Span Blog

New Perspectives to Teaching and Learning
By Francis Xavier
| Category: Education

It was my first visit ever to the United States of America. I was excited to travel from India to the land of opportunities and resources. Through the Regional English Language Office (RELO), U.S. Embassy, New Delhi, I received the grant from the U.S. Department of State to participate in the TESOL 2018 Convention that was held from March 26 to 30, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. As a trainer of the English Access Microscholarship Program, I got this opportunity to participate in workshops on issues and practices in English language teaching and interact with well-known experts from all over the world.


On Sunday, March 25, I arrived in Chicago around 3.30 p.m. It was exhilarating to breathe the chill breeze of the windy city when I stepped out of the O’Hare International Airport.


Traveling from a region where there are only three seasons—hot, hotter and hottest—a temperature of 6° C was awfully cold for me and I had to wear layers of clothes to keep myself warm.


The Conference Venue: McCormick Place, Chicago

I went to the conference venue at McCormick Place a little earlier to spend the day meeting with different participants and to learn more about TESOL activities. It was so heartwarming to see people greet each other, pickup friendly chats to share their expectations and listen to the others’ teaching-learning experiences. I could sense a different world around me. At the reception for new members and first time attendees in the evening, I had the chance to interact with teachers and students from different parts of the world. For the first time, I felt that there was so much to learn and experience beyond my classroom.


A Wide Range of Topics

There were more than 6,000 participants and hundreds of parallel sessions, presentations or discussions on a wide range of topics and research areas scheduled to take place during the conference days. It is hard to choose sometimes when you have so much on your plate. Yet, I concentrated mostly on attending sessions, workshops, discussions or presentations that focused on Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), curriculum design for ESL, and communicative teaching methodologies (CLT) as these areas are closely linked to the Access curriculum. My only priority was to collect as much information as possible in terms of brochures, booklets and books.


AE Teacher Program Alumni Meet

At the convention, there were opportunities to meet a few fellow Access teachers from all over the globe. We all had a meeting with Curtis Chan and other personnel from the U.S. Department of State. There was so much sharing about the benefits of the online courses that we had pursued through AE Teacher Program. Indeed, a great deal of networking of Access teachers was taking place.    


The Electronic Village

As I was very interested in integrating technology into teaching and learning in English classrooms, I had spent most of the time at Electronic Village trying to have hands-on experiences on using different educational tools and web resources for effective teaching and learning. The sessions were complementary to the learning I had from the online course with Iowa State University through the AE Teacher program: “Using Educational Tools in English Classroom.”


Books and Publishers

There were numerous publishers and booksellers who had their stalls with latest publications on a variety of topics and tons of resources related to ELT/ESL context. I could buy a few books related to ELT and my doctoral research and also interact with e-content providers on integrating their ESL software programs, if possible, in my workplace.


What I Learned From My Travel

The convention was in many ways an eye-opener for me as it had shown me a completely different academic environment. I was indeed exposed to the American academic culture which helped me learn many things related to teaching, research and curriculum preparation. I could identify that the conduct of the entire convention was highly systematic and professional. The presentations and discussions made simple the complexity of most of the ELT approaches, concepts and contents. The hands-on experience with certain methodologies and concepts, especially at Electronic village, boosted my confidence level.  I would not be exaggerating to say that I became empowered as an ESL teacher learning new concepts, methodologies and strategies that are not available currently in India. The visit to Chicago to participate in TESOL Convention 2018 has opened incredible avenues for my professional development.


Francis Xavier is a trainer, U.S. Access Microscholarship Program, U.S. Consulate General Chennai. He is also an assistant professor of English at Loyola College, Chennai