New Trends in English Teaching and Learning

By: Mr. Mom Pheng

The 5th Annual International Conference on TESOL, concerning the New Trends in English Teaching and Learning, was held from August 28th to August 29th, 2014 at SEAMEO RETRAC, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The conference was intended to create a forum for professionals in English language teaching (ELT) to share and discuss research findings, experiences, and practical and theoretical issues related to the teaching of English to learners of different backgrounds, levels, interests and motives.

The plenary sessions illustrated two pieces of common understanding. First, that English is a global language used for communication, business study and research. And second, that teacher support, and curriculum development play a vital role in enhancing student learning outcomes. In addition, Professor Rod Ellis from the University of Auckland asserted that the types of tasks should vary according to different types of learners.

Dr. Dararat Khampusaen, from Thailand, gave a presentation entitled, “English Language and Student Mobility in Cross Border Education.” She argued that English tends to be a working language rather than a standard one, as the purpose of learning a language is to communicate. Professor Rod Ellis also jumped into the conversation, encouraging the participants to have their students exposed to English outside the classroom as much as possible.

Dr. Nith Bunlay from Cambodia presented a topic on, “Policy Initiative for Integration of English Language for Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP) Curriculum into Cambodian Higher Education Institutions”. He explained that some higher educational institutions are planning to run ESAP, so that students can study both English and working skills necessary for the needs of the current labor market. It seems that the purpose of a learning a language is more than just to communicate, but also gain practical skills.

At the parallel sessions, each presenter shared their research topic and findings:
Dr. Jessie Barrot, who looked at the effects of com
bining isolated and integrated form-focused instruction on developing students’ productive skills, discovered that students in the treatment group performed better in writing than students in the control group; however, speaking performance of the students in both groups was somehow similar. It is possible that students in the treatment group improved their writing because they had more opportunities to practice and receive feedback.

Dr. Ha Nguyen demonstrated the employment of the WebQuest Model for Professional Development. “WebQuest was an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to use learners’ time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners’ thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation,” (Nguyen cited in Dodge, 2001). She introduced her learning website in which she created a blog and had her students learn and interact via the blog.

Mr. OM Soryong from Cambodia presented a very interesting topic on, “Using Humor: The Spice of Effective Teaching”. He stressed that a sense of humor can be used in situations and stories relevant to the subject matter and surroundings. However, “Humor must not be humiliating,” he warned.
To sum up, the topics of the conference involved research and ICT approaches. Throughout the workshop, Professor Rod Ellis strongly motivated the participants from Cambodia and Vietnam to work hard to improve ELT. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, there was little interaction between participants and presenters during the conference.