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International conference for teaching English held in Seoul

A Korea-based association of teachers of English as a foreign language held an international conference over the weekend at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul.

KOTESOL -- the Korean chapter of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages international association -- brought together new teachers and veteran educators for its annual meeting, this time themed “Blending Disciplines, Approaches and Technologies.”

Conference participants hold a discussion during a workshop. (AC Parsons/TESOL)
Conference participants hold a discussion during a workshop. (AC Parsons/TESOL)

In a welcome message, KOTESOL President David E. Shaffer said the teachers’ assembly epitomizes TESOL’s motto of “teachers helping teachers.”

At the conference, attendees would be able to “share what they have learned through study, research and classroom practice for the benefit and success of all,” he said.

Hosting the event, Sookmyung Women’s University TESOL Director Yeum Kyung-sook said the field of education should follow the business world’s adaptability “in the age of rapid change.”

“We have to keep learning, unlearning and relearning to make ourselves better educators,” she said.

Rod Ellis, an education research professor at Curtin University in Australia, addressed Saturday’s plenary session, during which he spoke about newly emerging second-language teaching approaches.

Sunday’s plenary speaker Andrew D. Cohen, a professor emeritus from the University of Minnesota, led a workshop exploring the advantages of instruction by nonnative and native speakers of English.

Bodo Winter -- a cognitive linguistics lecturer at University of Birmingham, UK, and general editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Language and Cognition – spoke on an interdisciplinary study of gestures in teaching new words and concepts.

Two of the featured speakers were language educators based in Japan – Curtis Kelly from Kansai University, Osaka, and Stephen Ryan from Waseda University, Tokyo.

The two-day conference consisted of interactive keynote speeches from panelists, hands-on workshops for tackling challenges and discussing techniques in teaching and research presentations.

KOTESOL Chair Grace Wang said this is “an exciting time for English-language teaching field,” where we are “moving away from top-down, West-centric approaches and theories to what is considered model ways to teach the English language.”

“Teachers at the grassroots level, rather than researchers in ivory towers” are increasingly being recognized as more credible authorities on what constitutes “best” English-language teaching methods in local contexts, Wang said.

“We need more teachers to become less comfortable with being directed on how to teach, and more comfortable with venturing out to explore their own practice environments.”

By The Korea Herald (