About the conference

IATEFL ESP SIG TEDU took place at Ted University in May as a two-day event welcoming many national and international speakers coming to talk about the current practices and the future of quality in EAP& ESP. Since there are myriad questions and concerns existing in the field of language with regard to quality management, the focus of the conference was to ponder on the following questions with the help of the contributions of the participants.

— What do we mean by high quality language education and how can it be achieved?
— What is being done at institutions to implement quality and what systems are in place to ensure the use of quality tools? (Examples of best practices)
— What are some glocal solutions to quality management?
— What is the role of accreditation in achieving quality?
— How effective are available internal and external quality checking mechanisms in EAP programs?
— What is the role of EAP professionals in the search for quality? How can they assist their institutions in their accreditation journey?
— How is EAP integrated into preparatory or pre-sessional programs in English medium institutions?
— What are some of the ways in which receptive and productive skills can be improved in EAP contexts?
— What professional development opportunities are available to EAP instructors? What kind of additional support is needed?

About my talk

Managing the nitty-gritty: Developing L2 speaking competence of ab-initio pilots

Having a good command of English is at the heart of aviation. Regardless of institution, most student pilots openly express their fears and worries when it comes to effective communication in English. It is also striking to see that speaking anxiety becomes deeply entrenched in some learners since they are exposed to ‘’ there is no room for mistakes in Aviation’’ motto all the time. l, initially, highlighted the key learning issues we encounter with student pilots in our context. Then, I presented the tools and teaching strategies to consolidate lexical items, enhance fluency in speaking and decrease speaking anxiety. Student samples and reflections were shared in order to show how these tools worked and contributed to the ultimate aim of our programme. In brief, my talk highlighted key strategies, in-class/outside class activities and motivation building feedback modes in order to enhance students’ speaking competence, help them build confidence and decrease learner anxiety.

Highlights from the conference

The conference kicked off with the opening plenary by Ayşen Güven on national standards for English Preparatory Programmes. She mainly talked about the pressure on institutional and national policy makers to search for quality assurance systems and how the process of establishing and assessing minimum standards for English Preparatory Programmes for English Medium Universities in Turkey, in partnership with the Council of Higher Education and the HE Quality Council works. It was a very fruitful talk in that we were also informed about the outcomes and recommendations of the evaluation of the pilot, based on quantitative and qualitative data collected during and at the end of this national project.

Another thought-provoking plenary was Donald Staub’s ‘When a flower doesn’t bloom: Establishing and maintaining a quality environment’. In his talk, he tried to unearth the factors which cause a stagnant and unproductive environment, and introduced ways to generate a more fertile culture, focused on quality, improvement, and innovation.
Making several pertinent points about the flaws in management styles, Donald highlighted the fact that real leadership is never a matter of mere formal authority. Distributed leadership and vertical code switching should also be integrated into the work culture in order to build the capacity for change and improvement. Whilst peppering his talk with a witty sense of humor, Donald’s message to the audience was a crucial one:
“A culture of improvement; a culture of curiosity; a culture of what-if needs to be cultivated in an organization”
Emphasizing the importance of real leadership, Donald went through the key items that can cultivate a quality environment such as systematic thinking, resiliency, communication, self-awareness, learning agility, influence and feedback.

Final remarks

It is fair to conclude that the conference was a success. I would like to thank the conference committee members and all the teachers/students involved as they turned this event into a smoothly running operation with interesting presentations and a nice atmosphere for discussion
Another nice surprise perhaps worthy of mention was the fact that I won the ‘’Train the Trainer’’ course offered by Cambridge English in the raffle. I’m looking forward to it!