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Many policymakers and stakeholders seek to improve the quality of language education in Macao. Important local progress has been made in improving English language education. However, the key is not simply to discuss strategies, but also to share achievements and enhance gains. The English Language Centre (ELC) in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH) plays a productive role in enhancing the English language quality, in part by recently sponsoring the 2016 English language teaching conference 'Bringing Teachers Together: From Monologues to Multilogues'. Many local Macao teachers used the platform provided to present research and techniques for the first time, which greatly increased their confidence. Indeed, teaching is not a solitary activity, and can be greatly enriched by the experiences of others.
Practical Teaching Ideas
The conference was hosted by the ELC and organised by the Macau Association for the Advancement of English Language Teaching (MAELT). Thus the local public was able to benefit from the sharing of facilities and human resources. The theme was, ‘Bringing Teachers Together: A Conference for Local Teachers from Monologues to Multilogues’.
The diverse presentations reflected the diversity of approaches and contexts. Subjects of presentations included using group work to facilitate reading, online self-access English materials, using songs in the classroom, the role of e-learning in teaching vocabulary, literature circles, task-based learning, using drawings to help in the retention of word collocations (words that go together), preparing for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), various methods for providing corrective feedback about speaking and writing, and a variety of other topics. Many presenters provided useful handouts and resources that teachers could apply to their own individual contexts.
The conference included presentations from the most English language teachers from Macao secondary schools in living memory. The presenters’ biographies indicate most teach in Macao and are also Macao locals.
The conference also helped prepare teachers to meet the ‘Requirements of Basic Academic Attainments’ established by the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau of Macau (DSEJ), a new legal framework which will be implemented in the 2016/2017 academic year. Many secondary school teachers will also face the challenge of the coming Joint Admission Examination, and therefore made presentations about motivating students for exam performance.
Together as One
Finally, the most important development of the conference was the facilitation of a conversation among different instructors at different levels. The MAELT helped to highlight the positive progress already being made in local secondary and primary schools and provided a place to share this progress with various local institutions. Participants also hope this level of collaboration and communication might eventually occur with other languages that are widely taught in Macao, such as Chinese and Portuguese. This will hopefully be the beginning of more fruitful and productive conversations among teachers.