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Beyond Borders: Experiencing IATEL as a Global Forum

Mr. Madhukar KC* (madhukarkc25@gmail.com)

The insatiable nature of human is exemplified by my experience of attending last year’s IATEFL international conference at Harrogate, UK. Having had an opportunity to attend the annual international conferences organized by NELTA every year in February since 2007 was not enough for me. That rather intensified the strong urge to go beyond crossing the border for international exposure through professional networking with like-minded professionals across the globe. Thus my attendance at the 2014 IATEFL conference at Harrogate, UK, was made possible after I received the following email from Eryl Griffiths, the Coordinator of Scholarship Working Party (SWP), and I became one of few lucky NELTA colleagues to make my dream come true to attend/present at the international arena.

Dear Mr. Madhukar,

October 03, 2013, Thursday 11:45 am

On behalf of the IATEFL Scholarship Working Party and TT.Ed SIG, the sponsor of this scholarship, I am delighted to let you know that you are this year’s winner. Congratulations!

Please reply immediately to confirm that you will accept the award and will definitely attend in IATEFL conference in Harrogate in 2014.

With very best wishes

Eryl Griffiths (Ms)

After receiving this email, I swiftly replied accepting the offer and confirmed my participation for a new adventure and exploration of ‘newer’ ideas/perspectives in the Western world. Attending such a global platform is, of course, beneficial for novice teachers, experienced teachers, educators, and trainers for every reason which is apparent. As the common adage goes, ‘Travelling broadens the mind’. I also have blissful reminiscences of making my journey to the UK for attending the IATEFL conference that impacted significantly in my professional journey. Instead of recounting my joyful experience of IATEFL conference here, I have endeavored to make a compilation of sample proposals presented by our esteemed NELTA colleagues who got accepted and presented at the IATEFL forum in the past. This idea dropped in as some of the NELTA colleagues had/have been continuously asking me this common question for the past few months, ‘What kind(s) of proposals are accepted?, Could you send me a sample of your proposal?’ so on and so forth. To tell the truth, I am not an expert on writing proposal for international conference. But I do substantially believe that having an opportunity to look at some sample proposals might stimulate one’s idea and motivate our colleagues to work on their proposals who are stuck somewhere in the middle. Here I request you to go through these samples which might be helpful for you to a greater extent if you are thinking of getting accepted and presenting your paper at the international platform.

Here is a sample proposal by Dr. Prithvi N Shrestha, Lecturer in ELT at The Open University, UK and is a NELTA Life Member since 1996. Dr. Shrestha presented this paper at the IATEFL conference, Glasgow 2012. For him, IATEFL conferences have always been an excellent professional platform for presenting his work in ELT and developing his professional networks.

Title: Innovations in EAP oral assessment: the IOA project

Abstract (50-60 words)

This talk reports findings from a pilot study of academic listening and speaking skills designed for and delivered through a voice response system powered by LearnosityÒ. The findings based on students’ experience suggests the possibility of this system as an attractive option in open and distance learning. A number of pedagogical implications based on the findings will be presented.

Summary of Presentation (200-250 words)

Opportunities for practising English academic speaking skills in open and distance learning (ODL) are often limited unlike in a face-to-face context. By the same token, assessing oral skills in ODL academic contexts is further complicated and demanding administratively and pedagogically. Therefore, the current practices in ODL are limited to assessing less or non-interactive oral skills such as oral presentations.

In response to this problem, computers have been used recently to assess oral language skills, particularly in commercial tests (e.g., see Xi 2010). Yet, there are issues around human versus machine rating. This paper reports on an innovative application of technologies in teaching and assessing speaking language skills in ODL. A pilot study was conducted with a group of English for Academic Purposes students once they completed their existing course between October and December 2010. A series of activities were designed and delivered through TalkBack®, a voice response system powered by Learnosity (http://www.learnosity.com/ ). TalkBack® allowed students to use mobile phone including smartphones, landlines, Skype or OU Voice (iTunes app) for practice and doing assignments. These students’ experience of using this system was investigated through weekly online survey questionnaires and telephone interviews. The paper reports on the results from the study. A number of pedagogical implications of the use of TalkBack® for oral (language) assessment and speaking practice are presented in the light of the results.

Below is a sample proposal of Madhukar K.C., a Gillian Porter-Ladousse Scholarship winner for 2014 IATEFL international conference held at Harrogate, UK. His presentation was based on his ‘Co-teaching’experience at the Access program in the light of professional development theme.

Title: Dancing with a colleague in EFL classroom: a co-teaching reflection

Presentation abstract (50-60 words)

In this presentation, I shall discuss my own Co-teaching experience for a year in a mixed ability, multi-level Nepalese EFL classroom in the light of professional development (PD). As a viable methodology for PD, I shall highlight some useful techniques in general; share its impact on Nepalese EFL PD context in particular; and discuss some challenges towards the end.

Summary of Presentation (200-250 words)

This presentation aims to present some useful techniques of dancing together with a Co-teacher with proper steps in light of Co-teaching methodology with reference to my own experience of teaching a mixed-ability, multi-level EFL students for a year. Considering it as one of the options for Professional Development (PD), this paper emphasizes on the opportunities and challenges of ­Co-teaching in Nepalese EFL context.

It commences with a brief highlight of Nepalese ELT/EFL scenario in general and my Co-teaching experience in particular. Then, I shall discuss some of its advantages in light of PD i.e., mutual growth, managing disruptive behaviors, power sharing for leadership, collaboration, support and care, quality instruction, platform for reflective practice and teaching etc. Then, I share some of the challenges I encountered i.e., lack of mutual trust, lack of collaboration, overlapping in the instruction, problem of turn-taking, problem of leadership, lack of supportive relationships, a belief about Co-teaching as a cut-throat competition, fear of defeat and challenges, lack of confidence and belief, shyness etc.

Lastly, I shall discuss the heuristic ways of tackling the challenges of Co-teaching as per my own experience. In addition to it, I shall be eliciting responses from the participants about their understanding of Co-teaching, opportunities and some possible challenges in the light of their own context to look into local and global perspectives. I shall also be eliciting their responses regarding the ways to tackle the challenges of Co-teaching reflecting their own context while engaging them during discussion and feedback session.

Here is another exemplary sample proposal on ‘teacher training’by an Associate Professor at Kathmandu University, Dr. LaxmanGnawali. Dr. Gnawaliwon a Gillian Porter-Ladousse Scholarship to presenthis paper at the 2013 IATEFL international conference held at Liverpool, UK.

 

Title: When Participants Experience, Understand and Articulate

Presentation abstract (50-60 words)

In this presentation I shall focus on a primary EFL teacher training programme in Nepal that requires trainees to design and deliver a training course for working school teachers. How this process allows trainees to articulate their understanding of teaching learning principles thereby deepening their own understanding EFL pedagogy will be discussed; training structure and components will also be shared.

Summaryof Presentation (200-250 words)

Apart from experience and theoretical understanding, articulation of the experience and understanding is a firm way to learning (Edge, 1996) which is not realised in most teacher training programmes. Unless trainees explain and express their own experience and understanding to others who belong to the same professional community, their own understanding either will not be clear and even if it is, it will not last long.

With the idea in mind, we designed a primary EFL teacher training programme with touch of innovation. Normally, the teacher certification courses are of one year within which trainees complete course requirements including practice teaching. In our case, we added one more term. During this fourth term, participants are required to assess the needs of working teachers at local schools, design a twelve-hour training course based upon the needs, develop sessions and materials, deliver the training and evaluate the whole process. We saw that this act of expression actually helped them to develop a clearer understanding of the teaching learning principles for which they were trained. As they delivered the training, they not only organized activities but also had opportunities to express their own understanding of teaching and learning.

This has been a successful experiment of preparing principled teachers who know the rationale of their actions. The result is that the graduates of this programme are in demand and there is zero unemployment. In this talk, I share the programme structure and its components, the process and the attributes the trainees graduate.The link to access my interview for the Liverpool Online:

http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2013/sessions/2013-04-09/interview-eryl-griffiths-laxman-gnawali

Please have a look at this another speaker’s proposal on ‘Mentoring’ by Mr. Shyam Bahadur Pandey. Mr. Pandey was the winner of Gillian Porter-Ladousse Scholarship to present his paper at the 2012 IATEFL International conference at Glasgow, Scotland.

Title: Mentoring in ELT: first-hand or hoary fashion?

Presentation Abstract(50-60 words)

Mentoring, a way to guidance, support and sharing classroom problems and practical solutions by an experienced teacher to a novice one, varies in its form. This study reports a study on the Nepalese trends of adaptation in mentoring. It highlights the discrepancies between the Nepalese ELT scenario and other EFL classroom practices.

Summary of Presentation(200-250 words)

Among the different modes of teacher professional development (TPD), mentoring has been one of the appreciated modes of TPD. It has been able to drag people’s attention towards it in the developed countries. Mentoring is a way to guidance, support and sharing about classroom problems and practical solutions to novice teachers by the experienced ones. The presentation reports a study on the Nepalese adaptation tendency of mentoring. Currently, Nepal has been practicing both supervisory design and inspectoral role.

Under this process, supervisor does both the inspectoral and supervisory job. What is its impact in the classroom teaching? Do the supervisors play the role of mentor? How do they mentor to the novice teachers? Is mentoring an urgent need to the Nepalese English language teachers? It tries to explore how Nepalese ELT scenario is different than other EFL classroom scenario regarding the use of mentoring.

Ms. SaraswotiDawadi received the Gill Sturtridge First-Time Speaker’ scholarship to present her paper at the 2013 IATEFL International conference at Liverpool, UK. Her paper was based on ‘classroom management’ theme, which is an alarming issue in large Nepalese EFL classrooms context.

Title: Managing Disruptive Behavior in ELT Classroom at Secondary Level

Presentation abstract (50-60 words)

This presentation aims to present some useful techniques to manage disruptive behaviors in ELT classroom particularly at secondary level. The main focus of the presentation will be on the techniques that can be used in classroom to handle disruptive behaviors. It will also make the participants familiar with some forms of disruptive behaviors and their possible causes.

Summary of Presentation (200-250 words)

This presentation starts with a very short introduction of the participants followed by a short video of an ELT classroom at secondary level. She will ask the participants to watch the video and notice some forms of disruptive behaviors. She encourages them to share their opinion with the whole class. Then, she discusses on some other forms of disruptive behaviors like prolonged chattering, unexpected exit from class, overt inattentiveness etc.

In the second step, she presents a question; what are the possible causes of disruptive behaviors in ELT classes at secondary level?, and elicit ideas from them. After they share their ideas, she presents some possible causes of students’ disruptive behaviors in ELT classroom like antipathy to school, social dominance and isolation, anxiety, lack of self-esteem, inability to do homework, peer pressure, unsettled home environment etc.

Likewise, in the third step, the participants will be presented a question: what are some useful techniques to manage disruptive behaviors in ELT classroom at secondary level? This time, she asks them to work in pair and list some techniques that they are using in their classes. She gives them three minutes time to list the techniques and then asks each pair to share their list to the whole class. Then, she, with the help of some examples, presents some useful techniques like overlapping, accountability, smoothness, variety and challenge in seatwork, use of reward, punishment and penalties, withitness etc.

The main intention of this blog entry is to provide NELTA colleagues and beyondwith an idea about writing a ‘good’ proposal for international presentation at IATEFL and other platforms. Regarding preparing a proposal for the IATEFL conference, Dr. Shrestha points out that the first the foremost thing is to write a proposal as per the speaker proposal criteria/guidelines set by the IATEFL, which is available on the IATEFL conference page each year (e.g., see here for IATEFL Manchester 2015). In addition, Dr. Shresthamentions that technical aspect of proposal (e.g., 50 to 60 words abstract and a 200-250 words summary) should be maintained along with ‘the content of the paper appropriate for the conference: innovative or new knowledge, relevant and well-written.’

Since NELTA is an associate teacher association member of IATEFL; it seems that they tend to give priority to the ‘good’ proposals submitted by the members of its associate member associations. It is evident from the past few IATEFL conferences where one or two NELTA colleagues have been presenting their paper(s). Who knows?You could be the next lucky one to get your proposal accepted and make it to your journey to IATEFL next year in Manchester, UK, and experience the state-of-the-art facilities at the conference.

The ‘myth’ that only proposals submitted by renowned ELT experts are accepted is not always true. So colleagues, now is the time to debunk this ‘myth’; consider submitting your proposals; and waiteagerly for the positive results to come as there are many participants out there to listen to what other professionals like you from every nook and corner of the world have to say. Please consider this link http://www.iatefl.org/annual-conference/manchester-2015 for important dates for speaker proposal submission deadline. Here is an important file (courtesy from IATEFL website) about a speaker proposal criteria guideline(s) that gives you detailed information on this issue. This is another useful document (courtesy from IATEFL website) that deals with information(s) for giving presentation(s) at international conference(s) by Catherine Walter. Good luck in advance for all those aspiring colleagues for getting your proposals for IATEFL accepted!

(*Mr. Kc is an Access instructor in Kathmandu Access center since 2012. He has more than a decade long experience of teaching English in EFL context. He has received graduation degrees from Kathmandu Universuty.)

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One response

  1. Sajan Chaudhary | Reply

    The archive of NELTA ELT Forum is really a very pertinence milestone to initiate the journey of international presentations.So, keep on publishing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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