Monday, March 11, 2013

CamTESOL 2013: A fabulous Conference!

I returned from CamTESOL 2013 energised and with lots of new ideas and share with my colleagues and to try out in my classroom.

It was a fantastic conference, easily the best I’ve been to.  The organisation of the conference was impeccable, and the young Cambodian volunteers were exceptional.  The enthusiasm of the Cambodian teacher delegates was infectious.  I felt very proud to have been able to help some of them attend the conference through organising sponsorship (read more here).  I met up with a few teachers I only knew from social media or by reputation and have made many new contacts and friends. I loved the practical nature of most of the conference presentations, and I hope that never changes.  The whole CamTESOL experience was incredible!

The quality of the presentations was very high, and it was the energy and enthusiasm of the presenters that made it all special.  There were a few research-type papers, but I tried to focus on the practical ones and they didn't disappoint.  Here are brief details and the key messages I took from those I attended:

The Language Educator and Globalisation: How do we best prepare our learners?
Richmond Stroupe
For me, the main message from Richmond's talk was "How do we empower our students so that they can make choices about their future?".  Some of his suggestions:
  • ELTs teaching not just English, but also teaching other workplace skills. 
  • Teach employability skills, critical analysis, communicative proficiency, intercultural communication competence
  • Integrated language skills - in teaching AND assessment
Making feedback effective in a presentation class
Debra Jones
Debra had presented on using Feed-forward (apply old feedback to a new task) in writing at a previous CamTESOL and here she described how she applied it to providing feedback on presentation skills
  • Helps Ss to learn to self-assess and self-adjust
  • Active learning - active participants
  • Two-way communication between S & T - cyclical / loop
  • Found Ss wrote fairly constructive FB on peer evaluations and valued this FB
  • Not many problems with negative feedback but did need training, uses models, etc.
[Debra has since had her paper published: Jones, D. (2013). Making Feedback Effective in a Presentation Skills Class. English Teaching in China, Issue 2.]
A practical and empowering approach to pronunciation teaching: How to raise student self- awareness of their pronunciation and foster learner autonomy
Deirdre Berry & Chrisoula Simos
Another approach to developing learner autonomy, this time in pronunciation skills:
  • Teacher assessment discussed with S
  • Student given guidance for self- assessment & self-assessment worksheet and; encouraged to set goals 
Teaching writing: The effect of mind- mapping technique on students’ writing skill
Nunung Nuraeni Supendi, Tri Wintolo Apoko & Gunawan Tedjo
Interesting presentation on how mind mapping can improve critical thinking through linking & categorising of concepts:
  • Links background knowledge of text with linguistic aspects 
  • The reading text provides the background knowledge 
  • Sounds like a variation on dictogloss, using reading texts & mind maps instead of listening and; dictation.
Extended reading in a multi-level classroom: Empowering students of all levels to enjoy reading in English 
Julia Mitchell
Lively workshop on an extensive reading program - the how and the why:
  •    Attention on meaning not language
  •    Goal is to develop reading ability to the point of being able to enjoy it
  •    Develop good habits, build Vocab, encourage Ss to like reading
  •    Flexibility by level - Ss read at own level and at own pace
  •    Ss choose what they want to read - increases interest and; motivation
  •    Promotes learner autonomy
Collaborative learning and Web 2.0 in a speaking and listening EFL classr oom: Using free video screen capture software and PowerPoint to create and
Daniel Ferreira 
On teachers creating space or activities to create community, allow Ss to express creativity and develop an L2 self-identity.  Not so much about the technology as it seems from the title, but some very interesting ideas using Blogging and Screencasting to provide opportunities for creativity and peer feedback.
Becoming a state school English teacher in Cambodia: Teacher trainees report on their experiences
Sareun Pang, Sokveasna Srey & YUS
A vibrant, personal and motivating presentation where three young trainee teachers shared their motivation for becoming teachers, and their experience in college and their practicums.
Purposeful Writing
Ezmat Azizi
Described a group project to write a newsletter in a participatory (vs acquisition) approach; Getting accepted in another life world
  • Learning as a community endeavour
  • Students aim for Originality, Creativity & Teamwork
  • Students found it difficult but interesting; 73% preferred the group work; Felt they expressed themselves well; and found it useful for further study & work
A Bad Reading Lesson
Michael Griffin
Mike led us through a role play of a bad reading lesson, which helped us focus on what was wrong and how to do it better.
Messages included these 'don'ts':
  • A text with a LOT of unknown words (where circling unknown words only added to anxiety)
  • Reading without purpose
  • Reading aloud before Ss have had time to read alone and try to understand  
  • Countdown timing
  • Intimidating teacher
Teaching grammar through songs: A way to motivate students in grammar classes
Do Thi Thu Hue, Nha Trang College, Vietnam
Highly practical workshop clearly demonstrating the benefits of teaching grammar through songs, and providing us with lots of ideas for songs and activities.  Her procedure was to treat it as a listening lesson with Pre-listening, While-listening and Post-listening activities focussing on the relevant grammar point.
Increasing Teacher Talk Time? : Enhancing TESOL professional learning communities using social media and other online tools
Fiona Wiebusch, RMIT Vietnam
Not as 'back to the future' as it sounds, but rather Fiona's message was to: Decrease TTT inside the classroom and  Increase TTT outside the classroom - primarily through using social media to increase talk between teachers.  Good teachers are constant learners and this enabled learning about your profession within your profession 
The challenge presented was a desire to improve as a professional teacher VS Time available to participate in professional learning.  The opportunity social media provides is more talk, more connected, in less time.  I'll be keeping in touch with Fiona and following RMIT Professional Learning (English Programs) on Facebook
Using songs to teach English sounds
Thu Ha Cao Thi Hong & Thu Hoang Thi Kim, Vietnam
This fun, engaging, loud, and physical workshop introduced 5 activities for using songs for teaching sounds.  The biggest crowd I saw at any session and everyone singing and dancing!
The iPad as the primary tool in the language classroom
Guy-Luc Achille Levesque
  • Scan textbooks to iPad - with publisher permission
  • Use Dropbox for textbooks and audio files to use in class
  • Shared some favourite apps: SocrativeGradeBook Pro; Slideshark
What every EFL teacher should know 
Paul Nation
Inspiring keynote with many simple, clear, practical messages and teaching tips  I recommend you download his FREE book What Should Every ESL Teacher Know from

The day before the conference I went on a tour of Don Bosco Vocational School, a training college for young people from the poorest families.  It was a privilege to be invited to visit their classes and hear about their programs in many trades areas.  It was also lovely to catch up with their English teacher at the conference.  We also attended a welcoming cocktail party for presenters and a gala dinner - both fabulous with very few speeches ;-)   

All in all it was a terrific experience where I learnt lots, made lots of new friend and contacts, and have many good memories.

This is one of 3 posts I've done on my CamTESOL 2013 experience.  Also read about:


Unknown said...

I've only just seen your blog post here! Thanks again for joining my presentation, Lesley. It was inspiring for me to learn more about your work on Twitter as well. You and Andrea delivered a highly engaging and relevant presentation. Go, social media, go! Hope to see you again on the conference trail.

Lesley said...

Thanks Fiona. Your presentation was inspiring and very useful for me too. It was good to hear how you are using social media for internal communication and collaboration. Lots for me to reflect on in my own efforts to encourage use of our online community at my institution. Hope to meet you again soon.