ELT Best Practices: Highlights from TESOL 2017

The highlight of my time at the 2017 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo was my experience coordinating the Professional Development Travel Grant for Practicing ESL/EFL Teachers. This award is sponsored by well known author Betty Azar, who wrote the popular English grammar series, otherwise known as “Red, Blue, and Black.” With this grant of US$1500, twenty lucky recipients from all over the globe were able to attend the annual convention. Meeting these teachers and hearing their stories reminds me of the importance of belonging to a community of practice, and there is no better place for the world to come together than at a TESOL event.

In this blog, I’d like to share the impression of  the TESOL convention from one of the award recipients, Daniela Munca-Aftenev from the Republic of Moldova. Daniela is the president of Academy for Innovation and Change through Education, a nongovernmental organization in Chisinau, Moldova.

Daniela Munca-Aftenev, Republic of Moldova

It is Wednesday morning, April 22nd and I am anxiously waiting for the presidential keynote on professional English language teachers in a 2.0 world to start. And as the conference motto put it, the world did, indeed, come together at TESOL 2017 International Convention &  English Language Expo in Seattle. Where else would you have the chance to meet Jenny ESL, the author of one of the most popular YouTube English learning series and chat with Ben Buckwold, the creator of  ESL Library in one place? Where else would an ESL/EFL teacher have the opportunity to interact face to face with Electronic Village Online trainers and have questions answered from the MOOC (massive online open courses) content creators? Where else would we meet representatives from the National Geographic Language Teaching team and shake hands with most distinguished TESOL authors from all around the planet?

Attending the 2017 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo in Seattle was, for me, one of the most intense, unforgettable, once in a lifetime academic experiences, which has inspired me to become a more modern and creative educator of the 21st century. As one of the lucky recipients of the TESOL 2017 Professional Development Travel Grant, I had the opportunity to attend amazing exhibitor sessions, panel discussions, and practice-oriented presentations led by some of the most prominent language-teaching professionals from all around the world. I learned how to use phone cameras as interactive and fun language learning devices and how to explore practical strategies that TED speakers use to help learners improve their speaking and presentation skills. I experimented with various online applications that were designed for differentiated instruction within YouTube videos and found out about cooperative learning 2.0 tools which can help us create “we-ness” in our classroom.

Daniela Murca-Aftenev with Jenny ESL

My teaching portfolio became more diversified due to cutting-edge methodologies and techniques I am anxious to take back with me to the Republic of Moldova, where I have been coordinating various EFL programs for over 10 years. To name a few, I loved learning about “guerilla” pronunciation teaching and using cell phones to create student-powered podcasts. I received practical advice on promoting literacy and engaging students with comics and observed how to engage ELLs with e-portfolios for language assessment. Some of my favorite sessions included tips on using video feedback to comment on student presentations, and enriching, engaging, and empowering using YouTube videos.

The best moments included attending the presentation on using digital tasks and mobile devices for pair / group activities, as we had the opportunity to test ESL Library’s new Yumi Class application meant to spur student conversation, debate, and interaction. I was so fortunate to meet and talk to Jennifer Lebedev, whom our students  know as Jenny ESL, and attend the session on MOOCs, “How Do We Know If Learners are Learning?,” moderated by University of Pennsylvania experts. Last, but certainly not the least, Young Zhao’s morning keynote on perils and promises of the education in the age of smart machines was a brilliant, hilarious, and amazing moment that marked the end of a truly inspirational conference.

Betty Azar and recipients of the 2017 TESOL Professional Development Travel Grant for Practicing ESL/EFL Teachers

 

Interested in apply for a TESOL award? Check out the list of TESOL awards and deadlines.

About Sherry Blok

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok is the assistant director of programs at the Centre for Continuing Education, Concordia University. Montreal, Canada. She holds a master’s degree in second language education from McGill University and has more than 20 years of experience as an ESL lecturer in the intensive English program at Concordia University. She received the TESOL Teacher of the Year Award in 2015 and has presented nationally and internationally on topics related to English for academic purposes, global citizenship education, assessment, and teacher feedback.
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