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  • Plenary and Featured Speakers

    Some of the confirmed speakers for the 13th Annual CamTESOL Conference on ELT are:

    Plenary Speaker    

    Dr. Dilin Liu

    Professor & Coordinator of the Applied Linguistics/ TESOL program, English Department
    The University of Alabama, USA

    Sponsored by:

     

     

    Main Conference Plenary Presentation
    New and Proven Effective Practices in Developing Learner Competency across Platforms"

    Learner competence consists of various components and may vary across platforms. The ability to use grammar and vocabulary appropriately and effectively constitutes arguably the most important aspect of learner competence across all platforms. Due to a lack of adequate focus on meaning and use, grammar and vocabulary instruction has so far been largely unengaging and ineffective, however. Inspired by contemporary linguistic theories and research findings, some new engaging and effective teaching practices have emerged in the past two decades. This speech focuses on how to enhance learner competence in grammar and vocabulary by introduces some new research/theory-inspired practices as well as some proven successful practices that have been tested by time. In this speech, I begin with a very brief overview of the new understandings about grammar and vocabulary learning and the principles involved. Then I introduce specific examples of engaging and effective teaching practices by focusing on difficult-to-learn/teach grammar and vocabulary usage issues, such as articles, parts of speech, prepositions, tense/aspect, and word collocations. The examples given should not only provide participants with ready-to-use activities but also help them reflect and innovate with new ideas about grammar and vocabulary teaching on their own. 

    Regional Research Symposium Plenary Presentation
    Research on grammar description and teaching: Current trends and future directions"

    The past two decades have witnessed a revived interest in grammar research and teaching thanks to significant new advancements in contemporary linguistic theories, such as cognitive linguistics, corpus linguistics, and systemic functional linguistics.  In addition to perennial issues in research about grammar instruction, such as whether, when, and how to teach grammar, current research has explored, as its focus, fundamental issues about grammar and its knowledge and acquisition. Such research has produced findings that challenge established traditional views about grammar rules being arbitrary and innate and about grammar being a rigid separate domain from vocabulary that is learned mainly as a formal system of abstract rules. This speech offers an overview of the major new foci in grammar research that treats grammar as a usage-based system motivated by our embodied experience and conceptualization, the methodologies used in such research, and the challenges involved. Specific examples will be given, particularly those from corpus- and cognitive-linguistics-based research studies. Future directions in research on grammar instruction will also be discussed. 


    Dilin Liu is Professor and Coordinator of the Applied Linguistics/TESOL program in the English Department at the University of Alabama. His research focuses on the description and teaching of English grammar and vocabulary using cognitive- and corpus-linguistic approaches. He has published extensively, including six books (five authored and one co-edited) and numerous journal articles and book chapters. One of his recent authored books is Describing and explaining grammar and vocabulary in ELT: Key theories and effective practices (Routledge, 2014). His articles have appeared in many leading international journals, such as Applied Linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics, ELT Journal, English for Specific Purposes, English Today, Foreign Language Annals, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Journal of English Linguistics, Language Teaching Research, Modern Language Journal, Research in the Teaching of English, Studies in Second Language Acquisition, TESOL Journal, and TESOL Quarterly. He has served on the editorial boards of ELT Journal, TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Journal, among others, as well as a reviewer for over twenty international journals and book publishers, such as Cambridge University Press, Palgrave-MacMillan, and Routledge.

         
    Plenary Speaker    

    Dr. Lawrence Zhang

    Professor of Linguistics-in-Education and Associate Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, New Zealand

     

    Sponsored by:

     

     

    Main Conference Plenary Presentation
    "Learner Agency and Metacognition as Organising Frameworks for Enhancing English Language Teaching and Learning: Person and Context in Praxis across Platforms"

    Language learning success, to a great extent, depends on learner agency. This is because agency is a prerequisite for learners to take action in order to take charge of their own learning (Gao, 2015). Following Ahearn’s (2001, p. 112) definition that agency is “the socioculturally mediated capacity to act” and  Duff’s (2012, p. 414) definition that agency is “people’s ability to make choices, take control, self-regulate, and thereby pursue their goals as individuals leading, potentially, to personal or social transformation”, I argue that the very essence of metacognition successfully captures the dynamics of how learners deploy strategies consciously in managing their learning process for achieving optimal outcomes as a way of exercising their agency. My purpose of discussing language learning through the dual lens of agency and metacognition is to respond to relatively recent criticisms against language learning/learner strategies (LLS) research (e.g., Dornyei, 2005; Ellis, 1994). LLS research was heralded by Stern and colleagues (Stern et al., 1975) and Rubin (1975). I would like to maintain these criticisms are partially correct due to the fact that earlier conceptualisations of LLS did not include agency or metacognition in explicit terms. I intend to contextualise my thinking in relation to how teachers take stock of what research has said about individual persons’ successful language learning and facets of their strategic engagement guided by their metacognition (Cohen & Griffiths, 2015; Oxford, 2014; Zhang, 2010). I posit that learner agency and metacognition can be dual lenses through which teacher and student effort for enhancing English language teaching and learning can be more productively examined (Zhang & Zhang, 2015). Pedagogical endeavours in the classroom and beyond can also be considered in praxis in relation to individual persons and specific contexts across various language learning and language use platforms. I conclude my plenary by showcasing how such repositioning can be typically utilised in real pedagogical practice by front-line teachers and students through a “metacognitively-scaffolded instructional framework” in teaching and learning various skills (e.g., listening, speaking, reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar) via different platforms (e.g., iPads, iPhones, the internet).

    Regional Research Symposium Featured Presentation
    “Task Complexity, Reasoning and Affective Variables in L2 Writing Production"

    There has been great interest in researching task complexity in L2 writing in recent years (Ong & Zhang, 2010, 2013). However, insufficient attention has been paid to how task complexity is interacting with other variables, especially numbers of reasoning and affective factors. Using Robinson’s Triadic Componential Framework (Robinson, 2007) as the theoretical basis, this research intends to fill the gap by reporting on how increasing numbers of elements and degrees of intentional reasoning would result in L2 writing production, specifically represented in the texts L2 students produce; it also examines the modulating effect of affective variables, especially motivation and anxiety, on L2 writing. A total of 40 upper-intermediate EFL learners were recruited as participants and they were asked to write a simple essay and a complex argumentative essay. They were also invited to complete a multidimensional writing motivational beliefs questionnaire and a writing anxiety questionnaire. Multiple measures were taken to capture the effects on complexity, accuracy, lexical diversity, and fluency (CALF) of task complexity, numbers of reasoning, and the affective factors on CALF. Implications of the study for task-based syllabus design and writing assessment will be discussed.


    Lawrence Jun Zhang, PhD, is a full Professor of Linguistics-in-Education and Associate Dean, Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland, New Zealand. His teaching includes supervising 16 fulltime PhD students in Applied Linguistics at the moment and delivering courses in systemic functional linguistics in language education. His major interests are in learner metacognition and teacher education, with particular reference to EFL reading and writing. He has published extensively along these lines in leading SSCI-indexed international journals such as Applied Linguistics Review, Modern Language Journal, Language Awareness, Language & Education, Journal of Second Language Writing, English Today, System, Instructional Science, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, TESOL Quarterly, English for Academic Purposes, Asia Pacific Education Researcher, and British Journal of Educational Psychology. His recent co-edited books include Asian Englishes: Changing Perspectives in a Globalized World (Pearson Education, Singapore, 2012) and Language Teachers and Teaching: Global Perspective, Local Initiatives (Routledge, New York, 2014). He was the sole winner of the “Distinguished Research in TESOL Award” in 2011 for his article, “A dynamic metacognitive systems perspective on Chinese university EFL readers”, published in TESOL Quarterly (2010), 44(2). A Co-Editor of TESOL Quarterly (SSCI) and System (SSCI), he is also a current editorial board member of Applied Linguistics Review (SSCI), Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Journal of Second Language Writing (SSCI), Metacognition and Learning (SSCI),  Writing and Pedagogy, and RELC Journal. He is a member of the American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) and the TESOL International Association (TESOL) and is the past Secretary of the Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics (SAAL) and the current Secretary of the Applied Linguistics Association of New Zealand (ALANZ). In 2016, he was honoured with the recognition by the TESOL International Association (USA) with the award of  “50 at 50”, which acknowledged “50 Outstanding Leaders” around the globe in the profession of TESOL when the Association celebrated its 50th anniversary in Baltimore, MD, USA. In November 2016, he was successfully elected to the TESOL’s Board of Directors.

         
    Plenary Speaker    

    Dr. Marie Stevenson

    Applied Linguist and Educationalist
    University of Sydney, Australia

     

    Sponsored by:

    Regional Research Symposium Plenary Presentation
    "Reading Research"

    In contrast to writing and speaking, reading is an essentially internal activity, the product of which is a representation of the text that has been read in the mind of the reader. For this reason, much research – and in particular second language reading research - has traditionally been psycholinguistic in nature, focusing on gaining insight into the readers’ internal mental processes. However, in recent times reading research has broadened its focus by becoming more socially, culturally and multi-culturally oriented. Reflecting this trend, the term ‘multilingual literacy research’ (e.g. Fitzgerald, 2003) is currently sometimes used instead of ‘second language reading research’.

    In this presentation, I will give an overview of key issues and research areas in second language reading, and will provide examples of both psycholinguistic and socio-culturally oriented research. I will also consider methodological issues involved in researching reading, and will give practical advice on how to conduct reading research effectively. In particular, I will explore thinking aloud as a data collection technique.


    Marie Stevenson is an applied linguist and educationalist who has published widely on literacy - in particular, second language literacy – and her research interests cover diverse areas within this field, including second reading and writing processes; academic literacy; digital literacy; gender and literacy; and analysis of discourse and linguistic features of texts. Marie is also Co-editor of University of Sydney Papers in TESOL.

     

    Task Complexity, Reasoning and Affective Variables in L2 Writing Production



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