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The A - Z Of Games

The A - Z Of Games

The three day fifth international and forty-first annual ELT@I conference was organized by the Department of English, Anna Adarsh College for Women, Anna Nagar, Chennai from 5th to 7th August 2010.

The Parmadevi Goyal Auditorium which could comfortably seat a thousand delegates was almost full all the three days. Plenary Sessions, Workshops, Panel Discussions, Paper Presentations and Book exhibitions made the college a bee hive of activity. The main theme of the conference was Learning To Learn: Way to Language Mastery'. The meticulous planning and unstinting work done by the faculty, the student volunteers and the management made the three day gala event a hassle free one.

The topics and speakers of the Plenary Session included the following:

* Has Literature Lost Its Sheen With Learners by Dr. C.T. Indira, Former Head, Dept. of English, University of Madras

* English, Yes, but by Prof. Krishnaswamy Natesan, Consultant and Author, Former Professor, CIEFL, Hyderabad

* Teaching the horse to drink : say goodbye to empty vessels- Learner Training by Amy Lightfoot, Teacher Trainer UK

* Critical and Creative Thinking by Mr. Cray Staggs, U.S. Department of State, Senior English Language Fellow for Beijing, China

The lone Special Lecture on Cultural Globalization and Language Education was delivered by Ms. Revathy Krishnaswamy, of San Jose State University, California , USA. Four hundred and ten papers were scheduled for presentation on two days in thirty different rooms as Parallel Sessions. The fifteen Featured Speakers and twenty Workshops were also held as Parallel Sessions. Unlike the Plenary Sessions, delegates had to be choosy in attending the Parallel Sessions.

Given below are excerpts from select sessions during the conference:

From the Key note address of the Conference by Mr. S.Muthiah, Author and Chronicler

Learning of English in my college days improved solely through the reading of popular novels by authors like Agatha Christie The real aim of teachers of English should be the improvement of the ability of pupils to communicate. But it is a pity that in Engineering colleges, the Humanities Department hardly exists! The fact remains that it is the Humanities that would ultimately help develop language skills.

From the Skype Presentation by Dr. Steve Herder , Professor in Internet-Based Teaching, Doshisha Women's College, Japan

For a firm footing for learner autonomy in an EFL context where students lack practice, we should 1. Set goals 2. Encourage self assessment by pupils 3. Make them reflect on their own learning.

From the Workshop on the Tamil Nadu Teacher Filming Project by Mr. Philip Clegg, British Council Senior Training Consultant, India

* David Graddol's English Next India 2010 states that access to English provides access to Employability, Education and Social mobility.

From the talk titled English, yes, but by Prof. Krishnaswamy Natesan, Consultant and Author, Former Professor, CIEFL, Hyderabad

*Discussions are underway to standardize syllabuses : How is it possible to use a syllabus suitable for Kerala in Assam? We ought to realize the fact that the way English is taught in Bangalore is not the way it is taught in Coimbatore!

* It is worth recalling the statement made in the TESOL Conference of 2007 : " There is a long standing fallacy that native speakers are better than foreign speakers".

* Teachers of English had hitherto been focusing on the way they like to teach and not on the way students would like to learn.

* Don't you think the time has come to teach English through local culture and local heritage? We should introduce theme based teaching of English in India-Themes such as Women's issues, Dalit problems, Spiritualism as propagated by Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna.

* In the light of linguistic genocide too it has become imperative to teach English in India through our own culture. For this there is a need for massive translation. Let us teach English to the masses and not to the classes.

From questions posed to a few students ( the collective voice of the youth) and reactions from audience comprising teachers

* Students are a neglected stake holder especially in discussions of issues related to ELT.

1. Considering the time, energy and money being spend by your parents and yourself what kind of investment are you getting in terms of being taught English in your educational institutions?

2. How relevant do you think is the kind of education offered to you today in India?

3. It is said that " a paradigm of the past is imposed in the present for people who have to work for the future" Does this work?

4. Comment of the teaching/learning experience you had: A. Is it necessary? B. Is it sufficient? C. Is it efficient?

5. What qualities do you look for an effective teacher of tomorrow?

* Only a few students are capable of finding employment.

* Many are finding it difficulty to adapt what they have been taught.

* We expect teaching to give a wholesome growth, but our education doesn't ensure employment.

* After all do we consult the chicken what dish we would like to make? We need to realize that education is a common enterprise. There are always gaps in what pupils want and what pupils get.

* It is highly unrealistic to expect the teacher with a magic wand to transform the student overnight. There are instances in Engineering colleges where at the end of the last month of the course students rush to get trained to take the IELTS examination, to become fluent in all the four skills!

* There are even educational institutions in India where questions given in the text book alone is asked. Students are pushed and pressurized by parents to mug up the answers from bazaar guides. Students in such schools score very high marks, and the parents and the management of the schools are pretty delighted. BUT any school which asks questions that prompt the child to think and respond creatively is looked down upon !

* It is high time that students stopped the blame game'. Students have to realize that often many teachers have no choice but to train/ teach pupils to pass the terminal examination. There is no scope for them to experiment or introduce new learning content which focuses on skills not mentioned in the Course Book.

* Most students are keen on using the SMS for communicating. If only they took pains to develop their writing skills which requires a great deal of practice !

* We all need to realize that what is taught cannot fully register in the mind as it is taught!

From a Panel Discussion on English for NXg

* India is the second largest country where we have English speakers. Even in IIT's where English is taught at least fifty percent of students are ones who would get only 4/10 for tests in Grammar and Writing!

* We need to realize that the new generation learners use English in a functional transactional manner. Brevity and breaking the rule is a passion for them and learning English is linked to employment- to get the edge in interviews!

* In a corporate culture, if one cannot work as a team player one cannot survive. The present generation is fully aware of this. So they are more receptive to learning from their peers.

* The present generation use English for chatting, blogging, social networking and playing video games. It is also a generation whose attention span is limited. They are ones who use the mobile, do their home work, watch TV, surf the Internet, all at the same time. They have an ability to absorb from different media and different platforms.

* We need to realize that our society and our language cannot be separated. The rural student loves their own mother tongue passionately and have a closed mind.

* We need to admit that there is a danger in pushing all teaching to a technology driven platform. But we cannot overlook the fact that teaching strategies for the present generation should not be just teacher talk alone. The teacher of today ought to present multimodal information.

Summing up

For teachers who came from geographically spread out areas, the three-day conference was an opportunity to learn, unlearn, relearn, and leave with a heightened consciousness. Many teachers became aware of the lacunae with regard to communicative competence that exists in students. Several teachers felt the need for organizing short term training programmes for the rural teachers. Every one agreed that teaching English is a very complex job. But the organizers hoped that when the teachers leave the Conference venue they would carry in their hearts the real responsibility Professionals who would give the wind under the wings for their students to fly for: "a teacher affects eternity and no one can ever say where his influence stops".

Obituary

Mr. Ravindra Raghunath Sawale of the Dhule Chapter (Maharashtra), of ELTAI who had come to attend the Conference along with other members of the Chapter, passed away on the morning of 07 August 2010 following a massive heart attack. The delegates of the Conference observed a two minute silence as a mark of respect for the departed soul.
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