2010 English Australia Conference
More than 450 delegates attended the 2010 English Australia Conference, the 23rd such event organised by English Australia. Teachers, teacher trainers, managers, marketers, student support staff, students, academics, representatives of regulatory, peak and government bodies as well as suppliers of information and services to the ELICOS industry came mainly from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the USA to take advantage of a unique opportunity to learn with and from each other in a full, rich and stimulating program.
Click here for PowerPoint presentations that have been submitted by presenters.
Contexts of ELICOS
The conference was opened by the Hon. Bruce Baird, who chaired the recent government review of the Education Services to Overseas Students (ESOS) Act. Mr Baird (right) spoke about the importance of international education to Australia's economy as well as business and the community, and recommended that the tourism and international education industries work together more closely in the future to 'provide better experiences (for students) and enhance our international reputation'. Baird then outlined how the updated ESOS Act would:
With the international education industry experiencing a 'perfect storm' of factors resulting in a downturn in student numbers, many conference sessions and presentations focused on maintaining standards and providing up-to-the-minute information as well as identifying challenges and sharing strategies for managing in the current context.
Some key sessions:
- updates on government policy and the regulatory environment (Austrade, AEI/DEEWR, NEAS);
- English Australia Forums where industry leaders, marketers (with Austrade) and academic leaders had opportunities to get together with their peers and identify ways forward;
- an outline of current agent perceptions of Australia;
- examples of how colleges are using outcomes from the English Australia ELT student barometer research project to improve ELICOS delivery and student satisfaction levels;
- a workshop on the new Good Practice Standards for English Language Proficiency for International Students in Australian Universities.
Iain Watt, AEI's Minister Counsellor in Beijing, was joined by Quentin Stevenson-Perks from Austrade to deliver the third annual China Update, outlining factors influencing agents and students in their choice of where to study as well as trends in visa applications and student enrolments. Quentin discussed Austrade's plans for marketing in China.
Paul Murray from Tourism Australia and Peter Ovenden from the Backpacker Tourism Advisory Panel shared their perspectives on how the tourism and education sectors could leverage off each other to promote Australia as a destination for young travelers/students.
Teaching and learning - inside the classroom
As always, what happens in and around the classroom is central to the conference and there were many presentations that addressed the 'big picture' of learning and teaching and highlighted current issues and approaches in ELICOS.
We had some terrific plenary presentations. Professor Jun Liu continued his predictions of the future of English language teaching, reminding us to be prepared to take advantage of new opportunities. Associate Professor Janet Zadina (right) from Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, outlined how our brains change as we learn, reminding us of just what an amazing organ the human brain is. Professor John Hawkins provided details of the Cambridge English Profiles project to identify criterial features of spoken and written English at different levels of the CEFR.
E-learning was a key theme this year. The pre-conference workshop, sponsored by Pearson Australia, featured conference plenary speaker Gavin Dudeney, award-winning e-learning author and Co-Director of The Consultants-E, an organisation offering a range of online courses on e-learning. Gavin and Mark Pegrum from the University of Western Australia described the 'digital native' generation and the ways young people study, learn and engage with media and learning materials and provided participants with hands-on experience with new technologies and collection of practical teaching ideas they could immediately incorporate into their classrooms. Gavin also gave a plenary address on digital literacies, and a number of conference sessions dealt with helping teachers engage with technology and with different ways technology and digital media can be used in the classroom.
A colloquium was held to present the outcomes of projects undertaken for the pilot English Australia / Cambridge ESOL Action Research in ELICOS Program implemented this year. The six teacher-researchers outlined their main findings and answered questions on their projects, which covered different approaches to motivation; extensive reading at different levels; the role of questions in the development of speaking skills; and the use of digital dictionaries.
A 'GrEAt Debate' was implemented this year. A panel of ELT experts, convened by Ana Bratkovic from NEAS, outlined their views on whether the CELTA was adequate preparation for a teacher new to ELICOS - and the audience agreed it was, but as a starting point only!
English Australia was also very pleased to welcome Dr Hee-Kyung Lee, representing the Korean Association of Teachers of English (KATE). Dr Lee presented a paper on the relationship between L1 and L2 writing performance, taking L2 topic difficulty into consideration.
Other sessions focused on EAP, pronunciation, assessment, classroom management and aspects of language. We were challenged to consider our approaches to teaching English as an international language, and our concepts of the 'Asian learner'.
The complete ELICOS experience - outside the classroom
The opening plenary speaker was Steve Simpson (left), who shared his concept of 'unwritten ground rules' (UGRs) that may operate in an organisational culture, providing food for thought and a handy catchphrase for the remainder of the conference!
There were presentations on encouraging student inclusion and implementing and supporting accommodation services. For marketers, a number of sessions covered issues such as preparing a marketing plan and working with agents.
Humour and inspiration were brought to the conference in the final plenary session by comedian Anh Do, who shared his experiences with delegates.
Social & networking opportunities - recognition and celebration
Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke, MBE, welcomed delegates to the Welcome Reception, sponsored by ETS TOEFL®, which provided delegates with the opportunity to catch up with colleagues from across the industry.
English Australia Council members Anne Holmes, Margot Tucker, Marion Bagot and Lawrence Burness, who were standing down, were recognised with a certificate of appreciation presented by new EA Chair David Matthews. Outgoing EA Chair Seamus Fagan was presented with a certificate of appreciation and an Aboriginal bark painting in recognition of his outstanding 17 years' involvement with the English Australia Council, the last six of these as Chair.
The Gala Conference Dinner was held in the Princeton Room in the beautiful grounds of Bond University. This year, six English Australia awards were presented, including a special English Australia Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Service to the ELICOS Industry presented to Christine Bundesen for her tremendous contribution to ELICOS. It was an evening of fun and celebration for the ELICOS industry, with the excitement of the awards presentations matched only by the enthusiasm of the guests on the dance floor!
Delegates also had the opportunity to network and share the challenges and successes in their roles with their peers at the two Networking Breakfasts - one for Directors of Studies and the other for Administration/Marketing/Student Support Staff.