TESOL Arabia Conference, 14th – 16th March 2013, Dubai

Check this out: three talks by Kurt Kohn at TESOL Arabia [http://tesolarabia.org/conference/]

1st Featured session, Thursday 14th March 12.30-1.15, Crystal Ballroom A

My presentation will be guided by the overall assumption that e-learning can play an innovative and powerful supporting and enhancing role in foreign language learning and teaching – provided, however, pedagogic exploitation proceeds from a sound understanding of the HUMAN nature of the needs and processes involved. With this orientation in mind, I will first sketch out key principles and requirements of language learning and teaching, with a special focus on communicative and social constructivist models. I will then briefly trace the evolution of computer technologies – from multimedia to internet to web 2   and analyze their potential for language learning and teaching purposes. In this context, I will touch on issues of learner and teacher autonomy, authenticity, and collaboration. In terms of pedagogic implementation I will emphasize the concept of blended language learning, including its more recent revival in the guise of the ‘flipped classroom’ approach. Case studies from European projects will be used to demonstrate pedagogic solutions involving the e-learning platform Moodle, wiki collaboration and Skype.

2nd Featured session, Friday 15th March 11.00-11.45, Crystal Ballroom A

In my presentation, I will focus on the roots of intercultural communicative competence in ordinary everyday communication. I will first trace the development of models of communicative competence from Hymes (1972) to Canale & Swain (1980) and Leung (2004). Against this background, I will introduce the social-constructivist “My English” condition (Kohn 2011) according to which learners acquire English by developing their own versions of it in processes of individual and collaborative creative construction. I will then discuss the nature of non-native speaker English from the perspective of ownership in a globalized world of communication seemingly torn between foreign language learners’ orientation towards Standard English and the requirements of communication in English as a lingua franca (ELF). In their attempt to establish a ‘third space’ of intercultural communication, lingua franca users of English are faced with the challenge of learning to explore and trust their own non-native speaker creativity in collaborative processes of accommodation and meaning negotiation. As an illustration I will use examples from an ELF corpus of critical incident discussions.

Masterclass in ELT, Saturday 16th March 11.00-11.45, Emerald Room

I will first give a brief overview of descriptive corpus linguistics and the exploitation of descriptive corpora for pedagogic purposes within the framework of data-driven learning. Following a critical evaluation from a cognitive discourse perspective, I will then argue for a pedagogic corpus approach in which corpus conceptualization and design are vitally shaped by the pedagogic orientation itself. This concerns in particular pedagogic motivation of corpus content development, including corpus annotation with pedagogically relevant thematic and linguistic categories, content enrichment to facilitate authentication, as well as online searches beyond the familiar concordances. The approch will be illustrated with reference to copora available from the EU project “BACKBONE – Corpora for Content and Language Integrated Learning”. The BACKBONE corpora contain video interviews in English, German, French, Polish, Spanish and Turkish as well as in European manifestations of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF); they are freely available for non-commercial educational use. Moodle-based pilot courses will be deployed to demonstrate how BACKBONE search results can be used to facilitate individual and collaborative learning activities in blended learning settings.

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