Monday, March 31, 2014

TESOL International Convention 2014: Day 2 Report

Unfortunately, for my second day at the convention I had a lot planned to attend and see but a headache and tiredness got in the way. However, I managed to mingle more around the publisher and job market area and actually got two business cards out! Haha

What I noticed most was that there are still a lot of positions to teach abroad, as if they could never fill these roles. Saudi Arabia is hiring like crazy and it sounds like once you're hired you can move up in positions as well. Yet, I am not sure I will go abroad again and the one reason why, is Tom. Moving Tom from Korea was a huge deal and I don't want to make him go through with that again. However, if you asked me if I didn't have my cat I would say yes to actually teaching for a year or two in Saudi Arabia. A lot of people talk about how the country has so many restrictions on women and is different that it would be hard to live there. I dunno, I find myself intrigued by their culture and even religion. I'm also enticed by that the whole country doesn't drink, and since I'm not much of a drinker...well wouldn't that be the perfect place?

So as you can see when I wondered the halls of the convention I asked myself where my future employment will be. Also seeing so many participants and people taking everything very seriously I wondered in general about my job options and future track in this career. Yet, I wouldn't mind being one of the presenters at the convention with a team of other teacher's showcasing my good ideas.

While I was walking around the exhibit hall area I happened to find a group of "hipster" looking folks sitting at a table with type-writers.

Apparently, you gave them a topic and they would type you out a poem related to that topic. I stood by as others asked obvious questions like, "Why are you doing this?" "How did you get in here?" and so on. They answered in very artsy I - don't - care speak and then offered their services of creating poems. I took up the challenge and gave them the topic of "Imagined Communities" and returned later for my typed up poem:

I think more "artsy" and fun additions should be included at the convention.

So I did successfully go to one presentation that, to my surprise, allowed me to get a huge discount on a grammar text. The following is my review:

"Teaching Key Grammar with Key Vocabulary" 
Presenter: Keith S. Folse

Keith is from Florida and you could tell he was from the South. Quick to make jokes and poke fun at the profession, along with that "storytelling" demeanour. His presentation was quick and fast but involved some good insights on what to start thinking about when teaching grammar.

He made it a point that to just give labels as answers to grammar questions is not good enough. To ask ourselves what is really going on and why students are making their mistakes. He did make a point that using authentic materials for grammar instruction is not really a good idea. The reason being that students get more than just the grammar you want to teach them but bundled in other language that you may not have time to cover. Something interesting to consider when these days there is a huge push to try using authentic materials in instruction.

Other good points were to use corpus based research to teach common phrases such as "how many / much?" Also to connect grammar with vocabulary, which I am still trying to figure out how.

One good thing I guess was getting a discount coupon for his book "Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners", which I have started reading. He includes a quiz at the beginning and states that if you can't answer them confidently then you definitely need to train yourself better. I knew going into the quiz that I would likely bomb it, so when I got a 10 out of 20, I wasn't surprised. I hope to keep reading this book and even see results in my classroom instruction.

Otherwise his presentation was a whirlwind of an experience where we were given grammar examples and asked "Which ones are right?" and to discuss amongst ourselves what we thought. I mostly listened as people worked out and kept my hunches to myself. So in essence I enjoyed his presentation and liked that I got the discount, but I think it was presented too quickly and in a rush.

I did try to go to another presentation on grammar around 3pm, but my body and mind were already checked out. Also this presenter didn't teach to what I expected. Her title "interactive grammar materials..." meant that she just used online tools like Blackboard and put up her materials there. Nothing new...sigh.

Thankfully a lot of the presentations have their materials available to download via the TESOL website, and I picked up a lot of them already.

I think next time I would make better sleep a priority and push myself to go to more presentations. But I did find myself understanding better the field and networking by just walking around the Exhibit Hall.

Somewhere in the convention...

Next year the convention will be in Toronto, and I doubt I'll have the resources to go. But we'll see as I haven't been to Toronto and that would be fun.

I'll post up pics and talk about the little outings I had around Portland soon. But the spring quarter has already started (this week) and it looks like it's back to the books for me!

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