Page 1

Feature Article

1

In this issue: Feature Articles 10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers

Christine Coombe Complexity Theory Through the Lens of a Wiki Writing Assignment

Lesson Ideas

T. Leo Schmitt

Reviews

Peer Review in EFL Writing: Teacher Attitudes

Jeremy White Brett Morgan Bjorn Fuisting

Networking SIG Reports Chapter Reports TESOL Arabia News

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

2

Guidelines for

Contributors General Editorial Policies TESOL Arabia Perspectives is the official publication of TESOL Arabia, designed to meet the organization’s professional objectives by publishing articles that discuss the teaching and learning of English as an additional language at all levels and with a particular focus on the region (the Gulf, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia). TESOL Arabia Perspectives invites previously unpublished manuscripts that address the diverse topics that make up our profession, including, but not limited to, methodology, pedagogy, curriculum and materials development, assessment, classroom inquiry and research, teacher education and language and culture.

Submission Categories & Guidelines Feature Articles Features should generally be between 2000-4000 words in length, and address educational issues (theory leading to practice) relevant to the membership. The articles can document a critical survey of a particular aspect of the field, detail and analyze pedagogical issues, describe and discuss research findings, or highlight contextual factors and their implications for educational practice. All submissions should be thought through, organized, and clearly written. APA style format will be strictly adhered to regarding referencing. Submissions must be in Times New Roman, font size 12, double spaced. Submissions not meeting APA standards will not be reviewed. Every feature article will go through a review process where the reviewers consider how well it: discusses issues that seek to inform practice; contributes to the knowledge base for teaching and teacher education in general, and in the region in particular; addresses educational issues and needs of ELT in the region; identifies an educational research agenda.

Reviews Reviews should evaluate any recent textbook, resource book, CD/DVD audio or video title, or website. Reviews should be 500–1000 words in length and evaluate materials for their approach, content, appropriateness, adaptability, and relevancy. A list of

materials received for review will be made available periodically in Perspectives. Please contact Paul Dessoir the Reviews Editor, at pdessoir@uaeu.ac.ae.

Educational Technology This section will document short articles of about 5002000 words that provide overviews of educational technologies, their utilities and incorporation into practice. This could include software, hardware, and web-based resources.

Networking This section will feature conference and country reports. Reports will be about 500 words. Conference reports should provide the readers with a good overview of the conference in question as well as some personal insights of how it impacted the author. Photos with captions must accompany the submission.

Reader’s Response Reader’s Response gives the readers a forum to respond to articles published in previous issues or respond to a critical issue in the region. Responses should focus on the content of an article and provide reasoned feedback. Responses should be between 500-2000 words.

Lesson Ideas Do you have a great lesson idea or an activity that others should know about? Lesson Ideas offers teachers the opportunity to share their activities in context. Submissions should be between 500-2000 words and detail the activity as well as provide a context for usage. Lesson ideas can be a one-off lesson or a series of lessons.

Photographs and other images In order to avoid poor quality images, please submit the largest size and best resolution images you have. This should be at least 300 dpi and saved as a tiff, eps, or jpeg (in order of preference). Headshots and brief bios including the author's current professional affiliation must accompany all submissions.

Send your submissions to: Julie Riddlebarger and Suhair Al Alami, perspectives@tesolarabia.org

TESOL Arabia Perspectives is published three times a year: November, January and June Deadline for submissions: September 15, November 15, and April 15 Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

C o n t e n t s

3

Pers p e c t ives Volume 22 No. 2 June 2014

From the Editors

2

Message from the President

3

Message from the Conference Co-Chairs

4

Feature Articles 10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers

Complexity Theory Through the Lens of a Wiki Writing Assignment Peer Review in EFL Writing: Teacher Attitudes

Christine Coombe

6

T. Leo Schmitt 13

Jeremy White, Brett Morgan, Bjorn Fuisting 20

Lesson Idea Student Self-Reflection on Academic Writing

Rania Jabr

28

Anthony Hill

31

Tsoghik Grigoryan

34

Ten Arabic Plays Omnia Amin, David Palfreyman The Count of Monte Cristo R. Jay Nudds Sinbad: The Legacy Dan Johnson

36 38 38

Educational Technology eEverything

Reader’s Response Curriculum Change in the United Arab Emirates

Reviews

Networking Bahrain ELT Professionals 3rd ELT Conference 6th Shinas College of Technology ELT Workshop

Neil McBeath Neil McBeath

Confluence V Conference 48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition 48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition TESOL International 2014: A Conference to Remember TESOL International 2014

Tandy Bailey

Qatar TESOL 2014

40 41 42

Mick King

43 Mohamed EL-Zamil 44 Tamas Lorinz 45 Christine Coombe

46

Naziha Ali

47

TESOL Arabia News Pre-Conference Session at TESOL Arabia 2014 Special Interest Group Reports Chapter Reports SIGs Chapter Representatives Executive Council Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

50 52 55 58 59 60 www.tesolarabia.org


From Feature the Article Editors

2

Dear Readers,

Editors

We are happy to introduce ourselves as the new co-editors of TESOL Arabia Perspectives. Julie Riddlebarger has worked with the former editors as the TA News and Copy Editor. She has been a TA member for many years and is also an active member of TESOL International. Julie has an MA-TESOL from San Jose State University, USA, and is a senior lecturer in the preparatory program at Khalifa University of Science, Technology, & Research in Abu Dhabi. Suhair Al Alami holds a PhD in applied linguistics from Aston University, UK, and another PhD in linguistics from Ain Shams University, Egypt. Currently, Suhair works at Al Ghurair University in Dubai. An active member of TESOL Arabia, Suhair has presented papers at a large number of TA conferences and workshops. We look forward to working together to continue bringing you the best articles, ideas, and TESOL Arabia news in the years to come.

Julie Riddlebarger Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi

In this issue, our first feature article is “10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers” by Christine Coombe. Christine offers an overview of research in the area of teacher effectiveness and concludes with her personal list of characteristics to reflect on. In the second feature, “Complexity Theory through the Lens of a Wiki Writing Assignment,” Leo Schmitt discusses the applicability of complexity theory to student writing via a wiki. Our third feature is by Jeremy White, Brett Morgan, and Bjorn Fuisting; “Peer Review in EFL Writing:Teacher Attitudes” presents a mixed-method study on instructors’ attitudes and experiences regarding peer review at a Japanese university.

Finally, we would like to thank the previous editors, Melanie Gobert and Tandy Bailey, for all their work in bringing Perspectives to its current position as a well-regarded, peer-reviewed publication. They will be sorely missed. We especially thank Melanie for her invaluable assistance in this time of transition, despite having her own very busy schedule as the new TESOL Arabia president! The current issue would not have been possible without her.

Reviews Editor Paul Dessoir United Arab Emirates University

Advisory Panel

Our Lesson Idea, “Student Self-Reflection on Academic Writing” by Rania Jabr explains a reflective task being used at the American University of Cairo. Consider it a “best practices” in teaching and learning idea, rather than a traditional “lesson” idea. Anthony Hill’s Educational Technology article, “eEverything,” urges teachers to jump on the video bandwagon, offering practical advice on how to make our own instructional videos. In Reader’s Response, “Curriculum Change in the United Arab Emirates,” Tsoghik Grigoryan discusses an exploratory study conducted by Troudi and Alwan on teachers’ perceptions of recent curriculum changes in the UAE. In the TESOL Arabia News section, we have a report from Teresa Murphy on a pre-conference session from this year’s TA Conference: “Pronunciation in Practice.”You will also find as usual all the regular Reviews and Networking, SIG, and Chapter Reports so many of our readers look forward to. We encourage you to become active participants in TESOL Arabia by submitting articles for future issues.You can find the Guidelines for Contributors inside the front cover.

Suhair Al Alami Al Ghurair University, Dubai

Daniel Mangrum Janet Olearski Kourosh Lachini Nagwa Soliman Dennis Balint Rania Jabr Paul James Dessoir Peter McLaren Sally Ali Hala Nur Neil McBeath Rachel Lange Lobat Asadi Laura Lau Richard Lau Indrani Ibrahim

CREDITS Layout / Artwork

Have a safe and enjoyable summer holiday!

Sudeep Kumar

Printing International Printing Press Dubai, UAE

June Cover Photo Hodariyat Bridge, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Julie Riddlebarger

Rob Wilson, Khalifa University

Suhair Al Alami

Editors, Perspectives The editors would like to remind the readers that the views expressed in this periodical are those of the individual authors. These views are not necessarily shared by the other authors in this issue or by TESOL Arabia. Responsibility for the content and opinion of articles and advertisements rests with the authors. TESOL Arabia is a non-profit organization based in the United Arab Emirates with membership from the Arabian Gulf and beyond. TESOL Arabia does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, age, or native language. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.tesolarabia.org

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Message Feature Article from the President

3

Dear Colleagues It was almost exactly 13 years ago that I was making preparations to leave my home of 13 years in Saudi Arabia. I came to my first TESOL Arabia Conference in 2001, held that year at Dubai Women’s College, to attend the job fair. Little did I know what was lurking for me behind the curtain. After 13 years of professional development drought, I had at last found water. I attended every single session that I could, and ended up only buying a board game at Dubai Duty Free on my way home as a gift for my three-year-old daughter. A lot has changed since then. The demand for English Language teachers and teachers who teach content through the medium of English has experienced unprecedented growth in the region and the number of students studying at schools, colleges, and universities has exploded. The population in the UAE has more than doubled. Unfortunately, the membership of TESOL Arabia has remained stagnant. One of our first initiatives in the new academic year is to rethink our membership policy, in hopes of building our membership base in keeping with the population, school attendees, and growth of educators in the region. Another challenge that TESOL Arabia faces is how to re-invest the revenue we gain from our international conference into our organization so that we maximize our potential. One of our first initiatives in this area is to offer events “free of charge” (twice a year for chapters and once a year for SIGs) to teachers and the community who are potential TA members. A major change that has occurred in the region since 2001 is that more professional development opportunities for teachers are available through a myriad of institutions, not to mention online. We want TESOL Arabia events and activities to be the first choice for those seeking self-selected professional development. We also want to increase our international travel grant funding, our online presence, and look into sponsoring TESOL Arabia supported events, such as Education 2020, both inside and outside the county. It was in 2002 that past president Jane Hoelker restarted the Abu Dhabi Chapter and I didn’t miss an opportunity for professional development from the chapter, the Learner Independence SIG, or the Testing, Assessment, and Evaluation SIG. I even went to Al Ain to attend an event and saw my first local school where the presenters were complaining that there were no overhead projectors in the classrooms! I was also fortunate to be able to start publishing my work in TA book publications. Eventually Douglas Thompson asked me to become the treasurer of the Abu Dhabi Chapter because reorganization stipulated that each chapter have a committee made up of a chapter representative, secretary, and treasurer. In 2007, I joined the TA Executive Council as editor of Perspectives. It’s in this position that I got to know TESOL Arabia inside and out. Yes, there have been a lot of changes in the region. One of them is surely that Saudi Arabia now also offers many professional development opportunities for its ESL/EFL, CLIL, and STEM teachers. This was evidenced by the presence of a new platinum sponsor at TACON, the Saudi company Tatweer Company for Educational Services. But one thing that hasn’t changed in all this time is the quality of the professional development opportunities available from TESOL Arabia. Here’s looking forward to an exciting year and positive changes. Yours,

Melanie Gobert TESOL Arabia President

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


4

Message from the Conference Co-Chairs Feature Article

Post Conference Report TESOL Arabia held its annual international conference from March 13-15, 2014, in Dubai at the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Hotel. Perhaps it is fitting that for its 20th annual conference past conference records should be broken. And indeed they were!!

proposal submissions from 49 different countries. Unfortunately, we were not able to accept them all and I know the TESOL Arabia Conference Proposals Review Committee had a tough time deciding which proposals to include in our program.

Over 1,800 delegates attended the conference, which is a substantial increase over previous years where attendance seemed to have plateaued at between 1,500 and 1,600 delegates. In fact, there were so many delegates that we actually ran out of conference bags-- this is only the second time this has happened in our history. The first time being many, many years ago when the conference was held in Al Ain and the expected number of delegates was around the 800 mark.

The Job Fair also achieved a new record for the number of job seekers registered at the conference. This number has also been rising steadily over the past few years but this year breached the 300 mark!

Not only did we have a record number of delegates but we also had a record number of countries represented at the conference. This year we reached the half-century with delegates coming from 50 countries in total. Delegates from three countries went into triple figures. These were the UAE with just under 700 delegates, Saudi Arabia with just under 300 delegates, and Oman with just under 150 delegates. Other delegates came from an A-Z of countries, (well actually, not quite: we didn’t have anyone from a country beginning with the letter Z) starting with Afghanistan and passing through such countries as Brazil, Canada, Japan, Macedonia, New Zealand, Portugal, Uzbekistan (to name but a few) and finishing with Yemen. With so many countries represented, the TESOL Arabia Annual Conference is truly INTERNATIONAL! Another record broken this year was the number of presentation proposals received. This has been rising steadily every year for the past 5-6 years but this year reached a dizzying height of 561

Outgoing President Rehab Rajab gives the TESOL Arabia Professional Service Award to Abdelbasset Jeddi at the Annual General Meeting held at the 20th International TESOL Arabia Exhibition and Conference.

Volume 22

No. 2

And last but not least, a record 416,000AED was collected in sponsorship from IDP IELTS (TESOL Arabia Sponsor Partner), British Council and Tatweer Co. for Educational Services (Platinum Sponsors), American University of the Middle East and American Center for Press and Cultural Affairs (Gold Sponsors) and Arab Gulf Education, United Arab Emirates University, Cambridge University Press and International House Dubai (Silver Sponsors). As you all know, TESOL Arabia is a nonprofit, volunteer organization so all this money goes into subsidizing the annual conference (so we can keep delegate conference registration fees as low as possible) as well as our Chapter and SIG events happening throughout the year which are all free to TESOL Arabia members. Finally, records can only be broken and new heights achieved if there are people willing to give their time and expertise to ensure the success of the conference. To the conference committee and the myriad other volunteers involved in putting on such a large-scale event, we hereby give our most sincere thanks and congratulations on a job very well done! Les Kirkam and Sandra Oddy Conference Co-Chairs, 2014

The TESOL Arabia leadership team meets at the Annual General Meeting held at the 20th International TESOL Arabia Exhibition and Conference.

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

5

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

6

10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers The question of what makes someone a good teacher is relevant for all teaching contexts but it is especially important in the field of English as a Foreign or Second Language (EF/SL) where teachers can be hired simply for being a native speaker with a bachelor’s degree (Darn, 2004 as cited in Thompson, 2007, p. 2). Most people, if asked, would be able to express an opinion on what makes a teacher good or effective, based primarily on their own experiences in the classroom as students (McDonough & Shaw, 1993). When prompted, most people would offer up adjectives like caring, fun, interesting, and flexible (Thompson, 2007, p. 2). However, it is not only the personal or personality characteristics of a teacher that make their classes memorable or their lessons successful (Thompson, 2007, 2008). According to Nunan and Lamb (1996), teaching is a multi-dimensional craft, and the F/SL classroom is a multifaceted environment; therefore, having our needs met from a cognitive and emotional standpoint is often part of what is characterized as “good teaching.” Measuring teacher effectiveness has become increasingly important over the past two decades. It has been deemed critical for the monitoring and improvement of not only student learning but department and/or university performance as well. The measurement and evaluation of teacher performance has also been a key component in decision making about promotions and the awarding of bonuses and merit pay.

Review of the Literature The earliest studies of teacher efficacy were conducted by Rand Corporation researchers (Armor Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Christine Coombe Dubai Men’s College Dubai, UAE

et al., 1976; Berman & McLaughlin, 1977) who used only two Likert scale type items to measure the construct. Those researchers defined teacher efficacy as “the extent to which the teacher believes he or she has the capacity to alter student performance” (McLaughlin & Marsh, 1978, p. 84). Since then a considerable amount of research has been done over the years yet very basic questions still persist. Educators have failed to reach agreement on answers to questions like what is effective teaching, how is it defined, and how may it be measured. Many researchers in the field believe that consensus on these questions is not possible. What the research has found, however, is that the overall expectations of a “good teacher” have not changed drastically over the years, but how they are manifested in the classroom has (Larsen-Freeman, 1986). Much of the research conducted has sought to identify characteristics, factors, traits and/or classroom behaviors of “effective teachers.” Lists of Effective Teacher Characteristics A number of F/SL educators have come out with lists of characteristics which describe effective teachers. What follows is a brief description of some of the most important and recent. 10 Characteristics of a Good Teacher In an article first printed in 1987 and reprinted in Forum magazine in 2012, Miller lists ten characteristics of effective teachers in the form of “I want” statements. These statements can be separated into four areas: (a) affective characteristics, (b) skills, (c) classroom management techniques, and (d) academic knowledge. Miller (2012) believes that effective teachers embody all these traits.

u

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Qualities of Successful Language Teachers Allen (as cited in Brown, 2001, p. 429) cited a number of factors as being critical to effective teaching in the field. The first characteristic needed was a “competent preparation leading to a degree in TESL.” Other characteristics that Allen cited as crucial were “critical thinking skills,” “cultural adaptability” and a “readiness to go the extra mile.” Three characteristics made Allen’s list distinct from many of the others in the literature: “a love of the English language,” the “persistent need to upgrade oneself,” and “professional citizenship.” Indeed, Allen was the first to highlight the importance of lifelong learning in our profession and membership to our professional associations like TESOL and IATEFL. Rounding out Allen’s list was “a feeling of excitement about one’s work.”

u

Qualities of an “Exceptionally Effective Teacher” In a study conducted in the U.S. public school system spanning six years of data collection from 1998 to 2004, Malikow (2005) found that six skills were considered essential when assessing whether a teacher was “exceptionally effective.” Malikow’s study was the first to highlight the importance of the learning environment and how it related to student perceptions of effectiveness.

u

Factors that Contribute to Good English Language Teaching In a post on the February 2012 TESOL Connections blog, Kamhi-Stein identified a list of factors that she believes contribute to good English language teaching. Although not exhaustive or comprehensive, Kamhi-Stein provides a somewhat different perspective on what it takes to be considered effective in the ELT classroom. First on her list is English language proficiency. She goes on to state that although teachers do not need to be native speakers of the language, a high degree of proficiency in English is needed as it contributes to teachers’ self-perceptions in the classroom. Second on Kamhi-Stein’s list is knowledge. She cites the need for teachers to have what Pasternak and Bailey (2004) call declarative (knowledge about something) and procedural (knowledge about how to do things) knowledge. Cultural adaptability figures prominently on Kamhi-Stein’s list as well. For her, pedagogical practices that are culturally sensitive to the context where the teaching is being done are essential. Understanding students’ needs and having a plan

u

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

7

on how to achieve them are important. She notes that “good teachers go into the classroom with a well-designed plan, but they are also flexible and modify their plans as needed” (Kamhi-Stein, 2012, p. 1). Critical reflection is yet another important characteristic of a good teacher. Kamhi-Stein believes that it is only through critical reflection that teachers continue to develop their professional skills. The last factor on the list is a caring relationship. What Is a “Good Teacher”? Definitions of good teaching differ from context to context. In this section we will examine effective teaching from a variety of different stakeholder perspectives: administrators, educational researchers, teachers, and students. Administrator Perspectives In the mid-80s, Ericksen (1984) carried out a survey amongst education administrators. The results of this survey generated a definition of an effective teacher:

u

An outstanding teacher should be an inspired instructor who is concerned about students, an active scholar who is respected by discipline peers, and an efficient organized professional who is accessible to both students and teachers. (Ericksen, 1984, p. 3) Educational Researchers’ Perspectives In a study conducted by Rosenshine and Furst (1973), educational researchers attempted to formulate and set down the ideal characteristics of a good teacher.

u

Effective teachers: Deliver clear presentations Use a variety of activities during class Strive for achievement-oriented behavior Provide students with opportunities to learn Acknowledge and stimulate student ideas Are not overly critical Use structuring comments at the beginning and during lessons · Guide students in finding answers · · · · · · ·

Teacher Perspectives A multitude of studies have been conducted on this issue. From a general consensus of the literature, there are a number of abilities that teachers think they need to be considered effective. First, teachers feel that being able to plan instruction and learning activities is a critical skill as is the ability to ask different types TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

8

of questions in their classrooms. The diagnosis of student needs and learning difficulties is another skill that teachers have cited as important. Teachers also feel that they need to be able to recognize when their students are on task and relate the learning to their students’ real-life context and experiences. Finally, teachers recognize the importance of using technology to enhance instruction in their classrooms. Opinions differ on what constitutes effectiveness depending on the level of teaching experience. In a study conducted with in-service teachers, being caring, patient, polite, interesting and organized were found to have critical importance (Murphy, Delli, & Edwards, 2004), whereas pre-service teachers thought that it was important for teachers to be competent, knowledgeable student-centered instructors and effective classroom managers. Other valuable personality traits associated with this study include enthusiasm towards teaching, ethicality, and being professional (Minor, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, & James, 2002). In a study conducted by Bress in 2000, a group of teachers were asked to identify the top three characteristics of an effective EF/SL teacher. What follows is a list of the top characteristics and the percentage of times they were included in the top three. · · · · · ·

Treats each student as an individual (94%) Is enthusiastic and inspiring (77%) Has caring qualities (55%) Creates a rich learning environment (22%) Is funny (22%) Is spontaneous and flexible (22%)

Student Perspectives One of the best resources for this topic is a 1996 publication by UNESCO entitled What Makes a Good Teacher? Children Speak Their Minds (Khawajkie, Muller, Niedemayer, Jolis, & Jolis, 1996). Over 500 children (aged 8-12) from 50 countries contributed to this publication. Below is an example of some of the content that was submitted from children around the world.

u

· A great teacher interacts with the child (physically, and mentally). · A great teacher gives affection to the pupils, makes them understand what emotion is. Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

· A great teacher smiles at her/his pupils even when they screw up. · A great teacher teaches not only textbook materials but also the truth that’s happening outside. Practice balanced with theory. · A great teacher dedicates her/himself to the job. They made a commitment. Then they have to do it. · A great teacher understands that a child is not only a tiny bundle of joy that can cry, smile, laugh. S/he must understand that in front of her/him stands a true miracle of life.

My Top Ten Characteristics of a Highly Effective EF/SL Teacher 1. A “Calling” to the Profession My top ten list is in no order of importance except for #1. In my view, the most important characteristic of a highly effective teacher is what is known as a “calling” to the profession. Effective teachers are driven and passionate about what they do and feel a “call” to teach as well as a passion to help students learn and grow. Without this mission or calling, teaching is just another job - and a tough one at that. Central to this calling is the idea of a positive attitude. Effective teachers recognize that teaching is demanding. Despite this, they exhibit a sense of pride in what they do. Their positive attitude translates into a collegial rapport with colleagues as well as the desire to serve as mentors. This outlook leads to a healthier work environment overall and is said to be a pivotal quality in determining whether teachers want to grow and develop as educators. It is also essential to help teachers survive and avoid burnout. Dr Christine Coombe is a faculty member at Dubai Men’s College. She has served TESOL Arabia in many capacities including the Testing SIG Chair and President. Most recently she served as TESOL International President (2010-2013).

2. Professional Knowledge Shulman (1987, p. 1-22) has identified seven different types of knowledge that highly effective teachers must have. According to him, teachers need knowledge about the content they are teaching as well as the curriculum, materials, and program. This knowledge needs to be supplemented with knowledge about the broad principles and strategies that constitute classroom management TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

and organization. There is also a necessity for knowing about the student population, the particular educational context they are teaching in, and a broad knowledge about educational aims and values. I believe that the right credentials and sound professional knowledge are of paramount importance in determining effectiveness. In addition to having the appropriate qualifications, teachers must also recognize the importance of engaging in professional development and lifelong learning.Yet another characteristic that I believe is essential is keeping up-todate with IT and technology so that teachers are able to enhance their teaching repertoire appropriately. 3. Personality/Personal Qualities To what extent personality factors relate to teaching effectiveness has been the topic of numerous empirical studies. Weinstein (1998) conducted a study which identified 10 characteristics “good teachers” were thought to have (cited in Brown & Rodgers, 2002, p. 153). Seven out of the ten characteristics related to personality. The Weinstein study found personality factors like patience, warmth, creativity, humor, and outgoingness to be indicative of effective teaching. In an analysis of the research, the following personality factors were found to be the most important for EF/SL teachers: being caring, empathetic, fair, respectful, fun, having a sense of humor, and a personal/unique style. Personal qualities like establishing and maintaining a good rapport with students and mutual respect amongst teacher and students were also found to be important. In fact, according to Sizer (1999) we cannot teach students if we do not know them well. Wolk (2002) believes that students need to see their teachers as people with emotions, opinions, and lives outside the classroom. Furthermore, Teachers who were identified by students as changing their lives were rarely praised for their knowledge of the subject matter, teaching methods or materials. Those were all givens in the students’ minds. What really mattered to students were the teachers’ human qualities. (Coppedge & Shreck, 1988) Indeed, empirical evidence backs up the claims made in these two quotations. Research on highlyfacilitative teachers (those exhibiting high degrees of caring and empathy for students) versus low-facilitative teachers found that students with highly-facilitative Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

9

teachers made greater gains academically and created fewer disciplinary problems (Aspy & Roebuck, 1977). 4. With-it-ness Another essential characteristic of an effective EL teacher is with-it-ness (McEwan, 2002). This concept is defined as the state of being on top of things, tuned in to the teaching/learning environment and in control of the different facets of classroom life and our jobs. A “with-it” teacher is one who can organize and manage the classroom, engage students in the lesson, and keep up a fast-paced momentum. Teachers with this quality can multi-task, use their time effectively, and adapt to the changing needs and demands of their job and the profession. 5. Instructional Effectiveness For many, if teachers possess the requisite qualifications and years of teaching experience, being a good teacher is considered a given. However, we all know and work with teachers who have good credentials and lots of experience but have the same one year of teaching experience twenty times (as opposed to having twenty years of teaching experience). Knowing your content area and being able to deliver effective lessons matter. Study after study confirms that students who have high quality teachers make significant and lasting learning gains. Those with less effective teachers play a constant game of academic catch up. Research shows that the amount of teaching experience a teacher has is influential in areas like planning, classroom management, questioning and reflection (Corvino & Iwanicki, 1996). There is, however, no real definition of how many years makes a teacher “experienced.” The range of 3 to 8 years has been identified in the literature as the point at which a teacher is “experienced” (Sanders, 2001; Scherer, 2001). More recently, Gladwell (2008) has put forth the number 10,000 hours as the point where an individual becomes an expert in something. Although he does not specifically relate this statistic to teaching, he indicates that it would be applicable to all areas of life. This number equates to doing something - in this case, teaching - for 20 to 24 hours a week for 10 years. 6. Good Communication Skills Highly effective teachers must be good communicators as they are required to articulate ideas, talk about issues, and express their beliefs and values about teaching. Because teachers take TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

10

on numerous roles in their classrooms and in the workplace, they must be skilled at conflict resolution as well. Research shows that good communication skills on the part of the teacher have a positive effect on student achievement (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Haberman, 1995; Hanushek, 1971) as it relates to how well a teacher conveys concepts and skills to students.

Lifelong learning is now recognized by educators, governing bodies, accreditation organizations, certification boards, employers and the general public as one of the most important competencies that people must possess (Collins, 2009, p. 620). Current educational demands require that effective teachers be continuous, lifelong learners. Some of the ways that EF/SL teachers practice lifelong learning are to:

There is a point in a teacher’s career where they go from being solely the receiver of knowledge to the provider. Indeed, a key part of teacher development is sharing knowledge and expertise with other teachers and/or colleagues. At this point in a teacher’s development, enhancing public speaking and presentation skills is the logical next step. Many assume that because teachers spend a lot of hours in front of their students (their “audience”) teaching, good presentation skills are inborn. This is not the case. There are a multitude of differences between what we do in the classroom with our students and what we are expected to do at preor in-service training sessions or conferences. It is also important to acknowledge that both oral and written communication skills are necessary. Teachers today must be active e-mailers and skilled at putting together reports and evaluative documentation.

· Subscribe to ELT professional journals/ magazines · Attend professional development events and conferences · Conduct action research in their own classrooms · Publish their lessons and their professional work · Become a member of a professional organization like TESOL or IATEFL

7. Street Smarts Another essential characteristic of an effective English language teacher is street smarts. A street smart teacher is one who has knowledge about what is happening around them and they combine this knowledge with common sense. Street smart teachers have knowledge of the students, the school, the community and the cultural environment in which they work and they use this knowledge to solve problems. Street smart teachers are also politically savvy in that they are familiar with their institutional culture and they know which materials and topics to avoid both in class and in the workplace and they know which battles to fight. 8. Willingness to Go the Extra Mile For teachers to be considered effective they need to believe in their own ability to make a difference in their students’ lives. Their expectations of their students are always high. Moreover, they show a willingness to inspire and motivate their students through example. 9. Commitment to Lifelong Learning Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Effective teachers are concerned with their self- and professional development and regularly reflect on what they do in their classrooms. They also engage in strategic career planning. For many teachers, assuming a leadership position is the logical next step in their career development. According to McEwan (2002), teaching is good preparation for assuming a leadership role. She notes that “if you can lead in the classroom, you can lead anywhere” (McEwan, 2002, p. 38). 10. Life Outside the Classroom A multitude of sources in the professional and selfhelp literature cite the importance of not being too consumed by the job. Research also shows that people with hobbies and friends outside of their profession suffer less stress. Lower amounts of stress are said to increase an individual’s productivity at work. So my final thoughts on this are that teachers should find something else that defines them outside of the workplace.

Conclusion

There is really no “secret” recipe to being the perfect teacher, nor is being perfect even realistic. Teachers cannot be all things to all people. As you read through my list of top ten characteristics and the lists of others who have come before me, I encourage you to reflect on what you feel constitutes effectiveness with your students and in your particular educational context. There is probably no teacher out there who is uniformly strong in all TESOL Arabia Perspectivesi

iwww.tesolarabia.org i i i


Feature Article

areas. Like me, you will recognize your strengths and you will probably take note of some areas that need work. This reflective self-evaluation is I feel yet another essential characteristic of effectiveness. Indeed the most important characteristics of effective teaching might not appear on any list. This idea is best expressed by Saint-Exupery in The Little Prince: “That which is essential cannot be seen with the eye. Only with the heart can one know it rightly.” Note:This is a revised version of an article previously published in TESOL Connections in January 2014.

References

Armor, D., Conroy-Oseguera, P., Cox, M., King, N., McDonnell, L., Pascal, A., Pauly, E., & Zellman, G. (1976). Analysis of the school preferred reading programs in selected Los Angeles minority schools. Report No. R-2007-LAUSD. Santa Monica, CA: Rand (ERIC Document # ED130 243). Aspy, D., & Roebuck, F. (1977). Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like. Amherst, MA: Human Resources Development Press. Berman, P. & McLaughlin, M. (1977). Federal programs supporting educational change:Vol. 2, Factors affecting implementation and continuation (Report No. R-1589/7-HEW). Santa Monica, CA: Rand. Bress, P. (2000). What makes a teacher special? English Teaching Professional, 14, 43-44. Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy, (2nd ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman. Brown, J. D., & Rodgers, T. S. (2002). Doing second language research. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Collins, J. (2009). Lifelong learning in the 21st century and beyond. RadioGraphics, 29(2), 613-622. Coppedge, F., & Shreck, P. (1988, November). Teachers as helpers: The qualities students prefer. Clearing House, 62(3), 137-40. Corvino, E. A., & Iwanicki, E. (1996). Experienced teachers:Their constructs on effective teaching. Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 10(4), 325-363. Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). Teacher quality and student achievement: A review of state policy evidence. Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 8(1). Retrieved from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v8n1. Darn, S. (2004). Beyond training and teaching: A review of the state of EFL in UK and out

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

11

from UK. Humanizing Language Teaching 7(3), Retrieved from http://www.hltmag.co.uk/ may05/mart01.html. Ericksen, S. (1984). The essence of good teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers:The story of success. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. Haberman, M. (1995). STAR teachers of children in poverty. West Lafayette, IN: Kappa Delta Pi. Hanushek, E. (1971). Teacher characteristics and gains in student achievement: Estimation using micro data. American Economic Review, 61(2), 280-288. Kamhi-Stein, L. (2012, February). Good English language teachers are those who… TESOL Connections. Khawajkie, E., Muller, A., Niedemayer, S., Jolis, U., & Jolis, C. (1996). What makes a good teacher? Children speak their minds. International Consultative Forum on Education for All, Paris: UNESCO. Larsen-Freeman, D. (1986). Techniques and principles in language teaching. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Malikow, M. (2005). Effective teacher study. National Forum of Teacher Education Journal, 16(3), 1-9. McDonough, J., & Shaw, C. (1993). Materials and methods in ELT: A teachers’ guide (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. McEwan, E. K. (2002). 10 Traits of highly effective teachers: How to hire, coach and mentor successful teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. McLaughlin, M. W., & Marsh, D. D. (1978). Staff development and school change. Teachers’ College Record, 80(1), 70-94. Miller, P. (1987, 2012). Ten Characteristics of a Good Teacher, English Teaching Forum, 25(1), 36-38. Minor, L. C., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Witcher, A. E., & James, T. L. (2002). Preservice teacher’ educational beliefs and their perceptions of characteristics of effective teachers. The Journal of Educational Research, 96(2), 116-127. Murphy, P. K., Delli, L. M., & Edwards, M. N. (2004). The good teacher and good teaching: Comparing beliefs of second-grade students, preservice teachers and inservice teachers. The Journal of Experimental Education, 72(2), 69-92. Nunan, D., & Lamb, C. (1996). The Self-directed teacher. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

12

Pasternak, M., & Bailey, K. M. (2004). Preparing nonnative and native English-speaking teachers: Issues of professionalism and proficiency. In L. D. Kamhi-Stein (Ed.), Learning and teaching from experience: Perspectives on nonnative English-speaking professionals (pp. 155-175). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Rosenshine, B., & Furst, N. (1973). The use of direct observation to study teaching. In R. Travers (Ed.), Second handbook on research on teaching (pp. 122183). Chicago: Rand McNally. Sanders, W. L. (2001, January). The effect of teachers on student achievement. Keynote address at the Project STARS Institute, Williamsburg,VA. Scherer, M. (2001). Improving the quality of the teaching force: A conversation with David C. Berliner. Educational Leadership, 58(8), 6-10.

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Schulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teachers. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14. Sizer, T. R. (1999). No two are quite alike. Educational Leadership, 57(1), 6-11. Thompson, S. (2007). How is a ‘good teacher’ defined in a communicative, learner-centered EFL Classroom? (Unpublished master’s dissertation). University of Birmingham, UK. Thompson, S. (2008). Defining a good teacher: Simply! Modern English Teacher, 17(1), 5-14. Wolk, S. (2002). Being good: Rethinking classroom management and student discipline. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. i

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

i

i

i

i

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

T. Leo Schmitt New York University New York, USA

Complexity Theory through the Lens of a Wiki Writing Assignment

From the early Pythagorean quest for perfection to a reductionist scientific method’s attempt to describe the world through viewing discrete entities, science has often been idealized as a mission to find the simple rules that govern the multitude of aspects that comprise existence. Complexity theory (or Complex Dynamic Systems theory) has evolved to try to explain many aspects of dynamical systems that seem to reject an unwarranted simplification. Complexity theory does not claim an ability to predict with the supposed infallibility of traditional science, but rather looks to describe parameters and characteristics of an interrelated dynamical system. Growing from mathematics, computer science, and organization science, complexity theory has - not surprisingly given its premise of open systems - been co-opted for a broad range of disciplines. LarsenFreeman (1997) has made strong arguments for its relevance to applied linguistics. Larsen-Freeman and Cameron (2008) review the various tools complexity theorists advance to describe dynamic systems and then demonstrate how these have strong relevance to aspects familiar to both applied linguists and language instructors. Indeed, when first confronted with complexity theory, strong parallels to using a wiki as an instructional tool become apparent (Schmitt, 2008). In this article, I shall draw parallels between complexity theory and using a wiki assignment created to develop students’ understanding of the academic writing process, showing that complexity theory ably describes many of the aspects of language interaction in a wiki process. Volume 22

13

No. 2

June 2014

The wiki approach (Schmitt, 2008) reviewed here works in tandem with instruction on the standard approach of the academic writing process (brainstorming, outlining, first draft, revision for content, revision for accuracy, etc.). Students are first introduced to the concept of wikis through an informal “fun” narrative, where they are encouraged to experiment with the wiki format. From there, each part of the writing process is created as a separate wiki to allow students to develop, following guidelines covered in class. Thus students start with a brainstorming wiki, where everyone contributes ideas to a class-selected topic. The outline wiki is then derived from that, with students developing a thesis statement and subtopics modeled on work done in class. This then proceeds through the first and subsequent drafts, with each level created through multiple student interactions. Following the social constructivist approach inherent in wiki technology (Warschauer & Grimes, 2007), students negotiate the final product through editing a single document as individuals contributing to the group effort. The entire approach, while reasonably simple in its execution, involves a large number of working parts that lead it to take on many of the characteristics of a complex system. It has been argued that language is a complex non-linear system (Larsen-Freeman, 1997). In a similar fashion, the creation of a wiki reflects this pattern. The wiki is clearly a dynamic system as it changes over time, taking on distinctly different shapes as it continues its growth. At each stage, the past is prologue, feeding what is then developed, thus generating a new essay at each stage of the TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

14

development. The dynamics of the system are in constant flux. In virtually every class, this is the students’ first experience with contributing to a wiki. As mentioned, students are introduced in a fun, non-threatening manner. By introducing a new approach to writing that emphasizes cooperation and group editing, it is hoped that the dynamics of the system will be altered. Students have the opportunity to learn from each other and negotiate their own understanding of the formal essay. They increasingly take ownership of the project with minimal technical and instructional support from the instructor. Indeed, it is the instructor’s goal to renounce all claim to this essay eventually. The wiki can operate alongside other more traditional learning techniques, but is given the opportunity to grow exponentially depending on heterogeneous factors brought by the students. While students can potentially take the wiki in many directions, its parameters are initially set by the instructor to reinforce and formatively evaluate aspects of the academic writing process described by the departmental curriculum. The instructor therefore initially guides students within an appropriate framework, pruning as necessary to ensure linguistic intelligibility and formal acceptability. For example, if the entire class fails to grasp the importance of coherence and accepts concepts irrelevant to the central thesis, the instructor may intervene to ensure the wiki continues to develop in a manner accepted by the curriculum. Nevertheless, this tactic is resorted to only when there seems no hope that students can self-correct. Additionally, students are naturally at liberty to create their own essays outside the confines of the writing course and thus take the essay in whatever direction they feel appropriate. A complex system’s dynamics are largely derived from its starting components. For example, the students I taught in a small liberal arts college in the United Arab Emirates often had low internal motivation. Although students responded comparatively positively to the wiki, there was still a relative lack of dynamism. This was especially clear when comparing the informal narrative, which generated much interest (and considerable silliness), to the formal academic essay. Students could be lackadaisical about ESL teachers’ emphasis on structure and organization. However, within the wiki, they would often become more motivated as Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

they negotiated appropriateness with their peers. As Larsen-Freeman and Cameron note (2008, p. 198), one of the key components of the language classroom is its interconnectedness. The variety of the student backgrounds and interests often plays a role in stimulating the dynamics of the wiki. Students interact on a myriad of different levels. For example, following Gardner’s (1983) multiple intelligences, students are able to interact with each other interpersonally, linguistically, and logically, each bringing her/his own strengths to the wiki. Another example would be each student bringing her/his own anecdotes that could support the thesis statement. The dynamic interaction of these many attributes leads to a constantly evolving system where the final product is impossible to predict. As we shall see below, this interaction can be analyzed in a number of ways, but we should not lose sight of the dynamic system as a whole. Leo Schmitt is Assistant Director at the SCPS International Student Support Center at New York University. Prior to that, he taught at NYU’s American Language Institute. He has also served as the assistant director of the IECP at Penn State; as the associate director at the IEP at the American University of Sharjah, UAE; and as a faculty member at the ELI at Queens College and at the School of Visual Arts, New York. He has taught in Taiwan, Egypt, and Argentina. He has made numerous academic presentations and writes a regular grammar column for TESOL. He is currently working on his doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York.

Larsen-Freeman and Cameron (2008, p. 58) state, “At the edge of chaos, a system changes with optimum balance of stability and flexibility.” The wiki attempts to bring the typically stable ESL student a little closer to the edge of chaos by forcing a class of students to cooperate on a single document. While parameters are set by the instructor, there are plenty of opportunities for dynamic and unexpected developments by the students. This allows the system to gain energy from a variety of sources. Openness is a characteristic of complex systems and indicates that there is not simply a limited number of factors, but rather a potentially infinite number of factors as more factors can enter and impact the system. As a complex system, the wiki is open at several levels. Not only is the wiki open to the many levels at which students can operate, but in practice it is open to outside intervention. Students can solicit help from friends (although plagiarism is prohibited), and past students can and have been given permission to participate. At the end of the semester, TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

all students have both a final draft and knowledge of wiki principles. There is also no impediment to anyone continuing the development of the essay, thus emphasizing the openness of the system and the shared ownership of the wiki. Overall then, we see the wiki’s language is a dynamic system (a key component of the classroom according to Larsen-Freeman and Cameron) (2008, p. 198), changing over time with a plethora of interacting elements. These elements, like those in most dynamic systems, are heterogeneous in nature. Although students may be united by being ESL students, as individuals they are heterogeneous in their intelligences, desires, and personal histories. Additionally, classes may have a variety of nationalities, genders, and academic interests. This heterogeneity means that students’ actions are diverse and provoke diverse reactions that in turn cause further reactions. This reciprocal causality is another hallmark of complex systems. No single factor can be isolated as the be-all and end-all of the system. No individual in the group, no aspect of effective writing, no approach to the writing process, no feature of the technology can solely dictate the final form of the wiki essay. Thus, as one student creates a topic sentence, other students react to that, negotiating meaning with each other as the product unfolds. Indeed, it is these collective variables, another characteristic of complex systems, that drive the creativity and dynamism of the wiki. As the interaction between each of the students generates a growing level of understanding coupled with new insights from the individuals, a wide range of collective variables are at work. For example, students may grasp the concept of an introductory hook without understanding its completeness until they see a valid example, or they may have a passive knowledge of a lexical item, but a classmate’s use may spur greater insight, leading to more familiarity, which in turn sparks a different collocation, and so on. As students continue their discourse, they grow in the essay. Each student brings her or his personality to the task, adding the social dimension to the wiki. Students can use the wiki to compete, cooperate, show off, explore, and so on. How each of these is received depends on a complex interaction of the many factors involved.

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

15

These interactions are of course predicated on each other, indicating reciprocal causality. Neither the instructor, who plays a minimal role, nor any one student dictates the direction of the wiki. Rather at each stage along the path the instructor adapts to the students, and the students adapt to the instructor and to other students. Student interest in this approach has motivated me to move this more centrally to my research, which has in turn led me to hone more aspects of the process followed by more diverse student responses. This reciprocal causality has fed the natural coadaptation that is another characteristic of complex systems. Co-adaptation indicates that the various elements of a system will begin to adapt to the other elements around them. This is hardly surprising if we understand reciprocal causality and the emergent behaviors. For example, I personally have high expectations for my students, whereas they often have minimal desires to improve their written language. Through the course of the semester, they adapt upward, giving me the work they think is minimally acceptable, while I gradually resign myself to the idea that neither their motivation nor writing will dramatically improve to the level I would like. Another example is the students’ adaptation to each other’s support. One student may offer a brief anecdote to support an argument. Other students may co-opt that story and find ways to personalize it. In the end, each student has added part of the story, yet as a whole it resonates for each student individually because they have co-adapted to create a single acceptable narrative, which is the heart of the wiki concept. A further example is the use of complex grammar. As a writing class integrates grammar, students can be encouraged to incorporate complex structures in their writing. My experience indicates students generally co-adapt upward, with weaker students trying to improve on classmates’ sophisticated sentences and seeing the bar continually raised. Indeed, the co-adaptation I have witnessed with wikis was what prompted this comparison with complexity theory in the first place. This coadaptation serves also as formative evaluation for the instructor (Schmitt, 2006). If students agree to an edit that violates key parameters of the assignment (e.g., mechanics, organization, grammar, etc.), the TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

16

instructor can see that further development of this aspect of the writing process is appropriate. This speaks to the continuing necessity of a lead teacher in the classroom, following the concepts of a Vygotskian zone of proximal development (Lantolf & Thorne, 2006). Here the instructor serves to guide students to the next level, preventing co-adaptation from stagnating at lower levels of proficiency, essentially prompting a phase shift (see below). Naturally, the characteristics of non-linearity and recursiveness would complicate this as students may not be ready for the target, yet the instructor may well decide that further time on a problematic area could be beneficial, essentially moving them closer to the zone of proximal development necessary to move to their next level of stability. Larsen-Freeman and Cameron (2008, p. 198) identify co-adaptation as a key component of the language classroom. Students adapt to their teacher and to their peers, not only socially, but also linguistically. Co-adaptation is a vital part of the wiki system described, and naturally it exists within its own context. In this case, it works within the confines of wiki technology. The importance of the context to the concepts defined above -- heterogeneity, collective variables, reciprocal causality, and coadaptation -- is clear from a complexity theory viewpoint. In complexity theory, we cannot divorce the elements from their context. The environment interacts just as each element does. Thus we should not be surprised that the elements of the wiki system play a role in co-adaptation. Not only is wiki technology flexible, but instructor and students adapt to the platform. For example, students often start brainstorming in “textese” as they have been socially primed to respond to electronic communication in this shorthand. However, the wiki can be set to have spellchecking, thus reminding students that this is a more formal writing arena. This indicates that the context is part and parcel of the system as complexity theory describes, rather than just the inert receptacle. As instructor, students, and environment interact, the mere fact that the students are playing the game changes the rules. By engaging the wiki, students learn how the system works and then adapt to it accordingly. This act itself can influence how a wiki is used. Thus, the instructor’s vision or the standard online community view of how the wiki should Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

progress can be significantly altered. For example, each wiki I have assigned to a different class has developed in different ways. In some cases, there is a clear division of labor, with a few students playing the role of “ideas” people, while others take care of structure, and others “clean up.” In other cases, almost all students are deeply involved in almost all aspects of the writing process. Each group of students interacts with the structure differently, which leads to varying results. Thus we see that simply by engaging the wiki, students impact the way in which it develops. While the dynamic system composed of coadapting elements might imply total chaos and instability, complexity theory predicts that this is not necessarily the case (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008). Indeed complexity theory often expects the dynamic interaction to settle into attractors that allow considerable stability (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008). These attractors are states a dynamic system has a natural tendency to fall into. Within a wiki exercise, as within almost any complex human system, there is a tendency towards these attractors, “…states, or particular modes of behaviors, that the system ‘prefers’…” (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008, p. 49). The nature and level of stability of these attractors can vary from highly stable to highly unstable. In the writing process, we note that certain attractors develop. For example, students are quick to grasp the concept of the paragraph even if they have not been exposed to it previously. The stable attractor of a paragraph, which follows the format dictated by textbooks and teachers alike, is one that is easy for students to fall into. Once in this mindset, the attractor of dividing writing into paragraphs is invariably stable, at least through the course of a semester. This contrasts with the less stable attractor of a solid thesis statement. Students writing wikis might brainstorm various thesis statements to address the essay prompt. Once students grasp the basic characteristics of a good thesis statement, there should be considerable congruity in the nature of the thesis statement. However, it is still possible for the thesis statement to change, sometimes significantly. This indicates that this attractor is much shallower than that of the paragraph. Indeed, in the grander scale, much academic work lacks a clear thesis statement, yet a lack of paragraph organization is very rare. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Attractors then can develop into new patterns, much like pebbles thrown on a slope of scree. At one point, the final pebble will cause the scree to fall and ultimately settle in a new stability. Similarly, such sudden movement is possible in the wiki. One example is when many students suggest ways for expressing an idea. At first their sentences may seem simplistic, but with the repeated group review, students realize that their language fails to adequately convey the meaning they have conceptualized. When the wiki process works well, they are able to advance the level of their language so that they can more accurately express their ideas. Thus students who repeatedly make cosmetic adjustments to a sentence like “Cigarettes cause cancer” can often be induced to improve - through instruction, review of their and peers’ work, and exposure to other model essays - to something like “The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco products are responsible for forty-five percent of cancer incidences.” Not only do students develop the structural complexity, they also learn to be considerably more specific. There is certainly recursion in the process, and sometimes the final product seems as weak as or even weaker than the initial product in some aspects. In addition, as an open, dynamic system, any emergent behavior cannot be solely attributed to any single factor. However, the argument remains that the system emerges to a new attractor, and hopefully thereafter students understand the importance of and utilize more specific details coupled with more complex lexico-grammatical structures, almost as a default in their academic writing. Progress from one attractor to another is not always easy or direct. As mentioned, dynamic systems are non-linear. Recursion is a characteristic of dynamic systems, process writing, and wiki creation. Just as an incoming tide ebbs and flows on its way in, so too does the development of an essay. In wikis, this is especially clear, when a weaker student may alter the work of a stronger student. Thus a student who correctly omits the third person -s in a subjunctive clause may see it inserted by another student. In a wiki, as in a dynamical system, it is hoped that progress to a higher attractor continues. Therefore, with numerous students reviewing, we hope to see the -s eliminated from the subjunctive clause as they develop their understanding of this rule. Naturally, Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

17

this development will also ultimately be affected by elements beyond the wiki, such as grammar teachers’ views and native speakers’ use (or non-use) of the subjunctive. In sum, we can see that recursion is to be fully expected in the wiki project. This fact may be some small consolation when the final draft appears in some ways weaker than an earlier one. How then does a complex, dynamic, non-linear system not simply implode with the infinite variety of factors pushing and pulling in different directions? The answer, already hinted at above by co-adaptation, is through the presence of selforganization. As the system moves towards its attractors, it organizes itself, just as a flock of pigeons can organize itself and fly without collision in the absence of a central command structure. As mentioned before, the instructor often need only provide minimal input. After an informal narrative to familiarize students with the approach, students are encouraged to take virtually complete ownership of the wiki. The formal essay framework is created and students must fill in the tabula rasa. Each student contributes, sometimes explicitly coordinating with colleagues, but more often working independently. As individuals, they contribute to the wiki, but as a group, they know that they must produce a final essay and each member contributes to that final goal. There is overlap and there is repetition, but eventually a clear essay arises from individual students contributing to the whole. It is here that the role of the teacher as manager, described by LarsenFreeman and Cameron (2008, p. 198) comes to the fore. I have always tried to avoid over-teaching. If my cursory review of each stage of the wiki indicates that students are creating a viable outline, first draft, and so on, then I am happy to allow them to take over more and more of the development of the essay. In cases where I feel that they have exceeded the boundaries of acceptable academic writing, I judiciously advise them how to get back on track (after allowing them an opportunity to self-correct). In conclusion, we see that valid parallels can be drawn between complexity theory and the development of a wiki. Our understanding of mathematical, physical, and computer systems can be illuminated by this approach, and so too can language learning experiences. The complexity, dynamism, and interaction of elements that TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

18

characterize linguistic exchange are not easily reduced to a sampling of isolated or even isolatable characteristics. It is far more informative to view the system as a whole, looking at the levels of heterogeneity, co-adaptation, and self-organization that generate the immense complexity of human language. This review of a wiki exercise, one infinitesimally small part of our planet’s language production, demonstrates that divorcing one part of language from the rest cannot hope to give us as true a picture as looking at an entire system. And even this overview of a system must be understood with caution, as it is simply part of a yet larger system. However, as complex systems show fractal patterns, we can hope that, through patient review of patterns through the wiki system, our understanding of language and language learning will be improved.

References

Gardner, Howard. (1983). Frames of mind:The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (1997). Chaos/complexity science and second language acquisition. Applied Linguistics 18(2), 141-65. Larsen-Freeman, D., & Cameron, L. (2008). Complex systems and applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lantolf, J. P., & Thorne, S. L. (2006). Sociocultural theory and genesis of second language development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Schmitt, L. (2006). Using wikis to assess organization competence. Paper presented at 10th CTELT Conference, Dubai, UAE. Schmitt, L. (2008). Using wikis to support the academic writing process. In P. Davidson, J. Olearski, J. Shewell, & W.J. Moore (Eds.), Educational technology in the Arabian Gulf:Theory, research and pedagogy. Dubai: TESOL Arabia. Warschauer, M., & Grimes, D. (2007). Audience, authorship, and artifact: The emergent semiotics of Web 2.0. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 27, 1- 23. i

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

i

i

i

i

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

19

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

20

Peer Review in EFL Writing: Teacher Attitudes

Jeremy White Ritsumeikan University Kyoto, Japan

Brett Morgan Ritsumeikan University Kyoto, Japan

Peer review in writing entails the act of students providing feedback on their peers’ writing, and is widely used in second language learning (L2) classrooms that employ a process-oriented approach to writing. In this approach, writing is viewed as a recursive process involving planning, writing, and reviewing, and thus usually involves production of multiple drafts (Hayes & Flower, 1980). The process approach puts less emphasis on summative feedback, which focuses on writing as a product, instead employing formative feedback in the reviewing stage with the intent of developing students’ writing abilities. This has led L2 researchers to inquire how different sources of feedback can be effectively provided. Some English as a Foreign Language (EFL) research (Nelson & Carson, 1998; Zhang, 1995) has found that students strongly preferred teacher to peer feedback. However, EFL studies in east Asian contexts (Jacobs, Curtis, Braine, & Huang, 1998; Tsui & Ng, 2000) have demonstrated that most students wanted peer feedback when teacher feedback was additionally assured, highlighting the view that incorporating teachers and peers as complementary sources of feedback in addition to self-review might be the best approach for process writing classrooms. Most research has focused on this field from a student perspective. With peer review (also referred Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Bjorn Fuisting Ritsumeikan University Kyoto, Japan to as peer editing in this article) becoming a staple of many EFL writing programs, the researchers feel there is a need for examination of the attitudes of teachers in relation to conducting peer review. Do EFL teachers think peer review is a practical, worthwhile classroom activity? Do they view it as an effective learning tool? What insights can teachers provide from their experiences with peer review? This mixed method study investigates the attitudes towards peer review of 41 EFL instructors in the Japanese university context.

Theoretical Basis

With the potential offered by its interactive nature, peer review finds strong theoretical support in two learning theories.Vygotsky’s (1978, 1986) socialconstructivist approach asserts that social interaction is crucial for cognitive language development. Particularly relevant is Vygotsky’s notion of a zone of proximal development, defined as the distance between an individual’s actual and potential levels of development, which can be partly bridged with the assistance of one’s peers (1978, p. 86). Similarly, collaborative learning theory (Bruffee, 1984; Hirvela, 1999) calls for learners to complete challenging tasks through interaction with peers and the pooling of learners’ differing abilities. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Benefits & Difficulties with Peer Review

A variety of benefits have been claimed from the use of peer review in L2 writing. Chaudron (1984) found that peer review reduced writer apprehension and increased learner autonomy in ESL writers. Min (2005) demonstrated that it improved attitudes towards writing and promoted EFL learners’ use of metacognitive strategies. Peer review has also been found to help L2 students develop self-awareness as writers and enhance audience awareness (Tsui & Ng, 2000), aid L2 acquisition (Lockhart & Ng, 1995), and result in better final compositions (Paulus, 1999). Clearly, the use of peer review in EFL classrooms has the potential to offer affective, cognitive, and linguistic benefits for learners. Some research has drawn attention to the difficulties of using peer review in L2 classrooms. Nelson and Murphy (1992) argued that the complexity of the peer review process limits its usefulness in L2 environments. Leki (1990) asserted that L2 learners are usually incapable of providing concrete, useful feedback. Cultural characteristics have also been implicated in difficulties with peer review, with some researchers suggesting that learners from Asian cultures with a collectivist orientation may find it difficult to be openly critical of their peers’ writing (Nelson & Carson, 1998).

Implementation of Peer Review

A key area of interest for researchers has been in how to effectively implement peer review in L2 classrooms. Some researchers (Min, 2005; Paulus, 1999) have argued that forming face-to-face pairs is preferable to small groups when implementing peer review as students preferred pairs and had more communicative opportunities. Some studies have tried to ascertain whether feedback given anonymously resulted in more effective peer feedback (Hosack, 2003; Silver & Coomber, 2011), with results suggesting some value in anonymous feedback for classes consisting predominantly of female students. Chang (2012) demonstrated the effectiveness of both synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated modes of peer review, which could offer engaging future avenues to explore. Other research has focused on training students to give feedback on their peers’ writing. Berg (1999)

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

21

and Min (2005) found that extensive training programs resulted in more meaningful revisions and higher quality writing, although the amount of time invested in training students in these studies is not feasible in many educational contexts. The literature demonstrates that different modes of peer review and training should be strongly considered when designing a peer review process.

Attitudes Towards Peer Review

Many studies in various EFL contexts have reported favorable student attitudes towards peer feedback (Jacobs et al.,1998; Morra & Romano, 2008; Moussaoui, 2012; Tsui & Ng, 2000). Studies conducted in Japanese university contexts have also found that students generally find value in peer review writing activities (Coomber & Silver, 2010; Hirose, 2008; Taferner, 2008, 2009; Wakabayashi, 2008). The researchers’ (Morgan, Fuisting, & White, 2014) survey of 125 students at the same university as the current study found generally positive attitudes towards peer review in writing. They found that students were not overly concerned about criticizing each other and that peer review somewhat increased their enjoyment of writing. They further discovered that students greatly doubted their own peer review abilities and were reluctant to show their writing, but that they trusted their classmates’ abilities and wanted to read their peers’ work. Jeremy White is an associate professor at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He is currently studying for an EdD in CALL and video game use in the classroom at Griffith University.

Most EFL studies concerned with attitudes towards peer review have focused on the views of learners. An examination of attitudes towards teacher feedback in an Indonesian university (Zacharias, 2007) included surveys and interviews with instructors, finding that many teachers placed little faith in peer review because of students’ collectivist orientations. A study in Argentina (Morra & Romano, 2008) included interviews with two instructors, finding they were positive about the peer review process and observed affective benefits in their students. However, little significant research focusing on EFL teachers’ attitudes towards peer review has been conducted in Asia. This is the primary impetus for the current study.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

22

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this mixed method study is to examine teachers’ attitudes towards peer review in EFL writing activities. Specifically, this study will focus on teachers’ attitudes in relation to relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, results demonstrability, and peer review experience. It is hoped that examination of teachers’ perceptions of peer review and their classroom experiences with it can provide valuable insights into how the peer review process can be effectively implemented in EFL writing classes both in Japan and within a broader context.

Research Questions

The research questions were: (a) What are teachers’ attitudes towards peer review in EFL writing in relation to relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, and demonstrability? And (b) What forms of peer review do instructors use in their classes, what benefits do they perceive from it, and how does the experience of conducting peer review differ amongst Japanese and foreign instructors?

Methodology

The instrument used for data collection was a paper-based survey consisting of original questions drafted by the researchers with input from colleagues. Surveys were sent to 101 instructors, both Japanese and foreign, and a total of 41 were returned. The survey was trialed with instructors from another university, with subsequent feedback concerning clarity and relevance informing changes to the survey. The survey contained quantitative and qualitative questions. The framework for the quantitative section of the survey was based on a technology innovation research model developed by Rogers (1983) and Moore and Benbasat (1991). This framework, while not specifically designed for pedagogical analysis, most closely reflected the objectives of the current study. The questions in the quantitative part of the survey were posed as statements and teachers were asked to circle the number best corresponding with their level of agreement with the statement on a 6-point Likert scale, with an optional comment section for each question. The survey started with demographic questions, followed by the first subsection concerning the relative advantage of peer review. Relative advantage for this survey is defined as the degree to which conducting peer review is perceived Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

to be better than not doing peer review. The second subsection explored the compatibility of peer review with the instructor’s teaching style. Compatibility here is defined as the degree to which peer review is perceived as being consistent with the values, needs, and past experiences of teachers. The third section was related to the complexity of peer review. Complexity is defined as the degree to which the instructor believes peer review is difficult to use. The fourth section explored the demonstrability of peer review. Demonstrability is defined as the visible impact that peer review has on students’ writing abilities. The qualitative section of this survey contained five open-ended questions where participants were asked to give comments about their experiences using peer review. The survey can be found in the Appendix. Quantitative data were analyzed using a combination of Microsoft Excel and SPSS statistical software, while the comments received were thematically coded to allow for a qualitative analysis.

Demographic Characteristics

Thirty-three (33) of the participants were full time instructors (80.5%) while 8 were part time instructors (19.5%). Fifteen (15) participants were Japanese (36.6%) while 26 were foreign (63.4%). The majority of the respondents were from the Economic and Business Administration departments.

Relative Advantage

The second section of the survey was used to collect data regarding perceptions of relative advantage. Table 1 is a summary of responses. Table 1 Relative Advantage n

Mean

Mode

Median

Low-High

Range

SD

1. Using peer editing reduces my time spent on correcting writing 41

3.63

4

4

1-6

5

1

4

0.5

2. Peer editing is a good use of class time 41

4.44

4

4

2-6

Note: 1-strongly disagree, 2-disagree, 3-somewhat disagree, 4-somewhat agree, 5-agree, 6-strongly agree

Compatibility

The third section collected data related to compatibility. Table 2 is a summary of responses. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

23

Table 5

Table 2 Compatibility n

Mean

Peer Review Experience

Mode

Median

Low-High

Range

SD n

1. Peer editing is compatible with my teaching style. 41

4.80

5.00

5.00

1-6

3

1.00

4.78

5.00

5.00

2-6

3

0.50

Complexity

Mode

Median

Low-High

Range

5.00

4.00

3-6

4

1.50

41

2. Students need to be trained before they can implement peer editing. 41 5.27

6.00

6.00

3-6

4

Demonstrability

6 23 7 3 (14.6%) (56.1%) (17.1%) (7.3%) (40.0%) (88.5%) (46.7%) (11.5%)

2 (4.9%) (13.3%)

0 (0.0%) (0.0%)

7 24 (17.1%) (58.5%) (46.7%) (92.4%)

0 (0.0%) (0.0%)

1 (2.4%) (3.8%)

1 (2.4%) (3.8%)

8 (19.5%) (53.3%)

3. Do you use any other form of peer review?

SD

1. Peer editing is easy to implement. 41 3.93

41

41

Table 3 Complexity Mean

No answer Foreign

2. Do you feel there are benefits of using peer editing in the classroom?

The fourth section collected data in relation to complexity. Table 3 is a summary of responses.

n

No answer Japanese

1. Do you use peer editing in your English classes?

2. Peer editing is a good way to review writing. 41

Japanese Foreign Japanese Foreign Yes Yes No No

5 14 2 10 (12.2%) (34.1%) (4.9%) (24.4%) (33.3%) (53.8%) (13.3%) (38.5%)

8 (19.5%) (53.3%)

2 (4.9%) (13.3%)

4. Do you use any form of peer evaluation? 1.00

The fifth section collected data related to the demonstrability of peer editing. Table 4 is a summary of responses.

41

6 17 (14.6%) (41.5%) (40.0%) (65.4%)

3 (7.3%) (6.7%)

7 (17.1%) (65.4%)

6 (14.6%) (40.0%)

Discussion

Relative Advantage The first statement, “using peer editing reduces my Table 4 time spent on correcting writing,” had a median Demonstrability and mode of 4.00, suggesting that teachers slightly agree, but lack confidence in this statement. A n Mean Mode Median Low-High Range SD median of 3.63 provides further evidence to the 1. Peer editing increases the quality of students’ final papers. neutral result. The second statement, “peer editing 41 4.39 4.00 5.00 2-6 5 1.00 is a good use of class time,” also had a median and mode of 4.00. However, the mean of 4.44 suggests 2. Peer editing helps students understand academic that in comparison to the previous statement there writing better. 41 4.71 5.00 5.00 2-6 4 1.00 is a slightly more positive view in relation to peer editing being a worthwhile activity. Analyzing both Peer Review Experience statements illustrates instructors have a slightly The last section of the survey collected data positive attitude to the relative advantage of using regarding experience with various forms of peer peer editing in their classes, but do not believe review. Table 5 shows the numerical data for the yes/ their time spent correcting errors will be reduced no response sections, further contrasted in relation to significantly. Comments from teachers provide differences between Japanese and foreign instructors. further evidence to this, with one teacher stating that The first number in each column is the raw score while peer editing may produce better writing, the out of 41 teachers. The second is the percentage of time spent grading remains unchanged. the 41 teachers, and the third score is the percentage Compatibility divided by nationality. Qualitative results from the corresponding open-ended questions are presented The first statement in this section, “peer editing is in the discussion subsection. compatible with my teaching style,” had a mean Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

2 (4.9%) (7.7%)


Feature Article

24

of 4.80, median of 5, and mode of 5, indicating strongly that the majority of instructors believe that peer review is consistent with their teaching style. Data also suggests positive indications for the second statement, “peer editing is a good way to review writing,” with a mean of 4.78, a mode of 5, and a median of 5. Compatibility provides positive reinforcement for the use of peer editing in writing classrooms, and it is particularly encouraging from a curriculum development perspective to see that instructors believe peer editing suits their teaching style. This is further enhanced by comments of teachers who suggested if peer editing were included in the curriculum, they would be flexible enough to adopt it. Complexity The first statement, “peer editing is easy to implement,” had a mean, mode, median, and standard deviation of 3.39, 5.00, 4.00, and 1.50, respectively. Brett Morgan has lived and taught in Japan and other Asian countries for over 20 years. He presently works as a full-time lecturer in the CISE at Ritsumeikan University, Japan.

This shows that teachers believe peer editing is somewhat easy to implement in their classroom. The second statement, “students need to be trained before they can implement peer editing,” had a mean of 5.27, a mode and median of 6.00, and a standard deviation of 1.0. This strongly indicates that teachers believe that before conducting peer editing, students need to be trained on how to do it effectively, emphasizing the need for effective training programs to be implemented within EFL writing curricula. Comments from teachers further indicate that training is essential when conducting peer editing, especially for first-year students. Demonstrability The first statement, “peer editing increases the quality of students’ final papers,” had a mean and mode of 4.39, and a median of 5.00, indicating somewhat positive beliefs in the actual results of peer editing. The second statement, “peer editing helps students understand academic writing better,” also proved somewhat positive, with a mean and mode of 4.71, and median of 5.00. These results analyzed together provide positive indications towards the visible results of peer editing. Comments from Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

teachers further suggest that within peer editing, layout is the easiest aspect for students to check, with reviewing for cohesion and comprehension considered more difficult to implement. Use of Peer Editing The first part of the qualitative section contained questions relating to the instructors’ use of peer editing in their English classes. Participants answering “yes” were then asked to describe how they used peer editing, and those answering “no” to explain why they did not. Results clearly indicate that peer editing is widely used in their classrooms, with 70.7% of those surveyed using peer editing. For foreign instructors the percentage is 88.5%, and for Japanese instructors, 40%, clearly demonstrating that foreign instructors are using peer editing more. Responses from foreign and Japanese instructors showed similar patterns in how they used peer editing. Comments indicate that most conduct peer editing work on a one-to-one basis; however, some also used small group reviews or a combination of both. This highlights that instructors find this process more complementary with pair work, and that they perceive one individual reviewing a students’ work in detail as more beneficial than a small group working on several papers simultaneously. There were no comments explaining why teachers chose either process, an element worth examining in proceeding research. Most instructors conduct peer editing in the classroom, with comments suggesting the use of a structured peer review system. This entails either specifically teaching what is required to conduct peer editing, or providing a checklist of common writing mistakes and errors to look for. Only one instructor used a peer review checklist provided to them in the curriculum, which suggests that many have developed their own peer editing material to conduct these activities. Those using peer editing outside of class did so either by having students check each other’s work via Google documents, or by having students take their peer’s work home. These instructors did not indicate why they did not conduct peer review in class. Furthermore, two instructors who conduct peer review did not provide any comments. Comments from Japanese and foreign instructors who do not use peer editing suggest that the reason is not necessarily due to a dislike for the process, but rather that their classes do not focus on writing TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

or contain simple writing activities which do not require peer editing. Benefits of Peer Editing The second open-ended question asked whether teachers felt there were any benefits in using peer editing. Most foreign instructors (92.4%) surveyed and 46.7% of Japanese believed there were definite benefits. Many comments indicated that the collaborative nature of peer reviews exposed students to other writing styles, which if more advanced than their own could prove beneficial. Some teachers suggested all levels of students could become consciously aware of their own mistakes through reviewing others’ writing, providing opportunities to correct their own writing before submitting assignments for grades. Some also suggested that peer editing was essential for Japanese students as culturally they are used to working alone, and exposure to a collaborative style of learning helped prepare them for future work environments. Of the teachers that do not currently conduct peer review, the answers to this question were nonetheless positive. Both foreign and Japanese instructors could see potential benefits in peer editing, which suggests these teachers might employ peer editing in their classes if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, 24.4% of all participants, including 50% of Japanese instructors, did not write any comments. Another significant theme to emerge from the comments of several foreign and Japanese instructors was that while most believe conducting peer editing Bjorn Fuisting is a full-time lecturer at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He has been teaching in Japan for 10 years. His research interests include peer review, extensive reading and speed-reading. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jeremy White at jwhite@fc.ritsumei.ac.jp

was beneficial, the time it took to train students how to peer edit effectively, the level of the students, or the seriousness of the students meant that peer editing was not a worthwhile task in their current environment, and that this class time would be better spent on actual writing itself. Other Forms of Peer Review The third open-ended question asked instructors to describe any other forms of peer review they use in their classroom. A majority (46.3%) of all instructors Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

25

use other forms of peer review. It is clear that foreign instructors do so more, 53.8%, compared to 33.3% of Japanese. The most common alternative use of peer review was in presentations, with students providing both formative and summative feedback on their peers’ presentations. Few instructors provided detailed answers for not trying other forms of peer review, but some suggested that effective peer review was too time consuming, or that the feedback provided was of poor quality, and thus not worth using class time for. Peer Evaluation The final survey question asked instructors to describe their use of any form of peer evaluation that counted towards students’ grades. A majority (56.1%) of all instructors, 65.4% of foreign instructors, and 40% of Japanese, indicated that they used peer evaluation. In most instances this was used for student presentations rather than writing activities, with many using peer evaluation informally to keep students engaged during presentations, or to provide alternative sources of feedback. This suggests that teachers are not overly confident in students’ ability to give grades to other students. This was enhanced by the comments of those who do not use peer evaluation, with some stating they do not trust the opinions of students or that it would only work with small classes of high-level students.

Conclusion

Reflecting what has been found in the research on students’ attitudes toward peer review in Japan and other EFL contexts, English instructors at this university clearly find value in peer review activities. Quantitative analysis indicates support for curricular adoption of peer review, showing that instructors are slightly positive to the relative advantage of peer review, fairly positive towards its results demonstrability, and strongly positive towards its compatibility, but also recognize peer review’s complexity. Most foreign instructors and some Japanese use peer review in their classes, mostly for writing activities, but also for student presentations, and roughly half of participants use some form of peer evaluation. Many instructors, even if they do not use it, see benefits in peer review, especially in its interactive potential, but recognize challenges in its implementation. For those designing writing curricula, the implications of this study are that there TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

26

is obviously a desire from both Japanese and foreign teachers to have some form of peer review process, but unless it is specifically written into the curriculum with guided training for both teachers and students, it is unlikely to be universally implemented.

Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research

The findings of this study could be applicable to other Japanese university settings, and could also have relevance for other EFL learning environments. Possible limitations that must be considered in any interpretation, however, are the differing sample size of 26 foreign instructors and 15 Japanese, and the fact that 60% of English instructors at the university did not return the survey. It is possible that some did not complete the survey because they did not use peer review, which could impact the findings concerning peer review experience. Additionally, this study focused primarily on teachers’ reported attitudes towards peer review, and the subject could benefit from a more in-depth qualitative approach to data collection, such as interviews, to discover more about both Japanese and foreign instructors’ ideas for effective curricular implementation of peer review, something worth exploring in future research.

References

Berg, C. (1999). The effects of trained peer response on ESL students’ revision types and writing quality. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(3), 215–241. Bruffee, K. A. (1984). Peer tutoring and the “conversation of mankind.” In G. A. Olson (Ed.) Writing centers:Theory and administration (pp. 3-15). Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English. Chang, C. F. (2012). Peer review via three modes in an EFL writing course. Computers and Composition, 29(1), 63-78. Chaudron, C. (1984). Evaluating writing: Effects of feedback on revision. RELC Journal, 15(2), 1-14. Coomber, M., & Silver, R. (2010). The effect of anonymity in peer review. In A. M. Stoke (Ed.), JALT2009 Conference Proceedings (pp. 621-631). Tokyo: JALT. Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. (1980). Identifying the organization of writing processes. In L.W. Gregg & E. R. Steinber (Eds.), Cognitive processes in writing (pp. 3-29). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Hirose, K. (2008). Peer feedback in L2 English writing instruction. In K. Bradford Watts, T. Muller, & M. Swanson (Eds.), JALT2007 Conference Proceedings (pp. 543-552). Tokyo: JALT. Hirvela, A. (1999). Collaborative writing instruction and communities of readers and writers. TESOL Journal, 8(2), 7-12. Hosack, I. (2003). The effects of anonymous feedback on Japanese university students’ attitudes towards peer review. Ritsumeikanhougaku bessatsu, 1, 297322. Jacobs, G., Curtis, A., Braine, G., & Huang, S. (1998). Feedback on student writing: Taking the middle path. Journal of Second Language Writing, 7(3), 307317. Leki, I. (1990). Potential problems with peer responding in ESL writing classes. CATESOL Journal, 3(1), 5-19. Lockhart, C., & Ng, P. (1995). Analyzing talk in ESL peer response groups: Stances, functions, and content. Language Learning, 45(4), 605-651. Min, H.T. (2005). Training students to become successful peer reviewers. System, 33(2), 293-308. Moore, G, C., & Benbasat, I. (1991). Development of an instrument to measure the perceptions of adopting an information technology innovation. Information Systems Research 2(3), 192-222. Morgan, B., Fuisting, B., & White, J., (2014). Student attitudes towards peer review in EFL writing. Manuscript submitted for publication. Morra, A. M., & Romano, M.E. (2008). University students’ reactions to guided peer feedback of EAP compositions. Journal of College Literacy & Learning, 35, 19-30. Moussaoui, S. (2012). An investigation of the effects of peer evaluation in enhancing Algerian students’ writing autonomy and positive affect. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 69, 17751784. Nelson, G. L., & Carson, J. G. (1998). ESL students’ perceptions of effectiveness in peer response groups. Journal of Second Language Writing, 7(2), 113-131. Nelson, G. L., & Murphy, G. M. (1992). An L2 writing group: Talk and social dimension. Journal of Second Language Writing, 1, 171-193. Paulus, T. (1999). The effect of peer and teacher feedback on student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(3), 265-289. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Rogers, E. M. (1983) Diffusion of innovation (3rd ed.). NY: The Free Press. Silver, R., & Coomber, M. (2011). How anonymity affects feedback in the peer review process. KOTESOL Proceedings 2010 (pp. 299-308). Seoul: KOTESOL. Taferner, R. H. (2008). Toward effective EFL writing revision: Peer review. OnCue Journal, 2(2), 76-91. Taferner, R. H. (2009). Attitudes toward peer collaboration within the EFL writing context in Japan. In A. M. Stoke (Ed.), JALT2008 Conference Proceedings (pp.1117-1125). Tokyo: JALT. Tsui, A. B. M., & Ng, M. (2000). Do secondary L2 writers benefit from peer comments? Journal of Second Language Writing, 9(2), 147-170.

27

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. (A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard MIT Press. Wakabayashi, R. (2008). The effect of peer feedback on EFL writing: Focusing on Japanese university students. OnCue Journal, 2(2), 92-110. Zacharias, N. T. (2007). Teacher and student attitudes toward teacher feedback. RELC Journal, 38(1), 38-52. Zhang, S. (1995). Reexamining the affective advantage of peer feedback in the ESL writing class. Journal of Second Language Writing, 4, 209222. i

i

i

i

i

Call for TESOL Arabia Conference Proceedings The editors of the Proceedings of the 2014 TESOL Arabia Conference would like to invite you to submit a paper based on your presentation at the TESOL Arabia 2014 Conference to be considered for publication in the next volume of the Proceedings. Only those who presented at the Conference may submit articles for the Proceedings. Please send your article to Publications Coordinator, Peter McLaren at: pmclaren@uaeu.ac.ae The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2014. Please follow the specifications outlined below: · Articles should be 3000-4000 words. · Articles should be typed using Times New Roman, font size 12, with 1½ line spacing. · If you include tables and/or figures, make sure they are no wider than 12 cm. · Do not use color in tables or figures. · Do not use footnotes. · Only use portrait orientation (i.e., do not insert any pages in landscape orientation). · Remove all hyperlinks in the text. · Include a complete list of references using APA style. Consult the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Edition (2009) if necessary. · Send articles electronically as a Word attachment.

We will acknowledge receipt of articles within two weeks. Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

28

Student SelfReflection on Academic Writing This is an idea for a follow up reflective task. Using reflection to teach is and will always be common practice in EFL settings in the classic form of journal writing, diaries, and reading logs. More recently, reflection has been practiced as assessment for and assessment as learning (Rodgers, 2002). I have tried this and it really works. In an academic writing course where students are expected to complete three timed written tasks, students are exposed to numerous opportunities to reflect on their performance. This is done in installments and requires students to write one or two paragraphs about their choice of academic vocabulary, their sentence structure, or their content. Students have expressed interest and commented that it is a useful technique to put down their thoughts on paper as it has also helped them become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. What is suggested in this short article, however, is a reflection scheme through which students self-assess and self-reflect not only on their process of learning but also on their overall performance and progress. When receiving feedback on assignments or written tasks, students habitually focus on their numerical grade, but unfortunately do not pay sufficient attention to the feedback or the comments given by the instructor to justify that grade. This is a huge obstacle that prevents them from making satisfactory progress in their writing.

Application

Rania Jabr American University of Cairo Cairo, Egypt

reflection when used as a tool for student selfassessment. Using a number of carefully crafted questions, a teacher can target the learning outcomes of the course and direct students to areas that require particular attention, such as content, essay organization, vocabulary, and the all-important grammar. Obviously, the suggested model can be easily adapted to suit the level of the students, their immediate needs when learning how to write well, and the objectives of the course.

Teaching Context

In my university-level academic teaching context, students are required to write three analysis essays throughout one semester, all in exam settings. However, in-class preparation for these “deliverables� is done using a process-writing approach. My overall goal is to ensure that students are aware of the requirements for a strong academic essay and to familiarize them with the rubric used to grade their written pieces. The reflective pieces that will be shared in the two samples below attempt to follow a triangulated approach where grades, exerted effort, and progress are interconnected. The following samples are a before and after reflection surrounding a main event which is a first written academic task weighted 15% out of the total grades of the course. The students were asked to reflect on their progress in writing since the beginning of the semester a couple of days prior to the task (Reflective Task 1).

One way to ensure that students actually do learn and gain something from their essay grades is Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Lesson Feature Idea Article

29

Reflective Task 1 Before Writing Task 1 Reflecting on My Own Progress in Essay Writing Vocabulary Problem:

Solution:

Problem:

Solution:

Problem:

Solution:

Problem:

Solution:

Problem:

Solution:

Reflecting on my vocabulary in writing:

Error type

Number of run-ons

Number of fragments

Your comments/ explanation

Reflecting on my grammar in writing:

This was followed be a general class discussion of DOs and DON’Ts in academic essay writing. Two days after the writing task and after they received Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

their scores, students were asked to reflect on their actual performance on the task (Reflective Task 2).

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Lesson Article Idea

30

Reflective Task 2 After Writing Task 1 Reflecting on my performance in Writing Task 1 (15%) Grade ( / 5)

Reasons for the grade

How I will improve this grade…

Content

Organization

Vocabulary

Grammar

Mechanics

Overall comments:

· Are you surprised by your grade? Why/Why not? · Have you been doing your rewrites/drafts on time? Why/Why not? · Have you avoided the repeated mistakes in the exam essay? Why/Why not? · Have you been doing your editing assignments daily? Why/Why not? · Your writing task 2 is on (month, day), how can you prepare for it?

Conclusion

It is important to note that just before the writing task/exam and after several weeks of covering all aspects of academic essay writing, focus shifted to Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

grammar and vocabulary, namely problems in usage. Students have reported that this technique is helpful and has, according to them, allowed them to focus much more on their performance. What I noticed as the instructor is that students who did take time to do their reflection carefully and who internalized the message behind the whole process of self-reflection have made greater progress and scored higher grades as evidenced by their performance on Task 2 and 3. Rania Jabr is a senior instructor at the American University in Cairo (AUC), and a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award for the year 2013. A conference presenter, teacher trainer, journal reviewer, and editor with particular interest in teaching reading and writing and materials development, she attends and presents at international conferences and has published papers in numerous professional journals.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Article Technology

Anthony Hill Emirates College for Advanced Education Abu Dhabi, UAE Publishing is taking a new form. While academia is still bound up in academic journals and books, increasingly knowledge is being disseminated in an entirely different format. Libraries are moving to eBooks and eJournals, but these are often only facsimiles of printed work.Video is the new medium of a wider “e-ducational” communication. Kahn academy, BBC ByteSize, and other online video repositories are making profound inroads in education. If you need to know how to do something or you want an explanation, you will probably find a YouTube video that tells you precisely. If you want to teach a skill or explain a concept, recording the screen of your presentation together with your voice can create an excellent revision tool for students.You can also create the presentation before class and use that as part of a self-paced differentiated lesson. With students increasingly making use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) technology, you can have your video streaming to each student without the need for labs.Videos can be used in “flipped” classrooms, “blended” learning environments, Learning Management Systems (LMS), or just presented ad hoc during a class. Surprisingly, I have made some short, live video recordings of a lesson, which when used with sections of the same course as a video presentation have been more “engaging” than the live presentation was itself. The video became exclusive while the original live presentation was “just a class.” You too can be “publishing” this way.YouTube, Vimeo or even your institution’s LMS can be your publisher. Creating video support or teaching material for your classes has never been easier.You can just record while you are teaching for replay later on. This can be supplementary to your lessons or an Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

31

eEverything integral part of them. While it may seem intimidating at first, making tuition videos is really simple. I have taught primary school children to do it. My second year BEd students must make them as part of their required course work. The software needed may already be on your computer; if not, freeware programs are readily available.You just need a microphone. If you are going to edit your video, you may want some other software, or you can edit online.

Setting up

First, check your audio recording settings for the microphone (tinyurl.com/atq004).You may need to boost the volume. In Windows, right click on the speaker button on the taskbar and select Recording Devices (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The microphone in Windows Check that your microphone is working.You should see the green lines on the level control show when you are speaking. Double click on the microphone to bring up the properties menu and check the level setting.You will probably want this to be up near 100, but you should adjust to suit your needs (see Figure 2). TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Technology Article

32

folder on the desktop. CamStudio has more options and settings than Smart Recorder and produces AVI or FLASH output files. Using the portable app, you can take your USB drive into a classroom with a microphone and be recording almost immediately (http://portableapps.com).

Figure 2. Adjust the volume level to near 100. You also may need to click on “custom” and “select” to boost the input level. Once you are happy with your audio level, you are halfway there. With just this and a free copy of Audacity, you can make audio podcasts of your sessions.

Screencapture

Apple’s Macs have the advantage here as the built-in Quicktime program offers an excellent screencapture recording of either full screen or regions. It produces a good quality video easily. Windows users will need to run some extra software. One of the most wellknown commercial pieces of software is Camtasia, which is a great package but will require you to purchase it if your institution does not provide you with a license. However, there are many other options. If you have Smartboard Software on your computer to run a Smartboard then you can use Smart Recorder. It is nice program for use with live classes (tinyurl.com/atq001). This is a small program that produces very small files sizes of good quality.You will find it in the Smart Tools menu of Smartboard. It offers Full Screen, Window, and Region options with sound. Output can be AVI or WMV; however, you really need to upload this to YouTube so that it gets converted to a universal codec as some computers will not play the WMV or AVI files in their raw state because they do not have the codecs (which only come with the installation of Smartboard). If you upload your finished video you will not have any compatibility issues. The final option I want to cover in this brief introduction is a freeware program called CamStudio (tinyurl.com/atq002). I prefer to use the portable version which does not require any installation on a computer so there are no admin rights issues to cope with. It can even be run from a USB drive or a Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

One important tip is that all these programs have shortcut keys for starting, pausing, and stopping the recording.You need to write those down or memorize them. Set your recording to the highest fidelity you can so that YouTube can deliver it at an appropriate resolution. Also, if you are going to record live in a class, you must tell the students that you are recording as their voices may be picked up. The first decision you need to make is whether you will record the whole screen or part of it. Depending on whether you are going to record a live session with a class or pre-record a video, you also need to think about how long the piece will be. Always make a 5-second test recording to check your settings. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of a brilliant exposition only to find you accidentally unplugged the microphone! Anthony Hill is an Ed Tech specialist involved in teacher training and professional development. He is an experienced primary school teacher (NZ) who has also taught middle and high school English in Japan. Currently he is working at Emirates College for Advanced Education in the undergraduate BEd program and developing post graduate courses. He independently runs online courses and has an established YouTube channel.

What will you teach in your video? You are not a professional media production company; therefore, just concentrate on what you normally teach to a class. If you are pre-recording then you can drop in extra bits. However, small snippets of your class such as instructions (tinyurl.com/atq005) and explanations, especially when there is lots of screen content (tinyurl.com/atq006), can work well, too. The more videos you make, the better you will become; practice definitely makes perfect.You will find that you want to edit some of the videos or rerecord them. With short videos it is often quicker to re-record than to edit. If you find that you get the taste for this form of publishing, then you may gravitate to a program like Camtasia which handles the whole process more elegantly.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Educational Feature Article Technology

Recording from your iPad

Currently this is not as easy as it should be. There have been various apps released which let you record the screen of your iPad, but they are quickly removed from iTunes. The only current way to easily achieve a screen recording without “jailbreaking” your device is to use an air display mirror to a Mac or PC and then record the screen there (e.g., www. airsquirrels.com/reflector). Android tablets also need to be “rooted” to use most available screen recorder apps. If you are teaching from your portable device and you have some way of getting your display onto the projector, you will also be able to record on the projector’s computer. Otherwise you will need to look into mirror software.

Editing

When you have finished your video, you may wish to edit it.You can do that on your computer with your default movie editing software, or you can edit online.YouTube is making its editing software more sophisticated. Often the simplest thing to do with a short video is just to do it over again. Adding titles and credits is useful. Deleting chunks from the middle is a little trickier. However, the old school style guide that frowned upon jumpcuts has well and truly been thrown out by the YouTube generation.You do not need to disguise your edits anymore. There are plenty of companies making professional teaching tutorials. One of the best known ICT ones is AtomicLearning. They give a valuable piece of advice, which is to make lots of small videos showing individual steps rather than single, long videos. Of course it will depend on what you are trying to convey. But remember that attention span is a key criterion.You can always concatenate the videos into playlists.

33

accepted as publications by your institution, they are still a valuable contribution to the professional community. Create a list full of your own teaching videos and drop them into your annual review. It is really satisfying seeing them used around the world--not just in your class.You will also be accommodating the learning styles of this new breed of student.

Notes

These samples and others are on YouTube in my channel TWICTNET. For the convenience of intext citation, I have used tinyurl addresses to make it easier to transcribe the links from print.

Video Links

http://tinyurl.com/atq001 = smart recorder video http://tinyurl.com/atq002 = camstudio portable http://tinyurl.com/atq004 = adjust sound level http://tinyurl.com/atq005 = smart recorder being demonstrated to a live class · http://tinyurl.com/atq006 = example of a screen capture for tool use · · · ·

Program links

· http://atomiclearning.com · http://portableapps.com/apps/music_video/ audacity_portable · h t t p : / / p o r t a bl e a p p s . c o m / a p p s / u t i l i t i e s / camstudio_portable · http://www.airsquirrels.com/reflector/ · http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ · http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html · http://www.youtube.com/ · https://vimeo.com/ · https://www.khanacademy.org/

Hosting

Where will you put your videos? YouTube is a pretty obvious choice, but there are other places you could try such as Vimeo or Screencast. Using these other locations could be necessary if there are restrictions on access to YouTube in your institution.You can also load up directly into your LMS or run from a local network drive or just your computer. This article may seem to be about technology, but it is really about publishing. “Publish” your videos because then you can count them towards your contribution to academia; even if they are not Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Grants TESOL Arabia offers several types of grants to promote professional development among its members. For more information or to apply, please visit http://www.tesolarabia.net/ta/about-us/grants/ TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Reader Feature Response Article

34

Curriculum Change in the United Arab Emirates Troudi and Alwan’s exploratory study (2010) “Teachers’ Feelings During Curriculum Change in the UAE: Opening Pandora’s Box” is informed by interpretive paradigm. This interpretive research examines secondary school female English language teachers’ awareness of curriculum change in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Merriam (2009) explains that in interpretive research, education is considered to be a process and school is a lived experience. Similarly, Glesne (2011) mentions that it “allows the researcher to approach the inherent intricacies of social interaction, to honor complexity, and to respect it in its own right” (p. 25). This study is the first of its type in its focus on the secondary school English language curriculum in the UAE, on policies taken for changing curricula and roles of teachers in these processes from the teachers’ perspective. This qualitative exploratory interpretive study attempted to probe into teachers’ perceptions of curriculum change in the UAE. The clearly defined purpose is followed by the research questions that have been designed focusing on the relationship between curriculum change and teachers’ feelings about it: What do English language teachers understand by “curriculum” in the UAE context? How do teachers feel about the curriculum change in the UAE context? The study investigated material innovations of Grade 10-12 textbooks. The material sets for the three grades were called English for the Emirates. The book series included pupils’ books, workbooks and teachers’ books. The sets were produced by the Curricula Development Centre at the Ministry of Education. The new sets of textbooks were introduced as a replacement to the old ones, which were deemed to be ineffective. The curriculum change model was top down with almost no chance for teachers to play any active role. Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Tsoghik Grigoryan Al Ain Women’s College Al Ain, UAE

The study participants were sixteen Arab female teachers; one was a local teacher and the others were expatriates. All the participating teachers had taught the previous secondary school curriculum and were teaching the new one during the year when the data were collected. The authors selected the participants through two approaches: purposiveness and accessibility, because one of the authors, being female, was not allowed to access boys’ schools. However, she had full access to girls’ schools and female teachers. Data collection methods included repeated faceto-face semi-structured interviews and document reviews. Interviews were least demanding on participants and teachers were more willing to speak than put their thoughts in writing. Therefore, the interview schedule contained open-ended questions to allow the informants to speak about the topic without restrictions. To collect the data related to curriculum, it was necessary to review curriculum documents and other related materials to understand important aspects of the context in depth. The data were collected during the year of the curriculum change. Constant comparison technique was used to compare even small incidents in the data. The study contributed to different spheres of English language teaching in the UAE and portrayed a picture of the status quo. The data revealed that participants had contradictory affective reactions to curriculum change since they approved of some aspects of change but were disturbed by other aspects. It is possible that different teachers drew on their educational and cultural backgrounds in managing their feelings and teaching within the new change. Teachers, for instance, claimed that they did not know what good teaching was according to the curriculum. The fact that they undervalued the improvement in the content of the books could TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Reader FeatureResponse Article

imply resistance to the change. Teachers’ responses bore confrontations to the change in that they focused on finding faults with the materials more than on the positive aspects. The study identified three phases in the development of the teachers’ feelings towards the curriculum change. Initially, they Tsoghik Grigoryan received her BA in Pedagogy and Linguistics from Anania Shirakatsi University in 2001 and her Master’s degree in TEFL from the American University of Armenia in 2004. Grigoryan published two dictionaries of English-Armenian synonyms and synonymic groups which are presently used in the Armenian educational system for academic writing courses. Grigoryan has 16 years of experience in TEFL and is presently an English teacher at Al Ain Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology. Her professional interests focus on communicative approaches to language teaching and use of educational technology in learning. Currently, Grigoryan is doing her EdD at the British University in Dubai.

were happy about the new change, but, due to the work pressure to meet the requirements to cover the syllabus before the final exams, the positive feelings changed into uncertainty and frustration. In phase

35

three, the teachers started modifying the aspects of the curriculum and finally accepted it. The study claims that change managers need to take affective issues into consideration when planning for curriculum change. Also, teacher training and support must be provided to reduce the stress level and resistance to change. Finally, teacher involvement in the process of curriculum development will improve their morale.

References

Glesne, C. (2011). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction (3rd ed.). Boston: Pearson. Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implement. Boston: John Wiley & Sons. Troudi, S., & Alwan, F. (2010). Teachers’ feelings during curriculum change in the UAE: Opening Pandora’s box. Teacher Development: An International Journal of Teachers’ Professional Development, 14(1), 107-121. i

i

i

i

i

Become a TESOL Arabia Affiliate

Find out how at

http://www.tesolarabia.net/ta/tesol-arabia-affiliates/ · one complimentary conference registration to our annual conference · two free subscriptions to Perspectives · free advertising of events via newsletters, websites, and member mailing lists

Benefits include: one complimentary conference registration to our annual conference two free subscriptions to Perspectives free advertising of events via newsletters, websites, and member mailing lists

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


FeatureReviews Article

36

Ten Arabic Plays: The Winning Plays of the International Monodrama Competition Omnia Amin, Translator David Palfreyman, Editor Fujairah Culture and Media Authority, 2014 ISBN: 978-614-419-388-4 206 pages

The ten plays in this collection are the winning entries from the 6th Fujairah International Monodrama Competition, which was held in Fujairah January 20-28, 2014. According to the introduction (pp. 9-12), they “have been singled out from 162 Arabic scripts submitted from across the Arab world.” They are printed in the order in which they were ranked by the competition judges, which is a perfectly intelligent way of arranging them, but has the disadvantage of ensuring that there is an imperceptible, but steady, decline in quality. For this reviewer, moreover, the first four monodramas were of such outstanding quality that they would be hard to match. They deal with the Shakespearian themes of loss, regret, love, ambition, exile, and hope. They are universal in their appeal, and being translations from the Arabic, they could well be offered to Arab Gulf University students-particularly those in the Humanities and Social Sciences--as authentic texts. The First Prize winner, the Jordanian Atef Al Farrayah, offers The Search for Aziza Suleiman (pp. 1328). This is a monologue by the once famous actress Najma, now crippled and living with her mementos in an old people’s home. This is the familiar fate that haunts Bollywood and Hollywood - she is Neelima Kumari in Question and Answer (Swarup, 2005), less fortunate than the former starlet who now “waits Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

tables at a Denny’s in Tempe, Arizona” (Leavitt, 1998, p. 5). Like Margot Channing, she has realized too late that the people she discarded on the way up are those she requires on the way down. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Reviews Feature Article

From Egypt, the Second Prize winner Mohammed Al Hajajjy gives us Waiting (pp. 29-44), a play that is very much from the tradition of Egyptian cinema. The good-hearted orphan boy from the provinces, rejected by his own people, tries to succeed in Cairo and fails. In this instance, however, there is the added complication of Awadallah’s devotion to his horse Jaweesh, whose death effectively unhinges his master’s reason. For the Western reader this is less familiar ground, but the writing has tremendous power, and its themes of neglect, love, and despair are universal. The joint Third Prize winner, Faeza Mustapha’s Cardboard Cities (pp. 45-68), is the monologue of an Algerian bag lady, a woman who sleeps in the streets near the university. This is probably the most overtly political of the four prizewinners, with references to “the hell of the ‘nineties’” (p. 49) and statements like, “Entering a university has become like entering a toilet. A pity for the university and its students. If they speak they frighten the officials in their sleep and if they gather a state of emergency is declared in the country” (p. 56), or “For fifty years I have been reading the newspapers. I never once read the phrase ‘we have done..’ It is always in the future, ha ha” (p. 66). Just as Werner (2014, p. 38) quotes an old resident of the Algiers Casbah as saying that his childhood city is a “‘monde aboli,’ an abolished world,” so in this play the narrator regrets the neglect, rust, and crumbling that have overtaken her city. There is no hope here, for “Today our youth stand on …shores waiting for an opportunity to hide in the vestibule of some ship in the hope that it will thrust him on the other shore” (p. 65). That last line leads neatly into the Moroccan Mustapha Al Hamdawi’s The Final Journey (pp. 6988). Appropriately, we never know whether Saeed has actually arrived “over there.” We know that he has been washed up on a shore, but whether he is back in Africa or is the sole survivor from a capsized boatload of economic migrants en route to Europe is never clear. What is clear, however, is the lack of economic opportunity, and ultimately the lack of hope, that drives men to leave their wives and families and seek betterment “over there.” The shade of Mohammed Boazizi is invoked (p. 79), and there is a cutting reference to the exiled former President Zain al Abideen of Tunisia, “the poor Bin

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

37

Ali got tired. He’d wasted all his life governing. The poor thing got tired of sitting on the chair for many years” (p. 80). Such references, of course, may mean that these monodramas will date very quickly. The translator’s foreword states that they “are pervaded by the sociopolitical and economic crises sweeping the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring” (p. 11), and that means that they run of the risk of ultimately becoming as dated as some of the work of Athol Fugard. For the moment, however, this collection has enormous potential for engaging the interest of students in the Arab Gulf, and its provenance is such that few voices can be raised against its cultural suitability.

References

Leavitt, D. (1998). While England sleeps. London: Abacus. Swarup,V. (2005). Question and answer. London: Doubleday. Werner, L. (2014). The Casbah of Algiers: Endangered ark. Saudi Aramco World, 65(1), 34-43. i

i

i

i

i

Neil McBeath Sultan Qaboos University Muscat, Oman

TESOL Arabia Needs

YOU!

We are looking to add to our pool of book and material reviewers. If you would like to evaluate recent books, materials, or websites, please contact the Reviews Editor, Paul Dessoir, at pdessoir@uaeu.ac.ae. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


FeatureReviews Article

38

The Count of Monte Cristo Adapted by R. Jay Nudds Campfire, 2011 ISBN: 978-93-80028-01-9 111 pages

Sinbad: The Legacy Dan Johnson Campfire, 2012 ISBN: 978-81-907515-8-2 86 pages

Rarely can a publishing company have been so aptly named. For what, after all, is a campfire? Essentially, it is a source of light and warmth around which humans instinctively gather. Now at worst, campfire gatherings encourage people with skills in neither to sing and play the guitar. At best, however, they inspire people to tell stories. And there is no society on this planet which does not delight in a good tale well told. This is not the first time that two of Campfire’s splendid offerings have been reviewed in these pages Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

(see: Perspectives,Volume 21, No. 2, June 2013), nor is it the first time I have quoted their mission statement: To entertain and educate young minds by creating unique illustrated books to recount stories of human values, to arouse curiosity in the world around us, and to inspire by tales of great deeds and unforgettable people. Certainly, Alexandre Dumas’s epic tale of treachery and revenge in post-Revolutionary France can be TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Reviews Feature Article

said to encompass “great deeds and unforgettable people.” Indeed, such is its enduring appeal that it has been adapted for the stage on nine occasions and for film and TV on no less than 28 (possibly 29 by the time you’re reading this). Aware of the necessity of setting so complex a novel in context, the Campire edition of The Count of Monte Cristo opens with a potted history of the period. This is suffixed by a timeline which charts “the flip-flopping control of France” from the revolution of 1789 to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, 26 years later. (It is not only “young” minds which might learn a thing or two from the information on offer throughout. Certainly, this “mature” mind knew nothing of the ingenious exploits of Ginnie and Lottie Moon, profiled in the “Masters of Escape and Disguise” appendix to the book.) As the reader delves into the novel proper, it is almost impossible not to be enchanted. Beautifully illustrated and subtly colored, this book is a joy from start to finish.Yet ours is not to evaluate The Count of Monte Cristo in terms of aesthetics or entertainment value. Ours is to assess whether or not it might succeed in the classroom. Implicit in the mission statement is that Campfire graphic novels are intended for an adolescent, native-speaker audience. As such, language choice is unlikely to be governed by ESL constraints. So, by way of an ad hoc experiment, I opened The Count of Monte Cristo at random and, eyes closed, placed my index finger upon the page. I reproduce the contents of the nearest voice bubble verbatim: “How can he think of work at a time like this? The woman I love is dead and I have nothing left to live for.” (p. 100) I took these words and ran them through a vocabulary profiler, (Web VP, http://www.lextutor. ca/vp/eng). The result was encouraging: all of the above falls within the first 1000 words of Laufer and Nation’s K1 range. Meaning, effectively, that it contains some of the most frequently used words in the English language. Next, I went to a readability calculator (https://readability-score.com) and pasted in the same excerpt. This gave me a score of 102.8 on a scale for which “a higher score indicates easier readability; scores usually range between 0 and 100.” The significance being that, taken in tandem, form and language are combining to ease the cognitive burden of reading. And to anyone (make that everyone) who is familiar with the perennial student refrain, “Reading is boring, teacher,” this can be nothing less than a boon. Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

39 That observation brings us rather neatly to the question of local audience suitability. We all know that getting our students to read is no easy task. Granted, the graphic novel format should go some way towards mitigating that antipathy, as should linguistic clarity. Nevertheless, a story set in and inspired by early 19th century France is still a bit of a stretch for the modern reader. Sinbad, on the other hand, is very much the local hero - so much so that the oldest surviving examples of the original story cycle are in Arabic. Dan Johnson accurately places his hero in 8th century Basra, from where Sinbad:The Legacy takes us on a thrilling voyage packed with monsters, morality, and feats of derring-do. More great deeds, more unforgettable people. Here, then, we have the accessible form and language inspired by content which is the stuff of local legend. Notably, the artwork within these pages is brighter and brasher than the more muted tones of The Count of Monte Cristo, furthering the immediacy and excitement of the narrative. Put simply, if anything is going to get them reading, this is it. The phenomenal success of recent Japanese manga titles such as Bleach and One Piece suggests that interest in the form has never been higher. And with “unique illustrated books” such as these, we teachers can readily capture and capitalize upon that interest. In conclusion, it is worthy of mention that, as with others in the collection, Sinbad:The Legacy closes with an appendix. In this case, it is one given over to making and using a sextant, the navigational instrument of the day. And, in a wider sense, a sextant is exactly what the people at Campfire have made for us. For in The Count of Monte Cristo and Sinbad: The Legacy, they have created effective tools with which we can steer a course through the choppy waters of student reading. So, in wholeheartedly recommending these titles, let me echo the valediction in Sinbad:The Legacy and say, “Happy navigating, Captain!” i

i

i

i

i

Colin Toms The Petroleum Institute Abu Dhabi, UAE

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Networking Article

40

Bahrain ELT Professionals 3rd ELT Conference Manama, Bahrain Neil McBeath This conference, with the theme of “ELT: Empowering Teachers, Empowering Learners,” was held at the Gulf Hotel, Manama on March 1, 2014. It drew an attendance of over 200 delegates, and included a small publishers’ exhibition. The conference offered two plenaries and four sets of six consecutive sessions. The first plenary by Peter Lucantoni, “Helping Arab Learners Get It Right” was actually an endorsement of the concept that the first language (L1) is a linguistic resource, and so the term “Arab” could have applied equally well to Greek, Turkish, or Vietnamese learners. Lucantoni is an educational consultant for Cambridge University Press, and so it was hardly surprising that he endorsed the use of the Cambridge Learner Corpus, and of Swan and Smith’s (2001) Learner English: A Teacher’s Guide to Interference and Other Problems. Some critics might object that this is hardly new. In the 1970s, there was a move towards Contrastive Linguistics, but much of the work done then was in the tradition of philology -- it was theoretical rather than applied, and uninformed by the rich data now available from corpora. In Lucantoni’s plenary, delegates were alerted to the difficulties that arise when two different languages have no close equivalents, or false cognates. So far as close equivalents are concerned, students should be taught to “notice” (Batstone, 1996), and they should then be offered contextualized examples. This was an excellent plenary that offered something to all the delegates, regardless of the level at which they were teaching. From the consecutive sessions, Mohammed Hasan’s “Understanding the Effect of Teaching Context on Teachers in Bahrain” offered valuable insight with regard to local conditions. Hasan is a doctoral student at the University of Exeter, and this was an account of his research to date. Unfortunately, his data are based on the responses of only 12 teachers, and so, despite the almost unquestionable veracity of his findings, it will be only too easy for senior stakeholders to dismiss them on the grounds that his sample was unrepresentative. Briefly, however, Hasan claims that Bahraini teachers are experiencing an intensification of their work Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

as a result of increased expectations, demands for accountability, and their own self-imposed expectations. They are marginalized by low status, poor pay, socio-cultural factors like the suggestion that teaching is an undemanding job suitable for married women, and then by their own devaluing of their profession: “I’m just a teacher.” Finally, top-down leadership, supervision, surveillance, and control of teachers’ collaborative culture all weaken teachers’ sense of professionalism. Hasan suggests that until teachers enjoy both institutionally endorsed sponsored professionalism and their own individually committed independent professionalism, little will change. My own paper, “Student Empowerment; Teacher Empowerment -- Accountability; There’s the Rub,” suggested that while the power ratio may have shifted in certain ways in recent years, many of our concerns are unchanged. So many variables affect educational outcomes that it is foolish to look for simplistic outcomes. The current emphasis on the importance of quantitative research may wane, particularly as it becomes increasingly obvious that “the activities of thinking and understanding are inherently resistant to being adequately characterized in this way” (Collini, 2013). After lunch, George Pappas offered a paper on “Differentiated Instruction: What Do Best Teachers Do?” This began with the important point that when it comes to teaching, one size does not fit all. Pappas went on to explain the why, what and how of differentiated instruction, but as he works for Express Publishing, there was always the slight suggestion that his company produced materials that could promote a curriculum centered on critical thinking while still acknowledging the uniqueness of every learner. Much of what was displayed however, was attractive and very likely to engage the interest of school age learners. The same could also be said for the materials displayed by students from the Bahrain Teachers College. This is a semi-autonomous institution within the University of Bahrain, and the students concerned had organized a display titled “Teachers as Designers of Their TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Networking Feature Article

ELT Materials.” One set of reading activities was particularly impressive and was clearly the result of hours of input. Even so, whether quite so much effort should have been devoted to teaching three items, crab, octopus and seahorse, remains a moot point. Learners’ mastery of lexis depends, to some extent, on the surrender value of that lexis, and it is hard to imagine the situation in which a Bahraini primary school age child would require “seahorse.” The second plenary was William Acton’s “Collaborative Professional Development: Networking Knowledge and GWIFs”. GWIF signifies “Guess What I Found?” This was the day’s final paper, but it was also, unfortunately, the weakest. The material itself was excellent. Acton outlined six current trends in EFL before turning to research undertaken at Trinity Western University in British Columbia; the research was intended to discover the

41 core competencies required by teachers so that these could be incorporated into a project on international teaching standards. Core competencies had been found, and Acton then spent more time than was really necessary arranging them into a visual field, first aligning them on North/ South, East/West axes, and then color coding them. The problem was that Acton showed little awareness of the culture of the Arab Gulf, his speech was indistinct, the microphone badly aligned, and his control of the PowerPoint display was shaky.This was also too theoretical a paper for the end of the day.Within fifteen minutes he had lost the attention of most of his audience. This is a pity, because on balance the Bahrain ELT Professionals Network 3rd Conference was a very interesting and professionally rewarding day. It is to be regretted that the last impression is likely to have been negative.

6th Shinas College of Technology ELT Workshop Al-Aqr, Oman Neil McBeath The dean of Shinas College of Technology, Dr Ali Said al Mughairi, and Mr Ali Mahmood al Bulushi, Head of the English Language Centre, are to be congratulated for having had the inspired idea of organizing this one-day conference at the very start of the year on January 9, 2014. This allowed Shinas to attract a large number of delegates from academic institutions in the Northern Batinah, but also from across the mountains (Ibri, Nizwa) and from Muscat, the Southern Batinah (Al Musannah), and even the Sharquiyyah (Ibra). The theme of this conference was “ESP in ELT: Bridging Gaps,” and delegates were offered two plenary sessions and then a choice of several concurrent sessions. The first plenary, “Bridging Gaps: The SQU Story,” was delivered by Dr Saleh Al Busaidi, Director of the Language Centre at Sultan Qaboos University. It consisted primarily of an account of how the Language Centre has attempted to integrate ESP into the curriculum. The second plenary, “Researching ESP in Higher Education,” was by Dr Ali Al Issa, who is an associate professor at the College of Law, SQU, and who has Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

presented several times at TESOL Arabia conferences. Dr Al Issa emphasized the growing importance of ESP, particularly in a globalized world where English has become the academic lingua franca. He then moved to a consideration of the differences in importance of ESP for teachers and students, some of whom may bring an entirely instrumental concept to their studies. Delegates were then invited to choose a topic from their own ESP contexts, and consider how that topic might best be researched. In the concurrent sessions, a very good paper, “ESP in the Context of Shipping and Transport Management,” was presented by Abdulrazzak Chouchane, International Maritime College, Oman. Mr Chouchane specializes in teaching students on the Port, Shipping and Transport Management (PST) courses. He neatly outlined the differences in students on the diploma program compared with those on the degree program (the diploma students have only pre-job experience and limited content schemata). To assist their learning, therefore, the diploma modules attempt to be discipline-specific, content-based, aligned with other subjects, tailorTESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Networking Article

42 made in-house, flexible, and produced in liaison by ESP specialists and subject tutors. My own paper, “From School, to College, to Career: Bridging the Gaps,” drew extensively on earlier writings by Dr Ali Al Issa who has offered scathing criticism of the approaches and materials used in Omani schools, and of the high marks with which pupils are often rewarded. The paper also suggested that the attitudes and assumptions of some expatriate teachers may be culturally inappropriate at tertiary

level, and deplored the lack of awareness that English for Occupational Purposes (EOP) may involve remunerative employment that is not dependent on graduation from a university. Presenters were rewarded with mementoes of almost lavish proportions and the proceedings were concluded with a general summing up and thanks. Shinas is a long way from Muscat, but this was a profitable day, and it made an extremely good start to the new year.

Qatar TESOL 2014 Doha, Qatar Tandy Bailey Doha was an exciting place to be in late February of this year. Qatar TESOL held their 10th annual conference titled “Promoting a Culture of Reading.” As I am always looking for new ways to encourage my students to read, I just had to go. The conference was held at the delightful campus of the College of the North Atlantic, which had a relaxed vibe. The conference was cozy with short lines at the snack tables, which were heaving with goodies. And there were no standing-room-only experiences. I had gone especially to hear Dr Thomas Robb’s plenary talk on “The Role of Technology in the Promotion of Reading.” He developed the M-Reader program that I have started using with my students. Briefly, M-Reader (mreader.org) tracks the number of words a student reads by giving them a 10 question quiz on their book. If they pass it (the teacher can set the pass mark), they get a point for every word the book has in it. This is motivating some of my students, especially as they get certificates and chocolate bars, as well. M-Reader has over 3,700 quizzes in it, so if you have access to graded readers, it is likely there is a quiz on some of them in M-Reader. In fact, M-Reader has become so popular that publishers are now actively trying to get their books included in it. When I got back in my class the following Sunday, I shared an important piece of information with my A2 level students: According to Dr Robb, for them to go from A2 to B2, they need 1,000 hours of contact with the language.This means they must engage with the language outside of class and extensive reading is the key. (My students found this interesting, but also a bit Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

daunting.) I was somewhat surprised to hear Dr Robb say that, “If you can’t check that students are doing it, they won’t.” I knew that about MY students, but Dr Robb teaches Japanese students! It just shows that when it comes to learning a language in an EFL context, it is really hard to stay motivated. It was exciting to hear that the UAE was ranked fifth in the number of M-Reader users, with over 10,580 visits as of February 2014. I co-presented with my good friend and colleague Dr Melanie Gobert on “Extensive Reading in the Classroom: Reading for Pleasure.” The workshop discussed reasons why our students do not read for pleasure and offered some ways to get them reading, such as holding an in-class reading rally or a Reading Challenge using M-Reader to track their reading. I’d like to thank the attendees for giving the workshop a relaxed feeling. They made our presentation easy and enjoyable. I also want to congratulate the conference chairs on Qatar TESOL’s 10th anniversary. Lastly, thank you to TESOL Arabia for helping me to attend by giving me a grant. I am lucky to be part of this organization and profession.

Dr Melanie Gobert and Tandy Bailey attend the 10th Annual Qatar TESOL Conference in Doha. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Networking Feature Article

43

Confluence V Conference Nagpur, India Mick King Despite the prominent position of English in Indian society and its 1.2 billion population, if you search for Indian TESOL conferences on the Internet you will be surprised at how few there are. Anecdotally, I have been informed that this is due to lack of sponsorship. Great credit is therefore due to the organisers of the Confluence Conference for ESL and EFL, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this year and, being in the exact centre of this vast country, attracted around 500 delegates to the host institution, the TGP College of Engineering & Technology, on February 21-22, 2014. Having offered a concurrent session there last year, I was invited back as a keynote speaker this year as part of a TESOL Arabia keynote team including the well known names of Christine Coombe, Rehab Rajab, and Mouhamad Mouhanna, the latter having given a keynote at Confluence in 2012. In addition, a keynote speech was given by experienced academician, Dr Israt Suri, from the Dar El Hekma College, Saudi Arabia. The conference ran concurrent 20-minute sessions throughout the two days and most delegates were Indian; the majority coming from the Nagpur region and the State of Maharashtra. In between various keynote duties I had the opportunity to visit some of these sessions as I had done the previous year to listen to themes such as accent, pronunciation, and writing skills. What came across was that issues faced there are not much different from the Arabian Gulf so it was good to get the opportunity to discuss these

TESOL Arabia attendees featured in a newspaper article (Valda, 2014). Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

issues in end of keynote questions and answers and more informally outside sessions. Particular highlights for me were being interviewed by the local media and a session with the students of Gaikwad-Patil Colleges who asked questions to a panel of foreign delegates on the differences between study in India and in other countries. The students’ enthusiasm in their interactions was really refreshing. Nagpur is just a three-hour flight away and a genuinely affordable option for anybody seeking an opportunity to visit as delegate or present abroad. The organizers are very keen to attract an international body of delegates and work is underway to make their professional English teaching organisation, Engquest, an affiliate of TESOL Arabia. On behalf of my fellow TESOL Arabia presenters, gratitude must be given in no small measure to the conference organizing team, in particular Professor Anjali Gaikwad-Patil, for the great hospitality we received during our stay in Nagpur. I hope that the conference continues to grow and that TESOL Arabia can play a role in its success and development. On a personal note, I would like to thank the TESOL Arabia Travel Grant Committee for helping to facilitate my participation.

References

Valda,V. (2014, February 24). Learn English as a language, not as medium for fetching job. The Hitavada: City Line, p. 5.

Mouhamad Mouhana (3rd from left), Rehab Rajab, Mick King, and Christine Coombe attend Confluence V. (Valda, 2014). TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Networking Article

44

48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition Harrogate, UK Mohamed El Zamil I had the great opportunity to attend the 48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition held April 2-5, 2014, at Harrogate International Conference Centre, UK. The conference was well-organized and full of wonderful plenaries, interesting sessions, and enjoyable evening events. This year’s plenary presenters were David Graddol (UK), Kathleen Graves (USA), Michael Hoey (UK), and Sugata Mitra (UK). Graddol gave the opening plenary, “English and Economic Development,” in which he addressed a key issue: Does the economic rationalist argument for the massive push for English teaching around the world really make sense? Is it delivering the supposed economic benefits? And what are the potential social, cultural, and other costs? The second plenary talk was delivered by Graves, “The Efficiency of Inefficiency: An Ecological Perspective on Curriculum.” She looked at the ecology of one specific classroom and how a seemingly inefficient approach to teaching language leads to learning outcomes that appear to be deeply embedded in students’ lives and experience. Hoey’s talk, “Old Approaches, New Perspectives: The Implications of a Corpus Linguistic Theory for Learning the English Language,” focused on describing the main claims of the theory and providing evidence for these claims. In his plenary, “The Future of Learning,” Mitra took us through the origins of schooling to the dematerialization of institutions as we know them. From the slums

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

of India, to poor schools in Chile, Argentina, the USA and Italy, to the rich international schools of Washington and Hong Kong, the journey was highly reflective. The conference boasted top-quality presentations. The more memorable included “EAP Writing: Getting Down and Dirty,” where Richard Hillman shared creative ideas on how EAP writing can be personalized and engaging for students. Another interesting presentation was titled “Teach Me to Study,” in which Louis Rogers demonstrated a host of tools that can help students become skilled researchers, exam takers, and critical thinkers. As for the evening networking events, they were all marvelous. I went to the British Council-hosted evening and the Cambridge English Party and networked with renowned ELT professionals like Penny Ur, Scott Thornbury, and others. I also presented a paper at the conference titled “The Role of Humor in the EFL Classroom.” This presentation highlighted the numerous benefits of using humor in EFL contexts and provided a practical framework for making the best use of humor in the language classroom. It was highly interactive and laden with creative ideas. There was a very good turnout and the feedback I received was positive. Finally, I owe TESOL Arabia a huge thank-you for awarding me a travel grant that helped offset some of the costs of traveling to the UK. This assistance was really appreciated.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Networking Feature Article

45

48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition Harrogate, UK Tamas Lorinz You’ve Got Company: How Building a Personal Learning Network Can Make Your Conference Experience Unforgettable There has been a lot of talk recently about social networks and their undeniable role in ongoing professional development for teachers. I have always liked conferences but for the wrong reason. I used to think that I would learn something new, that I would take something valuable back to my classroom. I used to be the quiet, somewhat boring attendee who never spoke to anyone; I would go home after a conference and contemplate why I had not spoken to anyone. I was looking for a different type of experience in lovely (freezing cold) Harrogate. And boy, did I have a blast! In 2010, I joined Twitter (@tamaslorincz), and I found myself in a maze of fellow educators who were enthusiastic to share experiences, resources, and ideas for free in their own time. I felt I had entered a gold mine and started reading, subscribing to, and commenting on blogs, which led to me starting my own blog (http://tamasonline.com). The excitement of sharing and the unconditional support and intelligent discussions about topics related to English language teaching became a daily habit. Since then I no longer plan my conference sessions: I plan who to see and where to meet. A conference gives an amazing opportunity to see all those people from your social networks face-to-face, to pick up conversations you left off on Twitter or Facebook, and more importantly you get to see their friends. Because everyone has unique relationships, and at a Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

conference you are re-wired: you find new people, new conversations, new situations. I did see many great talks, often given or recommended by people I knew, but the best part of the conference was meeting these people and having a meal or a coffee together, meeting their friends, and realising that I had spoken to at least 100 people over the five days of the conference. Several of these conversations still ring in my ears; many of them are continuing online. This is what I encourage you to do: start connecting with people, go to a conference or a PD event not (just) for the content but for the company. It’s not always the person standing at the front talking who has the most to tell you. It may well be the person sitting next to you. If you want to get started on social networks or have given up and need some encouragement, follow @tesolarabia or @rehabrajab or me (@ tamaslorincz). We are very happy to help you build your professional learning network, and next time we meet at a Chapter event or a conference, we will do so, not as strangers but as friends. To find out more about the content on the conference, check out HarrogateOnline (http://iatefl. britishcouncil.org/2014) with recordings of many of the sessions, speaker interviews, and much more. I had the opportunity to participate in the 48th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition in the wonderful old town of Harrogate thanks to the generous support of the TESOL Arabia Travel Grant. TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Networking Article

46

TESOL International 2014: A Conference to Remember Portland, Oregon Christine Coombe, TESOL International President, 2010-2013 Thanks to a TESOL Arabia travel grant, I was able to attend the 48th Annual TESOL Convention and Exhibition in Portland, Oregon, March 2530. This conference, my first in over six years as a regular TESOL member, was a hectic one as I was responsible for seven presentations. The highlight for me was my featured presentation entitled “Toastmasters and ELT: A Vehicle for Personal and Professional Development.” This session combined my two loves of TESOL and Toastmasters. Along with my co-presenter, Dr Mashael Al Hamly, we introduced over 100 people to the benefits of using Toastmaster techniques both inside and outside the classroom. Another major responsibility for me at this convention was the launch of a draft of TESOL’s new 2014 to 2017 Research Agenda. (If you are interested in having a look at the new research agenda, please email me and I’ll send you a draft for comment.)

For the past year I have co-chaired the TESOL Research Agenda Task Force whose major charge was to draft this new research agenda. Portland was a great location for a TESOL convention with its well-organized convention center and easy to navigate (via Monorail) downtown area. Attendance peaked at around 7000 people from around the globe. Between presenting, attending sessions, networking, exploring the exhibition halls, and representing TESOL Arabia in the affiliate booth, attendees were kept quite busy. For those who have never attended a TESOL convention, I highly recommend the experience. Proposals are due for the 2015 conference in Toronto, Canada by June 2, 2014, or you might consider attending our 50th Anniversary Convention, in Baltimore, Maryland, March 2016.

Mashael Al-Hamly (left), John Schmitt (center),TESOL International Program Chair, and Christine Coombe (right) meet in Portland, Oregon. Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Networking Feature Article

47

TESOL International 2014 Portland, Oregon Naziha Ali, Vice-President & Member-at-Large The TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo 2014 was my first ever TESOL conference. The four-day event, which took place from March 26-29, 2014 was hosted at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. I arrived a day earlier to participate in one of the pre-convention institutes: “Engaging in Motivational Teaching Practices” hosted by Neil J. Andersen and others. In a very engaging environment they shared the key means to engage learners by creating basic motivational conditions through partnerships with learners, generating initial motivation, maintaining and protecting it, and thereby leading to encouraging positive retrospective self-evaluation. The actual convention began on March 26 where I participated in the TESOL Affiliate Leadership workshop organized for the 100 plus affiliate representatives of TESOL International from the world over over. I had the privilege of being accompanied by Rehab Rajab, TESOL Arabia Past President, who not only attended the workshop but also co-facilitated (with Edward Torres representing TESOL Puerto Rico) a breakout segment on “Members’ Engagement” with the organization. The Affiliate Leadership workshops initiated with an insightful session by Holly Duckworth, a professional facilitator from Leadership Solutions International. As participants, affiliate leaders discussed the challenges faced by professional organizations and engaged in strategic thinking geared towards “rebooting” what did not work. This was followed by breakout sessions on “Best Practices,” “Members’ Engagement,” and “Strategic Planning” facilitated by volunteer facilitators from the affiliates.

I also participated in the Affiliate Leaders Assembly where the Affiliate Leadership Council members for the following year were introduced along with a presentation of the annual affiliate report. At this assembly, an affiliate organization SPELT (Society of Pakistan English Language Teachers) was honored for completing 25 years in existence. Affiliate representatives were encouraged to share suggestions on the possible structure and organization of TESOL that would enable affiliates to play an integral role in governance. Besides the plenaries, I really enjoyed the Toastmasters Communications session strands facilitated by our very own Dr Christine Coombe, who has popularized the “Toastmasters in ELT” concept in the UAE and Gary Schmidt, President Toastmasters International 2009-2010. An interesting touch to the sessions was the special afternoon teas with prominent TESOLers where select individuals shared their expertise at round tables set up for high tea with delegates who had pre-booked. I participated in one of these with Gary Schmidt where he shared useful information on communication skills development through engaging with Toastmasters’ worldwide. A significant part of my attendance at the convention was representing TESOL Arabia at the affiliates booth. It was inspiring to see current and past TESOL Arabians socializing and networking with old/new affiliate friends and disseminating information about our organization. I returned from the conference feeling quite excited with the novelty of the event for me and eager to see some of the concepts implemented in our own annual conferences in the UAE. Thank you TESOL Arabia, for supporting me and providing me the opportunity to represent the organization internationally.

(From left) Naziha Ali, Julie Riddlebarger, and Rehab Rajab (From left) Naziha Ali, President-Elect of TESOL represent TESOL Arabia at the affiliates’ booth at TESOL Arabia, Gretchen Coppedge, and Rebecca Woll, International in Portland, Oregon. co-editor of Perspectives from January 2009-2012, catch up at TESOL International.

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Members of TESOL Arabia, Ali Shehada (second from left), Rehab Rajab, Mashael Al-Hamly, Naziha Ali, Christine Coombe, Rebecca Woll, Justin Shewell, Saleh Al Busaidi and Camille Bondi gather at the affilitates’ booth at TESOL International, Portland, Oregon.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Networking Article

48

Calendar of Upcoming Events July 2014

10-14: CLESOL 2014, “Essentials for Learning and Teaching,” Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail clesol@paardekooper.co.nz

August 2014

10-15: 17th World Congress of the International Association of Applied Linguistics, Brisbane, Australia. E-mail info@aila2014.com

28-30: 12th International Asia TEFL Conference & 23rd MELTA International Conference, Sarawak, Malaysia. http://asiatefl2014.melta.org.my/

September 2014

4-6: “Learning, Working and Communicating in a Global Context,” Coventry, UK. www.baal.org.uk

13-15: MICELT 2014, “Enabling Research, Making it Meet Practice,” Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia. www.micelt.org/

17-18: 3rd UTIC 2014, “ELT Materials Development in Asia and beyond: Directions, Issues, and Changes,” Indonesia. E-mail ani.susanti@pbi.uad.ac.id

30 – October 3: ACTA International Conference 2014, “TESOL: Meeting the Challenge,” Melbourne, Australia. E-mail kristi.sheldon@ncsonline.com.au

October 2014

23: 1st Iranian National Virtual Conference on ELT issues, Tehran, Iran. http:// www.elt2014.ir/

9-11: Globalization and Localization in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (GLoCALL) 2014, Ahmedabad, India. http://glocall.org/

November 2014

7-8: 2014 MENAWCA Conference, “Sustaining Writing and Writing Centers in the Middle East-North Africa Region,” Dubai, UAE. mena.wca.org

13-14: Symposium on Second Language Writing, “Professionalizing Second Language Writing,” Tempe, Arizona, USA. E-mail sslw@asu.edu.

15: 1st International Conference on Motivation in ELT, Al Yahama University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. www.20thconferenceofiawe.com

21-24: JALT 2014, “Conversations across Borders,” Ibaraki, Japan. http://jalt.org/ conference/jalt2014

December 2014

18-20: 20th International Conference of IAWE, “Asian/African Contexts and World Englishes,” Uttar Pradesh, India. E-mail ravindergargesh@gmail.com

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

49

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


TESOL Arabia News Feature Article

50

Pre-Conference Session at TESOL Arabia 2014: Pronunciation in Practice with Mark Hancock and Martin Hewings Teresa Murphy Higher Colleges of Technology Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates This workshop promised a “tool kit of materials and task types for use in the classroom, together with a clear idea of how to present these in a way which will be useful and meaningful for learners,” and it didn’t disappoint. The presenters Martin Hewings and Mark Hancock are true experts in their field; each focused on different areas of pronunciation. Mark concentrated on lower levels and integrating pronunciation with listening, while Martin focused on the more advanced learners and integrating it with grammar. The attendees were a small group of six with mainly a North American pronunciation background and one (me) who, although Irish, has an English accent from her upbringing in the UK. The atmosphere was lively and interesting, and contributions flew back and forth making the experience both enjoyable and worthwhile, as we also learned from each other’s experiences and contributions. In this article I’m going to focus on activities that I found useful for my current students. In the first part of the morning, Mark Hancock looked at activities for lower level learners. Among them, there was one called Pronunciation Journey where we had to give directions to get to a destination. With the /i/ sound you turn left and the /i:/ sound turn right. See Figure 1 and this link (http://hancockmcdonald.com/materials/pronjourney-hit-v-heat) for further details. As “students” we engaged with the subject and found it to be both simple and effective.

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Figure 1. Pronunciation journey Another activity involved using a map where the street names included names with confusing letters, such as /b/ and /p/. The students work in pairs to give directions to one another and see where their final destination is. In Figure 2 the example is /h/ versus /r/, which are problem sounds in Brazil. However, this can be easily adapted for other sounds our students may have difficulty with.

Figure 2. Confusing letters TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


TESOL News FeatureArabia Article

In the second part of the morning session, Martin Hewings focused on advanced learners’ pronunciation issues, for example, intonation in discourse and using pauses for meaning in presentations. More advanced learners of English may have more vocabulary and know how to use grammar in a more sophisticated way, but using intonation to indicate meaning is not usually something they are aware of unless they have exposure to native English speakers outside the classroom. The activities were awareness-raising and included the input in Figures 3.

51

formal presentation language. I had tried something similar with some groups before but hadn’t managed to find good material. This particular talk, “Why We Shouldn’t Trust Markets with Our Civic Life,” was by Michael Sandel. This example was systematic, humorous and relevant. Martin played the first part of the speech, transcribed it, and downloaded it onto Audacity, breaking it up into manageable parts.

Figure 5. Audacity activity Figure 3. Adding information We also discussed whether the following discourse markers should be spoken with an up or down intonation. It was highly thought provoking and generated a lot of discussion, especially regarding the different systems of English.

Again playing the role of students, we listened to the speech and divided it up as he spoke. The highlight was on how he used pauses and intonation to carry his meaning. It was an excellent way to illustrate his point and a very effective way to become aware of formal speech making. My students have to make a lot of presentations both as part of their course and in their working life, so this was very useful. Also the technology he used to do this was very user friendly and effective. There were many more useful activities in the afternoon session as Mark focused on integrating pronunciation with listening, and Martin with grammar. Unfortunately, while there were a lot of excellent activities, there isn’t enough space here to cover them.

Figure 4. Intonation The second activity was the most useful, especially for my current students. In this activity, we were shown a short presentation from the website TED Talks. These talks are generally excellent for higher levels as they are short, very interesting and focus on Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

In conclusion, the workshop very much delivered on its promise, and I came away with a toolbox of practical activities to try in my classroom. Many thanks to Mark and Martin for an excellent workshop and to TESOL Arabia for the grant that enabled me to attend. This link leads to Mark’s website and blog which includes a lot of further excellent activities: http:// hancockmcdonald.com/sites/hancockmcdonald.com/ files/file-downloads/Rome%20or%20Home.pdf TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


52

Special Interest Group Article Reports Feature

Leadership & Management SIG: A Year of Professional Development Christine Coombe, LM SIG Co-Chair The TESOL Arabia Leadership and Management SIG has had another busy year having organized six major events. Our year started out with our flagship event, the Teacher Leadership Academy, which was held in Dubai on February 14 and then in Abu Dhabi the following day, February 15. Teacher leaders from all over the Emirates participated in this event as presenters and attendees. On April 26, LM SIG Co-Chair Christine Coombe and TESOL Arabia Past President Beth Wiens journeyed to Fujairah for a day of “personal and professional planning and development.” This event, a big success if the number of attendees is any indication, will be expanded to an all-day format in the coming semester. Our last event took place on May 3, and the focus centered around improving communication skills. This event brought together members of both TESOL Arabia and Toastmasters for some professional development as well as a demonstration meeting for Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an international organization that helps members improve their communication and leadership skills. An LM SIG goal for this year is to charter a TESOL Arabia Toastmasters club. This last event was the first step in making that goal a reality. Another session tentatively scheduled for late September or early October will be the official launch of this Toastmasters club. Contact Christine

Coombe at ccoombe@hct.ac.ae if you are interested in becoming a member of the club. In keeping up with the mandate of the LM SIG, we have conducted overseas charity events this year in Pakistan and Turkey. These events are not funded by TESOL Arabia. Rather presenters from the LM SIG sponsor their own costs to share their expertise with teachers worldwide. If you have an interest in doing one of these events, contact us. Another major project this year for us was the publication of an edited volume entitled Perspectives on Student Leadership Development. This volume, edited by Christine Coombe, Beth Wiens, Peter Davidson, and Konrad Cedro, features 19 chapters from teacher leaders around the globe on all aspects of helping our students develop as leaders. Finally, after more than five years as Co-Chair of the LM SIG, Lauren Stephenson is leaving us to head back to Australia to take up a position as Associate Professor at Australian Catholic University. We will miss Lauren’s hard work and dedication to the LM SIG and wish her luck in her new position. Beth Wiens of Zayed University will take on the role of Co-Chair from September 2014 onwards. Beth comes to us with a lot of TESOL Arabia experience. All the best for a restful summer holiday.

Christine Coombe, Mohamed El Zamil, Sally McQuinn, and Beth Wiens host the Leadership & Management SIG and Eastern Region Chapter event in Fujairah.

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Special FeatureInterest Article Group Reports

53

Highlights from the Research SIG Activities Mohamed Azaza, Research SIG Chair This has been a productive year for the Research SIG as we were able to organize two successful events. The first was the second Teacher-Led Research Mini-Conference, held January 11 at Abu Dhabi University. The second event was held at the Canadian University in Dubai. The conference is one of the successful initiatives which came as a result of a strong collaboration between the Research SIG, the Teacher Training and Development SIG, and the Abu Dhabi Chapter. The event featured a plenary speech and six presentations. In her plenary talk, Edith Flahive from Abu Dhabi Men’s College talked about the implementation of appraisal in an education context, which according to her, has reflected increasing demands for accountability, increased efficiency, and quality assurance. The plenary was followed by three concurrent sessions, each consisting of three presentations. During the first session, Mahmoud Sultan, from Al-Maarif School for Secondary Education, gave a talk on reading comprehension strategies and text exploitation techniques. In the other concurrent session, Mouhamad Mouhanna, from United Arab Emirates University, discussed the benefits of action research in the workplace. In a research-based study, Abderrazak Dammak, from ADNOC Technical Institute, presented on students’ attitudes to remedial work. In the second round of concurrent sessions, Amina Nihlawi presented some of the tools that could help language teachers reflect on their teaching practices and beliefs. Some of these tools include journaling, action research, observing, and mentoring. Tasnim Saleh, from SAE Institute in Dubai, presented on using brand saturation marketing concepts to promote better academic writing. In another topic, Abir Said Ramadan presented the findings of her study on the attitudes of stakeholders, learners, and teachers about having Arab non-native English speaking or native English speaking teachers, and their influence on the teaching and learning process in three high schools in the Western Region. In the third concurrent sessions, Wafa Zoghbor, who is a familiar presenter at Research SIG events, led her audience into a successful discussion of the Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

pronunciation priorities for Arab learners of English. The presentation shed light on the differences between English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). Finally, Azzeddine Bencherab gave a talk on facing classroom diversity in which he discussed how to help language teachers and material designers understand learner differences. The second Research SIG event held at the Canadian University also featured interesting presentations.The Research SIG contributed with two presentations in this joint event with the Dubai Chapter and the ESP SIG. First, Mohamed Azaza’s presentation, which was based on a small scale research investigating the importance of teacher emotional intelligence (EI), raised awareness about the role of EI in effective teaching. In the second presentation, Azzedine Bencherab explained thoroughly how Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory could help teachers and material designers understand how learners as individuals learn and how teachers can narrow the gap between their practices and their students’ learning styles. Finally, the Research SIG committee would like to extend its thanks to all the speakers who volunteered to present at our events. Our thanks also go to the TTD SIG and Abu Dhabi Chapter for their collaboration and contribution to the success of the Teacher-Led Research Mini-Conference.We would also like to encourage anyone who is interested in presenting, leading workshops or facilitating a discussion at any of our future events. Moreover, if you have any ideas about how the Research SIG can better serve you, please contact me at amelki22@yahoo.com.

Abderrazak Dammak discussed remedial work and student attitudes.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


54

Special Interest Group Article Reports Feature

The TESOL Arabia Testing, Assessment & Evaluation SIG: Another Busy Year! Christine Coombe & Peter Davidson, TAE SIG Co-chairs The 2013-14 academic year has been a busy one for members of the TESOL Arabia TAE SIG. As far as professional development events are concerned, members had the opportunity to attend three, one-day Fundamentals of Language Assessment Conferences on November 22, January 25, and June 13. The themes of these three events were “Testing the Skill Areas,” “Alternative Assessment,” and “Teacher Evaluation,” respectively. Our thanks are extended to the many presenters who have made these events possible. More events of this nature are currently being planned for next year. If you have an idea for a theme or would like to host us in your institution, please contact us. TAE SIG members have also engaged in two charity events this past year. Co-Chair Christine Coombe and TAE SIG members Beth Wiens and Maria Brown travelled to Lahore, Pakistan in October to train more than 80 teachers in basic level assessment literacy. In addition, Co-Chair Christine Coombe and TAE SIG past Co-Chair Nancy Hubley spent

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

four days in Uruguay last July where they gave FLA workshops in Colonia and Montevideo. It should be noted that these events are not funded by TESOL Arabia. Rather presenters support their own costs or sponsors are found to fund them. For the Pakistan event, Lahore University College for Women sponsored our costs, and for the Uruguay events, the U.S. Department of State funded the presenters and attendees. In August 2014, Christine Coombe and Beth Wiens head to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for a three-day FLA which has been graciously sponsored by EduEval. Our last major project of this academic year is a joint publication with the Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association Testing SIG. This publication, entitled Best Practice in ELT:Voices from the Classroom, will be TESOL Arabia’s first e-publication. The call for papers ends on July 1, and co-editors Christine Coombe and Rubina Khan will be working over the summer to edit the volume. We anticipate that the publication date will be October 2014. Have a great summer!

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Chapter Feature Reports Article

55

Sharjah Chapter Report Shireen Baghestani, Sharjah Chapter Representative This March the Sharjah Chapter said goodbye to Chapter Representative Amr El Zarka and handed over that title to Shireen Baghestani. The chapter is indebted to Mr El Zarka for his inspiring leadership and dedication. The 2013-2014 academic year saw three events organized by the Sharjah Chapter. The first was on October 26, 2013, and was a joint event with the Independent Learning SIG and the Read SIG. It took place at the American University of Sharjah. The second event organized by the Sharjah Chapter was another joint event, this time with the Teacher Training & Teacher Development SIG. This event took place on November 16, 2013, again at the American University of Sharjah. This event was extremely well-attended, with approximately 80 attendees. The final event hosted by the Sharjah Chapter for the 2013-2014 academic year was held on February 8, 2014. This time it was a joint event between the Sharjah Chapter and the Young

Learners SIG, and was also hosted at the American University of Sharjah. A special mention must also be made about the Facebook group “TESOL Arabia Chapters.” The group, created in September of 2013, is an open group with 70 members and growing. Joining the page is an excellent way to stay up-to-date on different chapter events taking place throughout the UAE. The Sharjah Chapter had an especially strong presence on the page, with event reminders and many pictures taken from each event. If you haven’t joined, we recommend that you do so! The chapter intends to resume its events in the fall of 2014 and to maintain its presence on Facebook. As always, we are seeking presenters to share lesson ideas, teaching approaches, insights into students and teachers, and other matters pertaining to ESL/EFL. Inquiries and presentation proposals can be sent to sharjah.chapter@gmail.com. i

Everyone enjoys Sharjah Chapter events!

Volume 22

No. 2

i

i

i

i

November 16th saw a packed house at the American University of Shajah.

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Chapter Article Reports Feature

56

TESOL Arabia Western Region Chapter Glows with New Life Peter W. Stanfield, Western Region Chapter Representative Saturday, February 8, will be a day to remember for English teachers and educators across the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. After several months of change, the TESOL Arabia Western Region Chapter came back with a spring in its step. Led by Dr Melanie Gobert (Vice President/President-Elect of TESOL Arabia) and supported by Dr Sufian Abu-Rmaileh (Executive Treasurer) and Fathi Bin Mohammed (Abu Dhabi Chapter Representative), more than 30 delegates and presenters spent the morning sharing their experiences and knowledge of teaching in a relaxed, workshop-style setting. Melanie and Sufian welcomed attendees and explained the advantages of TESOL Arabia membership, which range from inexpensive access to the annual conference and pre-conference workshops to the exclusive Perspectives magazine, as well as study and travel grants. We were reminded of the past success of the Western Region chapter under the leadership of Mohamed Azaza when meetings frequently attracted more than a hundred delegates. Everyone present agreed, through advertising and networking, to ensure communication of the Chapter’s vision of providing valuable professional development opportunities to educators across the region so that a new period of success can be entered. Melanie kicked off the morning with a fun workshop on life-size Scrabble for the ESL/EFL classroom. Delegates had a hands-on chance to see how this activity can advance learners’ vocabulary, spelling, and knowledge of prefixes and suffixes in English words. Sufian followed this up with a frank presentation on classroom discipline, indicating the key problems and offering some practical solutions.

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

After a short coffee break, Bill Phalon took up the topic of discipline, looking at it from a different angle by administering a survey of teacher responses to classroom management scenarios which characterized the approach of each delegate as a taskmaster, manager, coach or pal. Bill argued that whatever approach a teacher might take, the key facilitator of classroom management is a curriculum that matches student development with appropriate content and tasks. In subsequent concurrent sessions, Azzeddine Bencherab presented and ran a practical workshop on storytelling showing how applying elements of an oral tradition can enhance language learning in new and fruitful ways. Simultaneously, Wade Muncil presented his experiences of building bridges between the classroom and society through teaching a community service course. He showed how involvement with local social issues not only led to deep learning, but also provided real world practical solutions and developed good citizenship. Before lunch, Mohamed Azaza presented on the importance of teachers being aware of their Emotional Intelligence (EI). He showed how EI goes beyond merely perceiving and regulating emotions to becoming a tool for generating emotional states that facilitate learning. Simultaneously, Julie Riddlebarger illustrated and demonstrated the use of story sacks with young learners. These containers full of books and materials encourage children to engage with literacy in a fun way and have been a great success around the world. Although proprietary story bags are available, they can also be produced quite easily by the teacher and even the students themselves.

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Chapter Feature Reports Article

Over lunch, presenters and delegates mingled to continue discussions about how the ideas presented and demonstrated could be applied to classrooms and institutions across the region.

57

If you are interested in joining the TESOL Arabia Western Region, please contact the Chapter Representative, Dr Peter W. Stanfield: pstanfield@ hct.ac.ae; +0971 (0)50 6113076.

The Western Region event was a great success!

Wade Muncil shared valuable ideas and insights.

TESOL Arabia Needs YOU! We currently have vacancies for the positions of

Member-at-Large and

Chair of the Literature Special Interest Group For more information, please contact

Melanie Gobert, TESOL Arabia President, Volume 22

melanie.gobert@tesolarabia.org. No. 2 June 2014 TESOL Arabia Perspectives www.tesolarabia.org


SpecialFeature Interest Article Groups Special Interest Groups

60

58

TESOL Arabia Special Interest Groups English for Specific Purposes SIG Phone: 02 644 0339 Email: esptesolarabia@gmail.com

Saad Rabia Co-Chair

Namaat Saadi Hezber Co-Chair

Christine Coombe Co-Chair

Lauren Stephenson Co-Chair

Leadership & Management SIG Phone: 050 619 4796 Email: christine.coombe@hct.ac.ae Phone: 050 465 5234 Email: lauren.stephenson@zu.ac.ae

Teacher Training & Teacher Development SIG

Email: tatdsig@gmail.com Mick King Racquel Warner Faiza Umar Co-Chair/Treasurer Co-Chair/Secretary Marketing Communications Officer

Young Learners SIG

Independent Learning SIG

Phone: 050 151 3613 Email: kathygardner007@gmail.com

Email: oabuorouq@aus.edu Phone: 050 984 8066

Kathya Garder Al Haddad Secretary

Kathy Gardner Chair

Testing, Assessment & Evaluation SIG

Samah El Shal Treasurer

Ola Marie Abu Orouq Chair

Read SIG

Phone: 050 619 4796 Email: christine.coombe@hct.ac.ae Phone: 050 266 8937 Email: yassersalem@yahoo.com

Phone: 050 843 8782 Email: peter.davidson@zu.ac.ae Christine Coombe Co-Chair

Peter Davidson Co-Chair

Yasser Salem Chair

Educational Technology SIG Email: edtechsig@gmail.com Ning: http://taedtech.ning.com edtecharabia.twitter.com #taedtech James Buckingham

Research SIG Phone: 050 780 3988 Email: amelki22@yahoo.com researchsig22@gmail.com

Mohammad Azaza Chair

Volume 18

No. 3

November 2011

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

Helene Demirci Treasurer/Event Coordinator

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

www.tesolarabia.org


Chapter Feature Representatives Article

59

Abu Dhabi Representative

Ian Taylor

Higher Colleges of Technology/CERT P.O. Box 17155, Al Ain, UAE 050 277 3981 (mobile) itaylor1@hct.ac.ae

Shireen Bhagestani

American University of Sharjah shireenba@gmail.com

Tamas Lorincz

Canadian University in Dubai 050 585 2347 (mobile) dubaichapter@gmail.com Blog: http://dubaichapter.edublogs.org

Safaa Abdulla Hassan Eissa

Ittihad University, RAK safa.eissa@tesolarabia.org

Mohamed El Zamil

Ajman University mohamed.elzamil@tesolarabia.org

Peter Stanfield

Higher Colleges of Technology - MZ/RUW Colleges peter.stanfield@tesolarabia.org

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org


Executive Council Feature Article Executive Council

60 64 President/Conference Co-Chair

Past President/Conference Co-Chair

Melanie Gobert Abu Dhabi Men's College Higher Colleges of Technology P. O. Box 25035 Abu Dhabi, UAE mgobert@hct.ac.ae

Rehab Rajab Dubai, UAE 050 637 5957 (mobile) rehab.rajab@tesolarabia.org Twitter: @tesolarabia || #tesolarabia

Vice-President/Member-at-Large

Executive Treasurer

Naziha Ali Emirates Aviation College - B Dubai, UAE 050 646 1788 (mobile) nazihaali2005@yahoo.co.uk

Sufian Abu Rmaileh UAE University - UGRU P. O. Box 17172 Al Ain, UAE 03 706 4562 (home) 050 713 1803 (mobile) sabu-rmaileh@uaeu.ac.ae

Membership Secretary

Executive Secretary

Christina Gkitsaki HCT - Dubai Men's College Dubai, UAE christina.gkitsaki@tesolarabia.org

Cynthia Weston Academic Bridge Program Zayed University Dubai, UAE 050 382 4377 (mobile) cynthia.weston@zu.ac.ae

SIG Coordinator

Conference Treasurer

Daniel Stebbins Ministry of Education Sharjah, UAE 050 464 5002 (mobile) justaskdan@gmail.com

Beth Wiens Zayed University P. O. Box 19282, Dubai, UAE 04 402 1350 (office) 04 402 1003 (fax) 050 4620566 (mobile) beth.wiens@zu.ac.ae

Perspectives Co-Editor

Perspectives Co-Editor

Julie Riddlebarger Khalifa University of Science, Technology & Research PO Box 127788, Abu Dhabi, UAE julie.riddlebarger@tesolarabia.org

Suhair Al Alami Al Ghurair University PO Box 37374, Dubai, UAE suhair.alalami@tesolarabia.org

Conference Proceedings/Publications Coordinator

Webmaster

Peter McLaren United Arab Emirates University Al Ain, UAE 050 138 3406 (mobile) pmclaren@uaeu.ac.ae

Konrad A Cedro 050 144 7680 (mobile) konard.cedro@hct.ac.ae

Volume 22 Volume 18

No. 2 No. 3

June 2014 November 2011

TESOL Arabia Perspectives TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org www.tesolarabia.org


Feature Article IPP WINS 8 AWARDS AT

DUBAI INTERNATIONAL

PRINT AWARD 2011 1 AWARD IN 2006

2 AWARDS IN 2007

4 AWARDS IN 2008

6 AWARDS IN 2009

8 AWARDS IN 2011 THE QUEST UEST FOR QUALITY CONT CONTINUES

5 GOLD 2 SILVER 1 BRONZE

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

61


Feature Article

62

TESOL Arabia Publications publications@tesolarabia.org

Volume 22

No. 2

June 2014

TESOL Arabia Perspectives

www.tesolarabia.org

JUN 2014  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you