All the conferences I have attended in the past 15 years or so have been the ones that focused on Asia related topics, not just those specific to Japanese. It was eye opening and fascinating to be amongst a variety of educators and scholars from so many different fields related to language acquisition. I felt like I was a kid in a candy store, since there were so many great presentations to choose from.
One of the most interesting presentations for me was on Portfolio. There were several related presentations during the conference, and I was able to attend a couple of them. I’ve been using portfolio in class, by having the students note their own mistakes for later review. Although I knew portfolio comes in a variety of ways, I was not fully aware of online portfolio assessment before attending this convention. The presentation by the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) was particularly interesting to me. The concept of this portfolio is to have the students assess their own ability in the beginning and then compare their assessment towards the end of the class, making them aware of their own progress and also to set a goal for themselves. As a teacher, I tend to think that I know their level with tests and other assessments, but I think this is an interesting way to gain insight into students’ feelings, and how they see themselves as a language learner. I would like to implement this in the fall of 2011 in my advanced Japanese course to see if it helps my students set a goal in learning Japanese.
Another presentation that was interesting to me was by Noah Geisel from Denver East High School. Although most of the information I learned was not necessarily applicable for my class, it was refreshing to hear what it takes to teach high school students, and how creative he needs to be, or better put, how creative he is. Different sites that might be useful to the teachers here at Yale introduced at this presentation are: www.makebeliefscomix.com and www.superactioncomicmaker.com. These may be a little childish, but we know that since so many of our students are into anime, games, etc., it may not be a bad idea to introduce these types of sites to them as a tool to expand their language and imagination. Additional sites I found useful that were introduced in other presentations include: www.softpedia.com (software site), www.gomlab.com/eng (video player), www.prezi.com (presentation tool), and www.voki.com (create a character to speak).
It was such a wonderful experience to finally attend the ACTFL convention. It was nice to have had a chance to meet up with language teachers from Yale for lunch. Although we are all here, it is hard to meet and speak with teachers of other languages during the semester, and I am grateful for a chance to gather together and share our thoughts and laughs. I am hoping to attend another ACTFL convention again in the near future so I can keep up with different approaches and ideas.