure you’re in control and that you have the whole class on board. In terms of writing, it’s simple: the 10% inspiration part all means nothing unless you do the 90% grunt work!

3.      What is the biggest challenge for you at the moment professionally?

In all honesty, the biggest challenge for me at the moment is simply the limited number of hours in the day. I feel like I’m constantly trying to catch up with the list of things that need to be done and never quite get there. Being self-employed means you don’t like to say no to projects as you never know if you’ll get asked again, but this can mean you end up with things overlapping, which means you’re basically doing two jobs at once!

4.      What do you consider to be the most urgent need in education today?

The most urgent need in education is a tricky question as to some degree I think it’s very context-specific, but if I had to go general, I’d say something like an obsession with testing and test scores and ranking and placing . . . and the backwash on teaching that this all brings, often at the expense of teaching the whole person and teaching off piste.

5.      What does it mean for you to live in the present? (How do you interpret the "POWER OF NOW"?)

It’s obviously not something that’s always possible, and I’m not sure it’s desirable either as you always need to stay alert for the moment yet to come, but at the same time in terms of properly focusing and giving your all, you do need to be in the now, and that’s especially true in terms of teaching. When you teach at the peak of your abilities, you’re totally in the room with the people there in the moment and living that. It’s why teaching is so exhausting: doing this for a sustained period of time takes it out of you.

6.      What sources do you use to recharge your energy?

I listen to music - and play in a band. I try and exercise when I can. I watch football. I watch movies, I read a lot. I cook. I go for long walks. I drink fifteen pints of tea a day . . . 

7.       What’s on your desk now?

A computer and a printer. Lots of little bits of paper with notes of things I have to do written on them. A few pens. A diary - an old-fashioned bound one. A stapler. A pile of CDs. A memory stick. A notebook. It’s pretty tidy at the moment, actually, now I think about it.

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