Welcome teachers!!! Your students need you now more than ever to show what amazing possibilities await them! And you are in a unique position to do just that. Your colleagues want to change what they do in the classroom. Your students want teachers to change what happens in the classroom. The Korea TESOL International Conference – this gathering of educators dedicated to preparing young minds to race, or bounce, or stutter-step down the path to success – is a great place to start or continue your mini-revolution in the way we do things in that cauldron of thought we call a classroom.
There are some who believe, or at least profess, that the education system in Korea is a model for education that should be emulated elsewhere. While I happen to disagree with that belief, I certainly acknowledge that the education system in Korea was an important factor in enabling Korea to rise from the ashes of war and become the 10th largest economy in the world and enjoy a high standard of living. Students have been well prepared to meet the challenges they have faced and become very successful.
That said, the world is changing more quickly than ever, and education in Korea now needs to take the next step in order to continue to grow and produce leaders and real innovators. This is where we, the teaching community, come in. The theme of this year’s conference is Transitions in Education, Transitions in ELT. Education systems in many countries are moving away from the traditional information-based approach, where memorization is king and passing tests is the “be all and end all” of education, and are evolving towards an inquiry-based approach to education, where the focus is less on standardization and where, within a given framework, classes and content are more student-driven. This approach tends to produce learners who are more independent and, as a result, equipped to be more innovative. At a basic level, the idea of this approach is to create a more open environment, where students are encouraged to ask questions and taught how to find the answers themselves or with their peers – where students are encouraged to inquire, to be creative, and to be critical thinkers. This is where this conference comes in.
KOTESOL international conferences have always tried to address current trends, both theoretical and practical, in English language teaching. The goal of this year’s conference is to twofold. First, we want to offer you a better understanding of the inquiry approach to education and how it can enhance our students’ potential for success in life. Second, we want you to be able to leave the conference equipped with some new and practical ways to help your students experience a different style of learning. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Similarly, our education system is not going to change quickly. But if we can modify our current lessons, if only slightly, and introduce a new approach when the opportunity arises, we can give our students a more rewarding experience in the classroom and hopefully transform them from excellent test-takers into real innovators. The revolution is here. Are you going to be at the vanguard or part of the rear-guard?
Enjoy the speakers. Enjoy the workshops. But most of all, enjoy yourselves!
Carl Dusthimer, Chair
International Conference Committee 2015