SD Regional Provides a Day
of Inspiration

May 17th, 2017 | By | Category: Conferences, Regional
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author image of Joyce Chan

Joyce Chan


—It was a pleasure to be the recipient of the CATESOL Education Foundation’s Regional Conference Stipend for the San Diego Regional Conference, “Supporting the Journey.” The stipend generously covered the registration fee, lunch, and mileage—even for my drive from Los Angeles for the conference, held on April 22, 2017, at Palomar College in San Marcos.

image of handouts from SD Regional

Handouts from Dr. Kinsella’s “You Can’t Write What You Can’t Say!”

Dr. Kate Kinsella kicked off the conference with a very interesting plenary session on “You Can’t Write What You Can’t Say!  Preparing English Learners for a Successful Academic Writing Journey.” I found the section on academic writing prompts and writing types most helpful. The list of common direction words is a great tool for teaching organizational and analytical skills, which are the cornerstones of successful academic writing.

I very much appreciated the session on “Applying What We Know: Theoretically Grounded Academic Listening and Note-Taking Material Creation,” presented by Elizabeth Metzler. She discussed concrete ways to help develop active academic listening and note-taking skills, which are among the most important learning skills for all learners. Ms. Metzler mentioned that when teachers speak, the timing and duration of pauses are important. Listening requires a lot of mental bandwidth and our students need extra time to process and digest ideas and information, especially in a second language. When students are taking notes, teachers need to teach them how to watch out for important ideas and pieces of information instead of trying to copy everything. Developing common abbreviations is extremely helpful.

Katrina Tamura presenting at SD Regional

Katrina Tamura, a volunteer coordinator at the SD Regional, presented “Supporting Student Learning and Identity.”

While devouring my delicious turkey and cheese sandwich, I had a very thoughtful discussion with two colleagues on how the current political scene and certain public behaviors affect us as ESL teachers and how they affect our students. All of us were troubled by the fears and struggles expressed by our students and by the lack of cultural sensitivity and considerations in many communities. Nevertheless, we found comfort in each other, and the talk did relieve some anxieties.

Joyce Chan's identity chart

Joyce Chan’s identity chart

Katrina Tamura’s session on “Supporting Student Learning and Identity” further expanded this momentum through her activity of analyzing what defines people. Participants were asked to list what defines us and how we define ourselves. Educators were reminded about important non-visible qualities, such as values and beliefs, through this reflective exercise. ESL students often encounter culture shocks and identity crises, and teachers need to support students through the process.

The day was wrapped up by the mother-daughter duo of Kate and Carol Burrill, who shared fun and easily adaptable activities for ESL learners. All the games and activities mentioned were educational in multiple ways.

This was the third CATESOL gathering I participated in during the first two months of my membership. I appreciate the warm welcome and open-mindedness I see in every one. It was definitely worthwhile for the long drive from LA to the conference. I collected new tools for my toolkit, gathered some serious food for thought, and was grateful for the professional support from CATESOL and its members in the midst of my career transition. I look forward to getting involved and learning from all of you in my new career!

Joyce Chan, newly credentialed for Adult Education, is transitioning from nonprofit management to teaching. Originally from Hong Kong, her native language is Cantonese. A lifelong ESL learner, she has served the immigrant population for 16-plus years and has observed that the language barrier is the number one barrier for socioeconomic advancement, and so she wants to empower this constituency with life and language skills and to be a change agent in the process.


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