Author Archives: #AusELT

About #AusELT

A collaborative Twitter hashtag and blog connecting ELT professionals in Australia and beyond

Article Discussion Group

book-club

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

Update

The winning article is “An analysis of perceptions: Writing task designers in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program and a specific academic discipline” by Elaheh Gharesoufloo, Macquarie University. The article is available to read online here, or download as a pdf here (scroll to page 51).

Some discussion questions will be made available later in the week. In the meantime, happy reading!

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Welcome to the voting page of the fourth 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: May 29-June 4 is reading time; June 5-12 is discussion time.

The articles are all relevant to many of the contexts in which AusELT folk practice. They are primary research articles, that is, the authors have devised and conducted their own research study and reported their findings. In addition, 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.

In order to assist those who are new to reading research articles, the moderator will orient you by providing a summary of the research design 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 and downloadable in pdf here. The chosen article will be made available as a pdf and available for download on this page.


Book Club Café: A new recipe for extensive reading

Lesley Speer and Jose Lara

Macquarie University English Language Centre

Introducing and sustaining an Extensive Reading program can be challenging for teachers and for language centres. Generally, whilst it is impractical to devote a great deal of the limited time during class to ‘free reading’, motivating students to read in their own time can be especially difficult. Introducing a reading program can also involve considerable costs and a substantial commitment of time for language centres. This paper describes the introduction of ‘Book Club Café’, an innovative Extensive Reading project, and its implementation through three phases at a university English language centre in Sydney. A practical but flexible model is provided for teachers who wish to implement such a program in their own teaching contexts. Finally, data is provided from an Exploratory Practice study which was conducted on the project in 2015 and which indicates that the program is successful and sustainable over time.


School in the cloud, feet on the ground: Language learning with SOLE

James Pengelley, Independent

Jane Pyper, British Council Hong Kong

This article presents an action research project conducted at a learning centre in Hong Kong in which the merits of Sugata Mitra’s Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) are applied to an ELT context. Mitra has received significant support for his work on SOLE from various sources, including the TED network and Newcastle University, UK, where he oversees the SOLE Central research unit and The School in the Cloud website which aim to provide a radically modernised education to remote children around the world, as well as to those in mainstream urban classrooms by asking them to research ‘big questions’ on the internet with minimal guidance from a teacher. SOLE pedagogy makes some profound claims about the nature of education and characteristics of best practice, and yet there seems to be very little, if any, independent research available, especially in its application to learning a foreign language. We aimed to address this by investigating the quality of classroom discourse emerging during two SOLE sessions with four groups (N=58) in order to evaluate the merits of using SOLE in language learning environments. We conclude that without significant teacher training, learner training and teacher- intervention, the success of SOLE (and minimally invasive pedagogies) is highly context-dependent and limited as a language learning tool.


Experiencing Thai Student Voice from a teacher’s perspective

Anthony Catto, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce

Anne Burns, University of New South Wales

Student Voice is a concept which seeks to democratise education by empowering students with authority and influence to effect authentic change in educational systems. In so doing, Student Voice aims to appropriate respect and rights for students and allow for the professional development of teachers and administrators. The aim of the narrative self-study reported in this article was to expose an English language teacher, of British background, working at a Thai University to the experience of critical student voices in order to explore the potential for critical reflection, professional development, and transformative learning. The study focuses on the teacher’s reactions to the written critiques of his teaching, authored by three of his students.


An analysis of perceptions: Writing task designers in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program and a specific academic discipline

Elaheh Gharesoufloo, Macquarie University

This qualitative case study investigated academic writing in two contexts. The first was writing task designers at an EAP program; the second was the academics in the discipline of Accounting and Corporate Governance. Two participants from each context volunteered their perspectives on the role and function of academic writing in their respective settings. Drawing on Roz Ivanič’s (2004) theoretical framework, data was coded and categorised into discrete concepts. Analysis of participants’ perspectives reflected core concepts encountered in Ivanič’s framework, although some responses combined discourses proposed as separate by Ivanič. The findings are discussed to illuminate potential implications for different stakeholders.


So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Friday May 26, 2016 at 5 pm DST

Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ, Executive Editor of the English Australia Journal)

Work & Rights in Australian ELT (#AusELT Twitter Chat 7th May 2017)

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Our April Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 7th May at 8.30pm Sydney time – click here to see the time where you are. Hope to e-see you there!

If you read the #AusELT Facebook page or Twitter feed, you can see a remarkable group of professionals. The comments, questions and responses clearly show hard-working teachers (and trainers, lecturers and managers), serious about meeting students’ needs, and committed to learning and sharing in order to do ‘this’ better.

Unfortunately, in many cases their hard work, commitment and professional development do not seem to be valued, remunerated or even rewarded with something as basic as a contract. Phiona Stanley’s paper, Economy class? Lived experiences and career trajectories of private-sector English-language school teachers in Australia, captures the instability and lack of recognition that characterises ELT employment for many (you can also see slides from her related plenary at the English Australia Conference in 2016 here).

As Stanley also points out, the individual DoS or manager (who is also hard-working and professional) often has their hands tied as well in terms of balancing who they can retain and who they need to take on. These issues are systemic, and it can seem impossible for individual teachers or managers to make a difference. But there are exceptions and examples of good, ethical, practice.

In this chat we will discuss:

  • what are the exceptions and how can we work to make them the rule?
  • how can we help each other to advocate for ourselves?
  • what are your rights and what can you do if they are not being met?
  • what can individuals do to work towards change?

We are collecting useful resources on this topic, which you can access via the ‘Working in ELT‘ link above – let us know in the comments, Twitter chat or via Facebook message, if you have ideas to add. There’s also some recommended reading below. Please join us for this important discussion on Sunday. Looking forward to e-seeing you then.

Recommended Reading

(* Posted with the permission of the Australian Education Union (AEU). Access more recent issues of The Australian TAFE Teacher here: http://www.aeufederal.org.au/news-media/the-australian-tafe-teacher).

Not sure about Twitter?

Why not have a go? We can help you out. Get in touch with any of the AusELT admin team on Facebook or Twitter (eg, @sophiakhan4 or @cioccas, or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

This post by @sophiakhan4

PARSNIPs: Controversial topics in the English language classroom

 

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Our April Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 2nd April at 8.30pm Sydney time – click here to see the time where you are – and don’t forget the clocks have gone back! Hope to see you there!

We have a controversial topic this month! Or is it? It’s true that publishers of global ELT coursebooks try to avoid certain issues that may cause offence, often summarised under the handy ‘parsnip’ acronym:

P          for Politics
A         for Alcohol
R          for Religion
S          for Sex
N          for Narcotics
I           for “isms” (eg communism, atheism…)
P          for Pork

But this is controversial in itself, with different teachers (and authors, and publishers) responding in quite polarised ways. You can read Scott Thornbury’s insightful overview of the issue here: https://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/t-is-for-taboo/ and do have a look at the comments as well.

So what does #AusELT think about this? Here are some questions to get you thinking

  • Have any ‘taboo’ topics have come up in your classroom? By accident or design?
  • How did you/the students respond?
  • Are there issues we **should** be raising with our international cohorts in Au/NZ?
  • Are there any specifically Australian taboo topics?
  • Do you have any tips for how we can handle sensitive material in the classroom?

See below for some useful further reading and help with Twitter. Hope to e-see you on Sunday!

Further reading

#ELTchat have discussed this a couple of times if you need some ideas:

There have also been some useful published resources for teachers wishing to engage with controversial issues in the classroom:

  • Taboos & Issues by Richard MacAndrew & Ron Martinez
  • Parsnips in ELT: Stepping out of the Comfort Zone (various).Vol.1 &Vol.2. These 2 free ebooks were crowd-sourced from the online ELT community including #AusELT regular Mike Smith as one of the authors!
  • 52 by Lindsay Clandfield & Luke Meddings, reviewed by Mike Griffin in the English Australia Journal here.

Not sure about Twitter?

Why not have a go? We can help you out. Get in touch with any of the AusELT admin team on Facebook or Twitter (eg, @sophiakhan4,  @heimuoshutaiwan or @Clare_M_ELT) or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

This post by @sophiakhan4

#AusELT Twitter chat Sunday 5 March 2017 – Discrimination against non-native English speaking teachers

In our Twitter chat for March 2017, we discussed discrimination against non-native English speaking teachers. This chat has now taken place but you can read the summary here.

Have a look at the following questions and links to prepare for the chat.

Questions

  • Why should we be concerned by this topic?
  • Why would students from abroad pay to study in Australia, only to be taught by a teacher from their home country or a surrounding country?
  • Do students need a native speaker to acquire native sounding accent?
  • Is a native sounding accent really important?
  • What can we do about discrimination, and why is it important to do something?

Links

You’ll see we had a similar chat last year, so a quick read through that (link above) would allow us to really move the topic forward.

This chat has now taken place but you can read the summary here.

For those new to Twitter chats, these posts should get you started:

If you are not sure about Twitter and need a hand to get started, do message Gerhard on Facebook or Twitter (@heimuoshutaiwan) or by leaving a comment below.

#AusELT Twitter chat: What would you like to talk about on Sunday 5th March 2017?

We are approaching March which means we need to start planning for our next Twitter chat. That’ll be on Sunday, March 5, at 8:30pm Sydney time.

We have a choice of three topics, based on topics which have generated some interest on the #AusELT Facebook group recently.

Please vote in the poll below and we’ll announce the winner on our Facebook page and on Twitter towards the end of next week. The chat will take place on Sunday 5th March at 8.30pm Sydney time (click here to see the time where you are).

Vote here:

For those new to Twitter chats, these posts should get you started:

If you are not sure about Twitter and need a hand to get started, do message Gerhard on Facebook or Twitter (@heimuoshutaiwan) or by leaving a comment below.

Transitions and Transfer: From EAP to Uni (#AusELT Twitter chat, 5th Feb 2017)

puzzle-1020221_1280In this post, Meredith MacAulay discusses how we can better help students transfer their knowledge from preparatory courses to the real world. (NB: The Twitter chat referred to has now taken place but you can read the summary here.)

Despite the increasingly high enrolments in EAP courses in Australia, particularly Direct Entry courses, there is still limited published research into what impacts these courses have on students’ success at university. It can be argued that the ultimate goal of an English for Academic Purposes course is for students to transfer the language, skills and strategies they learn to the tertiary context. However, to what extent does this occur? What affects whether our students use what they learn in their EAP courses? And are we teaching what they really need?

This Twitter Chat will focus on issues surrounding the teaching of EAP courses and learning transfer, that is the application of skills or knowledge learned in one context to a new context. The inspiration for the chat comes from my personal interest in learning transfer and research I carried out on the transfer of learning from a Direct Entry EAP program [DEP] to students’ university mainstream subjects. It focused specifically on speaking skills and the related assessments from the DEP course, and you can read more about it here.

In the Twitter Chat, I’d like to draw on three factors that have been suggested as possible influences on transfer of learning, and which also featured in my results.

They include:

  • students’ perceptions of task similarity – do tasks that students are required to do at uni seem similar to tasks they have done before?
  • students’ perceptions of transfer ‘climate’ (James, 2010) – do students feel supported by the context, including their peers, teachers and assignments?
  • instructional strategies – we can teach for transfer by making our courses similar to the target context and by making students aware of these similarities. We can also encourage students to reflect, plan and monitor their activities and to anticipate future applications (Green, 2015). These strategies are outlined in the  ‘hugging and bridging’ model.

So bring your experience and ideas and let’s discuss the following:

  • What skills do you expect your students to take from your class to uni?
  • To what extent do your students transfer what they have learnt in their mainstream classes? How do you know?
  • How can we strike a balance between near transfer (learning for the test) and far transfer in a DEP course?
  • What can we do to familiarise our students with the target context?
  • What else do you (or your institute) do to facilitate transfer?
  • What information or research would help us to plan our courses and teach for transfer?

All are welcome to this chat, even if you don’t teach EAP! Transfer from our courses to a ‘real life,’ context is relevant to all teachers-General English, Business English, English for Migrants, Teacher Training, etc…Look forward to seeing you there!

This chat has now taken place but you can read the summary here.

Further Reading & References

Green, J. (2015). Teaching for transfer in EAP: Hugging and bridging revisited. English for Specific Purposes, 37, 1-12.

MacAulay, M (2016). Transition and transfer: Effects of an EAP direct entry course on students’ discussion skills at university. University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, vol 11, pp. 97-130.

James, M.A. (2006b). Teaching for transfer in ELT. ELT Journal, 60 (2), 151-159.

James, M. A. (2010). Transfer climate and EAP education: Students’ perceptions of challenges to learning transfer. English for Specific Purposes, 29(2), 133-147.

merMeredith MacAulay (@MeredithMacAul1) is an active AusELTer and currently teaches a Direct Entry EAP course to international students pursuing tertiary study in Sydney as well as training pre-sessional and in-session teachers. She presented on this topic last year at the University of Sydney TESOL Research Colloquium and the English Australia Conference. This is her first time to moderate a Twitter chat!

Teacher Motivation & Recharging your Batteries (#AusELT Twitter chat summary, 6/11/16)

Read the summary for some great ideas and links on how to make your teaching life a more positive and fruitful one. Managers will also find some guidance on how to build teacher motivation in the workplace.

 

Happy 2017!