10th Annual International Conference of Languages and Linguistics organised by the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER)

This conference hosted about fifty individual presentations in ten sessions on a variety of topics such as: grammar and register in Old English (John Ryan) and ancient Greek (Stephen Bay), the trainability of grammatical sensitivity in the process of instruction in a modern school (Harriet Lowe), intercultural competency in teacher education (Min-Tun Chuang), language planning (Wim Jansen), language education policy in Canada and Europe (Valia Spiliotopoulos), refusals in verbal communication in pre-service teachers English (Hulya Tuncer & Burcy Turhan) and in the speech of Egyptians (Alaa Darwish), blended language learning (Xiaoling He & Kapathy Luke), tutoring (Gift Mheta) and a number of other topics in language teaching and the methods.

An interesting question was raised by Mayamin Altae who spoke of the acquisition of technology in Iraq schools, which this rich country can afford, and the inadequate readiness of the teachers to use it. This resonated with the complaints of teachers in Lithuania, East Europe, of the insufficient supply of technology in local schools, while ignoring the fact that technology requires, first of all, skilled and informed users who only can empower learners in its uses.

Three symposia were also held at this conference: the first was the Pragmatic Symposium in traditional Greek style and the other two discussed Future Developments and Prospects of University and/or College Education in a Global World. A long and interesting discussion developed in the first of these (3 July) on creativity amid questions of research, education and collaboration in architecture, of teacher education and identity. The second of these (4 July) focused on questions of online learning, social factors in education, teaching and research in a university context, support by and success of linguists in the age of immigration and others. My paper on “Guided work in language and literature versus papers and projects of students’ individual choice” at this symposium was well received.

My principal presentation was titled “Toward a discovery of truth in a study of verbal meaning”, and focused on the analysis of one novel by Margaret Drabble while outlining how referential truth can be gleaned in fiction amid its overall imaginary truth. This paper happened to open the conference and was a little different from more the rigorous language studies which dominated at the conference, but it was also well received.

The Conference lasted two days and two more days were spent in a very well-organised Cultural Programme. I participated in a city walk and then chose to go to Greek islands on a cruise ship, which took us to Higri, Poros and Aegina with brief stops in the ports and with sightseeing on Aegina. The architectural and archeological site there was missed but we were taken to St Nectarius Monastery where we witnessed how devoted and worshiping even young Greeks are in their places of worship. We could participate in the reverent visiting of the major chambers in the Monastery, such as the relics and tombs of the Greek Saints. The second day of the Cultural Programme took me to Delphi for a visit of the place of the Delphi Oracle. This was a land route along the Athens-Thessaloniki highway, the length of which is about the same as that from Vilnius to Warsaw. On the way, we passed Mount Helicon, sacred to the Muses, and along to the Mount of Parnassus, more famously known as sacred to the Muses, on the slopes of which the Delphi site is located. The Oracle site, it appears, has been excavated, not long ago, from under the earth while removing a couple of villages which had been located there. The temple of the oracle remains only in relics, but the guide told us that the Oracle was associated with an opening in the earth exuding sulphur vapour, obviously after an earthquake. The Priestess Pythia used to inhale the vapour and then pronounce the Oracle while addressing the comers on their cleansing in the fountain that was at the entrance to the temple. The opening in the earth obviously closed after another earthquake and the Oracle had ceased to exist. The site of the stadium was up the mountain, and only a few vigorous men dared to climb to it in the heat of the day.

The day was hot, above 39 degrees Celsius, and we, the visitors, were virtually baking amid the slopes of two mountains in a closed locality open only to the sky. This visit was not long enough to meditate on the Oracle and its heritage, but again, another guide mentioned, in answering my question, that all the references of modern Greeks to ancient Greece were only symbolic. So we were no exception, rather more than an exception, to assume any realistic reference to the ancient site.

The Cultural Programme included two dinners in restaurants in the old city of Athens, while the residents in some four-star hotels, the St. George, for instance, on Lycabettus, could enjoy the view of the Acropolis with its beauty of Parthenon every time they had meals inside. Street taverns were welcoming but not very rich, yet when friendly Americans took me to an open air restaurant on Lycabettus, I had to acknowledge that no place in Vilnius could rival it in terms of the air and service.

It was a joyful and happy conference work at which was well combined with pleasure. The hosts of the conference hold it their task to familiarise the participants with the history and beauty of Greece incorporated in the history and scholarship of Europe. It gave rest and enjoyment rather than exhaustion. Minding that the summer in Lithuania this year was rather cold, my trip to Athens was both a holiday and a fruitful engagement.