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Article Discussion Group: June 2019


Image courtesy of http://kausarbilal.com/book-club-launch-at-south-asian-study-group/

Discussion of the article: From feedback to backfeed: Increasing student engagement with feedback. Bianka Malecka, UNSW Global

Bianka writes:

While the value of timely feedback, whether formative, summative, corrective, confirming, written or oral is no longer contested, there seems to be insufficient focus on what happens after students receive feedback. After all, feedback needs to demonstrate effects and its utility ultimately depends on whether students engage with it. This is not often the case, however.

This sets the scene for her article on making feedback useful and engaging for her students. She approached this problem through an action research (AR) project, noting that a as a UEEC (University English Entry Course) writing teacher she is responsible for 8 hours of weekly writing lessons including Writing Skills, Writing Practice, Writing Workshops and Consultations. She also notes that on average, a writing teacher provides 216 feedback reports in 10 weeks!

In the AR project, Bianka surveyed all her students about their experiences with written feedback. She also interviewed her colleagues to find out what they did. This resulted in 77 student responses and 6 teacher interviews.

Bianka writes:

As for suggested improvements to feedback, seven students suggested marking strengths as well as weaknesses while 10 students mentioned providing increased opportunities for one-on-one oral feedback.
In terms of students’ perception of the most valuable essay feedback, 34% of respondents wanted teachers to correct their errors, 24% would like to have their errors underlined, 16% valued teacher’s use of error correction code (intended to identify the type of error, without correcting it) and only 5% viewed evaluation sheets as helpful in their progress.

Interestingly, correction codes, which many teachers seem to favour, were not preferred by students.

Some questions to get us started:

  • How do you think your students would compare to these findings?
  • What do you think of the examples of feedback tasks the author outlines?
  • Do you practice any other kinds of feedback/backfeed?

Welcome to the voting page of the Article Discussion Group. The idea is for us all to vote for our preferred article from the latest English Australia Journal, read it, and then join in a moderated discussion of the article. Authors will either join in on the discussion, or respond offline to points raised and questions asked, facilitated by the moderator. The discussion will take place on the #AusELT Facebook page and is scheduled as such: June 17-23 is reading time; June 24-30 is discussion time.

The articles are all relevant to many of the contexts in which members of AusELT practice. One is a research article focused on technology-enhanced academic language support for EAP-type programs. Another is an investigation of teachers’, students’ and administrators’ beliefs about an English-only college policy. The third introduces strategies for increasing student engagement with feedback. Each article has been peer-reviewed, meaning that the editor has invited leading TESOL scholars to review and offer suggestions for improving earlier drafts. We have some excellent reviewers who, together with the authors, have ensured you receive the best quality research reports upon which you can make some decisions about your own teaching.

The discussion moderator will orient you by providing a summary of the research design (where applicable) and the overall purpose of the research. The discussion will not only focus on how the article can inform your own teaching, but also on opportunities for further research in any form. It will hopefully spark ideas for improving the quality of life in many classrooms! Each article has an abstract for you to read; after all, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a research article by its title. The complete articles are all open access, freely available online here and downloadable in pdf here. The chosen article will be made available as a pdf and available for download on this page.


A developmental framework for technology-enhanced academic language support (TALS)

John Smith

Griffith English Language Institute, Griffith University


Technology-enhanced academic language support (TALS) refers to any adjunctive learning and teaching program that utilises digitally based technologies to support and develop academic English language and skills. Despite its prevalence, TALS has been largely ignored in the literature. This lack of research and exploration is concerning, not only because such a widespread learning and teaching practice has been so neglected, but also because there is real need for good guidance. With the increasing rapidity of change in technology-enhanced education, there is a correspondingly increased need for TALS programs to have a solid grounding in theory, educational design and quality assurance. This paper will therefore briefly present a framework for TALS development that can be utilised across a variety of contexts and settings. It is expected that this framework will be of most use to teachers and developers interested in online academic language learning and teaching.

English-only policy in an ELICOS setting: Perspectives of teachers and students

Yulia Kharchenko and Phil Chappell

Macquarie University

Contrary to growing multilingual theories of language learning, beliefs in the advantages of monolingual instruction in English teaching are widespread and often result in an English-only approach that rarely takes into account the perspectives of the parties involved. This article reports on a study that explored perceptions of a strict English-only policy and its impact on students and teachers in an Australian English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) setting. In a mixed-methods approach, data from a student survey and group interviews with teachers revealed a discrepancy between generally positive beliefs about the policy and a mixed impact of its implementation in practice. The study also highlighted the limitations of framing a linguistic strategy as an official policy, including the potential for conflict between the teaching staff and the students. The findings have implications for language policy decisions in the wider ELICOS sector and support research on multilingual pedagogy and first language use in English teaching and learning.

From feedback to backfeed: Increasing student engagement with feedback

Bianka Malecka
UNSW Global

Developing strategies to encourage students to backfeed, i.e., engage in the process of mindful reflection and analysis of the meaning of feedback seems to be a genuine need to fast-track their learning. Technology has a vital role to play in this process as it makes backfeed accessible to staff and students so that a longer-term picture of learning can emerge. Using Learning Management Systems (LMS), online platforms and collaborative technologies to provide feedback and backfeed makes it more dialogic and gives students a voice in the process of feedback communication, a voice that they may be deprived of when not given an opportunity to interact with feedback. This paper explains the concept of backfeed and provides examples of strategies to integrate it in the classroom.


So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Sunday June 16, 2019 at 5 pm EST

Poll closed: winning article: From feedback to backfeed: Increasing student engagement with feedback: Bianka Malecka UNSW Global

Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ)

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Transferability of skills AusELT Twitter chat 2 June 2019 8.30pm AEST

AusELT Twitter chat 2 June 2019

Fancy joining us for a bit of a chat tonight?

Check the time in your zone here.

UPDATE This chat has taken place – read the record here but will not doubt continue elsewhere. 

There are a number of higher education institutions working with ELT trainers and teachers building capacity of educators working with international and domestic students in non-ELT disciplines here. So, this topic seems one worth exploring.

These chats can take off in any direction but here are some questions that may be thrown into the mix to get you thinking.

  • What skills did you bring with you when you began in ELT?
  • Which ones have you developed along the way?
  • What are the strategies and skills which ELTs generally need and use?
  • What are some examples of these needed and used in another teaching context (non-ELT, higher education or otherwise)?
  • Which of these are transferable to teaching in other subjects / disciplines (non-ELT, higher education or otherwise)?
  • How could this transfer of strategies and skills be facilitated?
  • How about the skills and strategies you’ve acquired through connections with non-ELT teachers and academics?
  • What’s happening in PD at your place re developing skills and strategies (as opposed to building awareness of content knowledge)?

New to #AusELT? New to Twitter? If you’re not sure what to do, get in touch with any of the #AusELT admin team on Facebook or Twitter (eg @SophiaKhan4 and @Clare_M_ELT) or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

Photo and post by @Clare_M_ELT

MeetELT 14 August 2019: IDEAS

meetELTOn Wednesday 24 August, the third edition of the popular meetELT event took place in Melbourne! Over 80 ELT-ers took the opportunity to come down to the Duke of Wellington on a weeknight to mingle, attend professional development talks and eat delicious food all at once!

The night started with an emotion-evoking presentation by Julia Gardiner on the benefits of instilling a writing habit for students and ways to get this happening inside and outside the classroom. Connecting with students, monitoring progress and building confidence were just a few of the benefits mentioned. After a quick 5 minutes, we already had journaling ideas such as photo journals or dream journals.

The night continued strongly (between sushi, chicken skewers and a cheeky drink) with a presentation by Petar Stojanovic who talked about SMART goals. He provided practical ideas on managing at-risk students and helping them reach their goals, while also tracking their progress with an online tool.

After being reminded to post on Facebook to be in the running for a prize (who doesn’t love prizes?!), Shweta Ramkumar presented on teaching travel English using communicative as well as written activities with authentic materials. Comparing travel insurance and doing hotel reviews were just a couple of the many ideas suggested.

The break provided a chance to post a couple more selfies (have to be in it to win it!), eat samosas, finally get that free drink, mingle, and of course complete the extra activities on the table, which was a great buzz!

But as we are all teachers at heart, we quickly went back to sharing ideas! Cara Dineen gave us food for thought in designing curricula and using blended learning techniques. Most importantly, the end result should inform the assessment rubrics which should in turn inform the syllabus.

Finally, it was time for Sarah Chamberlain to share her extension task ideas. The importance of turning a one-skill activity into a multi-skill activity was highlighted and some great examples were provided together with links to resources that are ready for teachers to use.

Prizes were given, presentations were done, and the mingle continued! A big thank you to Navitas, English Australia, and Pearson for sponsoring the event, in particular Emma Currie, Christina Tandog and Derya Uysal, as well as this year’s meetELT planning committee, Vesna Stefanov, Gwenny Warnick, Margot Palmer, and Athanassia Iosifidou. Last but not least, thank you to the lovely attendees and presenters who made this event the success that it was.

This post by Athanassia Iosifidou

What would you like to talk about on April 7th?

Screen Shot 2019-04-06 at 2.50.57 AMEvery 2 months is a chance for #AusELTers to get together on Twitter for a chat about something related to teaching and learning in our context. We’re due for one this Sunday at 8.30pm AEST – click here to see the time where you are.

Here are some of the things we’ve been talking about recently. Please vote on what you’d be most interested in discussing on Sunday!

Please get in touch if you would like to get involved but aren’t sure how to use Twitter. See our quick guide here.

Learning from our students #AusELT Twitter chat Sunday 3 Feb 2019


auselt twitter chat visualThis chat has been held – read through the chat transcript here.

To kick off the new year, we shared what we’ve learned and continue to learn from students. These were the questions posed during the chat:

  • What have you learned?
  • How did this come about?
  • What impact did this have?
  • Did you share it with anyone else?
  • What’s the best way to record such experiences?
  • How do we keep building on these insights?
  • How can we open up more opportunities to learn from our students?

A simple topic, but powerful.

This chat has been held – read through the chat transcript here.

New to #AusELT? New to Twitter? If you’re not sure what to do, get in touch with any of the #AusELT admin team on Facebook or Twitter (eg @SophiaKhan4) or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

·        Need help with Twitter?`

·        #AusELT 1-page guide to Twitter

·        So you have a Twitter account – now what?  (from Cult of Pedagogy)

 Photo and post by @Clare_M_ELT (edited and tanscript added by @cioccas)



Not “just a bit of homework” – Engaging learners outside the classroom (#AusELT Twitter chat 4/11/18)


Our students have travelled a long way to find themselves in our language classrooms. Uncomfortable or alone, they sign up with a friend, or quickly identify and sit with a peer with the same culture and language background. They’re able to help each other navigate life and study and getting by in a strange land, and why not. This is a good thing.

However, our students have travelled a long way also because they need or want to make a life over here for a period of time. They want to feel like they can really get to know this place and make it their own, in some ways at least.

But the networks they establish at language institutions and in own-language communities often work against this goal. They provide solidarity and familiarity – but they don’t help make that leap to owning this new context and becoming participating members of the new language community that surrounds them.

For the last #AusELT Twitter chat of 2019 we’ll be swapping ideas on engaging learners outside the classroom, and hopefully going a step further than “just a bit of homework”.

  • Can you think of ways you have helped your learners engage with the wider local community?
  • What fears and obstacles might learners have around this, and how could we allay them?
  • What initiatives or activities have you found that genuinely spark learners’ passion for exploring the world through the medium of English?

Come and share your ideas on Sunday 4th Nov at 8.30pm AEDT. Click here to see the time where you are.

As you’re still up, just a little bit of reading to whet your appetite:

Chappell, P., Benson, P. Yates, L. (2017). ELICOS students’ out-of-class learning experiences: An action research agenda. English Australia Journal 33(2), 43-48. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2RwtgO2

Wilson, S. (2018). The Rejection Project. An action research project encouraging student interaction outside the classroom. English Australia Journal 34(1), 22-40. Retrieved from eajournal.realviewdigital.com/?iid=161637#folio=28



This post by @sophiakhan4

Ramblings of an ELT…rambler

by Sandra Pitronaci

Hi AusELT friends,

Over the last few months I’ve been exposed to fascinating input and ideas from a few different education events, and have decided to jot down what I call the ‘nuggets’ here, in our ever-broadening Community of Practice. These are the ideas and phrases that encapsulate my educational beliefs or pry open my world view, and remain with me long after the events have been packed away; these are the notions I mull over and draw from, where I find professional and ethical validation and consolation. I hope you find they can add value to your own professional ruminations.

September saw the ever-enjoyable English Australia Conference unfold in Sydney. I had an insider’s perspective this time around via the conference organising committee, and was mightily impressed by the staggering number and quality of abstracts put forward. Respect to all you ELT teachers out there – I am so glad to be part of such a highly-engaged and dedicated group of professionals.

The theme was Thriving in Changing Times, and as a committee member, chairing individual sessions was both a privilege and an exceptional learning curve – responsibility for one room/stream led to me attending sessions I may not have otherwise chosen, and as a result, I learnt many random pieces of information, such as the fact that Australia has the highest visa processing fees in the world, courtesy of Tim Eckenfels (IH). Denise Metzger (UNSW Global) encouraged us to embrace a growth mindset, with specific advice on how to effectively praise students. Turns out that “You’re a natural, I know you can do this!” is in fact de-motivating, as it is not rewarding genuine effort. I cringe in guilt at the vacuous platitudes I may have sincerely offered to my students over the years…

Fiona Wiebusch (UQ ICTE) and Clare Magee (UTS Insearch) reminded us that PD can happen in many different and unique spaces and places. I indulge in an inner grin as the image of our staff kitchen where deconstruction of lesson plans and lunch plates, so artfully blurred, flashes by. Donna Cook (ACU), Vickie Bos (UQ ICTE) and Nicole Patterson (Study Qld) encouraged us to consider that it’s not all about us providing for international students – they bring a richness and energy of their own into our community and we should go about recognising, fostering and promoting it so that others may see and learn from them. Again, chagrin.

Plenary speaker Antonia Clare, much admired for her bright energy and the passion she has brought to the Speakout series, lifted our hearts by helping us remember that emotion and cognition are closely linked, and that for our students to learn well, we need to engage their emotions. And a great big shout out to those of you who honoured Barbara Craig (Flinders), and me, Sandra Pitronaci (MQ ELC), with your presence at our Servant Leadership workshop. We valued your honest discussion, and we thank you once again for participating so enthusiastically.

The highlight of the conference for me, besides watching a bunch of ELT folk nutbushing the night away, and another bunch of ELT folk bravely ad-libbing through a Theatresports rite of passage, was absorbing the wisely spoken words of Sue Blundell, presenter on the Women in Leadership Panel. Organised by Aparna Jacob (UNSW Global), and including Heather Thomas (UOW), and Jenni Coster (Monash), the discussion centred around surviving and thriving in political environments. Sue’s words were a salve to my heart. “Be the peacemaker. Find solutions. Peacemakers transcend politics and focus on making progress”. A bright gold nugget clenched tightly in my fist as I spent the evenings after the conference watching our Federal Parliament transcend into the hellish depths of ego-driven leadership spills and shameless in-house bullying.

English Australia, and most especially Sophie O’Keefe, you have once again done us proud. What a profession, and what dedicated professionals. International students are being so carefully and so generously served by you all, as are we.

Soon after the English Australia Conference was over, I rambled across the ditch and over the hill, to attend and co-present at the CLESOL Conference in Christchurch. My LOTE background and a past life working with a Community Language School drew me over, along with a fascination for the strength of te reo Maori in the New Zealand linguistic space, and how our Kiwi cousins have been progressing in leaps and bounds. Language revitalisation projects are considered modest by the Kiwis, yet as an Aussie, knowing how we have neglected the languages of our First Nations People, their initiatives blew my mind. And obligations do not end at adhering to the New Zealand Standards, but also include honouring the Waitangi Treaty by embedding Maori perspective into the curriculum. I know we’re working on it back here, but I feel we still have much to catch up on. Plenaries by Paulette Tamati-Elliffee, Jeanette King and Rae Si’ilata on te reo Maori and Pasifika languages helped broaden my world view by a number of notches, and while I spent the weekend feeling slightly ashamed, I left somewhat hopeful. I might lack the knowledge and expertise to be of service in the language revitalisation of Indigenous Australian Languages, yet it was heartening to see language-teaching colleagues throwing their heart and soul into the study and revitalisation of te reo Maori, and I know there are colleagues both Indigenous and non-Indigenous doing the same in Australia. If any of you out there know any colleagues who are doing so, or who have ideas on embedding culture into the curriculum, perhaps we could do an AusELT post showcasing their work?

The CLESOL Conference also hosted a plenary by Angel Lin, Simon Fraser University, acknowledging and encouraging translanguaging and trans-semiotizing. Gone are the days of the ‘interlanguage’, and oh how I most dearly embrace my clumsily emergent meaning-making… Perhaps my countless half-finished phrased and gestures cast into the wind in either/both/neither languages aren’t so meaningless after all… Then Macquarie’s very own Phil Benson led us through learning English in the multilingual city of Sydney, where thoughtful management of ‘spatial circumstances’ can greatly enhance language learning opportunities. My nugget from Phil – that a ‘post-social’ view of applied linguistics is person-centred, and sees individuals as agents of their own socialisation. My rambler’s suitcase is now emptied, but I’m still unpacking that notion. And once again, thank you to those of you who attended my session with Barbara Craig – such a delight to immerse ourselves back in our old primary and high school teaching worlds plus hear your perspectives from current times.

CLESOL Conference, you were an intense moment of immense growth, and I recommend you to anyone. Kerstin Dofs, an honour to meet you, and Daryl Streat, sorry not to have crossed paths in the real world.

Just as my language and education immersion fortnight was almost over, along came a lucky pass to the ABC’s Q&A Teaching Special, courtesy of Angie Nazim (UNSW Global). (We would have taken AusELT’s Clare McGrath with us, but it turns out she isn’t demographically fascinating enough). I was lured in by the appearances of Pasi Sahlberg, now at the UNSW Gonski Institute, and Eddie Woo, maths teacher extraordinaire at Cherrybrook Technology High, and creator of WooTube. Joining them were Cindy Berwick (NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group), Gabbie Stroud (author of Teacher), Jennifer Buckingham (Centre for Independent Studies), and of course the ever-sharp Tony Jones. A feast of topics, and a huge diversity of ideas and opinions on the NAPLAN test, selective schools, disadvantaged schools, remote schools, demoralised teachers, teacher autonomy as professionals, teacher qualifications and school funding.

One of the final questions of the night had many wondering if there was still hope. In Eddie Woo’s words, yes, there is, as we teachers are ‘professional non-giver-upperers’. I like you, Eddie. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to put my burning question to Pasi Sahlberg: What would be the single most important thing we should be doing in this country to improve our education system? AusELT folk, perhaps you have some ideas?


AusELT group members at the CLESOL Conference (left to right: Sandra Pitronaci, Rike Tegge, Julie van Dyke, Tricia Lewis)