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Re: (teach) Re: conferences

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  • Margaret Orleans
    Dave Kees wrote:   ... It s true that I didn t follow the IATEFL Conference online this year, but I m in the midst of a move and my Internet access isn t fast
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 18, 2013
      Dave Kees wrote:


      > I think that none of us bothered to visit this most recent conference says a
      > lot about the perceived value of them.

      It's true that I didn't follow the IATEFL Conference online this year, but I'm in the midst of a move and my Internet access isn't fast enough for streaming.  Last year I made sure to watch a presentation by Scott Thornbury, who always shares practical classroom exercises as a way of illustrating his theoretical points about grammar and other aspects of EFL.

      Dave asked before about takeaway from conferences.  Here are a few examples, but I don't think I've ever attended a conference where I didn't get at least two great ideas to use in my classroom and a few important points to ponder about the direction or emphasis or interaction in courses I was teaching.

      1. At the KoTESOL/PAC2 Conference in Seoul in 1999 I got the chance to hear Penny Ur.  One idea I've never forgotten is when working with large mixed-ability classes, it's best to write a list of activities on the board in order of difficulty.  The more advanced students don't have to start at the beginning of the list.  If the lower lever students don't find the first few tasks sufficiently challenging, they can skip down a few.  Meanwhile, the teacher engages with students one-on-one.

      2. At the ETA-ROC/PAC4 Conference in Taipei in 2003 there were a number of presenters (sorry I don't remember their names and my notes are packed in boxes in the middle of the ocean right now) who had done research with using computers for composition.  As I had suspected, students were willing to revise much more extensively when it took just a few key strokes, instead of several fresh sheets of paper and a big eraser.  Another presenter set up a chat room for which the students could choose aliases.  Though they were longtime classmates, the anonymity of the chatroom made students willing to engage in a lot more communication, inside the computer classroom and outside.  On the strength of their research, I was able to persuade my principal to invest in an Internet line for our language lab.

      3. At the JALT National Conference in Kitakyushu in 2005 (?) Kristin Sullivan shared her trick of having her writing students work in pairs or small groups, preferably standing, as they collaborate on a writing task.  I used it with high school students (where we had to roll in board that were covered with math problems and beg permission to erase them) and at the university (where I used an auditorium with chalkboards scored for music until I got my own rolling white board).  Students were often so pleased with what they created that they took photos to preserve it.  They also did better on the weekly assignments, after having tried something similar in class and gotten the feedback of the whole class on it.

      4. At the JALT-ER Annual Symposium in Nagoya in 2012  I had the chance to hear Junko Yamanaka (author of a textbook series I really like) explain how she got so hooked on graded readers that she shared them with  her hairdresser, who in turn got hooked and ended up setting up a small library of graded readers in her salon for her customers.  Professor Yamanaka shared how she urges her students to carry a reader with a bookmark in a small plastic bag.  She manages to read at least one book a week just waiting at the bus stop and other free moments.  I passed it on to my students, and until we get e-versions of graded readers in the library (which they can read on the their cellphones, which they never forgot to have with them), many of them are following her example.

      I'm sorry Dave had such a negative experience at the only language teaching conference he attended.  I hope he tries another one with more typical results.


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    • Katherine Kruse
      Well, my school is hosting a conference this weekend. I ve never been disappointed in our Acamis EAL conference. The focus this year is utilizing technology in
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 18, 2013
        Well, my school is hosting a conference this weekend. I've never been disappointed in our Acamis EAL conference. The focus this year is utilizing technology in EAL instruction. Here is the website: http://acamisealconference2013.geckos.sis.org.cn/ Also, we all use twitter for sharing at our school and the conference will be utilizing this tool to share ideas -- follow us at #siseal

        I presented at our EARCOS iPads in Education weekend worksop a month ago. Here is our site for that: http://elearning.sis.org.cn/transformipad/

        Most conferences/workshops that I go to (including the iPad workshop) have all of the presentations and resources on one site. So I'm sharing these things with you to give you some useful resources.

        This year, I've gone to both Learning 2.012 in Beijing and 21st century learning in HK. I thought both were fantastic and not at all a waste of time. I would recommend both. Next fall the Learning 2.0 conference will be in Singapore: http://learning2.asia/

        Check out 21st Century Learning site. There is a conference coming soon to HK: http://21c-learning.com

        In the K-12 field, my experience has been that the conferences in Asia are really quite good.


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      • dk
        Thank you, Peg, for sharing those great ideas with the list. And that is my point. This is the best way. Eight hundred people on TEFL-China did not have to
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 19, 2013
          Thank you, Peg, for sharing those great ideas with the list. And that is my

          This is the best way. Eight hundred people on TEFL-China did not have to
          miss work, miss income, get visas, buy tickets, travel thousands of
          kilometers to another country tightly clutching documents and valuables,
          risk travel disasters, spend hours cramped in tiny airplane seats, endure
          airplane food, deal with the confusion of navigating buses and taxis to get
          to hotels, pay too much for a good hotel or get too little from a cheap
          hotel, ponder how clean the sheets are, suffer hard mattresses, stuff their
          feet into those tiny silly slippers, then find their way to the conference
          venue, figure out which presentations might be interesting, which
          presentations might not be interesting, sit through presentations, try to
          stay awake during boring ones, try to ask the presenter a question or two,
          hurry off to the next presentation, then when it is all over, spend all that
          time traveling home and needing a day to recover and then finding a week's
          work backed up.

          Through the amazing power of the Internet and the wonderful benefits of
          being a TEFL-China member, delivered for free straight into our in-box,
          without sitting through mic checks and all the boring bits, Peg has given us
          the four best things she has learned from 14 years of conference going.

          There once was a day when people had to take on arduous journeys to learn
          such things. But now we have TEFL-China and blogs and teachers who are
          willing to share what they learned. And if Penny Ur et al had just posted
          those tips on a blog, Peg wouldn't have had to leave the comfort of her

          I think travel is good for the soul but conference going is highly
          overvalued when it comes to professional development.

          Dave Kees

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