This year’s NELTA conference began with the two powerful key speeches;
1) Dr. Richard Smith – Transformations in ELT – Contexts, Agents and Opportunities
2) Prof. Dr. Jodi Crandal–Preparing Global Citizens: The Role of Content-BasedLanguage Instruction (for English language instruction at all levels)
Dr. Smith in his presentation talked about how ELT has undergone massive transformation and he highlighted the key milestones of the shitfs in the ELT paradigms. One of the important messages that Dr. Smith brought in his presentation was the shift in the teaching methodology. He made endeavors to communicate that talking about the single generalized method of teaching would be irrelevant at present context because it is the teachers who invent and create the methods by themselves based on the local contexts and the need of the learners at the local level. Rather than just following the approaches and methods from the BANA countries, it would be wise for the teachers to look at those methods and see how they can judiciously use them with the modifications and changes to suit their learners and the local context. Collaboration among the teachers from different settings would thus, produces appropriate methodology for the teachers. The methodological inventions are, therefore, bottom-up and they are led by the teachers rather than top-down as it was in the past. He concluded the session with a thoughtful question
“How can you bring about appropriate transformations in your ELT practice, in your own context, as an agent – at least partially — of your own destiny, and what opportunities do you see for supporting your students’ as well as your own development?”
The second key speech, which was given by Dr. Crandal, highlighted the role of content integration in the EFL/ESL materials. She shared that the global citizens of the current world need the 21st century skills and the EFL/ESL classes should include the materials from the wide array of disciplines so that the language teaching becomes not only lively and meaningful for the learners but also expose the students to the materials they will encounter in their real world after graduation. She also presented how language and content can be integrated together and shared some examples of the collaborative efforts made by language and content teachers to implement content integrated language teaching and learning in class.
So the take-away of the conference from these sessions is that it is the teacher who is responsible to make the methodological decisions in the local context to suit the learners’ need, interest, culture, their native language and so on. Collaboration with other teachers at the local, regional, national and international level will promote mutual learning building upon the successes in different countries and enhance professional harmony among the practitioners. Similarly, the integration of language with the content area subjects will promote thinking skills among the learners and the learning will be authentic for our students.