Monday, 20 April 2015

BALEAP - Friday

I went to the BALEAP conference in Leicester over the weekend and it was really inspiring. I've transcribed my notes for Friday below if anyone would like to read them. I know that in most cases, you had to be there, but there might be something of interest in my scribbles.

Suffice to say, that they were all amazing speakers and it was an incredible experience.

(BALEAP - Saturday)
(BALEAP - Sunday)

I'm terribly sorry, if I've misspelt any names or misinterpreted anybody's talks. Please let me know if you would like me to amend anything or add anything. I didn't take notes during the Pecha Kucha which is a shame as it was the highlight of Friday for me.

Navigation in a complex world - Prof. Rebecca Hughes

  • Academic writing is an increasingly collaborative process
  • English is increasingly the language of academic publication
  • EMI (English as a medium of instruction) is on the increase. Therefore, we are likely to have students coming with higher levels of English in the future.
  • Consequently, they will have different, perhaps more complex needs
  • Predicts India, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, China and Malaysia as the countries where students are likely to be coming from in the future
  • "The deficit model is dead" - the student is not the problem. (to be honest, I'd love if someone could explain this to me or refer me somewhere - it seemed to be a theme throughout the conference)
  • Delegate from Scandinavia made the point that this could lead to higher levels of English but possibly lower levels of knowledge of the content/subjects (e.g. history, physics etc)
Scaffolding reading comprehension in an L2 academic context - Vasiliki Antoniou
  • The use of Moodle to scaffold academic reading tasks
  • Students were guided through a series of tasks (and given prompts and reminders) in relation to specific readings (encouraging them to do different things - e.g. think critically about texts)
  • Findings from research showed that the scaffolding methods students were most positive about were model answers and notifications about task updates
  • Do students perhaps prefer more passive forms of scaffold (i.e. ones that require less autonomy). This was a point made and discussed in Q and A.
  • Activites like mind maps were mentioned. Another activity was mentioned - MAZES. I forgot t ask what that was.
The complexities of preparing international students for group and seminar discussions - Ann Smith
  • Chained tasks - don't just get them to do one task but a series of tasks that feed into one another
  • The task she described was to ultimately give a presentation with the aim of persuading the audience (in this case it was a bid for a project)
  • So to complete the presentation there were a series of tasks that they had to complete, all building up to the presentation (e.g. researching, planning etc)
  • Oh I forgot to mention - they were working in groups - larger groups of between 5 and 7
  • She considered the pros and cons of self selected groups and careful team formation/assigned groups. 
  • Felt that self selection was better than random selection (e.g. you're sitting beside each other so you're altogether)
  • Assigned selection is better if the project is being marked
  • There was peer allocation of marks! If they all gave them the same marks, it was given back and they had to do it again. 
  • The students had to log everything they did - i.e. whilst working on the project minutes had to be taken.
Becoming Metacognitive Teachers - Maggie Heeney
  • What makes an exemplary teacher?
  • Discussed the idea of letting students inside your head - seeing the process
  • This involves thinking aloud, modelling for the students, interacting with the students and scaffolding)
  • Studied a teacher - charted them over many weeks - taking notes throughout their lesson. Looking at instances where the teacher thought aloud, modelled what they were asking the students to do.
  • Made a good point that teachers need to be able to do what they are telling there students to do. I found this quite salient - some tasks our students are required to do, I would struggle with. Point seemed to me to be that you have to do it yourself in order to better understand how to help someone else do it (and by thinking and reflecting upon how you do it)
The EAP of spelling learning together - Bee Bond
  • talked about exploratory research - that it is very cooperative; that you don't go looking to prove something but instead to find out the answer to a question; that it is about developing understanding rather than proving.
  • Different to action research
  • Talked about the EAP treadmill - feeling jaded, doing the same things over and over. Without the time to develop, to tweak.
  • Talked about not seeing the students as individuals, as capable of taking their education seriously (perhaps because you only see them not doing what you want them to do)
  • Really good point - students are independent - they are choosing not to listen!
  • So listen to students - show them that the onus is more on them.
  • Bee made students co-researchers, not objects of research.
  • Looked with them at why their spelling is bad. Threw the question back to the students. Tried to figure it out together.
  • Discovered that beautiful joined up writing helps with spelling.
  • Distinguished between scholarship (i.e. you critically evaluate what you do as a teacher) and research 
Technology tools for teaching English for Academic Purposes - Dr David Lefevre
  • Says that online pre-sessional courses are going to be big stuff
  • For many students, online is the only option. Face to face not an option.
  • Pros - you can target who needs the help through feedback on their online submissions.
  • Wondered which of the skills could be taught more effectively online and which not so much (speaking, writing, listening, reading, vocabulary)?
  • Videoing lessons from experts - putting that online. Makes knowledge accessible to a far wider audience
Pecha Kucha

Once upon a time in a pre-sessional classroom in Sheffield - Elaine Lopez
  • Noticed that students don't have great grammar. But we don't teach grammar in EAP
  • Did a research project
  • Turns out they learn the grammar anyway, even without explicit instruction
Ten Tips to Survive your first year as an EAP tutor - Emma Hillman and Zella Phillips
  • Full of great observations - e.g. the new serious EAP clothes when we shift from ELT; the worries about our ability to teach academic stuff
Why you should use a randomiser in class - Hannah Gurr
  • write students names on lollipop sticks - pick them out randomly so you make sure to ask different people. You don't just rely on the stronger students.
  • Use an app to do the same function but more technologically.
  • Great line - if my student says I don't know (as a way to avoid contributing/cop out), Hannah responds with "Ok, well what might you say if you did know).
EAP materials for prospective MSc science/engineering candidates - Jon Wordie
  • Hilarious. Impossible to do justice to it here. Sorry, if you weren't there, you missed out. 
Pre-sessional migration: managing the masses - Linda Hurley
  • Dealing with the large numbers of teachers coming in for pre-sessionals
  • Ideas linked to beautiful paintings (again, very visual so can't do justice)
  • As someone coming for Ireland where pre-sessionals don't have the same scale, I missed lots while gaping in awe at the volume of students, and teachers employed in UK universities
Accessible feedback for international students: a colourful approach - Rebecca Thomas
  • The use of colour code as a way to engage students more with feedback
  • Students more likely to engage with higher level feedback if colour code used (because they don't have to uncode complex language to understand the problem in the first place)
The social media diaries - Susie Cowley-Haselden (aka The EAP Archivist)
  • Whitesnake
  • How blogging and tweeting has helped her tremendously
  • Encouraged everyone to blog - to tweet - to get involved in the wonderful online community that is out there for EAP teachers.

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