2020, the Year of Change

2020, the Year of Change

By: Curtis Kelly

This was the year we both hunkered down and reached out. The pandemic forced us to teach from home, but the tools we used to do so, especially Zoom, “freed us from” (as I wrote in 2020), “the tyranny of proximity.” Suddenly we could teach people anywhere in the world and, likewise, be taught by anyone anywhere, as so many of our conferences went online.

We are now “getting back to normal” but that “normal” will never be what it was before. And thank goodness. The virus was disruptive, but in good ways, too.

Maybe that is why the Think Tanks had some truly good articles in 2020. Our readers identified 38 (out of 43) that impressed them, with 13 noted by more than half the respondents. I can say that three of them affected me deeply and changed the way I teach.

But, before you read, I’ll leave you with a question: How can we use what we learned in 2020 to change how we do things from now on?  In particular:

Should teaching organizations like JALT or TESOL go back to the old model of conferencing, which was face-to-face, incredibly expensive (and thus exclusive), but also highly social? Or should we adopt a mixed or hybrid model? How should we price them? Is there really a need to set a high fee for an online conference?

Should teaching organizations like ACTA, JALT, KoTESOL, etc, give up their nation-bound brands, and encourage people abroad to participate (for free)?

Should we make pro bono presenting a basic policy? What if we asked anyone given a gratuity for presenting to do the presentation again for a teaching group (we maintain a list of contacts) in a low-income area, such as Nepal, Nigeria, or India?

2020 was the year of change; but why stop in 2020?

The 2020 Think Tank issues can be downloaded here. Click the covers to see the full issues!

Other Articles chosen by more than half the respondents

REFLECTIONS ON MIRROR NEURONS AND OUR NEW INSIGHTS ON EMBODIED SIMULATION  

Amanda Gillis-Furutaka and Curtis Kelly team up to explain how the brain uses embodied simulation to make meaning form the outside world.

THE NEED TO SOCIALIZE WHILE SOCIAL ISOLATING: GROUP SURFING ON VIRTUAL WAVES

Tim Murphey’s conversation with Curtis Kelly about online teaching unexpectedly turns into a larger social event, mirroring something our learners need as well, socializing.

SLEEP, EXERCISE, AND PEAK PERFORMANCE IN THE UNIVERSITY

Paul Wadden and Elena Wadden explain the most important factor in learning, and one our learners do not pay enough attention to, sleep.

USING FLOW THEORY TO CREATE THE ENGAGING CLASSROOM

Bill Snyder takes us into the depths of Flow, a fascinating and irresistible theory developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and explains how it can be used in the language classroom.

THE SOCIAL BRAIN IN PRACTICE: 36 QUESTIONS FOR MAKING FRIENDS

Marc Helgesen offers us a printable one-page activity to help students bond early on, an important factor in both learning and well-being.

EGGS TO DOPAMINE: THE SHOCK OF THE NEW

Stephen M. Ryan shows us how culture shock is all part of the gift of managing difference, the way we refine our models of the world. In doing so, he sheds light on all learning.

GRAMMAR AS A PREDICTIVE TOOL: CHAINS THAT MAKE COMMUNICATION POSSIBLE

Stephen M. Ryan brings us back to one of our favorite theories about the brain, predictive processing, and explains how grammar is amongst its many progeny.

DID YOU NOTICE…? THE ROLE OF NOTICING IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF GRAMMAR

Michael Rost, who has written some TESL-shaping English textbooks himself, relates his journey into grammar and noticing, where he ran into another shaper of the field, Rod Ellis.

Curtis Kelly (EdD) just retired from a professorship at Kansai University and is getting ready for his own big change, a return to the USA.

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