|ETAI Conference (July
13 - 16)
ETAI (English Teachers Association of Israel) holds an annual conference. Every fourth year they hold an international conference and invite speakers from overseas.
The conference was held over 4 days at Bin Yemei Ha Uma (International Conference Centre) in Jerusalem. In general the standard of presentations was high, and approximately 1200 people attended from all sectors of education (primary, secondary, tertiary).
When not presenting myself I was able to attend several sessions on the general area of the use of the Internet in language teaching.
My Own Sessions
1) Different Perspectives on the use of the Internet ESL/EFL teaching.
Jean Vermel - teacher training (Beit
Berl College, Lecturer, EFL Department and Center for Informatics)
Moderator: Mark Warschauer <http://www.lll.hawaii.edu/web/faculty/markw/> (US Aid Project Officer, Cairo; consultant to the Egyptian Ministry of Education on the effective use of new technologies for language learning.)
Each presenter spoke for 10 minutes on their specialist area and comments and questions were then fielded from the floor.
I presented profiles of the types of the kinds of students we have in TAFE SA and used a series of 4 short case studies to illustrate some of the achievements of DMI ESL students using email.
2) Getting Acquainted with the Internet - an abstract of this presentation, the Powerpoint version of this presentation, and related references and resources can be viewed at the following website: http://www.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/confrefs.htm
Length of session: 90 minutes. (This session
was originally to be only 45 minutes but cancellation of the following
session made it possible to extend the session - something which participants
voted to do willingly.)
Feedback about the session was very positive. Participants seemed quite amazed at the potential that the Internet can provide both as a source and medium for online education. Most Internet related presentations at the conference focused on the use of the Internet in the classroom. Surprisingly, my presentation was the only one to focus on the Internet as a distance education tool.
3) The Internet - for and against
THE INTERNET AND LANGUAGE TEACHING - for and against
Should language teachers bother using the Internet? In this interactive session participants will get the chance to air their views, examine the kinds of exercises that are suitable for Internet delivery, and the types of software that make it possible. The session will close with an attempt to sum up group attitudes on their future use of the Internet. Length of session: 90 minutes
For this presentation I walked participants through my own website to illustrate types of exercises for Internet delivery, and the kinds of software available. I also drew heavily on the information gleaned from several workshops over the previous days of the conference.
Discussion ensued about the pros and cons of using the Internet and the group was generally positive about its potential and excited about using it in the future.
Despite being the last session of the conference, about 50 people attended this very enthusiastic, successful succession. Feedback from this session was extremely positive.
Conclusions drawn from this session can
be viewed at http://www.chariot.net.au/~michaelc/confrefs.htm
Other Sessions Attended
This stimulating session presented data that projected an impression of the use of English in the year 2050. Principal among the conclusions to be drawn from this talk were:
1) due to declining birthrates in
the English speaking western world, native speakers of English of English
will be outnumbered by non-native speakers by 2050
Plenary Address: New Media, New Literacies: Challenges for the Next Century
Mark Warschauer (US Aid Project Officer, Cairo); consultant to the Egyptian Ministry of Education on the effective use of new technologies for language learning.
New telecommunications technologies are transforming work, study, and entertainment. These transformations are so extensive that we must now ask not only "What is the role of information technology in language teaching?" but more importantly " what is the role of language teaching in the age of information technology’? Examining changes in communications, media, the economy, and education, this plenary analyses the challenges faced by language educators in helping students master the new literacies of the digital era.
This illuminating address focused on the skills required for successful participation in the workplaces of the future, and how the use of electronic forms of communication can best be exploited to promote these skills.
Internet in the Classroom (Galia Kaspi, Maxine Tsvaigrach)
Using Internet as a tool for teaching high school English based on projects undertaken by Allon High School. The workshop dealt with actual lesson plans used, and presented successes and pitfalls of computer oriented lessons.
No More Pencils! Switching TOEFL to Computer in 1998 (Susan Nissan)
In summer 1998, TOEFL will switch to computer based testing in the US, Canada, and many other regions. Creating computer-based TOEFL is just the beginning of our long term improvement plan, called TOEFL 2000. The goal of TOEFL 2000 is to use more performance-based questions that will provide schools with better information about the international student’s ability to understand and use English.
In this session we discussed the benefits of computer-based TOEFL, especially the Listening section. We will then describe some of the new computer question types. In conclusion, issues related to the change were addressed, including score scales, and the effect of computer familiarity on performance. A brochure summarizing the upcoming changes was handed out.
Though not particularly relevant to the Australian TAFE context I found this session useful because I have been teaching students online from several countries to prepare them for the TOEFL test.
Internet…Schminternet! Why Bother? (Renee Wahl, EFI online Teacher)
What’s all the fuss about how great the Internet is for teaching EFL? You’ve3 been teaching for years and doing a great job without it. Just consider the necessary investment in time and effort to learn this new te4chnology! Then there’s Murphy Law, which works particularly well for technology.
Is it worth it? This presentation will help you understand how the Internet can be exploited to enrich your professional skills. Get a feel for different aspects of this tool, how a teacher can integrate then into lessons, and how they can the teacher/student relationship. This is a practical, nitty-gritty approach. Then decide whether and in what direction you want to continue - you-‘ll have plenty of material for thought and action.
Comment: This session was overall a bit disappointing, The presenter wasn’t very well organised, didn’t seem to have any sense of structure for the session and was too willing to field questions form the audience that were inappropriately timed and took up to much time. The overall effect of all this was disjointing and inconclusive. There was however a useful description of how people can take advantage of the internet to attend International Online conferences.
Symposium: Mentoring CALL as a Paradigm Shifter (Mark Warschauer, Gail Mann, Renee Wahl, Ann Shlapobersky)
This was in effect a meeting of all CALL (Computer Aided Language Learning) counsellors from the carious sectors of the Israeli education system. Discussion flowed freely over a range of issues to do with access to the Internet, funding, staff development, managerial support, education Ministry policy and support. While many of the issues we share in common, it was interesting to hear the debate from another country’s perspective.
Web Downloading and Off Line Internet resources in the EFL Classroom (Dr Vitela Arzi, Orot Israel College)
The purpose of this paper was to introduce the techniques of web-downloading, present the advantages of using internet resources off-line, and demonstrate a database that utilises these methods.
EFL teachers have been quick to recognise the numerous opportunities that internet resources may offer. The various OWLS (Online writing labs) have become an indispensable resource for English teachers, particularly in so far as Writing skills are concerned, and more specifically in teacher training colleges, where written proficiency courses component of the syllabus.
However using Internet resources online during regular class time presents several technical as well as pedagogical problems. A familiar technical obstacle is the speed of connection and delivery of information, which is affected by various factors such as the speed of the server in which the information originates, the speed of the user’s connection, the traffic at the time of the connection, the possibility of inactive ,links, etc. The instructor may also face pedagogical difficulties when the students’ limited internet skills reduce the efficiency of the lesson, or when students choose to do their own surfing rather than follow the links of the selected OWL.
Web Downloading and off-line browsing provide a solution to these problems. Web downloaders are programs that allow the user to copy remote WWW sites with their hypertext links to the user’s own hard disk. It is suggested that, using web downloading techniques, teachers prepare a controlled database directory. The teacher download the entire site, or portions of it, for practice, saves it as a database on a separate school net directory, or on individual computers, and thus monitors the students’ work that bis performed off line.
The speaker in her Written Proficiency course at Orot College has successfully tried this technique. This method may also offer a solution for schools that do not have Internet connections, but wish to use the various resources on the Internet. Further applications are for content-based learning, since databases and net directories can be classified according to various topics, genres and issues.
Comment: A very useful and practical session that presented workable solutions to many problems associated with using the Internet in the classroom.
VIRTUAL TEACHING AND LEARNING
Jean Vermel (Beit Berl College <http://www.beitberl.ac.il/>,
Lecturer, EFL Department and Center for Informatics)
Together with Elaine Hoter (Talpiot Teacher Training College) she has designed a trainee teacher program that features an effective partnering program with children from primary schools. Trainee teachers work through a website based program that leads trainees through the use of the Internet for ESL/EFL teacng. Trainees set internet/email based assignments for the primary students. Though not directly relevant for TAFE students it would be interesting to explore the possibility of partnering TAFE adult migrant students with trainee ESL teachers at the University of South Australia. Either we could use the existing course based on the Israeli website, or develop our own. This could be also trialled with trainee EFL teachers elsewhere in the world. (Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia).
A tremendously satisfying session. Participating trainee teachers also discussed participation in this course from their perspective, and their willing praise for the course was ample testament to its success. Clearly, such a ‘buddy program’ is an effective strategy for combining online and face to face professional development of online teachers. (see further comment below)
Margaret Walline is a specialist in learning styles, and was particularly interested in the work being done by Marie Jasinski at Mind Media (Port Adelaide Campus, Douglas Mawson TAFE).
Issue: what plans does TAFE SA have for facilitating this crucial aspect of CMC? Currently the chosen platform for Internet delivery (WebCT) does not allow audioconferencing.
Met with Amanda Tatum, co-owner of the Palace Virtual Schoolhouse. She demonstrated how Palace software can be extended to teach multiple students in a real time text based three dimensional environment. She is also a partner in a separate company, Circle of Fire, who have produced another similar product called Active Worlds. She personally recommends this product for online teaching 3D requirements but it’s high dependence on graphics and movement requires more sophisticated hardware, and at this stage may place it beyond the reach of many students.
She is keen to assist us in trialling either product should we incorporate them into our online delivery.
Other issues discussed:
· chat v threaded discussion
- the use of music for language teaching
on the Internet (EFI
to establish a bank
of live recordings with lyrics)
Michael Coghlan (September, 1998)