Every year, educators from around the world approach the TESOL convention with one single mission in mind: to learn. Some come to learn the trends of the ESL world, some come for the research, and still some others for the strategies and techniques they can implement in their classrooms.
In this blog, I have listed some great ideas—my takeaways—from TESOL 2015. I sincerely thank the presenters for these tips, and I hope you, as the reader, find them as valuable as I did.
Mobile Technology and TEFL: Maximizing Opportunities and Collaborative Learning
by Vinicius Silva
This was a wonderful presentation that demonstrated the use of mobile technology in the ESL classroom. Silva enumerated many practical mobile applications that help engage students and make for an interactive classroom environment.
Immediate Application: One such app is Today’s Meet, which can be best described as the Twitter for your classroom. Students can post on this app (just like with Twitter) and, using a projector, you can use these posts for discussion. This also allows for immediate feedback and gives a voice to students who are otherwise not confident enough to speak up.
Bridging Student-Led Discussion Outcomes With University Level Expectations
by Lori Giles and Kimberly McGrath-Moriera
This session focused on advanced level communication classes and established how student-led discussions can be a useful tool in ensuring success in a university environment.
Immediate Application: This assignment/discussion can be seen as a series of assignments. The first step is that the student chooses an audio or video segment on a controversial topic, takes notes, understands vocabulary, and writes some discussion questions. In the second part of the assignment, the student plays the audio/video in the classroom and facilitates a discussion with the class. It is vital to remember that this is NOT a presentation, but a discussion. The student is in control and takes charge of the learning process.
Effective and Efficient Vocabulary Teaching for Academic Writing
by Eli Hinkel
Eli Hinkel emphasized the importance of vocabulary in ESL teaching in this presentation. Hinkel stressed that introducing the vocabulary to the students is not sufficient. It is critical that the vocabulary is recycled and reviewed enough times. She also mentioned that for successful retention of vocabulary, the learner should be exposed to it at least 10–12 times.
Immediate Application: Have 10 minutes in your day set aside for vocabulary. Hinkel suggests introducing the words and then giving short vocabulary tests on alternate days. She uses the other days for “fluency-building writing,” which is writing about any given topic for 5–10 minutes using the vocabulary list. Giving practice worksheets on the target vocabulary is also recommended. The goal is to expose the learner to the words at least 10 times.
TESOL convention is a great platform for professional development and networking. I aspire to attend it every year and would advocate it to all those who seek to grow in their roles as educators.