Every summer for the last five years something magic has happened in Agen, France. Teachers from around the world have gathered in a friendly little town in southwest France and particpated in what many of them have called a life-changing experience. They come together because they have heard of a different way of teaching languages, a way of creating stories with their students and building a different kind of classroom. They come with open hearts and open minds and they leave with smiles and warm memories and many new friends. That is the magic of Agen.
An important part of the magic spell is the site, our little town built in the middle ages .. for pedestrians. You can walk from one end of the heart of Agen to the other in less than half an hour, but it takes much longer because there are so many quaint and lovely churches, parks, squares, archways, towers, markets, cafés and shops on the way. The Agenais are warm and open-hearted, proud to tell you of their history and about their passion for rugby, for gastronomy and for the local wines. Don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. No one is too busy to answer your questions. You can stroll along the Garonne or walk on the suspended pedestrian bridge over the river, or jog beside the amazing canal bridge. Take your time. You are in a place where people know how to take their time, where it’s considered polite to give the hostess an extra quarter of an hour before you show up.
Another reason the Agen Workshop is magic is its size. It’s a teachers’ conference that is still small enough to let everyone get to know each other. We want you to make new friends while you process what you have seen and heard and experienced. A time for sharing and exchanging is built into the timetable and a lot of it takes place during lunch or supper in one of the charming little restaurants that serve you a wonderful meal without draining your budget. In the evening coachng sessions you will get expert advice from kind and generous coaches. If you have a problem, our assistants will find a solution, trust us.
Of course, part of the magic is our program of presenters from around the world. This year we are being honored by the presence of Blaine Ray, the man who invented TPRS, Stephen Krashen, Diane Neubauer and Mike Coxon from the United States, Charlotte Dinscher from Germany, Kristin Plane and Iris Maas from the Netherlands, Paul Kirschling TOY from Colorado, Alina Filipescu from Roumania, Cathy Bu from Australia, David Maconaghie from New Zealand, Jayne Cooke from Great Britain, Botond Boros from Hungary, Ignacio Almandoz from Spain and of course, the wonderful Beniko Mason Nanki from Japan. Agen is the truly international conference where people from around the world come together to share their ideas, talk over their difficulties and leave with renewed faith in human nature.
Let’s not forget the magic of coaching, led by Teri Wiechart, Robert Harrell and Carol Hill. This year we are offering a special Coaching for Coaches session on Sunday, July 23rd, so that more teachers will feel empowered to help their colleagues advance on the journey to Comprehensible Input classes.
As in the past, the mornings will be given over to demonstration classes in French, English, Spanish, Mandarin and Breton. Participants can observe experienced teachers working with real students, but they may also be invited to step in and take over the class for a short time. Every afternoon will begin with a plenary session, followed by workshops on a wide variety of topics. There will be coaching sessions during the afternoons and also during the evenings.
Saturday morning Dr. Beniko Mason Nanki will discuss and demonstrate Story Listening. Then we will close with a banquet for everyone at the Stim’otel. It is a joyful, magical moment, but there are always tears as people say good-bye to old and new friends. That, of course, is the most powerful ingredient in the magic that is Agen: the friendship between those who come from far away with their curiosity, their enthusiasm and their open minds.
I hope to see you in Agen this summer.