December 01, 2013

Caring, Learning, and Sharing at JALT 2013

Happy we arrived at JALT 2013!
A conference is always a very special moment. We meet old and new peers,  question old ideas and learn new ones, and many times share our work. And JALT 2013 in Kobe is certainly one of those intense growing experiences that will always stick near and dear to my heart. I had wanted to return to Japan for a long time and I am happy that I made it to JALT!

The conference finished more than a month ago and after the euforia I can see better what I have lived. It is my great pleasure to share share my experience here with you.
Meeting people is one of the things I love the most doing. I love listening to their stories, their successes, and their challenges. Being curious as I am, I also love making questions. As you can see in the picture above, it is not usually hard for me to meet people as Buddy always strikes up conversations with everybody.

Recently I had the great pleasure of becoming an associate educator with iTDi, a group of dedicated teachers from many different countries, whose mission is to improve language learning around the world. At JALT I had the chance to meet many members from the iTDi family I had known only online. The only person I had met in person before the conference was Malu Sciamarelli, who I had the delight to take on a tour of my school in São Paulo.  The very special people from iTDi that I met are Barbara Sakamoto, Anna Loseva, Nina Septima, Marco Brazil, Tim Murphey, Matt Shannon, Naoko Amano, Kevin Stein, Michael Griffin, Steven Herder, Eric Kane, and John Fanselow. What a family!

Here you can see a little bit of the fun it was being in family!

Malu, Tim, Nina, Barbara, Buddy, John, and me. 

iTDi guys: Matt, Marco, Kevin, Michael, and me. 
More iTDi: Malu, Nina, Eric, Anna, and me in a great shot by Barbara!

 I also had the great pleasure to meet three amazing educators at the conference and to be with them in their own settings, many times even participating as a guest storyteller/puppeteer!

 These energetic and passionate educators are Naoko Aramano from Yellow Banana Kids in Kishiwada, Eric Kane from Elf Learning in Omihachiman , and Mark Kulek from Gifu Kids in Gifu. 

I usually get overwhelmed at conferences with the sheer amount of information and JALT 2013 was no different. There are so many ideas, talks, and people that it was hard to choose where to be.

 Some of the things that have me had thinking after the conference are lapbooks with their marvellous process and products, classes with very young chidren and their parents, and innovative games for children.

I also really enjoyed the discussions about feedback, gamification, modelling rapport, and professional trajectories of language teachers. But nothing compares to seeing  Mari Nakamura and Eric Kane dressed as ladybugs in the presentation of their lovely Lily and the Moon!

JALT is a large international conference and one can even get lost in the amount of sessions that are happening at the same time. One great idea was to have all the presentations that had children in them in the same area, which was called JALT Junior. This made it super easy for me to go from one to the next one and make sure I met other teachers. JALT Junior was like a mini-conference inside JALT!

Presenting to small groups at a time made it very personal. 
Many of you might know that I hosted a poster session on Affective Language Learning with young learners, which has been my passion for a long time. I have lived, studied, and talked about it for almost 20 years now and Affective Language Learning is the area that I thoroughly researched during my Masters at OISE/ University of Toronto.

In my poster I highlighted four main areas that when well addressed can create very positive emotions for children learning a foreign language. In reality these areas are important not only for children, as you can imagine. These four critical affective domains are:

Holistic language as a real and accessible means communication
Creating memorable personal experiences through relevant student-centered activities
Power sharing and discussions about learning for empowerment and ownership of learning
Mental models and collective reflection to gain learning self-awareness

I will come back to these domains in a post to come. If you are attending TESOL Arabia, I will be hosting this very same poster session, but now with an enhanced version!

Nina and Malu checking the monoculars!
A special treat I inserted in my presentation were monoculars with pictures from students and teachers learning affectively at Juan Uribe Ensino Afetivo, the school I founded in São Paulo, Brazil.

 Most people who paid me a visit had never seen them and were delighted to see the tiny pictures. That is how affective learning should be, with surprise, fun, and some mystery. I am really happy that it worked out and participants were able to feel some affective learning. 

After the conference I had the great fortune of being invited by Barbara Sakamoto to go to Kyoto together with Anna Loseva and Malu Sciamarelli. We had a fantastic day going with Hiroshi, our fantastic guide, to different temples and having the most amazing lunch in a traditional Japanese restaurant surrounded by a gorgeous garden. These experiences I will cherish forever! Thank you Barbara once again! 

Barbara, Anna, Buddy, Malu, Brownie, and me at this lovely Tori in Kyoto! 

After the conference I had the chance to still continue travelling for more 20 days and only now I have started to feel the post-conference blues that has been mentioned in posts. I have this feeling of having truly lived humanity during this one month I had the privilege of spending in Japan. And more than that, I feel that I am more myself by carrying a little bit of all the people I met during my stay. So blessed! 

What about you? 

How often do you go to conferences? 
What do you like about going to conferences? 
Write me a few lines, I'd love to start talking to you. 

Send you a big frog-hug from Toronto!


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  1. I loved the post. Thanks so much to share it with us. As for the conference, I have no idea what it is like. Now as for meeting someone we only new online... well I met you. Even if it was for a bit more than an hour it was amazing. Imagine spending as much time as you have in an amazing country with amazing people? I can't. So happy for you all.

    1. Hi, Rose,

      Happy that you enjoyed the post.
      Meeting online friends is really something! In an educational context even better.
      You were at JALT with us not only in our talks, but also sharing your perspectives on feedback during an iTDi session!




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