When we ponder the question of how our lives are likely to change over the coming years and decades, it is tempting to let our imaginations run wild. When we think about learning foreign languages, for example, we may dream of technology that will allow us to have new languages uploaded automatically to our brains as we sleep soundly in our temperature-controlled hover-beds. Alternatively, the more pessimistic among us might live in dread of a nightmare scenario in which AI holograms render our entire profession obsolete.
It is important to remember, however, that when it comes to education, and particularly to language education in institutional settings, there are some basic elements of what we do that are unlikely to change anytime soon, if ever. Today, we have access to technologies and resources that would have been unimaginable as recently as 20 years ago, but is the way we teach and learn now really so very different from the way we did it back then? In this session, I will look at what I consider to be the fundamentals of language education and make the case that when we envision the future, it is just as important to be aware of the things we know will not change as it is to imagine all the things that might.
David Barker is the director of the English Center at Gifu University in Japan. Originally from Wales, he became a language teacher after working for two years as a police officer in Liverpool, England. He has a PhD in language education and has taught English in Singapore, New Zealand, and Japan, where he has lived for 23 years. He is the founder of BTB Press and the author of a wide range of bilingual textbooks. He is also the author of four Japanese language books about learning English, two of which became national bestsellers. His main areas of interest are cross-linguistic interference and materials development.
Future Proof #1075
Even before the pandemic hit, I was contemplating the evolving nature of work in our profession. What does it mean to hold a “full time job”? Is freelancing something you work up to, or work to get away from? Should experience bring a higher salary for the same work, or for more responsibilities? Is an hour of teaching worth more or less than an hour of working in an office?
And then the move to online learning and teaching so many of us experienced over the last year—and continue to experience this year—led to even more questions. Should a teacher be paid according to their own local living expenses, or according to students’ local living expenses? How do we balance our need to support ourselves with our desire to support economically challenged students? How much of what we do—not just teaching but writing articles, giving webinars, professional development, and so on—should be free and how much should be paid? What are the options for someone who loves their job but feels underpaid? How can we future-proof our careers for uncertain times?
I’m not going to pretend to have the definitive answers; I don’t think there are definitive answers. But I’d like to share with you the questions I’ve used to focus and adjust my own work life and mentor others. The conversation about how we work and how much we work and what all that is worth is one we should be having, not just with ourselves and our employers but throughout our profession.
We'll let Dorothy introduce herself!
"I'm an author, editor, teacher, and teacher trainer in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). I taught English, French, and Japanese for over 20 years in Asia, Africa, and the US. My MA in TESL is from the School for International Training in Vermont.
I currently write and edit English language teaching materials and textbooks, and conduct teacher training workshops. My areas of specialty and interest include teaching writing, teaching reading, business English, academic English, testing, and humor. I'm a frequent plenary speaker at international conferences, and in 2012 founded my own small publishing company, Wayzgoose Press, that publishes fiction, non-fiction, and of course ELT materials for teachers and students."
Through fMRI research, Matthew Lieberman discovered a large network in our brain devoted to figuring out other people's thoughts and intentions: the mentalizing network. The social brain is also important for learning and is active anytime the working memory network, which we use for analytical thinking, is not. Lieberman calls it our Superpower, but he also defines our Kryptonite: traditional education. Educators tend to see the social aspect of learning as a frivolity, or ignore it altogether. For designing rich online classes, synchronous or not, the social brain has much to teach us, from why we experience "Zoom fatigue," why we might advise aspirin for that student that just broke up, to ways to use Dancing Matt to get learners into the right "brain state" for language learning.
Curtis Kelly (EdD.) is a professor at Kansai University, a founder of the JALT BRAIN SIG, and a columnist for the KoTESOL Teaching English Connection. He's a brain nerd. In pursuit of his life mission, "to relieve the suffering of the classroom," he has written numerous textbooks, 30 books, including the Cambridge Writing from Within series.
Many teachers used to doubt that a language class could be taught effectively online. However, a worldwide pandemic has forced language instruction to go online in many parts of the world and we have all seen how some areas of language teaching have changed now. Because of COVID-19, both experienced online teachers and novice online teachers have now had almost a year of real experience teaching English and other languages online. When this is over or when a majority of learners and teachers can go back to a somewhat normal teaching situation again, how might instruction be different?
I am a very experienced language teacher (40 years) and language learner (7 languages). In the past six months, I have also gained another type of experience: I have been an online language learner in an asynchronous university German course.
In this talk, I will offer some interesting and sometimes unexpected insights I gained about online language instruction based on my perspective as a real learner in a real language course that was completely online.
Dr. Keith Folse, Professor of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), University of Central Florida, teaches undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral classes. Originally secondary certified in English and French, he has taught English as a Second Language for 40 years in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Japan, Spain, and the United States. For the last eleven years, he has also taught online courses, both synchronously and asynchronously.
Dr. Folse is the author of 70 English and teacher education textbooks and is a frequent conference presenter all around the world. His presentations often deal with best teaching practices, vocabulary, grammar, and speaking. He has won numerous teaching and research awards from his university, TESOL International Association, and National Geographic Learning.