Yesterday was one of two conferences TESL NS will hold in 2015. Our small provincial teachers’ association only has somewhere around 150-200 members but in the 3.5 years I’ve been a member it’s been growing rapidly, not just in membership numbers but in range and scope of activities and vibrancy. It’s an exciting group to be a part of.
The TESL NS conferences are fun on a variety of levels. Socially, it’s fun to catch up with members of the tight-knit ESL community in the province, and the food is always AMAZING (thanks to the Halifax Immigrant Women’s Catering Group).
And then there are the talks! The English language teaching profession in the province of Nova Scotia has a very different make up than provinces like Ontario or BC. While in those provinces you have a combination of settlement English (due to high immigration numbers), general ESL (those cities being popular language tourism destinations) as well as EAP, Nova Scotia has a different landscape. The immigration and language tourism numbers are much lower in Nova Scotia, but we have a very high number of universities given the overall population, which means that a high percentage of English teachers in the province teach EAP, which in turn means lots of presentations at our conferences centre on the EAP teaching context.
Yesterday I saw three sessions. Kris Mitchell gave a talk on Natural Semantic Metalanguage, which was really interesting and relevant for any teacher who has struggled to define words for their students in class or wrestled with students’ use of sub-par dictionaries. David Packer made the case for the paragraph as the unit of meaning (as opposed to the sentence). He got us going with a lively discussion as to the role of creativity in the teaching of paraphrasing and paragraph writing. Finally, Tony Rusinak gave a report on his attendance at TESOL 2015 and shared his take on current topics and trends in ELT for those of us who couldn’t make it to Toronto in March.
This year’s big fall conference will be held in mid November.