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Affiliate News: February 2010

Affiliate News (October 2009): Highlights Of The 30th Annual TESOL Greece Convention

by User Not Found | 11/10/2011
Highlights Of The 30th Annual TESOL Greece Convention

Jeffrey Doonan, TESOL Greece Newsletter Editor 2009-10

TESOL Greece held its 30th annual convention at the Hellenic American Union (HAU) in Central Athens on March 14 and 15, 2009. This year’s theme was Back to the Future: English for All Ages. This event was very well attended and brought together many individuals and organizations from various sectors of the ELT community. Participants enjoyed a number of attractions throughout the weekend, both professional and social.

PLENARY SPEAKERS

Sandra J. Briggs, TESOL Inc. Past President 2008-2009, opened the convention with her presentation entitled “The Importance of Learning Strategies in ELT.” She shared her experience studying the literature of learning strategies and through many examples of good teaching strategies for the ELT classroom, she showed TESOL Greece members how to help students to become independent users of the language they are studying.

Sandy Briggs, Past TESOL President, and Jeffery Doonan

Lilika Couri, a founding member of TESOL Greece and co-director of Educational and Training Consultants, got the audience involved from the very beginning with her talk entitled “You’ve come a loooong way . . . baby.” She presented activities illustrating the ways that technology and feeder fields (such as the theater, psychology, NLP, management, and music) have brought color and life into our classrooms, have contributed to our understanding of our role as English language teachers, and have helped us make learning creative and pleasant.

David Nunan, Dean of the Graduate School of Education, at Anaheim University, California, and emeritus professor at the University of Hong Kong gave a plenary presentation entitled “Learner’s Stories: What We Can Learn From Listening to Our Learners.” Drawing on several studies that illustrated the value of collecting narrative data for both teaching and researching and that had been carried out over the years, he actually built a case for the importance of listening to our learners.

Michael Hoey, Baines Professor of English Language and dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Liverpool (U.K.), spoke on “Back to the Future: Some Old Ideas With a New Theory.” He talked about a new psycholinguistic theory, lexical priming, which focuses attention on the process of learning as a way of explaining the ways we really use grammar and vocabulary, as opposed to the ways we have pretended they are used. This theory suggests that vocabulary is very complicated and grammar very simple and that knowing a word or expression means knowing a great deal more than just its meaning. For language teachers, the implication of all this is that the learner needs to be exposed to naturally occurring language as much as possible, which to many is an old idea, but it now has this new theory to support it.

Dr. Mahmoud T. Arani, professor and chair of the Department of Applied Linguistics at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont (US), talked on “Participatory Grammar Instruction.” He demonstrated a participatory approach to teaching grammar discovery through which the learners collectively construct knowledge, reason through their own errors, and help each other notice gaps in their interlanguages. He also demonstrated practical ways to implement this approach.

Another highlight and extremely popular part of the convention was the Interactive Plenary Panel, moderated by Malcolm Mann, which saw a crowded theater. The plenary speakers answered questions posed by the audience and expressed their views on a variety of controversial ELT issues.

PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATIONS

Participants were offered a wide range of talks, workshops, and poster presentations to attend. Several talks focused on using authentic materials in the classroom, student’s expectations from a course, motivation, learner autonomy, storytelling, the teaching of the four skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening and speaking) at many different levels of proficiency and for many different age groups, materials development, and teacher education.

MEETINGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS

Members of TESOL Greece have organized four special interest groups (SIGs) that meet regularly and offer specialized seminars throughout the year. These SIGs are English for Academic Purposes/English for Specific Purposes (EAP/ESP), Multimedia/Computer Assisted Language Learning (MM/CALL), Young Learners (YL), and Drama and Literature (Dr/Lit). At the 30th annual convention, each of the SIGs held its annual general meeting in order to report on the year’s activities and to elect a new coordinator.

PUBLISHER’S EXHIBITION

A number of textbook publishers and other professional organizations were present at the Book and Materials Exhibition throughout the weekend of the convention. TESOL Greece members were able to browse through newly published coursebooks, teacher reference materials, and teacher training information, and to meet representatives from the publishing companies. On Sunday, March 15, at the Book Exhibition Special Event sponsored by Educational and Training Consultants, a saxophone player offered a well-received surprise for all the attendees.

SOCIALIZING AND NETWORKING

The TESOL Greece Convention provided opportunities for members to socialize and network. The coffee break on Saturday afternoon, kindly sponsored by Cambridge ESOL, gave members the opportunity to relax and chat before the evening events. At the end of the day on Saturday, convention participants went up to the HAU Roof Garden for the convention party, where they enjoyed food, drink, live music, dancing, and a stunning view of the Acropolis by night. The convention party, generously sponsored by the HAU, was free for all convention participants. The closing party, kindly sponsored by City & Guilds, was the right place to receive feedback from the foreign participants and exchange e-mails and addresses for further communication during the coming year. As this was TESOL Greece’s 30th Annual Convention, a tasty cake was brought in and the participants wished “Happy Birthday” to TESOL Greece, blowing out the candle and making a wish for its future.

It should be noted that the Drama and Literature SIG closed the convention with a special event, during which a number of Tessa Clark’s students presented some theatrical improvisations through music and songs, delighting the audience with their enthusiasm and creativity.

THE ANNUAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY

At midday on Sunday, the 30th Annual General Assembly began with reports from the elected officers of TESOL Greece for the 2008-09 year: the chair, the secretary, the treasurer, the Oversight Committee, and the editor of the newsletter. Next, nominations were taken from the floor for new board members and elections were held according to the procedures set forth in the TESOL Greece by-laws. Later in the day, members had a chance to meet the 2009-10 board members, the new officers, and the reelected chair of TESOL Greece, Costas Pitychoutis.

In sum, the 30th Annual TESOL Greece Convention was very satisfying for all those who attended, thanks to the collective efforts of several groups and individuals: a dedicated and energetic organizing committee; numerous sponsors, publishers, and exhibitors who generously supported the convention; the plenary speakers and presenters who shared their knowledge and expertise; and, of course, the members of TESOL Greece, who sustain the organization with their presence and active participation. For more information on upcoming TESOL Greece events, please check the TESOL Greece Web site.

We invite you to also attend the 31st Annual TESOL Greece International Convention, to be held March 13-14, 2010, at the Hellenic American Union in Athens, Greece. Our theme is "Living and Learning in a Brave New World" and the confirmed plenary speaker is Janet Zadina.