December 14, 2015
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WINDS OF CHANGE IN ELT
Ana María Rocca, Vice President, Argentina TESOL

Every other year, a Southern Cone TESOL affiliate hosts a regional conference. Southern Cone TESOL affiliates include Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina.

A little history on these conferences takes us back to 1994, at the TESOL convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, when it was agreed that Caribbean affiliates would meet every 2 years (those years ending in even numbers) and that the Southern Cone affiliates would meet every other year. On that occasion, Uruguay TESOL, UruTESOL, was selected as the venue for the First Regional Southern Cone Conference to be held in 1995. During this first conference, Paraguay TESOL, PARATESOL, was chosen for 1997 and at this second conference Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected as the site of the third conference. This Third TESOL Southern Cone Conference, “Mapping Out Our Future,” took place in August 1999. The plenary sessions in this event were conducted by JoAnn Crandall and Kathleen Bailey. Then, at a meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, the Curitiba Chapter of BRAZTESOL was unanimously elected for the fourth regional Southern Cone TESOL conference.

Regional Southern Cone conferences continued to take place in the countries of the region. In 2003, the event was held in Montevideo, Uruguay, and in 2005 in Paraguay. In July 2007, ARTESOL hosted the TESOL Symposium on Teaching English for Specific Purposes and, following the symposium, the Seventh Southern Cone TESOL Convention. Both events took place in Buenos Aires. Then, in September 2009, the Southern Cone TESOL Conference, “Critical Teaching for Critical Times,” was held in Santiago, Chile; in July 2011, Curitiba, Brazil was selected as the venue for the Ninth Southern Cone TESOL Conference; and in April 2013, the 10th Southern Cone TESOL Conference took place in Uruguay.

This year in May, Argentina TESOL hosted the XI Southern Cone TESOL Conference, “Winds of Change in ELT,” in Buenos Aires. TESOL International Association was represented by Dr. Yilin Sun, immediate past president. She was the keynote speaker for the conference. Two Southern Cone affiliates were represented by their presidents, Chile TESOL by Mary Jane Abrahams, and UruTESOL by Gabriel Lanzaro.

The conference featured prominent keynote speakers who conducted plenary and semiplenary sessions.

The opening keynote address was given by Dr. Yilin Sun. This plenary session, “Winds of Change in ELT: Strategies, Issues and Responsibilities of ELT Professionals in the 21st Century Classroom,” gave direction to the conference. It focused on strategies to empower teachers and students in the 21st-century classroom. Dr. Sun talked about recent major trends in the ELT field and teaching and learning strategies for nonnative-English-speaking (NNES) professionals. She also discussed NNES educators’ roles and responsibilities in the changing global society. In her second plenary presentation, Dr. Sun conducted an interactive plenary workshop, “Developing Speaking Skills through Story Reading and Questioning Techniques,” focusing on strategies and activities to help students develop oral skills through story reading and sharing effective questioning techniques to facilitate learners’ critical thinking as part of the language proficiency development.

Dr. Yilin Sun, Keynote Speaker

There were two special guests for the conference who conducted plenary sessions, Dr. Robert Bayley, Chair Graduate Group in Linguistics, Fulbright Commission Argentina, and Mathilde Verillaud, English Language Fellow, U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy. In his session, “Developing Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Pedagogy: Insights from Sociolinguistics,” Dr. Bayley skilfully described how insights from sociolinguistics may contribute to pedagogy in three areas: 1) understanding the nature of the target language, 2) developing a view of L2 speakers as language users rather than as perpetual learners, and 3) creating more accurate assessments of student proficiencies across a range of contexts.

Dr. Robert Bayley, Guest Speaker

Mathilde Verillaud, who presented “Make It Pop! (Culture),” provided an overview on how students of English are all exposed to popular culture in English on a daily basis. The presentation aimed at understanding why it is essential to teach culture in the EFL classroom, and how pop culture is a great tool to do just that. With professional experience, the presenter clearly explained practical ideas and examples where still images, moving images, and music can motivate students to communicate in English. She also focused on how, while learning the target culture, students can reflect on their own.

 Mathilde Verillaud, Guest speaker

Three highlighted sessions were organized to take place simultaneously on the second day of the convention. They were conducted by three prestigious teachers and researchers, Dr. Marge Tye Zuba; María Susana González, MA; and Susan Strand, MA.

In her presentation, “How Do OUR Learning Preferences Impact Our Lesson Planning?”, Marge Tye Zuba clearly discussed how teacher preferences affect lesson planning, teaching, and motivation. She provided participants a concrete, hands-on opportunity to look at their learning preferences.

María Susana González presented a detailed description of the development of an authentic academic texts reading model belonging to the social sciences in her session, “A Reading Comprehension Model of Academic Texts.” She succinctly explained how the model can help students who have a basic knowledge of English overcome the difficulties they encounter in their reading process when they read complete research articles.

Susan Strand’s address focused on a strategy for engaging students through inquiry-based learning (IBL): a learner-centered approach that fosters learning though investigation, in “English language learners through Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL).” She illustrated the IBL cycle and led participants through an IBL activity.

As for the academic sessions, there were 52 concurrent presentations in four different categories: papers, demonstrations, workshops, and poster sessions. These academic presentations were conducted by classroom practitioners and classroom-centered researchers specialized in all educational levels who shared their expertise with more than 200 EFL professionals from all over Argentina, and with visitors from Chile, Uruguay, the United States, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Brazil.

ARTESOL convention organizers are thankful to presenters as well as to attendees for making this convention possible. Many comments on ARTESOL 2015 - XI Southern Cone TESOL Convention expressed by attendees proved this 2-day academic event to be a great success.

 


Ana María Rocca, Argentina TESOL vice president, is an ESP and EFL teacher and researcher at the School of Philosophy and Letters and Extension Secretary, Universidad de Buenos Aires.

 

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