Highlights of the One-day Event

The one-day event held on October 23rd at FAL was a real blast! Mirroring the success of the launch event, with a crowded venue and top-notch workshops, this second event of the local Braz-TESOL Chapter proved that our ELT community has lots to celebrate!

The event kicked off with the local president of the chapter, Fernando Guarany, introducing the local board to the participants and stressing the importance of local teachers from all segments getting together to promote training and development in Rio Grande do Norte. After a brief review of the launch event, he thanked everyone and invited them to make a difference, rounding off with a quote by Annie Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

How do you approach pronunciation in your classes? Is pronunciation teaching the same thing as teaching the phonemic script? Is it possible to teach pronunciation using a top-down approach? How can you raise learners’ awareness of pronunciation features such as stress, rhythm and intonation?  These were some of the questions underlying the workshop given by Marcelo de Cristo, coordinator of the local pronunciation SIG. The participants were given ideas and suggestions of activities that could be used as the starting point for pronunciation work from very early levels.  Marcelo wrapped up his workshop by underlining that pronunciation work should not be restricted to work with the phonemes, minimal pairs, or sentence drills; but that it can be taught more meaningfully using a top-down, supra-segmental approach, much in the same way it’s done with grammar and vocabulary. Click here to download the session slides in pdf.

After a delicious coffee-break, Edilson Souza, professor and researcher at UFRN, delivered a very inspiring workshop, at the heart of which lay his invitation for teachers to think about how they assign topics for writing activities in the classroom. After a quick introduction to the topic of the workshop, the participants were divided into two groups (self-selected/teacher assigned) for hands-on practice followed by a wall display of the work produced. Edilson then invited the groups to discuss their findings before presenting the preliminary results of the study he has been conducting with university students in Natal. Some interesting discussions were generated on how much learners are able to produce when they are asked to choose a topic for their own writing in contrast with teacher assigned topics and the reasons which would explain such a difference.

A chapter with no rivalries, good relationships between its members, whose board members are drawn from a broad selection of sectors, and who welcomes collaboration. These were some of the features of a strong chapter raised by Roddy Kay, president of the Pernambuco Chapter of the Braz-TESOL, in his talk on the sustainability of a local teachers´ association. Roddy gave an impressive overview of the evolution of EFL schools over time, pointing out some of the facts/events that shaped the ELT community in northeast Brazil. The overview shed light on how teachers’ associations evolved as well. He gave participants some sensible suggestions on how to efficiently plan events, select venues, and on how to deal with the problems and challenges which our local chapter is likely to face. His talk was particularly useful since we are planning to have a conference for 300 people next year! Click here to download the session slides in pdf.

After each workshop, The QUAQ – Quasi Actors Quartet, directed by Steve Barlow, a member of our board’s advisory council, and formed by the teachers Ana Beatriz, Marcelo Durigan, Karinne Guedes, Steve Barlow, Fiona Porpino, Dyêgo Saraiva and Fernando Guarany, with special participation of Roddy Kay, entertained the participants with two humorously amusing sketches, the first of which depicted a couple on what was supposed to have been a ‘romantic’ trip to Italy and the second brought participants to a psychiatric clinic where a quirky doctor (played by Roddy) ‘helped’ his patients (one of which was an unusually-looking Superman!) to solve their ‘identity’ problems. The two sketches sparked some great laughs and are well worth of an encore! Check out the video of the second sketch on YouTube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCb6UC6w7-k

A description of this event could not finish without a thank you note to the event’s sponsors: Cultura Inglesa and ProEnglish; and supporters: Oxford University Press, Richmond, Livraria Bookline, Pearson Longman and Cambridge University Press for all their efforts and unconditional support without which this event would not have succeeded. Special thanks must be given to the people at FAL, for their openness in letting us use their venue and to Ercília Dâmaris and Nelson, two dedicated teachers who volunteered to help with the organization of the event.

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