by Terry Barakat
The English Language Institute of Missouri State University (ELI of MSU) held our free bi-annual TESOL & SLA Professional Development Conference on Friday, April 28, 2017. We had about 30 participants who included colleagues from Ozarks-area K-12 and higher education institutions as well as intrepid attendees from Kansas City and Rolla, MO, and Lawrence, KS. We even had a presentation from Faeze Safari, a visiting research scholar from Iran by way of ETS in Princeton, New Jersey, who enlightened us about Understanding the Value of Imagination in Language Learning. Thanks to Faeze for making such a long trip during some scary Midwestern weather!
A big shout-out goes to the MSU TESOL & SLA students who enriched the experience for all by presenting quality sessions that demonstrated scholarship and professionalism. Their proud professor, Dr. Yili Shi, attended in support. ELI Graduate Teaching Assistants Davy Tran and Zach Spiering presented sessions entitled Warm Up to Wake Up and Motivating Saudi Learners, and TESOL student Zhenru Liu shared her research on Features in the Acquisition of English Relative Clauses by Chinese ESL Learners.
Of particular delight for me was attending former ELI student turned English teacher-in-training Samah Faqeeh’s presentation on Explaining the Rules of English Grammar to Arabic Speakers. I had the joy of being her English language teacher through various levels and skills at the ELI, and it is an amazing feeling to watch a former language student shine giving an academic lecture of her own. One endearing moment occurred when Samah noted that she was claiming that a given feature of Arabic always exists in this given language situation and then stopped to give the aside, “I know teacher Terry will not like that because she told us we can never say always about language usage.” Be still, my big ol’ teacher heart!
Other sessions included my colleague Jennifer Johnston, the ELI’s Director of Teacher Training Programs and certified CELTA tutor, and I facilitating a workshop exploring the movement to recognize English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) as an accepted variety of English and its implications to curriculum and teacher training. The conference organizer, Phil Bridges, an ELI Academic Specialist and certified CELTA tutor, reviewed the lesson frameworks that are taught in the CELTA teacher training program, with ELI’s Academic Director, Pascal Hamon, finishing up with examples of best practices from his graduate-capstone listening class. MIDTESOL member Melinda Brown-Mason of North Kansas City Schools and the University of Central Missouri battled a bad cold and encroaching laryngitis to persevere and present on Turning Listening on Its Ear.
The post-lunch plenary was MIDTESOL’s Vice President, Deborah Osborne, Director of the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas, leading us through Lessons from the TESOL Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession. The feedback is that everyone really enjoyed reflecting on this global vision of our industry, so we greatly appreciate Deborah making the trip down to share this with us. Thanks, too, to MIDTESOL Past President Birdie Morgan and Journal Editor Thu Tran for traveling over from Missouri S & T to participate. Finally, kudos to organizer Phil for a job well done!
You can find details and Phil is working on loading links to the spring presentations at http://international.missouristate.edu/eli/pdconference.htm. All are welcome at the upcoming event in the fall.
Teaching English is Terry’s second half of life career where she is following her passion. After receiving her B.A. in Linguistics from Central College in Pella, IA, Terry was in the telecommunications world doing corporate people management and development for 20 years before returning to school for a Master’s in TESOL from The University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA. Terry has taught at UNI’s CIEP as well as at Marshalltown Community College and has been at Missouri State University’s English Language Institute in Springfield, MO, since August of 2007, where she is currently an English Language Academic Specialist.