Prof. Brian Tomlinson, UK
Activities for All
Every learner, and every class of language learners, is different. Even in classes where learners come from the same community and share the same first language, cultural heritage, and/or language learning experience, individuals may vary in proficiency, personality, language confidence, language aspiration, interests, motivation and preferred learning styles. Moreover, in some classes, learners differ in terms of physical and/or mental health, and the impact this has on their inclination and capacity for language learning. The truth is that each learner is different, and therefore no fixed set of materials can be effective in facilitating language acquisition for all. What is needed is positive differentiation in materials, which affords each teacher and learner opportunities to localize and personalize materials, and to make collective decisions about which texts and activities to use and how to use them. With this in mind, this talk puts forward a theoretical justification for developing differentiated materials and demonstrates how supported teacher and learner adaptation, choice of texts and activities, and the use of staging, can facilitate the use of ‘activities for all’.
Prof. Anne Burns, Australia
Exploring Diversity and Inclusivity in The English Language Classroom
The terms diversity and inclusivity have become more widespread in the field of ELT in recent years. However, they are concepts that are not necessarily easy to define, and also they may be used interchangeably. While they are related, they nevertheless have different implications for the English language classroom. The first part of this talk will explore these terms in more detail and consider what kinds of principles and practices might arise from these concepts for English language teaching and for teacher education. In the second part, illustrative case studies from Australian teachers investigating classroom practices to address student diversity and inclusivity will be provided. Overall, the talk will stimulate reflection on the following questions: How diverse are our classrooms in terms of students’ backgrounds and learning abilities? How do we cater for learner differences and ensure that learners feel included as an integral part of our practice?
Dr. Le Van Canh, Vietnam
Language Teacher Education for Diversity
There is a growing sense that language learners and language teaching contexts are complex and diverse while language teacher education has failed to equip teachers with the professional knowledge needed to deal with the complexity and diversity of the classroom. In this talk, I will first analyze the lessons taught by Vietnamese high school EFL teachers in an attempt to highlight the tensions between teacher education and the realities of the language classroom. Then, I will recommend how the knowledge base of second language teacher education should be reconceptualized to integrate the teacher as a learner, social contexts, and the pedagogical process. This reconceptualization is to develop in teachers the knowledge that will allow them to be effective teachers of their own students in their own teaching contexts.
Dr. Benedict Rowlett, Hong Kong
English Language Education, Gender and Sexuality: Taking Stock and Moving Forward
Recent research in the area of gender and sexuality has explored the role of queer perspectives in challenging the dominance of heteronormative practices in the English language classroom. This research investigates language classrooms as not only sites of social regulation, where non-normative identities are often silenced, but also of transformation, where new meaning-experiences can emerge via learners’ and teachers’ critical engagements with materials and activities. In this way, language classroom practices can (and should) provide spaces for participants to learn about issues of diversity and inclusivity, helping them with the competencies to negotiate differences by deconstructing hegemonic and regulatory orders of gender and sexuality. In reviewing this research, my talk will focus on some of the gaps, and therefore possible future directions in this area, to discuss how we, as ELT researchers/practitioners, may harness queer perspectives to access subjugated knowledges that highlight issues of diversity and inclusion in and beyond the classroom.
Dr. Jennifer Yphantides, Japan
Diversity and Inclusion of Learning Disabled Students in the EFL Classroom
Although it appears as if there has been an increase in students with mental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and with learning disabilities like dyslexia and dysgraphia, the higher numbers are in fact due to more recognition and better diagnostic tools. Numerous EFL teachers now have special needs students in their classrooms but are not adequately trained to accommodate their learning needs. The purpose of this session is threefold: (1) to provide attendees with a clear and concise explanation of the neurological basis of these disorders and how language learning is affected, (2) to help teachers notice and support students who do not have or want to disclose a formal diagnosis, and (3) to provide teachers with practical, concrete solutions for a variety of problems faced by learning disabled students in the EFL classroom. These include accommodations for group work, visual schedules, the development of personalized education plans, and buddy and teacher support for the acquisition of pragmatically appropriate language.
Dr. Thomas Nordström, Sweden
Supporting Teachers and Struggling Readers with Assistive Technology and Assessment-Based Instruction
Research has provided the global educational community with best practices for teaching students how to read, including interventions for students with mild to severe learning difficulties. Further, recent technological advancements have also made it possible to use text-to-speech and speech-to-text technologies in reading skills development. This talk is divided into two parts. Firstly, it presents a large-scale Swedish initiative called LegiLexi. LegiLexi aims to improve 1-3 grade students’ reading skills. It also enables teachers to assess student reading skills using a digital test-program on a tablet. Secondly, the talk focuses on using assistive reading technology in teaching secondary school students with learning difficulties. The talk provides examples of classroom-based interventions, discusses their design and explores the integration of assistive technologies into reading instruction.
Dr. Pornpimol Sukavatee, Thailand
Inclusive Education Reimagined: Language Learning Equity in the Digital Environment
Inclusive education, locally and globally, portrays the idea that all people have equal rights to access education at all levels with the same quality standards (UNESCO, 2008). In Thailand, learners with special needs are encouraged to partake in educational opportunities regardless of disability. The Ministry of Education supports learning equity for students with disabilities in both basic and higher education. As for language learners, the new paradigm of learning environment, known as the digital environment, can be a great agency to facilitate learning challenges. This presentation will focus on how technology assists English language learning of the physically-challenged learners in the inclusive classroom in Thailand. The inclusive English classroom and the models of instruction will be discussed. Finally, pedagogical aspects for English language teachers will be recommended to help foster a know-how in accommodating learners with special needs in the digital era.