Live From TESOL 2014: Most Memorable Moments

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

Despite being involved in a preconvention institute yesterday and attending the opening keynote by Surin Pitsuwan, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer number of sessions and participants at the TESOL 2014 Convention today. To prepare for such an important day, I planned out a rigorous schedule (8 am–8:30 pm) and it went mostly according to plan. Here are a few of the memorable moments that I want to share with you.

I started the morning off at the James E. Alatis Plenary Session where David Graddol spoke on the Five Megatrends Shaping the Future of TESOL. At one point, he made a very convincing argument for the changes that he predicts for the ELL population in the future. He illustrated that the number of ELLs is currently rising because we are teaching students at every level (elementary, secondary, tertiary, adult), but that it will peak at some point and then start to decline as later generations of students receive the bulk of their English education earlier on. Those generations will no longer require extensive English language training at college, for example, because they will have already reached a high proficiency level early on. As a current IEP instructor, I found myself wondering if I should shift my focus to early ed.

Later on in the morning I attended a session by two presenters, Jacquie Osborn and Diane Deacon, from Saginaw Valley State University titled Mixing Oil and Water: Teaching Chinese and Saudi Students Together. They were exceptional. The session was well-paced, engaging, humorous, and informative. To those of us teaching students from these two countries, the title is quite apt. Anecdotally, it was shared that teaching Saudi and Chinese students is like oil and water; they don’t mix, but they make many great recipes together. That is a powerful take-away from the session and one that I hope instructors will keep in mind when working with these groups.

My last memorable moment is from one of the later afternoon sessions titled “Reading to Write” to Sustain University-Level Writing. This came from Lori Giles and Kimberly McGrath Moreira with the University of Miami and was another great session with the basic premise being that students need to always engage in some way with what they read. This seems obvious, but I think it is something my advanced reading class has been lacking. The point that they drove home was that their students write something about everything they read and that has given me some ideas to work with as I continue to develop materials for my course. I have high hopes for it.

Although much of the day was overwhelming, I am happy to say that I made the most of my time at the convention today and with enough sleep, I should be able to get up and do it all again tomorrow, too.


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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