TIRF is set to deliver the first session in its speaker series for members of Chengdu Duoweimingju (DWMJ) Institute of Education, based in Chengdu, China. Via this new area of programmatic activity for the Foundation, TIRF’s Trustees and individuals in its network will provide two-hour presentations and discussion sessions for educators across China. These professional development events offer meaningful opportunities for DWMJ members to further their knowledge of language teaching and learning.

The fall 2019 lineup of speakers features the individuals named below. Continue reading to learn more about the speakers’ sessions.

Creativity in EFL Teaching: Three Frameworks to Promote Language Learning

Kathi Bailey, PhD (President of TIRF & Professor of Applied Linguistics, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey)

Friday, October 18, 2019

As English language teachers, we want our lessons to be interesting and to promote our students’ learning – but we must also work within required curricula and with required textbooks. Perhaps especially in foreign language settings, we must help our students prepare for important examinations. Given those constraints, this interactive presentation will explore three frameworks that can help us be creative as language teachers and add interest to our lessons.

The first framework, meaningful learning, contrasts rote memorization with the substantive incorporation of new knowledge into existing cognitive structures. Multiple intelligences, the second framework, posits that learners have many strengths that go beyond traditional measures of intelligence. These include linguistic, spatial, musical, naturalist, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences. The third framework, affordances, is the idea that different uses can be made of various things as resources for teaching and learning. Objects in our environment can provide opportunities for learning, including language learning.

Exploring these three frameworks offers ways of thinking about lesson planning and learning activities. Participants will gain ideas for inexpensive and engaging tasks they can do to promote English language learning.


Practical Ideas for Improving Students’ Vocabulary

Keith Folse, PhD (Professor of TESOL, University of Central Florida)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Vocabulary is perhaps the single most important component in improving language proficiency. I make this statement based on 40 years of teaching languages but also many years of studying six other languages myself. Although grammar problems can sometimes make communication difficult, lack of vocabulary can immediately stop any communication. It’s simple: no words, no language. However, many teachers and textbooks continue to emphasize grammar over vocabulary, which is very unfortunate for our students.

In order to be successful in a new language, students need a large amount of vocabulary. The huge gap between what they know and what they need to know is daunting.

In this session, we will look at several practical ideas for teachers to implement in their classes. Although it is important for teachers to learn some new techniques, the job of learning enough good vocabulary is really the students’ job. Therefore, we will also spend time talking about what your students need to do if they want to be successful. Teachers can and should help students use good strategies to increase their vocabulary. Finally, we will end by discussing questions that you have about the teaching and learning of English vocabulary.


Intercultural Communication 

Jun Liu, PhD (Vice President, TIRF & Vice Provost for Global Affairs, Stony Brook University)

December 2019

As we advance into 2020, there is a growing sense of urgency that we need to increase our understanding of people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Intercultural communication is inevitable with the rapid development of technology, increased globalization of the economy, widespread population growth, and amplified presence of multiculturalism. Only through an understanding of intercultural communication can people develop a global mindset in the interdependent global village in our world today.

As a field of study, intercultural communication has developed both theoretically and pragmatically. Theoretically speaking, studies focus on purposive interactions between people of different cultures, different languages, and different ethnic backgrounds. Pragmatically, intercultural communication has been applied in different kinds of intercultural and interethnic training programs to help people from diverse cultural backgrounds understand and accept one another in academic, business, and government settings.

In this talk, participants will explore the five forms of intercultural communication: (1) intercultural communication (i.e., the study of interaction between people from different cultures); (2) international communication (i.e., the study of interaction between representations of different nations); (3) interracial communication (i.e., the study of interaction between members of the numerically or politically dominant culture and co-culture in the same nation); (4) interethnic or minority communication (i.e., the study of interaction among co-cultures in the same nation); and (5) contracultural communication (i.e., the study of the developmental process linking intercultural communication to interracial communication). Participants will draw examples from English language learning and teaching from a global perspective to unpack the scope, the concept, as well as best practices as language teachers.

To read more about the TIRF-DWMJ partnership, please click here.