I’ve been to a few kotesol conferences and felt that this would be my last one. This one was great in so many ways that I definitely want to return next year. I learned a lot during the conference, had a lot of ideas that were not directly connected to the seminars I was currently in and connected with a lot of old friends. I almost always felt good about teaching; now I am recharged and excited about planning the next semester and trying new things.
First, Tom and Barbara real fantastic hosts. I was wonderfully taken care of and would not be able to offer the same level of care at my own home to visitors. Thanks so much T&B and if you visit Busan, I will help you find a nice hotel.
Alright, it’s Monday morning and I need to start a discussion of the seminars I attended before I forget. The summary and critique below is partly to help my reader(s) and partly to organize my own thinking on the subjects. I need to this summary of the weekend now because last year I kept pushing it to the next day and the next day… I never published.
On Saturday morning, the conference started out strong with a great talk by Heidi Nam.
Heidi Vande Voort Nam, who I think has been very involved with KOTESOL for years, discussed “six techniques for monitoring students’ comprehension in class.” I already understood the problem but really enjoyed her suggestions on how to solve it.
After teaching some material, it is a waste of time to ask, “Is this okay?” or “Do you understand?” Even asking, “Do you have any questions?” can be a waste of time. (I do like asking “Do you have any questions?” and feel that encouraging questions (and proper formation in English of questions) is important. I continue to ask this question and thanking my interrogators in the hope of hearing more).
Nam offered a hierarchy of ways to check comprehension, starting with translations and building up to “cold calls”.
The six techniques were:
- Through translation. Even if you don’t know the translation, if most people in class are saying the same word, it is probably right.
- Through TPR. “On the faucet, the left side is hot and the right is cold. Turn on the hot water.”
- Asking a Yes’No question or a discrimination question. “Is this KOTESOL?”, “Is this JALT?”, “Is this KOTESOL or JALT?”
- a written check
- pair check
- cold calls. After using some of the previous checks and the students are warmed up, one can “cold call”. “Jae-won, where are we?”
Next, I went to Ken Morrison’s talk on “From politeness to participation” which was more a discussion of culture and sensitivity than on techniques for use in class. It was not bad, and Ken was an interesting speaker, but I haven’t given it enough thought to describe quickly. I have to say I probably won’t, either. Again, there were points that I liked but it wasn’t what I expected and my note-taking suffered accordingly. The link I gave above offers his presentation slides.
Next up, Krashen. That’s for another post.
Oh, Koreabridge was active throughout the weekend, recording interviews with many speakers.