Guest blog: English Language Learning Specialists in Asia (ELLSA 2013)

Hi everybody,

If you have never been to a professional conference or seminar, you should certainly think about going to one. As well as meeting lots of like-minded teachers, you will also hear talks which will certainly give you lots of food for thought.

This post was written by Vanessa, a teacher working in South Korea,  who has a great blog  ‘Bringing English to you’ at:

English Language Learning Specialists in Asia 2013

Learning in a “High Challenge, High Support” classroom: Supporting Success for English Language Learners in International Schools

The inaugural conference was alight with enthusiastic English Language specialists in Asia. With millions of language learners in the region, a conference of this sort was long time coming. As Stroupe (2011) has highlighted, many Asian English Language Learners (ELLs) have a positive view about using English in classrooms especially with their governments implementing educational policies to support this learning.

A conference or workshop is always a good excuse to head out of school for a few days. Indeed, it is a rejuvenating experience, in my opinion, to get out of one’s little comfort zone, explore a new city and be challenged with new ideas. Many of the sessions at ELLSA were an affirmation for me – of my teaching methodology and the teacher training programme I conduct in school.

Pauline Gibbons, English language education guru, opened the conference with her keynote speech on the pedagogy of explicit teaching of the English language as a scaffold for ELLs; an affirmation for many of us, like a pat on the back before we headed off to our selected workshops. Every topic was backed by research and experience. Every one a chance to share our successes and frustrations. It was good to know that many of us have had similar experiences.

*Collaboration with mainstream classroom teachers is an ongoing work in progress

*Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) can happen through collaboration

*Scaffolding learners in mainstream classrooms is a necessity in the 21st century

*Technology is our friend especially in today’s classroom

*L1 development is vital along side L2 or L3 acquisition despite the desire to intensify English language learning

**ESL/EAL teachers are not the panacea for learning difficulties or students’ inability to access the curriculum

I walked away from the conference believing in myself as an ESL specialist a little bit more. There are now many more books I want to read and many more activities I would like to try. On my to-do list:

*work with my fellow ESL teachers to create a framework for collaboration and co-teaching

*incorporate more practical activities and strategies in my PD sessions in school

*put together an improved PD on Academic Language for the teachers

Despite having to learn the conference and Bangkok city, we agreed that the conference provided a wonderful networking opportunity and many a name card and emails were exchanged. Nothing could put a damper on our experience as English Language Specialists in Asia, not even the red nor yellow shirts.

A fabulous #ELLSA… wishing more good years

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