WA TESOL Conference

May 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on WA TESOL Conference

On April 27, I attended the AUTESOL – WATESOL Joint Spring Conference. The conference was a collaborative effort between American University’s TESOL program and WATESOL, a nonprofit association for Washington, D.C. area teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The focus of the conference? Collaboration in teaching and learning. Which just so happens to be one of the core values of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. Being an AmeriCorps member here, I could not pass up the opportunity of attending.

WATESOL’s membership comprises teachers in K-12, adult education, and higher education, so the conference offered a variety of discussions and breakout sessions catered to each area.

A highlight for me was the NEST-NNEST Caucus discussion. Erroneously, native English-speaking teachers (NESTs) and non-native English-speaking teachers are believed to be better than the other in certain language areas – NESTs in teaching speaking and listening, NNESTs in teaching grammar. The main crux of the discussion was that NESTs and NNESTs can work together to provide effective instruction.

Panelists during the discussion offered several examples of making NEST-NNEST collaboration happen. One such example was offered by an instructor at a Maryland community college. She talked about how she mentors novice instructors and instructors new to teaching a particular class. That she herself learned English as a second language matters far less than her experience and ability to foster new instructors. To recognize and build on each other’s strengths is the goal.

An attendee, a TESOL instructor in her native Brazil, shared her wish to have an American accent. Panelists and fellow attendees were quick to point out her ability to relate to her students on a level NESTs never could. She, like her students, wasn’t born speaking English. She learned it. She serves as a realistic non-native speaker model of highly intelligible spoken English to which students can aspire. And, anyway, to the ears of everyone else, she had a beautiful “accent.”

I was fortunate to be able to go to a conference to speak with others in the field of English language teaching. But the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia offers many trainings and in-services right here in Falls Church for your enrichment. Check out our website, www.lcnv.org/events, for more information!

Xavier Muñoz, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

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