Day 2 and 3 of TESOL went by in a flurry of events. I’m glad I kept my eyes wide open and didn’t blink. Otherwise, I would have missed quite a lot. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to be in two places at once, so I couldn’t attend every session I wanted to, but I was a satisfied participant at the sessions I could make it to. From the presentations, luncheons, and other events, I was able to load my head with many ideas before flying back to Boston. I definitely did not leave New Orleans with an empty suitcase, so to speak. Here’s my top 10 list of tips and insights from TESOL 2011.
10. As excited by technology as we teachers may be, we should be selective and not fall prey to overuse or overconsumption – or what Randall Davis refers to as GAS, Gear (Gadget) Acquisition Syndrome. (Read more here.)
9. Although for many around the world instruction and study have become dependent on technology, we (teachers, materials writers, and others) should remember that not all learners and institutions have access to the latest gadgets or popular online resources. We must try to answer the question, “How can we still move ahead without leaving so many behind?”
8. Google Docs has many possibilities that go beyond file sharing. During the presentation “Vocabulary in the Cloud”, instructors from the Program of Intensive English at Ohio University demonstrated the gFlash+ mobile app. This resource allows teachers and students to create and share flashcards for language study.
7. iPads are the “in” tool for classroom instruction. I was impressed by the number of presenters discussing their use of this latest piece of technology. Indeed, the price of an iPad is not scaring off everybody, and atually a number of lucky institutions have obtained grants to purchase a set of iPads for teacher and student use. I was intrigued by Joseph Tomei’s observation that iPads can promote presentation skills. Back at his university in Japan, he’s able to encourage better eye contact with the audience when students hold up their iPads to display slides and images during class presentations. In the past, he noted how students sometimes hid behind their laptops. He’s also been able to create successful group projects with school-issued iPads (5 students to one iPad).
6. Zahra Foroughifar from the American English Institute at the University of Oregon showed some possibilities of using Voiceboards on A National Virtual Language Lab (ANVILL). Voiceboards is an audio-video recording tool, and it can be used on ANVILL. From discussion boards to teacher-crated quizzes, Voiceboards allows the use of rich media. Multimedia has become the norm in online materials and communication. [See poll below.]
5. Smartphones are winning the battle. It’s true that some institutions will continue to have a strict policy against cell phone use in the classroom, but when it’s not an issue of policy but a matter of pedagogy, teachers are choosing to integrate phones into their instruction. From built-in features like Voice Memo to free mobile apps and downloadable materials, it’s hard to argue that today’s phones should be turned off when language study begins.
4. The growth of the Internet has encouraged many people in our field to take on work as independent contractors. It’s important that such workers, from materials writers to freelance editors, learn to file taxes properly. Many thanks to Daphne Mackey and Barbara Foley for running the session Finance 101 for Materials Writers.
3. TESOL supports authors who can support their peers. As the newest member on the Book Publications Committee, I’m learning to appreciate the special niche TESOL fills in publications. Are you capable of writing materials that aid the professional development of practioners in the field? Please look at the information for authors on the TESOL site.
2. As Maggie Sokolik, one of my co-presenters, said, “The textbook is dead. Long live the textbook.” We all know that learning materials are undergoing a transformation. What do we want them to transform into?
1. My top tip is short and simple. If you can, please attend TESOL 2012 in Philadelphia or at least participate remotely through webcasts. With the landscape of teaching changing so rapidly, it’s important we connect with one another regularly to exchange ideas and discuss best practices.