iELT-Con 2015

25 - 27 May 2015 
Bayview Hotel ~ Georgetown ~ Penang ~ Malaysia


Emeritus Professor Tony Wright 

Tony Wright is Emeritus Professor of Language Education at the University of St Mark & St John in Plymouth, UK, and Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter. Although retired, Tony still does occasional consultancies and conference presentations, as well as some professional writing and editing. Tony’s long ELT experience covered teaching, teacher education and professional development. He has worked and lived in many countries and contexts, as well as publishing extensively. Among his many life interests are writing, vegetable gardening, photography and travel. 



     ELT practitioners are, as a professional group, used to the idea of bringing about improvement in professional practice. In the last half-century, perhaps more than any other subject in the school curriculum wherever it features, English Language Teaching (ELT) has been the locus of almost continuous innovation, driven by a culture of change and ‘development’. To argue against improvement seems unnecessarily negative, but unfortunately noble improvement initiatives have too often had little influence on what actually happens in classrooms. We are thus justified in wondering why this is the case, and suggesting alternatives.

     Teachers are, in my experience, always looking for ways of ‘doing things better’; what they do in the classroom together with their students is their primary concern. This is the starting point, which acknowledges that improvement is the enhancement of what we already do well, and which includes the adoption of appropriate new practices.

     I shall propose a ‘cultural’ approach to the improvement of practices in teaching which has at its heart our relationships and interactions with our students and our colleagues. This ‘cultural’ sense of improvement in practice is grounded in a view of professionalism which contains the ingredients of teachers’ sense of agency, collective identity and the ethical nature of teaching, as well as their technical capabilities. I will discuss how the conditions for such a culture might emerge and how it can be further supported and sustained by individual and collective action.



Professor Paul Kei Matsuda (Arizona State University, USA)
Professor Andy Curtis (Anaheim University, USA)
Dr. Tamas Kiss (National Institute of Education, Singapore)
Dato' Dr. Lee Boon Hua (LeapEd Services Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia)
Lucille Dass (Malaysia)

Professor Paul Kei Matsuda (Arizona State University, USA)

Paul Kei Matsuda is Professor of English and Director of Second Language Writing at Arizona State University, USA. He is president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics and founding chair of the Symposium on Second Language Writing. He has published widely on second language writing and has received a number of prestigious awards for his publications. A sought-after speaker, he has presented plenary and keynote talks as well as lectures and workshops in various countries, including China, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Qatar, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and throughout the United States. Paul is founding chair of the Symposium on Second Language Writing and of the CCCC Committee on Second Language Writing, and has served as the Chair of the Nonnative English Speakers in TESOL (NNEST) Caucus. He has edited numerous books and special journal issues on second language writing. He currently serves as the president of the American Association for Applied Linguistics.


Against the Odds: Teaching Writing in Asia

“Painful," “difficult,” “stressful"…these and other negative adjectives are often used by students to describe their experience of learning to write in English. Teachers often shy away from teaching writing because it is time consuming—especially in a large class. In this presentation, the speaker will discuss some of the challenges that teachers and students face in learning and teaching writing and provide various strategies that can make the teaching of writing not only feasible but possibly enjoyable and rewarding both for students and teachers.  

Professor Andy Curtis (Anaheim University, USA)

Andy Curtis is currently working with the Graduate School of Education at Anaheim University, based in California. He was recently elected as the next President Of the TESOL International Association, one of the world's largest language teaching organisations with 60,000 core and affiliate members in more than 160 countries. From 2007 to 2011, he was the Director of the English Language Teaching Unit at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a professor in the Faculty of Education there. Prior to 2007, he was the Executive Director of the School of English at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, and a professor at the School for International Training in Vermont, USA.

Over the last 25 years, Andy has published more than 100 articles, book chapters and books, and been invited to present to around 25,000 teachers in 50 countries, in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as North, South and Central America. He is is based in Ontario, Canada, from where he works as an independent consultant for language teaching organizations worldwide. 


A Model of Intercultural Competence for ELT: Questions and Actions 

     This plenary talk relates to the conference sub-theme of ‘ELT and Intercultural Communication’, as modern Malaysia is the culmination of many different cultures, including Malay, Chinese and Indian, as well as the historical influence of Persian, Arabic and British cultures, together with local, indigenous cultures. Given the unique complexity (and the complexion) of Malaysian multiculturality, this is an ideal setting in which to consider how intercultural competence and linguistic competence impact on each other.

     Building on earlier work, we have been developing a ‘3-I’ model of intercultural competence, the first part of which is based on the idea of the ‘Individual as Cultural Artifact’. That is, in some ways, in opposition to many of the most widely accepted definitions of ‘Culture’, which are premised on the notion of large numbers of people sharing beliefs, customs, values, etc. Therefore, one of the questions we will be considering is: What would happen to our definitions of ‘Culture’ if each of us constituted an entire culture within our individual selves?

   The second side of the ‘3-I’triangular model relates to the notion of ‘Institutional Culture’, and the third side of the model relates to ‘International Culture’. Language classrooms, especially in countries like Malaysia, may be the ultimate ‘cultural melting pots’. It is, therefore, important to consider the relationships between language and culture in our own teaching and learning contexts.


Dr. Tamas Kiss (Institute of Education, Singapore)

Tamas Kiss has been involved with language teacher education programmes in a variety of countries in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Latin America and South East Asia as a participant, trainer or consultant. His main interests include language teacher education, materials analysis and development, and complexity science. He holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Exeter / College of St Mark and St John (UK) and a PhD from the University of Warsaw (Poland). He is currently an Assistant Professor at the English Language and Literature Academic group National Institute of Education / Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Developing Intercultural Competence In The Language Classroom: A Look At Teaching Materials

     The status of culture in English language teaching has shifted over the past five decades from a traditional, static view to a stand which acknowledges it as a complex, dynamic, and emergent phenomenon. Many scholars have argued that language teaching should develop global cultural consciousness and intercultural citizenship should be the key outcome of language learning. They argue that classroom practices must go beyond the mere acquisition of language skills and call for a more holistic approach to develop intercultural competence. But how is it done?  

     One way of examining how intercultural competence may be developed in the language classroom is by looking at teaching materials, most specifically textbooks. They are static and observable; they present an insight into language pedagogy at some point in time. They are time capsules in that they use texts as representational samples of the language and culture they focus on, which, together with the use of visual materials, provide insight into the values and ideologies that they are promoting. However, it is not always easy to discover the cultural potential materials carry.

     In this talk I will discuss a semiotic approach to analysing the cultural content of EFL/ESL textbook materials. I will argue that while traditional content analyses may provide valuable insights, they overlook the cultural meaning potential since they tend to ignore a key element of classroom pedagogy: how language learners interact with texts and visuals imbedded in the framework of a pedagogic task. I will use research data to show how students create their own meanings from teaching materials and demonstrate how cultural understanding can emerge through processes of unguided semiosis, supported by sharing and reflection in a complex, non-linear and essentially dynamic learning environment. I will conclude that collaboratively negotiated and shared (re)presentations of cultural meaning contribute to the development of the learners’ global cultural awareness and prepares them for intercultural citizenship in our globalized world. (presentation)

Dato' Dr. Lee Boon Hua (LeapEd Services Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia) 

Y.Bhg. Dato’ Dr. Lee Boon Hua is the General Manager (Operations) in LeapEd Services Sdn. Bhd., an education service provider that is currently engaged in implementation of the Trust School Programme under the Ministry of Education (MOE), Malaysia.

Prior to his retirement, Dato’ Dr. Lee was the Deputy Rector of the Institute of Teacher Education, MOE, from February 2011 until his retirement on 17th June, 2014. Before that he was the Deputy Director (Social Science) of the Ministry’s Curriculum Development Division where he first started in 2007 as the Principal Assistant Director for Language & Literature. From 2003 to 2007 he headed the Language and Technology Department in the English Language Teaching Centre, Kuala Lumpur. He also served as the principal of the Methodist Secondary School in Sitiawan, Perak. He obtained his doctorate from University College of St Mark & St. John / University of Exeter, United Kingdom, in 1999.

Dato’ Dr. Lee’s research interests are school transformation, teacher thinking, classroom practice, and use of new technologies in TESL. 


Setting Coordinates And Re-calculating And Moving Ahead: Working With The English Language Curriculum To Optimise Learning In The Classroom

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the English language proficiency of our students today. Letters in the opinion columns of our newspapers attest to this. Founded or otherwise, I believe a more productive recourse is not to “lament the state of affairs” but to look ahead and “re-calculate our bearings” by addressing more of the ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ and less of the ‘whys’ of the matter. What do we need to do to enhance the quality of teaching the target language? What are the core competencies that our EL teachers need to deliver the curriculum more effectively? What needs to be changed in our English language curriculum? How can teachers engage students more purposely and meaningfully? How can teachers better optimise the use of the available technologies to support learning? These are some of the key questions that this plenary will try to address.  (presentation)

Lucille Dass

Lucille is a freelance trainer in teacher development and has served as a language teacher, teacher educator, university, and private college lecturer. She is a consultant-trainer for The Star-NiE programme and a writer, a poet and a stage actor. She is active in theatre, having produced, directed and acted in about 35 productions to date. Lucille is also currently the vice-chairman of Penang Players – a local English theatre group. She has several published articles on English language education including “H.O.T. and Happening! NiE with Lucille Dass” (2014). Three of her poems were selected and published in “Asian Centre Anthology of Malaysian Poetry in English” also in 2014.  Lucille is a frequent conference presenter and has been invited as keynote speaker, plenary speaker and forum moderator. She also heads a local reading group – 'BOOKworms Penang' whose objective is to promote a love of reading among Penangites of all ages. Most of all she is proud to be known as the then pro tem secretary and a founding member of PELLTA.


Inspire With Grit And Grace For Holistic Education's Sake

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instil a love of learning.” ~ Brad Henry

How “gritty” (a relatively new category in psychology) and inspired an educator do you make in this rapidly changing education scenario? Do you feel all fired up by our National Education Philosophy that advocates holistic education and growth of persons? “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself,” says John Dewey. This surely applies alike to educators and learners. Motivating learners is always our prime concern; what about teachers? I once wrote “Teachers need motivation (StarEducate, 28 Nov 2004) where I shared from experience that only when teacher motivation is mobilised will teachers feel energised and inspired to explore their own capacities for learning and growing. While attending teacher development courses regularly is to be lauded, attitude, grit, and interest count. Again, Dewey says, “The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.” This is where my experience intimates that inspiration, grit and grace combine to inform me “To thine own self be true” (Shakespeare) … if the same in others you would imbue.

Psst…! Please bring a hand-held mirror.