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Affiliate News: February 2010

Affiliate News (February 2009) Conference Reports & Articles: 4th Annual Affiliate MATE-TESOL Haiti Conference for EFL Teachers

by User Not Found | 11/11/2011

4th Annual Affiliate MATE-TESOL Haiti Conference for EFL Teachers, June 26-27, 2008

Francois Vilmenay, President, MATE-TESOL Haiti

The National Conference for Teachers of English, held on June 26-27, 2008, at the Haitian-American Institute, is an important event on the MATE_TESOL Haiti conference calendar.

The TESOL-Haiti conference in Port-au-Prince was well received with many positive comments on topics ranging from the variety of sessions available to the opportunities of meeting others in the field from across Haiti. Organizing a national conference, indeed, takes a great deal of time, energy, and many volunteer hours. To the organizers of the conference, the many volunteers, and MATE-TESOL, our heartfelt thanks.

The conference, for which the theme was “Sharing Teaching and Learning Experiences in a Fast-Growing World,” tried to offer a selection of sessions so that different needs and interests would be addressed. The structure of the program allowed for a mixture of small- and large-group discussions, presentations, and workshops. The latter encouraged participation and gave participants an opportunity to discuss issues based on their own experience.

Some of the presentations focused on collaborative learning, how to exploit Internet resources for teaching and practicing listening comprehension, pronunciation, methods and methodology, competency-based English as a foreign language instruction and assessment, and interactive grammar.

This year’s MATE-TESOL Haiti national conference was jointly organized by MATE and the Haitian-American Institute with sponsorship by the Office of Public Diplomacy, U.S. Embassy, TESOL, and IATEFL, and hosted about 150 participants from throughout the country and region.

Francois Vilmenay, the president of MATE-TESOL Haiti; Mingot Davis, treasurer; Shelley Wong, the president of TESOL; Gina Lundi, assistant program coordinator; and Herve Alcindor, vice president.

We were privileged this year to have Dr. Shelley D. Wong as our special guest and keynote speaker. Over 150 attendees paid keen attention to Dr. Wong’s plenary entitled “Dialogic Pedagogy: Sharing Teaching and Learning Experiences in a Fast-Growing World.” In her presentation, Dr. Wong raised some pertinent questions such as, how can we provide opportunities for our students to use English in their daily lives? How can we move from dialogues, scripts, and simplified readings to authentic materials? How can our students use language for real purposes? She introduced dialogic approaches to teaching English to speakers of other languages, exploring four features of dialogic pedagogy: learning in community, problem posing, learning by doing, and knowledge for who; then she provided examples of activities and assignments that enable students to become active communities of learners.

One of the highlights of the Friday morning program was Dr. Wong’s workshop entitled “Activity Theory in a Fast-Growing World.”Some of the pertinent questions that were raised and hotly debated follow: How can we learn from life? How can we learn from practice and reflections? How can students' voices be amplified through learning by doing which leads to humanization, using the terms of Confucius? How can students’ command of the language be used for advocacy and social justice?

The two-day conference ended at 5:15 pm and following the closing remarks, the Kool-P band, a musical group, entertained the audience for about an hour.

On a personal note, it was a great privilege to have had the opportunity to chair such an important event, to bring together teachers of English of diverse linguistic backgrounds from across the nation, and to provide opportunities for them to network.

All in all, the participants were uplifted and the majority, based on their comments, expressed the desire to attend such a conference biannually instead of on a yearly basis. It was a memorable educational event indeed!