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HPU grad students recognized at TESOL Conference

    By Linda Karlsson. March 5, 2013 - 10:43 am

Kri Howland, Rahma Kadir, Dr. Candis Lee, Tyson Umberger, Yukiko Oki and Vanessa Balagtas were awarded “Best Presentation” at the 2013 Hawaii TESOL Conference. Photo by Linda Karlsson 

“Lighting the Fire,” the title of the 2013 Hawaii TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), was held recently at the University of Hawaii-Hilo on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Sponsored by Hawaii TESOL, this conference’s title was most suitable as teachers are expected to “light the fire” in their students, and the conference’s venue held on the Big Island, home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kilauea.

This conference was an all-day experience that featured paper presentation, workshops, poster presentations, and a publisher’s corner.

It was my first experience going to an academic conference, so I was filled with anticipation and curiosity.

The conference opened with an ancient Hawaiian hula performance by the Akaonu halau and its kumu, who pounded on his drum and chanted Hawaiian words to guide his hula dancers into their most energetic and powerful Hawaiian movements that described the story about the landscape of the Hawaiian Islands, especially Hilo.

After the halau’s performance, Hawaii TESOL President, Jenny Hickman, introduced the other officers of this organization, Aaron Faidley and Vanessa Balagtas, two of which are HPU MA TESOL students. Introductions also included HPU professor Jean Kirschenmann as the organization’s Ukraine liaison. The paper presentations and workshops ensued after the plenary presentation given by Dr. Christina Higgins of UH-Manoa.

The first paper presentation I attended was “Lighting the Fire in Young Language Learners” given by three presenters from Brigham Young University in Laie. Their very engaging presentation discussed the major challenges of designing appropriate curricula and employing classroom management when teaching children.

The next paper presentation I attended, “The Evolving Business English Unit Plan: From Assignment to Publication” was given by five students, Vanessa Balagtas, Kri Howland, Rahma Kadir, Yukiko Oki, and Tyson Umberger, and their professor of a speaking and listening methods course, Dr. Candis Lee, all representing HPU’s MA TESOL program.

Their presentation traced the evolution of an initial course assignment, a unit plan, followed by two profes- sional presentations, and end- ing with their desire to publish this unit plan in HPU’s TESOL Working Paper Series, a journal that publishes papers and language teaching practices by students and faculty in HPU’s MA TESOL and BA TESOL program.

As a classmate of these five student presenters, it was educational and informative. Moreover, I was very impressed with their composed presentations despite their expressed anxiety beforehand.

Dr. Lee expressed her gratitude to the students at the end of the session stating “This has been one of my most rewarding experiences in higher education working with Kri, Yukiko, Rahma, Tyson and Vanessa.”

After a lunch break at the dining hall, I attended the presentation, “Transformational Learning in Virtual Reality” presented by Steven Moinester, from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan.

Moinester’s intriguing presentation discussed the use of virtual reality in the English classroom, as well as the results of how an international exchange between Japanese and Korean students was conducted in Second Life, a virtual reality environment.

Concurrent with Moinester’s presentation was a paper entitled “Using Shadowing to Light a Fire in the EFL Classroom” presented by HPU TESOL Certificate student Hajime Mochizuki, who also holds a simultaneous position from the Kwansei Gakuin University.

His presentation talked about his research of the benefits and applications of shadowing used in his English as a Foreign Language classes in Japan.

The conference ended with a raffle for various prizes including school supplies, second language textbooks, t-shirts and gift cards.

After a full day of presentations and obtaining a lot of information, I felt like it was a successful trip filled with an informative and educational conference.

The event lasted for nine well-spent hours.

A couple of days after the conference, Dr. Lee was notified by Jenny Hickman that their presentation was awarded the “Best Presentation” for this conference.