Awardee Welcomes Excitement of Regional’s Offerings

May 10th, 2016 | By | Category: Conferences, Regional
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—As someone who is relatively new to the TESOL field and a first-year teacher, I knew attending a CATESOL conference would be an amazing experience and instrumental to my professional development. That is why I am so grateful to have been awarded the Regional Conference Stipend, which funded my attendance at the Northern Regional Conference in Berkeley in April.

image of stipend awardee Erin Merdinger, who volunteered at the registration table during the 2016 Northern Regional Conference.

Stipend awardee Erin Merdinger volunteered at the registration table during the 2016 Northern Regional Conference.

The CATESOL Regional Conference was indeed instrumental to my professional development. Not only did I get to exchange ideas and share experiences with other TESOL professionals from all over the region, but I also walked away with teaching tips, tangible resources, and a deeper understanding of the TESOL field. One of the presentations that stood out to me most was “Cell Phones as a Classroom Tool” by Deborah Brooks. From the moment the session started, Brooks created an interactive experience in which all the attendees were like the “students” in her classroom, and we could engage with the mobile applications she was showing us. She presented a variety of mobile applications, including games, polls and surveys, and other resources available on students’ cell phones and explained how she uses these applications in her own classroom. I immediately thought of using the poll and survey-question app for warm-up activities at the beginning of classes. I also loved the idea of using the “Speak to text” application on smartphones to practice pronunciation with my students. She also suggested creating a Google Voice number, which students can call and leave messages on in response to questions or assignments. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and I plan to use this for speaking assignments outside of class.

When I left the conference, I was excited to share my newfound knowledge with my friends, family, and fellow TESOL instructors. More important, I was just excited. I was excited about my profession, I was excited about the TESOL community, and I was excited to incorporate the techniques I learned from the presenters into my teaching. Not everyone can say she is excited about her field of work, and I don’t take that for granted. I am incredibly thankful that I actually enjoy and get excited about what I do for a living, and I am grateful to the CATESOL Education Foundation for supporting me and fostering my growth in a field I am so passionate about.

Erin Merdinger is an instructor in the American Language Program at California State University, East Bay.


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