The first BRAZ-TESOL RN One-day Seminar of 2017 took place on 20 May at FACEX, an important educational complex in the city of Natal. The plenary, workshops and other sessions were held at Unidade I, whose warm and friendly premises made us feel instantly welcomed! The theme of the Seminar was New Challenges and New Perspectives on ELT: The Road Less Travelled.
The plenary talk and workshops were presented by English teachers, university professors, and directors of studies from Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba. But what filled our hearts with joy was that the Seminar brought together about 50 teachers from Natal, Santa Cruz, Ceará Mirim, São José de Mipibú, Parnamirim, Lajes and João Pessoa, representing several language institutes, public and private schools, bilingual schools, private and public universities and the federal institute. This was no small feat considering the long distances teachers need to travel to attend such events on a Saturday afternoon!
Plenary session and workshops – our personal highlights
Professor Edilson Souza (UFRN) introduced the theme of the conference and gave us a bird’s eye view of current language acquisition theories, placing an emphasis on the Natural Approach and its series of underlying hypotheses. He took us on a journey through some of his own learning challenges, which included episodes of corporal punishment: “I remember seeing my “mean” little classmates being punished and having to kneel on corn grains in the corner of the classroom for 5-10 minutes and only be allowed to return to their seats and classroom tasks when the teacher gave them permission to do so” and then moved on to discuss the future perspectives for ELT, calling upon Robert Lee Frost (1864-1963), in his poem “The Road Not Taken”, who gives us a positive view on what it means to find new routes in the face of new challenges and new perspectives: “(…) Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / took the road less traveled by, / and that has made all the difference”.
Download Edilson Souza’s SLIDES HERE >> Edilson Souza – btrn20May
In her thought-provoking plenary session entitled InterNAtionalizing Educational Practices, professor Jamylle Ouverney-King (IFPB) invited us to reflect on the characteristics of 21st century classrooms, which includes interdisciplinarity, diversity, inclusive education, integration with technology and a strong focus on learners’ needs. As she expressed: “The 3rd Industrial Revolution in the late 90s and early 2000 has fostered a continuous process of Globalization with cheaper airline prices, an overflow of technology applied to communication and to education, and a more demanding audience of learners who no longer learn from the classroom experience only”. She showed us an example of a school project in Finland to introduce/review the concept of Flipped Classroom and how it can be used to promote meaningful learning experiences through student-centred practices, collaboration and autonomous learning. The session included a number of very useful digital online tools (e.g. Prism, Kahoot, Coggle, Playposit, etc) we can use in our classrooms to achieve this goal.
See Jamylle Ouverney-King’s PREZI HERE >> Jamylle Ouverney-King – btrn20May
Luciana Lucena started off her talk Bilingual Education and Other Perspectives by defining a range of terms often confused by teachers and students alike (e.g. language ability, language achievement, language competence, language performance, language proficiency and language skills), sensibly pointing out that “there is no standardized use of these terms”. Some dimensions of Bilingualism were also competently presented as well as how these translated into FACEX’s Dual Language proposal. After introducing us to the concepts and ideas behind the programme, she brought it to life through a series of photos of some of the CLIL projects carried out by learners which included science, society, labour and special events. The speaker rounded off her session by telling us about the advantage of standardised proficiency tests and presenting the numbers of students taking the Cambridge YLE Exams over the duration of the programme.
Download Luciana Lucena’s SLIDES HERE >> Luciana Lucena – btrn20May
Silcia Soares in Blended learning as an Effective way for Teaching the Centennial Students, expressed: “Centennial students are digitally connected and individualistic, but need social interaction and motivation to have meaningful learning“. Her talk provided a current rationale for implementing Blended Learning in ELT. It was richly illustrated with several ideas of online tools as well as hands-on projects she carried out with her own groups at Cultura Inglesa Cidade Verde – one involving the creation of a collaborative newspaper and one where students were asked to produce digital tasks at home. In addition, she suggested a series of ‘practical ways’ to blend classroom work with home-based activities through the use of technology.
Download Silcia Soares’s SLIDES HERE >> Silcia Soares – btrn20May
In addition to the presentations and workshops, there was also opportunities for meeting old friends, networking and having more informal discussions during the coffee-break. Many of us took advantage of this moment to speak to colleagues working in different schools and exchange contacts with the speakers. Not only were we able to “recharge our batteries” processing all the information received, but it was the time when we made relationships and collected some feedback from other teachers attending the event.
There is never a dull moment at a BRAZ-TESOL RN event, as our programmes prove. Following on from the coffee-break, our Saturday afternoon also saw two hilarious theatre skits performed by QUAQ (Quasi Actors Quartet). Steve Barlow, Isabela Medeiros, Jorge Henrique and Silcia Soares made us all laugh our heads off as we watched their rendition of “The Firefighter” and “The Bus Stop“, certainly one of the highlights of the event!
Back to our academic programme, in the session Experiencing Educational and Cultural Exchange in the United States: Impressions and Curiosities, Samara Freitas proved herself to be a very competent speaker. She described the experience of taking part in a nine-week educational and cultural exchange program (financed by SETEC/CAPES) in the United States of America this year. She also reported on the TESOL program she attended at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) along with 73 other Federal Institute (IF) teachers from all over Brazil. The highlight of the talk was her personal account of some interesting facts and moments she experienced in the places she visited – brought to life through several souvenirs and other memorabilia collected during her journey – and how this experience impacted her life as an English teacher.
Fernanda Câmara‘s workshop on “The Benefits of Storytelling in English Teaching for Young Learners” focused on the importance of storytelling for children and what we need to consider before, while and after telling a story in the language classroom. She talked about her own experience telling stories to children from the age of 3 as part of International School‘s bilingual programme at Colégio Nossa Senhora das Neves. She then gave participants the opportunity to practice telling stories to each other and share their views on the benefits and challenges of storytelling.
Back in the mini-auditorium, BTRN’s 2nd Vice-President Edilson Souza, representing the outgoing board, pronounced a few words on how our local chapter was created and how much it has grown, paying a well-deserved tribute to the outgoing board members for all their dedication and hard work, and officially announced the election results for the new BRAZ-TESOL RN Executive Board, which will serve the local chapter until March 2019. All the members in good standing present at the event were asked to sign a “Confirmation Term” in recognition of the new executive board members shown below:
In their joint session “Volunteering and Continuing Professional Development: Come together!“, Thiago dos Santos (1st Vice-President) and Marcelo de Cristo (President) talked about their experience as BRAZ-TESOL members and the importance Growing Together.
Thiago dos Santos recalled his first volunteering experience as member of the maintenance crew of a park in the U.S. and his first ever BRAZ-TESOL event, the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference, which took place in João Pessoa in 2014. He then went on to testify how his participation as a minder (volunteer) at several other local and national BRAZ-TESOL events has shaped his career thus far – he is now taking the online CELTA! – and finished his speech by going back to the theme of the conference and reading Robert Frost’s poem “The Road not Taken“, a very moving moment to all of us present at the event.
Download Thiago dos Santos’s SLIDES HERE >> Thiago dos Santos – btrn20May
In his first words as President of the BRAZ-TESOL RN chapter, Marcelo de Cristo stressed the importance of local teachers joining the association, outlining the many benefits gained by those who become members in good standing. He officially announced a “Call for Papers” for this year’s BTRN Symposium: Growing Together, to take place on 19 August and a “Save the Date” for the chapter’s last event of 2017, due to happen on 11 November. He then invited us to take an active role in the chapter’s activities and presented the requirements for members take part in its Advisory Council. Finally, he asked us to spread the word about our local chapter, following its activities online (i.e. Facebook, Blog, Twitter and Youtube) and sharing its developments with friends and colleagues.
See Marcelo de Cristo’s SLIDES HERE >> Marcelo de Cristo – btrn20May
One of the most heartwarming moments of our first One-day Seminar – as the event drew to a close – was when the incoming BTRN Executive Board, BT members and participants were joyously surprised with video messages of support and encouragement sent from Chapter Leaders from across the country, who spared a few minutes of their busy lives to congratulate the outgoing board, welcome the new one and say a few words on the benefits of joining BRAZ-TESOL!
OUR DEEPEST THANKS to Higor Cavalcante (SP), Duanes Santos (AM), Florinda Marques (PR), Graeme Hodgson (DF), Maria Valésia (the BT-RS Chapter was being lauched on that very same day!), Mariana Perez (PB), Monica Freire (RJ – all the way from Portugal on her birthday!), and Valéria França (RJ)!
Join BRAZ-TESOL!!! Let’s grow together?
The BTRN Team.