Who is your audience? (And about presenting at TESOL 2014)

During any given week I feel as though I am traversing the world of “knowing my audience” in a very dizzying way, and one could get lost thinking about adjusting oneself in order to be understood through the eyes of someone else. However, it’s absolutely essential when we talk about having strong social skills. The benefits of being an introvert include being a good observer and garnering a sense of what very ego-centric personalities may do wrong sometimes. I have been slowly ingesting “Quiet,” which is a book about introversion and really trying to understood the benefits of being one so as to grow as a professional and person in general.

Predominantly, I’m a daughter, I’m a sister to a brother, I’m a sister to a sister, I’m a teacher to 17-20 year olds, I’m a teacher to general English learners from around the world,  I’m a co-worker to people spanning many ages, I’m a fellow runner, I’m a roommate, I’m a Facebook identity, I’m an Instagram identity, I’m a private Instagram identity, and so forth and so on. In fact, this website has its own identity and so does my creative writing website. We all have many sides to us and trying to understand the audience reading you is important…

Most recently, I have been a TESOL professional identity because of my desire to land a teaching position that I am passionate about and that really pushes me to grow. To think! Also, the TESOL 2014 convention has been going on here in Portland, Oregon, and in the midst of the dizzying social networking and being in the same place as fantastic people in the field, I can get a little lost coming back to home base – me!

So this post is primarily about coming back to me and reflecting on this experience. Basically, I just wanted to take some time to reflect on going solo and presenting at TESOL for the first time. I think introverts will always feel like their heart is going to explode inside of their chest before presenting, and it just doesn’t get easier in that sense! What does get easier is masking the nervousness 🙂 And finding self-regulating ways to calm down and get into the flow of delivering information you are passionate about. Going into this presentation I had a few practice runs and realized how important it is to give theoretical frameworks and grammatical/phonological background to teachers who may or may not have this in their knowledge base or need a nice review 🙂 And there is a real need to balance theory with application, and as best as possible, re-emphasize that connection all throughout a presentation. To me, there is a parallel experience when it comes to teaching English language learners. When focused instruction comes into play with my students, I try to connect it to the communicative aspects, and continue with that interchange so that grammar or phonological rules (or anything more “rule-based”) has a compelling reason to be learned because it’s going to enhance accuracy! So, in some ways, as language teachers, we need to take time to inform our own accuracy in the field to balance it with the fluency we produce.

Presenting has allowed me to improve my fluency and accuracy in this particular element of English language instruction I’ve naturally become increasingly interested in: pronunciation. For me, it’s particularly fun to think back to my undergraduate experiences in linguistics and bring my knowledge to life in teaching now. Honestly, there has been a lot of information that I’ve revisited and continue to revisit until it feels like second nature speaking about it. Teaching teachers, teaching students, teaching myself is what it is all about. If anyone out there is thinking about presenting – absolutely do it! Understand your audience, aim to do well on a presentation evaluation rubric, execute by informing your own accuracy and fluency, and be open to change by experimenting in your own classes and with other instructors. I think organization really helps in terms of keeping your sources fresh and available, much like this professional website I’m so fortunate to have created during my graduate studies. A little ground work and continua reflection is always great.


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