Academic Director Gloria Salazar reflects on the
TESOL Chile Conference 2012
“ELT: Global Citizenship for a Fair World”
Source: TESOL Chile Conference 2012
“ELT: Global Citizenship for a Fair World”
by Gloria Salazar
Academic Director of “Pragmatic English”
As promised in the last newsletter, here is the summary of the TESOL Conference, which took place this past weekend, from Friday, August 31st to Sunday, September 2nd. It was in Santiago this year, hosted by the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación (UMCE).
The difficult moments we are living right now in the educational scene, especially with secondary students asking for quality in education, should make us teachers reflect on our teaching. Events such as the TESOL Conference are avenues to improve one´s practice. One of the highlights of the conference for me was seeing so many young teachers and student teachers spending their weekend attending this event.
The speakers at the opening ceremony on Friday night discussed English teaching in relation to the theme of the conference, “ELT: Global Citizenship for a Fair World.” Jaime Espinoza, the Chancellor of UMCE, welcomed the audience with encouraging words about the importance of the classroom English teacher in promoting a more equal society in Chile since those who speak English have access to more opportunities than those who do not.
He stressed that a quality education, which includes learning English, should not be accessible only to those who can pay for it but accessible to all of Chile´s students.
Mary Jane Abrahams, the current president of TESOL Chile, followed up on Jaime Espinoza´s eloquent words by giving an overview of the events of the conference. She thanked UMCE for their work in hosting this year´s conference and the United States Embassy for its support of TESOL Chile.
Bradley Horn, the new Regional Language Officer (ReLO), followed Professor Abrahams. He told the audience that he was happy to be here in Chile and that he was looking forward to learning more about English teaching in Chile from the conference. In the spirit of the conference theme, he shared the following quote from Thomas Jefferson: “It is reasonable that everyone who asks justice should do justice.”
Next was the plenary speaker, Heather Linville, from American University in Washington D.C., who gave a lecture on “Assessment as a Fair Practice.” Heather attempted to answer question “How can teachers ensure that assessment practices are as fair as possible for their English language learners?”
She spoke about fairness in various types of assessments, including standardized assessments, which are said to make the world more just through unbiased selection for higher education, government posts, or other opportunities. Nevertheless, inequality in standardized testing still exists through cultural biases, uneven preparation, and improper uses of test results.
After discussing all the ways that assessments can be unfair, Ms. Linville had the audience participate in an interesting thought experiment:
Would we like to live in a world in which assessments did not exist?
The audience was unanimous in their decision that they preferred to live in a world with assessments, holding that tests such as the test to award a Driver´s License are indispensable.
The rest of the conference was full of talks about diverse topics, many of them focused on assessment of various skills and quite a few had to do with how to use technology in English teaching and learning.
There were many young presenters who did a good job.
The English Language Fellows, who are American teachers with postgraduate degrees that work in universities throughout Chile, gave many interesting presentations.
In addition to her plenary, Heather Linville gave two more talks on Saturday, on how to assess speaking and listening.
I attended many interesting presentations, and one that stands out was “The Integrated Curriculum,” in which Mary Jane Abrahams from Universidad Alberto Hurtado and Jasna Vukasovic from Universidad de Magallanes discussed their integrated English pedagogy programs, which aim to form teachers with high levels of proficiency that are also very well-prepared for the challenges of the classroom.
Another noteworthy presentation, given by two professors from UMCE, was on using the Socratic Seminar in the EFL classroom, which helps students to learn to express complex ideas in English, as well as close reading and critical thinking.
On Sunday morning I presented my methodology course for English teachers, “The Modern English Classroom: The Essentials.” Despite the early hour, I was pleasantly surprised to have a good-sized audience, including many young teachers who had plenty of energy and enthusiasm.
Just so you know, Module 3, Reading, can be accessed free of charge via the Pragmatic English website during the month of September. I encourage you to take a look if you are interested.
The conference wrapped up with a round table discussion on “Issues in teaching and learning English in Chile.” I was one of the participants, and one of the issues we discussed was the upcoming SIMCE Inglés and past national English tests.
SIMCE 2012 will take place at the end of October, and this time a Cambridge exam will be used instead of the TOEIC Bridge.
This will surprise many people, but it is the way it will be.
Every time we teachers hear about a national test we get nervous, which is natural because we feel that in a way we, teachers, are being tested. Relax, if you have done a good job, your students will perform well.
The conference ended on a positive note, with the announcement that the US Embassy is donating $30,000 dollars to TESOL Chile. Mary Jane Abrahams talked about how TESOL has an important role in the English teaching community, and that the money will be spent to strengthen TESOL and to provide more professional development opportunities for classroom English teachers, especially for those in regions. Some of the money will be used to send English teachers to Costa Rica for professional development.
Unfortunately, conference attendance was rather low this year, and I didn´t see any Network teachers. I hope next year’s TESOL in the North gets a higher attendance.
Last but not least was the raffle, and besides the usual books, two online courses (The Modern English Classroom) were raffled as prizes. In the picture above you can see how happy I was to award the course to the two winners, who were both students of English pedagogy.
Happy teaching! And enjoy the Fiestas Patrias!
Publication Date: March 25, 2012
SIMCE Ingles 2010: The development of the national English test in Chile coincides with my story, which is woven autobiographically into the larger story, a test which apparently resulted in only 11% of students able to achieve a passing score.
This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will reveal secrets to you that you thought you already knew about tests, test-making, and test-reporting.
More importantly, if you are a teacher, you leave the reading of this book with a renewed sense of confidence in who you are, and what you do…
Publication Date: March 4, 2012
Dedicated to all the educators, world-wide, who have participated in an EdCamp.
Go forth, spread the word to the far corners of the Earth, something is happening.
There’s something going on, a R(E)volution in teacher professional development. It’s called EdCamp….
A conference, that’s not a conference. An “unconference” is a better term. A new paradigm in teacher professional development, for teachers, by teachers, sharing “Best Practice”, successful classroom experiences, peer to peer, a new, creative, innovative way of staying up to date on what matters most to teachers.
As I said, it’s a paradigm shift in teacher professional development. Let me repeat: Paradigm Shift.
Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.
He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.
Edcamp Santiago 2013 is currently looking for volunteers to help organize the annual event. If you are interested, contact Edcamp Santiago! Your help will make all the difference!Comunidad de Innovación Escolar of the Foundation Telefónica and Foundation Educación 2020. It is a network that brings together education professionals concerned with developing and strengthening the capacities of their educational communities through creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Thomas is also a past member (2011-2012) of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.
Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty four (44) books overall.
The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.