Tuesday, February 18, 2020

26th Tesol Macedonia Thrace Annual International Conference - An interview with Randi Harlev

Our second plenary speaker is Randi Harlev. Ms Harlev teaches EAP/ESP at Ruppin Academic College (Israel) and Professional Communication at Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (China). She has taught EFL, trained EFL teachers, and developed blended learning courses for commercial publishers and universities worldwide. She also holds a PhD in Organizational Behavior/Sociolinguistics and an MA TESOL. Her research is in assumptions in language teaching and in teamwork.
Ms Harlev's plenary session " Project-based Language Learning: a Journey into the Unknown" will discuss the challenges and benefits of PBLL. The speaker will also explore its principles, understand its potential, and consider the three dichotomies inherent in PBLL: language vs. content; individual vs. group; process vs. product. Ms Harlev's session will be followed by a workshop where participants will create a project plan tailored specifically for their class. Participants are encouraged to come prepared with a topic that they teach in their class. They will determine their essential question, decide on the stages of their project, deliberate regarding grouping and consider various ways of assessing both product and process. Ms Harlev invites us all to begin our PBL journey together!

1. What do you hope participants will gain from your plenary talks and follow-up sessions?

Imagine yourself on a journey into the unknown; you have a burning question you need to answer, and you must forge your own new path to that answer. Along the way, you collect and are given the tools you need to create your answer. This is what our students experience through Project-based Language Learning. Together, we will explore how relinquishing control over our students’ learning enables us to discover their true potential, and how our role as teachers ebbs and flows as we support our students along their journeys. We will examine three dichotomies that we encounter in PBLL: language vs. content; individual vs. group; and process vs. product.

2. The title of our Conference is "ELT-Reimagined". What are the changes that you feel will shape the future of ELT?

I love the theme of the Conference—ELT-Reimagined. I have been in the field of ELT my entire career, and over the years, I have felt that disruptive innovation has caused changes in my own perspective and focus, changes that have energized and reawakened me as a teacher. Perhaps we are in one of those periods now. As we deconstruct the classroom, opening it up to the real world, our students become not only active participants in their own learning, but also in our teaching.

Our access to technology and technologies has increased exponentially over the last decade; it’s time for pedagogy to catch up. As we incorporate technologies which are becoming ubiquitous for our students, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality into our teaching, we must meet the challenge of making them pedagogically sound.

We are moving towards a greater focus on language use rather than on language skills; as such, both culture and identity may have greater influence in the way we teach language. There will be a greater emphasis on methodologies such as task-based learning and project-based learning, as these focus on the authentic language needs that our students will have as they go out into the world.

No matter what happens, though, a brave new world of language teaching and learning awaits us; let’s welcome it!

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