22 Jun Teachers from CLE attended the International Conference for English Language in the Chinese Context
The CLE was well represented the weekend of May 5th at the International Conference for English Language in the Chinese Context! Four teachers from the Center for Language Education were in attendance: Liu Qing, Olivia Bailey, Nicolas Rhea, and myself. All four CLE teachers were able to give presentations on their research as well. The conference was held in Hong Kong, by the Education University of Hong Kong at their beautiful mountain campus. The conference was a unique opportunity for us to exchange ideas with teachers from all over China, teaching English in various contexts from kindergarten to graduate programs.
The four of us all felt that we learned a lot from our diverse colleagues at the conference. Nic felt that the conference “allowed [him] to engage with professionals for around China and learn new strategies and techniques to improve [his] teaching.” Many specific presentations inspired ideas we hope to incorporate into our teaching at SUSTech. An interesting presentation that Olivia and I attended discussed the specific pronunciation challenges faced by Chinese students and provided some activities and techniques to help with these challenges. Olivia commented “I fully plan to apply this to my students” and she continued, “Pronunciation doesn’t have to be boring or a chore, it can and should be made fun and engaging for students!” Several presentations dealt with the ever increasing use of technology in the classroom. I attended a session that proposed the use of WeChat to facilitate in-depth discussions, while another presentation featured the APP Kahoot. In this presentation, Nic learned “how I can use mobile technology to help students with their vocabulary.” The conference new ideas presented at the conference reinvigorated our teaching at SUSTech.
Equally exciting was the opportunity we had to share our own research with the other conference attendees. First up was Nic, with his presentation about his work with corpus and English for Specific Purposes. In it, he discussed how to use corpus to assess student need and then design an assignment using results from the move analysis (organization of written texts) found through the corpus. I found his research interesting and relevant. It was particularly wonderful to see his collaboration with the chemistry department here at SUSTech. In the afternoon, Liu Qing, Olivia Bailey, and I presented our research about using Portfolio Assessment for level one English students. After using portfolio assessment in our courses last semester, we went through the reflections of students to see what benefits this type of assessment had over traditional assessment (written examinations). We found that students felt more empowered in their writing, had more self-awareness about their strengths and weaknesses, and had a better understanding of the writing process. The reception for our presentation was great, and many people said they were thinking of trying portfolio assessment in their schools. As Liu Qing said, “I was so touched by my students’ feedback and comments and convinced that we did something meaningful and beneficial. More people need to know about it and use it in a wider context so more students could be empowered.”
Overall, our attendance and participation in the conference was a wonderful experience. We were able to share our ideas as well as tap into wider knowledge about English teaching in the Chinese Context. An additional benefit was the opportunity for Nic and I to reunite with our former graduate professor and advisor, Randi Reppen, from Northern Arizona University. She was invited to the conference as the keynote speaker, and remarked that “Over 9 countries were represented and presentations ranged from practical classroom applications to research-based studies. Each of the concurrent sessions held so many interesting presentations, that choosing which one to attend was a dilemma.” We were lucky, then, that she attended both SUSTech presentations and provided meaningful feedback. The conference was an important opportunity for the CLE to impress the English teaching community in China, and I think we succeeded.
By: Natalie Ferguson