A Guest Post by Deborah Healey
Dr. Deborah Healey has taught English and trained teachers for more than 35 years. She currently offers online courses for teachers internationally through the University of Oregon’s American English Institute and teaches in the Master’s Program in Linguistics. She has presented extensively internationally on technology in education. She is a coauthor of TESOL Technology Standards: Description, Implementation, Integration, lead scriptwriter for the ELT game Trace Effects, and a member of TESOL International Association Board of Directors.
2015 Colorado TESOL: Blue Skies, Bright Future
The 39th Annual CoTESOL Conference was in Denver, Colorado, USA from 6–7 November 2015, and I had the privilege of representing the TESOL Board at that wonderful gathering. Close to 800 people attended this year’s conference, a record number.
The two featured presentations were excellent. Joe McVeigh’s presentation on Friday connected insights from other disciplines with elements of good practice in language teaching. Now I see how being a good choir director, for example, is in many ways like being a good language teacher. Thomas Healy (we agreed to disagree on the spelling of that last name) on Saturday offered some hands-on techniques for teachers trained with 20th-century tools to work effectively with 21st century learners. We saw how effective use of a few good apps can appeal to both.
As a long-time computer-assisted language learning (CALL) educator, I went to several technology-related presentations. It was heartening to see in all of these a focus on pedagogy, not on the tool. With any new gadget used by teachers and learners, it is easy to talk extensively about the gadget and how interesting, cool, and motivating it is. However, a focus on the tool does not address whether or not it can have a real pedagogical purpose, and what that purpose might be. The need for technology-using teachers to focus on pedagogy is also highlighted in the TESOL Technology Standards, which was the subject of one of my presentations at the conference.For those who could not attend the conference, a wealth of material is available on the CoTESOL wiki. The generosity and creativity of TESOLers is easily visible on that site. (For even more, take a look at the TESOL Resource Center).
Many thanks to the great convention crew and presenters who made this a memorable experience! I hope to attend again next year to see CoTESOL’s 40th anniversary celebrations.