At the recent IATEFL Chile Bi-Annual International Conference, I gave a workshop entitled “Pecha Kucha & ELT: Changing The Classroom“. My slides are below. The workshop was well attended. In fact, conference room 309 was full of teachers 15 minutes before the start of the workshop. By the time the workshop began, the ushers were already turning people away. For those who participated, it was a unique learning experience, as much for me as for them.
Pecha Kucha is a very young presentation technique. It has only been around for little more than a decade now. Yet when I saw my first Pecha Kucha, five years ago, I immediately recognised it as a game changer. It has the potential to be transformative in just about any classroom in which students are being asked to give presentations of some sort.
If we are honest, we wil admit it’s usually a boring affair. Power Point slide after slide is shown, filled with unimaginative text that is read in a monotone drone. Unimaginative images add to the general malaise of the classroom, including special effects that zoom in and out, move up-down-sideways-diagonal and even circular too.
Pecha Kucha changes all of that.
Firstly, its principles are easy to understand and apply. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s collaborative, it’s visual, it’s easy to prepare, it’s fun.
However, it does require practice, lots of it, to do this really well.
Practice, oh what a sweet word in the ears of any EFL teacher. Students practicing what they are going to say, again and again, going over their own words, to speak about images they themselves have selected. Volumes of practice, huge quantities of practice, helping the students to achieve the eventual automaticity that is the hallmark of mastery.
Of all the principles of the Pecha Kucha, the most important principle is this: images are powerful. Images convey meaning and emotions. In fact, the whole range of the human experience can be conveyed by images. For example, think of the images left on the walls of caves by cave men. No one needs a cave man to verbalize what you are seeing. You feel it – through your eyes – to your brain – to your emotions. It’s visual storytelling. That’s what the Pecha Kucha is, visual literacy in its purest form…
Finally, I leave you with the image of teachers fully engaged as they collaborate on how they can bring Pecha Kucha into their classrooms. In a room, the smartest person is always the room. Collectively, the combined intelligence of the room will always be superior to the intelligence of any one individual. Using the principle of collaboration, these teachers believe they can go back into their classrooms and make a difference.
As the workshop facilitator, that means I did my job well. We teachers are doing the thing that we do well, collaborate to make our practice stronger. Or, as Stephen Krashen so eloquently put this, we have learned to, “Go To Our Right.”
My workshop presentation slides can be seen and downloaded here for free.