Innovation & Agility
Teaching in uncertain times
19 June 2021
Motivating vocabulary learning autonomy with vocabulary notebooks.
Teaching in uncertain times has exposed the need for learners to develop their own language learning strategies now more than ever and vocabulary learning autonomy is undoubtedly a key area for our learners. For instance, when making the transition from general to academic English, such as when studying for the IELTS test, the one area many students fall short is with their vocabulary range and accuracy.
This workshop aims to provide participants with strategies for introducing and exploiting vocabulary notebooks in class to both engage and empower students to become independent vocabulary learners outside of class. The vocabulary notebooks used require learners to record items at different levels of word knowledge (e.g. pronunciation, meaning, example use, collocation) and a series of engaging in-class activities will be introduced that each focus on a different aspect of these levels. These activities can be used intermittently throughout a course to promote to learners the importance of repeated exposure and depth of word knowledge when learning new words autonomously. Participants will be involved in trying out the activities and will have the opportunity to share their own ideas and observations in the session.
Philip Morris, (BA (Hons), CELTA) is an English teacher at RMIT International University in Vietnam, currently teaching at the Danang campus. He has ten years’ experience teaching in Vietnam in various locations with a wide range of levels, ages and course types. He has also spent time teaching in Portugal and Ecuador. He is currently undertaking a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University of Nottingham, UK.
Meaningful pronunciation activities in the online classroom
In 2020, educators at SEUP began to notice a decrease in the amount and quality of pronunciation feedback that students were getting from their teachers during the ERT online period. Some students were experiencing technical difficulties that made being vocally involved and getting teacher feedback on their pronunciation more difficult while other students simply seemed to become more reserved. To help address the issue, SEUP educators researched ways to achieve the learning objective of giving all students an opportunity for meaningful feedback on their pronunciation in online classrooms.
With this objective in mind, one potential solution has been found by combining two basic and easy to use education technology tools that allow students to check the accuracy of their utterances themselves.
Participants will leave this workshop with a basic knowledge of how to create digital pronunciation quizzes using Office 365/Google Forms and speech recognition capabilities in their students’ smartphones. These quizzes can be used in both online and face-to-face to provide meaningful feedback on student pronunciation.
Keith Howard (MA, TESOL) is a technology enthusiast with an eye on the future. As an educator at SEUP, he has taken it upon himself to explore the integration of innovative technological tools into language education settings for online and face-to-face environments. Keith enjoys exploring new ways that technology can be used to create positive classroom experiences for students and teachers alike.
When not thinking about tech or teaching his students, you will find him spending time with his wife and son.
Instant Messaging for Student Support and Engagement
An unexpected benefit of online teaching during COVID-19 has been the increase in digital communication between teachers and students. Instant messaging, in particular, has been an effective way for teachers and students to communicate inside and outside of the classroom. Since this has become the primary means of communication for so many of our students, it has had a positive effect on the student-teacher relationship as we are now ‘meeting’ them in a manner they are comfortable and familiar with. It has also developed beyond just texting- now including things like poll functions, gifs, reactions to messages, etc.
Teacher-student interactions including materials sharing, wellbeing and attendance check-ins, behaviour management, and online meetings increase in quality and quantity when instant messaging is the primary means of communication. Student-student interactions like group work, peer support, and collaborative tasks are also well-supported by instant messaging. If utilised correctly, it allows you to turn their overuse of phones into a learning tool rather than a distraction.
In this workshop, participants will practice and reflect on the different uses of instant messaging from online teaching, to face to face class use, to communication outside of class. Activities will include a look at best practices, looking at both in class and outside class uses of instant messaging, and the creation of message templates to take away and use for future communications.
Wilmie Van Schalkwyk, is an Educator in the School of English and University Pathways at RMIT Vietnam. She completed her bachelor’s in language studies, and followed it up with a PGCE in language teaching. After deciding to teach abroad she completed a TEFL-YL and later a CELTA in order to teach older students. She has been teaching for almost 8 years, 3.5 of which in Vietnam, to a wide variety of ages and learners. Before coming to Vietnam, she taught in South Africa, Austria and the Maldives. Wilmie is interested in the development of teaching practices in an ever changing world and in finding ways to engage with students that go beyond the classroom.
Independent learning opportunities in the online classroom
It is difficult for teachers to encourage independent learning in any classroom but the online classroom presents even more difficulties as teachers often cannot “see” what students are doing. Experience shows that, with some innovation and agility, the online classroom actually presents more opportunities for encouraging autonomous and asynchronous learning. Furthermore, these techniques and tools can be adapted to better encourage independent learning in a traditional face-to-face classroom environment. This workshop will share tips for encouraging autonomous and asynchronous learning opportunities in the online teaching environment (which can also be adapted to the face to face classroom). It will also introduce some useful online tools that teachers can utilise when teaching online or face-to-face. Participants will leave the session with practical ideas of how to better encourage and develop independent learning in the classroom (whether online or face-to-face). Furthermore, they will be introduced to online tools that can be immediately used in their own teaching contexts with little to no set-up.
James Henry Barnett is a Senior Educator and Professional Learning Specialist in the School of English and University Pathways (SEUP) at RMIT Vietnam. He holds a Masters of Applied Linguistics. He has a keen interest in supporting the professional learning of colleagues and in mentoring others. He is contactable at email@example.com learning, materials writing, grammar instruction and, more broadly, second language acquisition and how it informs classroom practice.
Teaching and learning with SkELL: Familiarizing language teachers with a user-friendly online concordancing technology
One of the challenges of our current teaching and learning context is the purposeful use of technology in face-to-face or online language classrooms. SkELL, a concordancing technology which is the focus of this workshop, is an innovative and user-friendly digital tool that responds to our learners’ need for more effective teaching and learning of English vocabulary. By searching a corpus of everyday language, learners are provided with contextualized examples and authentic forms to encourage discovery and noticing of language meanings, uses and patterns. The purpose of this workshop is to educate participants on SkELL’s design and use and to showcase its application in interactive classroom activities that participants can take away and adapt to their own contexts.
Matthew Rossman (BA, LLB, Delta) is an Educator with the School of English and University Pathways at RMIT Vietnam. He has teaching experience in a number of different countries including Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica and Vietnam. He has lived in Ho Chi Minh City since 2010. He is currently working on his master’s degree in digital technology, communication and education.
Teacher-led wellbeing in uncertain times
“Wellbeing” at RMIT School of English and University Pathways (SEUP) consists of staff engagement, community engagement, and health-focused activities. Staff wellbeing was a primary concern for SEUP during the first phase of online remote working and the multiple phases of remote working transitions have meant that wellbeing initiatives have required flexibility. Early in 2020, a Wellbeing Working Group was established to address the changing wellbeing needs of our team.
The formation of the Wellbeing Working Group allowed SEUP to pivot from face-to-face top-down wellbeing initiatives to fully online omnidirectional engagement and peer support. The use of social media and communication platforms has enabled a more inclusive, connected, and interactive wellbeing ‘community of interest’ across SEUP.
The Wellbeing Working Group collaborated to run nation-wide, online staff engagement activities as well as community support initiatives. This workshop is aimed at anyone in language teaching organizations interested in teacher wellbeing, Takeaways will include resources for wellbeing initiatives to employ in participants’ own contexts, and tips applicable to their own workplace wellbeing.
Mary Perez is the Teen Program National Coordinator, SGS at RMIT University Vietnam. She completed her MA in TESOL at Durham University with a focus on discourse in interdisciplinary contexts. She has been teaching in Vietnam for over 6 years to a wide variety of ages and learners. She has presented on different topics including alternative approaches to grammar and connected at VietTESOL and CamTESOL. She has also previously presented at Teacher Talks. Her interests lie in developing student-centered activities that are tailored to students’ needs and motivate their use of English
May Barbree is the Learning and Teaching Lead, Hanoi at RMIT University. She has a degree in Education and is Cambridge DELTA qualified. A teacher for over 10 years, she has worked in universities in four countries, and as a Teacher Trainer for several language teaching organizations. She has presented at the “Future of Education” conference, JALT Teacher Journeys, and various other English Language Teaching conferences with focuses on Flipped Learning, differentiation, student and teacher wellbeing, and pronunciation. This is her second Teacher Talks with RMIT Vietnam.
Positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement: how to impact learner engagement
This session will cover the use of PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement), a key framework within positive psychology, as a means of increasing student engagement. Oishi et al (2007) reported that happy students have higher grade point averages, miss fewer classes and report higher levels of conscientiousness” (Helgesen, 2016). According to Seligman (2018) people who utilize PERMA thrive both individually and in a group setting. Although positive psychology is a flourishing field, the use of it in classrooms is regarded as relatively new and innovative. Positive psychology interventions provide learners with tools to increase resilience and agility in a world where education is rapidly changing.
Participants will gain an understanding of PERMA, how it can be used in the classroom and the impact it has on learner performance and engagement.
Participants will leave this session with PERMA-based tools and activities that can be used in a classroom setting to increase student engagement.
Jamila Ahmed is a Learning Success Coordinator at Student Academic Success at RMIT. Prior to this, she was an Educator with the School of English for University Pathways. She has taught English and other subjects in New Zealand and Italy and worked within education for over 15 years. Currently her interests lie in how to use positive psychology interventions and the role of emotions for increasing teacher and student engagement and satisfaction, and also understanding the role of emotions to become more effective.
The importance of review: Practical activities for the classroom
Often in teaching we notice a lack of connection between the students and the material presented. There is regularly a disconnect after a break, for example over the weekend. The purpose of this workshop is to develop methods of involvement, from warmer exercises, through review exercises, culminating in idea development and interest generation. This workshop may be especially pertinent for teachers dealing with reticent classes or classes in which students are uncommunicative, or heavily reliant on their first language. The teachers will take away: a rationale for reviewing and connecting lessons, a methodology on how to develop simple review materials, and practical experience putting review materials together, and developing warmer activities that would initiate interest and lead, comfortably to a productive communicative lesson.
David Stuart Oakley (MA, PGDip, CELTA) has been a Senior Educator at the Saigon South campus of RMIT for several years. He has 20 years Teaching Experience, specialising in teacher training at Nottingham University and taught scientists and specialists in Poland at an Institute of Technology in Radom. His areas of Interest include: Memory development, sensory and kinaesthetic effects on recall, Memory Palace Technique, personalisation in education.