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SPEAQ gets everyone talking

by Marie-Helen Goyetche

Nearly 750 scholars and teachers of English as a Second Language enjoyed getting together at the 27th annual conference of SPEAQ, La Société pour la promotion de l'enseignement de l'anglais (langue seconde) au Québec, held in Montreal from October 28 to 30.

The yearly conference is an opportunity for everyone to trade teaching ideas and the latest research insights. "To enhance professional development, it's a must to be a member of an association like SPEAQ," said Mich¸le Langlois-Nethersole, president of the organization.

Concordia teacher Marlise Horst added, "I especially enjoy seeing old students and where they are now. I get into discussions with colleagues from other universities, which I don't have time to do during the school year. I also like to see my current students attend the conference -- it's a great environment for networking."

The keynote speaker, Dr. Diane Larsen-Freeman, talked about how teachers should regard English grammar, and suggested ways they can teach it to their students.

A SPEAQ-funded project on a comparison of the learning outcomes in different models of intensive ESL was presented by researchers Patsy Lightbown (Concordia), Nina Spada (McGill) Laura Collins (Victoria) and Randall H. Halter (Concordia).

The relationship between SPEAQ and Concordia's TESL Centre is a close one. The Concordia researchers conduct much of their work in collaboration with teachers in classrooms around the province and beyond; through their appearances at SPEAQ, they bring new facets of the subject back to the classroom teacher.

SPEAQ is also closely linked with other teaching organizations, and with the Ministry of Education.

Concordia faculty members who presented workshops included Mela Sarker, Elizabeth Gatbonton, Lori Morris, Joanna White, Marlise Horst and Nilda Sosa, a visiting scholar at Concordia's TESL Centre from Havana. A number of former and present Concordia students and faculty, including Robert Walker, Tom Cobb, Caroline Hébert, Michèle Langlois-Nethersole, Valerie Kamel and Helen Côté, also presented workshops.

The next SPEAQ event will be a day of workshops on February 5, at UQAM's downtown campus. For more information, call 271-3700 or check out SPEAQ's web site:

Marie-Helen Goyetche is a TESL student.

Happy birthday, TESL Centre

Concordia's TESL Centre is 25 years old this year. It was the first program to offer specialist training in Teaching English as a Second Language to Quebec teachers, and the first to offer a Bachelor of Education in TESL.

It is still the only separate department in a Canadian university with the mandate to train and educate teachers of ESL at the undergraduate and graduate levels. This includes doing research in language learning and teaching, and training students to be administrators of language programs in schools and other institutions.

Graduates of the TESL Centre now are teachers, researchers and administrators in schools and universities from coast to coast in Canada, and in similar institutions around the world. Graduates and faculty of the TESL Centre are highly thought of at international conferences because of the quality of their work.

English is now the second most common language in the world [after Mandarin Chinese], and there are more speakers of English as a second language than there are native speakers of English. English is the language of computers around the world, and English is a requirement for entry to many universities in the world.

While Canada does little to promote or profit from Canadian expertise in teaching ESL, Britain (from statistics of a few years ago) listed the teaching of ESL as its sixth-largest export, worth millions of pounds.

- TESL Adjunct Professor G.S. Newsham



Copyright 1999 Concordia's Thursday Report.