Flying the WSE Flag at the TESOL Conference in Seoul, Korea
One of the best ways to find out what’s new in English teaching and to raise awareness of Wall Street English and what we’re about is to present a paper at one of the many international teaching conferences – particularly ones in countries where we have a significant presence.
So the recent Korea TESOL conference was a ‘natural’ for us, especially given the theme of the conference: Focus on Fluency. The conference was very well attended, with a lively crowd of over 1000 delegates from all over the Far East, mostly teachers of English to adults, and in our paper Simon Buckland presented some research which Wall Street English International have carried recently into teachers’ assessments of students’ fluency. We found that, although our teachers are totally committed to the importance of fluency scores and of communicating them to students, there was some doubt about what exactly they were measuring. The scores seemed to go up with students’ levels – though most teachers agreed that it’s possible even for Survival students to use their limited English fluently.
Another interesting finding was that the scores were much more variable in China than in other countries. When we also looked at the advice which teachers were giving to students, this turned out to be mostly about confidence – which was a big theme of the Korea conference too. Asian students in general are often afraid to ‘speak out’ for fear of making mistakes and being judged, and teachers have to put a lot of effort into supporting students’ self-confidence. Everyone who attended the WSE presentation agreed that confidence was the single most important factor contributing to fluency in English.
Most people attending the conference had heard of Wall Street English, but they don’t necessarily associate us with research or contributing to the debate on key issues within English learning, so it was pleasure to make a contribution towards correcting this impression. We’ve been carrying out a lots of exciting research recently, into fluency, efficacy and study times to reach key milestones, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the international English teaching and learning community over the months and years to come, via conferences, blogs, social media and the full panoply of today’s communication channels. Our aim is to establish WSE in people’s minds as thought leaders in the field. Find out more on our blog: www.wallstreetenglish.com/blog
Going back to the Korea conference, there were a lot of ideas to take away of relevance to us at Wall Street English. The keynote address was given by the world-famous Stephen Krashen, whose ideas on second language learning were so influential on developing Our Method. Here are a couple of choice quotes from Professor Krashen:
- “comprehensible and compelling input is the key to successful language acquisition – motivation takes care of itself.” → That’s what we do at WSE in the Multimedia.
- “Don’t force yourself to try to be perfect. You’re not being judged – people just want to understand what you’re saying.” → A great message for shy students who are ‘blocked’ by fear.
Elsewhere in the conference, some interesting ideas were presented for possible social clubs: digital storytelling (where groups of students work together to create short animations using simple software), and ‘mini-United Nations’ debates.
A great success, in short – and the caravan rolls on, this time to Paris, where Simon is again presenting the Wall Street English fluency research at the French TESOL conference on November 17th.