“Living and Learning in a Brave New World”

“Living and Learning in a Brave New World”

Hülya Görür-Atabaş

The 31st TESOL Greece Annual International Convention was held between March 12-14, 2010, in Athens.

Under the umbrella theme of “Living and Learning in a Brave New World”, the Convention brought together professionals from 36 different countries, providing an opportunity to learn, reflect and exchange views and ideas.

Some of the key concepts that were highlighted in these three days were the trend towards more interdisciplinary collaboration, the role of social media networks in form of online educational communities, motivational aspects for both learners and teachers, and ways of dealing with the immense increase of knowledge due to developments in techno-science and the question of originality.

My presentation, entitled ?The Copy Paste Reflex?, addressed the issue about originality, especially within academic writing which is a skill that is usually met with discomfort and uncertainty by learners. Thus it is not surprising when learners resort to taking various ?shortcuts?, such as adopting other writer?s ideas/works, and thus committing plagiarism. In my presentation, I offered an alternate approach on how we can assist our learners in gaining a sound understanding of what it means to ?plagiarize?; that codes of conduct, and various inexplicable rules and punishments are not the only way to prevent plagiarism; and that, in collaboration with our learners, we as educators can do things that have a more long-term effect and benefit on our learners in this respect.

One of the most memorable presentations, however, was that of Janet Zadina, college teacher turned Assistant Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of New Orleans. We were taken on a tour of a real brain via MRI brain scan to see how learning takes place in the brain through amazing real life visuals. We were given the opportunity to see for ourselves what actually happens in a language learner?s brain when we attempt to teach vocabulary, or when we ask learners to employ certain skills, thus giving us insight (literally!) into the causes of the difficulties language learners face at times. The most compelling part of Dr. Zadina?s talk, however, were the visuals that she presented towards the end of her talk clearly depicting the physical change (named as ?fired and wired?) that a language learner?s brain undergoes only after an effective 20-minute language input session. We are actually capable of physically changing our learner?s brains! A dream come true or ?

Comments (1)

DiannaApril 21st, 2010 at %I:%M %p

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

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