A few minutes before one of the final sessions at the recent 2013 CamTESOL Conference in Phnom Penh, a conference attendee approached Clare Magee and asked if she knew who would be speaking. Ms Magee, the manager of RMIT Vietnam’s Business English Program, replied that the next presenter was her RMIT colleague, Danny Green.
“RMIT?” repeated the woman, as she settled into a chair. “Then I’m staying,” she said. “All of the RMIT presentations have been excellent.”
This was encouraging feedback for the eight English language educators from RMIT Vietnam who presented at this year’s CamTESOL conference, a major annual gathering of teachers of English to speakers of other languages. Speaking to packed rooms of attendees ranging from early-career Cambodian teachers to international TESOL experts, the RMIT Vietnam presenting team shared best-practice insights on teaching topics such as reading strategies, classroom management and educational-technology innovations.
After months of careful planning, they were pleased with this evidence of their success.
“I’m delighted by the response,” said Fiona Wiebusch, a CamTESOL speaker and coordinator of professional learning in RMIT Vietnam’s English Language Programs. “‘Connectedness’ is a core value at RMIT Vietnam, and the reception we’ve received at CamTESOL is an exciting indicator of the positive impact we’re having in our region.”
RMIT Vietnam’s English Language Programs have developed a reputation for presentation excellence on the Asian conference circuit in recent years, with well-received presentations in 2012 at South Korea’s KoTESOL conference, the Japan Association of Language Teachers conference, and the Asia TEFL Conference in India, as well as two consecutive years of strong showings at CamTESOL.
Yet planning effective presentations for this latter conference can be challenging, given the diversity of its attendees.
“CamTESOL participants include several white-belts and a few black-belts,” said Travis Henry, an English language teacher in RMIT Vietnam’s Concurrent English Program and first-time CamTESOL presenter. “You’ll have pre-service teachers sitting right next to experts, and you have to find a way to reach them both.”
Another veteran CamTESOL presenter, RMIT English language educator Rheanne Anderson, agreed, noting that the ideal presentations in this venue have layers of knowledge-sharing opportunities, such as basic tips for early-career teachers as well as deeper insights for more advanced professionals.
For the leaders of RMIT Vietnam’s English Language Programs, it is this range of benefits—the promotion of best-practice in the region, the professional learning opportunities for presenters, and the connection with TESOL professionals around the world—that prompts their support of conference attendance among their teaching staff.
“To promote ‘world’s best practice,’ we need to be in dialogue with the world,” said Rodney Gillett, the head of the English Language Programs at RMIT Vietnam. Mr Gillett attended this year’s CamTESOL conference, participating in regional leadership forums as well as teaching workshops. He was impressed with what he saw.
“RMIT Vietnam's presenters were phenomenal,” Gillett said. “Their expertise is a major asset to our university, as well as to the region and the profession as a whole.”
RMIT Vietnam presenters at the 2013 CamTESOL conference:
Rheanne Anderson – “Start as you mean to finish: Five top tips for an effective, stress-free classroom”
Adam Corrall – “Liberate your listening: An out of classroom approach”
Jason Costa – “Englishcentral.com: The ultimate online EFL independent learning tool”
Danny Green – “Tech reflection: Using Google Apps in post-task reflection”
Travis Henry – “Encouraging reflection using task-based learning”
Heather Swenddal – “I do that? Exposing ESOL teacher habitus for professional learning”
Joel Swenddal – “'Talking' with texts in L2 reading”
Fiona Wiebusch – “Increasing teacher talk time? Enhancing TESOL professional learning communities through social media and online tools”