Live From TESOL 2014: Wrapping Up and Moving Out

Tara Arntsen is blogging live from Portland
during the 2014 convention. Look for her posts!

Today was the last day of the TESOL convention in Portland, Oregon, but just because everyone was wrapping things up and moving out of the convention center, it does not mean the fun was over. It was still a full day, and I have so many small moments and comments to share that only short summaries will work. I will go in order:

Firstly, I missed the keynote because it conflicted with my early morning presentation in the Electronic Village (EV), but hopefully I can watch it online. I presented two sessions in the EV this morning and had a wonderful time. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to participate. I really enjoyed speaking with people about blogging, Glogster EDU, and just technology in general.

Then I spent some time wandering through the EV, exhibitor booths, and the Classroom of the Future. I attended a session by Josh Wilson titled The Future is Here and It Is Digital Games. The presenter made many great points about why games are so useful as language learning tools, but what really made me think is the fact that many good games are not exactly fun. In fact, he used the term “pleasurable frustration” to define how players often feel while playing games, since good games are essentially just problems that do not actually need to be solved. Take Angry Birds for example, those tasks that you are completing can be absolutely addicting and at the same time infuriating, but they are not really important. It is a problem that does not need to be solved in the way, for example, a leaking roof needs to be solved, and playing is both frustrating and rewarding. I will keep that in mind when creating games for my students.

I planned to attend a session titled Making Grammar Engaging (and Fun) by Susanne McLaughin and Jane Curtis from RooseveltUniversity, but it was packed! Unfortunately, I was unable to get in and the sound just did not carry far enough back; however, I recognized these two from a session I attended earlier in the week. That session was great and really engaging! I am quite certain that this one was, too, but all their materials will be available through TESOL so hopefully I did not miss out on too much. At least one other session of theirs caught my attention as well, so I will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

My last session, Interactive Mobile Tools for the Next Generation, was from CALL. One of the presenters in that monster sessions (1 hr 45 min) was Thomas Healy, with his presentation titled Confessions of a Technophobe. He was so wonderful to listen to. Here are some gems that I actually got written down:

  • He described himself as a 20th century teacher trying to teach 21st century learners, which I am sure many educators can relate to.
  • He also lamented the fact that students do not check their university emails by saying that “for my students, an email is like a message on the foot of a carrier pigeon. It’s outdated.”
  • And in conclusion, to advocate for using mobile technology, he pointed out that while students often forget their textbooks, they never forget their smartphones.

It is amazing to see how far educators, even technophobes, have come with integrating technology into their classrooms in such a short period of time.

I ended my TESOL experience at a small gathering of faculty, alumni, and students from the University of Southern California. I studied in the program online, so it was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to sit down with this small group of people and share experiences.

Honestly, I was going to include advice for next year in this post, but I have rambled on long enough, and these events are still just a fraction of what I experienced today. I will save suggestions for TESOL 2015 in Toronto for another post. At any rate, I definitely made the most of my time in Portland this year, and I hope that I have the opportunity to meet as many wonderful TESOLers again soon.

About Tara Arntsen

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen recently completed her Master's degree in Teaching-TESOL at the University of Southern California. She currently teaches in the Intensive English Program at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She has taught ESOL in China, Japan, and Cambodia as well as online. Her primary interests are communicative teaching methods and the use of technology in education.
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