Notes about professional development activities I have engaged in.
EFL/TFL Teacher Certificate I completed this course over 11 weeks in the fall of 1994 at Transworld Teachers(the school name has since changed to Transworld Schools). It was my first formal introduction to teaching, and my initial experience with giving classroom language instruction. It included brief introductions to much of the theory I later studied in my Applied Linguistics courses, but was much more focused on practical teaching techniques, materials creation and selection, and lesson planning and delivery. I gained a basic understanding of how to be a classroom teacher that has helped me throughout my career.
ed2goonlinecourses I completed three online, non-credit courses in 2009: Teaching ESL/EFL Vocabulary, Teaching ESL/EFL Reading, and Creating a Classroom Website. The first two of these were basically updating and expanding on areas I had studied about a decade before at USQ, and the third involved exploring a new interest. I incorporated ideas from all three in my teaching practice, including building my first rudimentary website.
JALTInternationalConferences I have attended this annual 4-day language teaching conference every year since 2008. I have always walked away with new ideas for improving my teaching practice and usually have been exposed to new ideas about pedagogy and research projects. On a number of occasions I have also been able to make one or more presentations. Attending my first JALT conference is what showed me a path to continuing my own professional growth and development rather than stagnate or, worse yet, burn out. The organization continues to provide the core of my development and volunteer activities.
ExtensiveReading Seminars I have been involved in this annual conference since 2011 as an attendee, volunteer, or presenter. From the sessions I have learned a lot about how different programs implement extensive reading and the challenges they face, how instructors motivate students to read, innovative communicative activities based on reading, and various strategies to balance the tension between encouraging reading as its own reward and giving grades fairly. I have twice been the Seminar Chair and also have led the vetting team several times. This has helped me improve as both a teacher and as an administrator.
ExtensiveReading World Congresses I attended the first and second ERWC conferences, held in Kyoto in 2011 and Seoul in 2013 respectively. I also presented at the second ERWC. These have been a great opportunity to meet internationally recognized leaders in the field of reading instruction and see them speak, as well as learn from a number of less-recognized but highly talented language instructors from around the world. The first world congress also helped me at a time when I was trying to implement an ER program and build an appropriate library because I was able to go around and talk to representatives from a number of materials providers and learn firsthand about the wide variety of available readers.
JALT CALL Conferences I have attended this premier conference on technology and language learning most years since 2012, and presented several times. In 2013, it partnered with the Extensive Reading Seminar and I became involved with the CALL SIG as an officer after that. The conference sessions have helped deepen my understanding of technology as applied to language learning concurrent with my MAET studies. At the 2016 conference I learned more about using programs such as Kahoot and Quizlet, and was exposed to Anki, Socrative, and QuizUp for the first time. I was also exposed to some interesting ideas related to digital and mobile literacy.
TESOL International Conventions As one of the largest and most widely recognized conferences on English language teaching, attending this conference is a great opportunity to network with other practitioners and researchers in the field, get new ideas for teaching, and be exposed to new research. I have been lucky enough to have presentation proposals accepted for the Electronic Village in 2013, 2014, and 2015 as well as two technology-related proposals accepted for the 2017 conference. Having presentations to give has helped me be able to attend the conference even though the timing coincides with the transition to the new school year in Japan. I have always returned from the TESOL conventions with ideas to apply in my upcoming classes. For example, in the Electronic Village was the first place I was exposed to Kahoot and Quizlet, which I use now.
JALT PanSIG Conferences I attended, presented, and was a committee member for the PanSIG conferences in 2013, 2014, and 2015 as well as being a committee member for 2016 and 2017. This conference brings together people from a variety of JALT interest groups and I have always found informative and useful presentations which often can be directly and immediately applied to my teaching practice. One poster presentation in 2014 gave a useful outline of how to manage a cycle of research and publication to maximize your productivity. I also have enjoyed working together with people from diverse backgrounds and with wide-ranging areas of interest.
TESOLRegional Conference in Singapore 2015 I attended and presented at this international language learning conference. Similar to the TESOL and JALT annual conferences, it was a great opportunity to learn from talented colleagues from around the world. For example, I came away with a number of ideas for using songs in the classroom, involving the audience in presentations, and teaching with multimedia. The venue, National Institute of Education, also has informed my ideas about how a modern, technology-infused classroom can and should look.
ESSE Conference 2016 This week-long conference was heavily oriented toward the teaching of English literature rather than language skills. However, there were several seminar strands (groups of themed presentations) focused on English for Specific/Special Purposes (ESP), some of which were particularly applicable to my current position coordinating and teaching in a Business English program. I learned more about the field of ESP, about the differences between ESP taught in Japan and in Europe, and got some ideas which I may be able to develop into classroom and research projects.
BAAL Conference 2016 I had wanted to attend this annual Applied Linguistics conference for several years and finally had the opportunity to do so. I was able to attend about 20 sessions over the three days of the conference. Session topics included research ethics using online data, three sessions related to examining and teaching machine-mediated communication, three sessions on elements of reading and vocabulary instruction and learning, two sessions related to automated feedback and assessment systems, others on the development of English as a linguafranca and mode of instruction in higher education, and on teaching aspects of English such as recognizing irony and understanding and expressing emotions appropriately. Interestingly, while this is a British association, a large number of presenters were Japanese or Japan-based. It was quite interesting to see the differences in focus and concerns compared to similar conferences held in Japan.
NEEC FacultyDevelopmentSessions The Nanzan English Education Center holds these sessions twice a year and they are a great opportunity to learn from and share ideas with colleagues teaching English at the same university. I participated in these sessions from 2012 to 2016 and also presented several times. I learned a number of classroom techniques such as a poster-presentation activity for graded readers, techniques to encourage self-directed vocabulary study, and models for peer writing assessments. My own presentations also helped me refine my own presentation skills in a supportive environment.
Photos on this site by T. E. Bieri & A. Kanda. Not for use without permission.