12th Annual Symposium and Book Fair--ETA

Held once again at Jien Tan Overseas Youth Activity Center Taipei,
No. 16 Zhong Shan N. Road, Section 4, on 7-9 November, 2003.
Admission is $1500 for three days.

Some featured speakers:

Friday 7 Nov:
10:50 - 11:50 am
Susan Stempleski (Integrating Video into the Classroom Curriculum)
3:30 - 4:30 pm
Jeremy Harmer (Hitching a ride on a Rocket: What does it really offer?)

Saturday 8 Nov:
10:50 - 11:50 am
Stephen Krashen (Dealing with English Fever)
2:20 - 3:20 pm
Marc Helgesen (Language Planning: A common sense tool for progress)

Sunday 9 Nov:
12:00 - 1:00 pm
Jimmie Hill (The Lexical Approach in the Classroom)
2:20 - 3:20 pm
Caroline Linse (EFL for Young Learners: a new challenge)

There are also many publishers sessions and workshops and the occassional surprise panel.
See the website:
http://www.eta.org.tw for more information about speakers and workshops.

Today I received Macmillan’s East Asia Catalogue…the books listed in it are complete and utter horseshit. AND they are recommending a KK session for the 2003 ETAROC…as if my impression of this publishing company couldn’t get any lower :?

Anybody going? I attended last year, and had mixed feelings. Yes, there is very little that is practical, and most of the time is filled with people who are desperate to present and publish-ANYTHING. Some of them spend 90% of their time discussing their methods, which are generally all the same, and usually just involve rounding up the nearest group of students and giving them a survey, simply observing a class, or just writing down whatever comes off the top of their head. These things just aren’t supported here, and the standard is very low. I sat through 20 minutes of one presentation which stands out. The took the first 15 minutes to describe how they used vocabulary flashcards with a class without color, then with color. And guess what? The conclusion was that “color is good for language learning” Oh Boy. Anybody could have sat in a room for two minutes and thought that up. I’m afraid this sort of thing will only get worse, as the pressure to publish anything increases, with no support for it here. Of course, the pressure to publish isn’t just a problem in Taiwan universities, but at least in many other countries, you have a chance at a lighter class load and financial support to do something worthwhile.

Back to the ETA conference last year, there were a couple of things that may make returning worthwhile. Jack C. Richard’s talk was a highlight, as were a few others. I may return. Anybody else?

The problem is that most of those “experts” haven’t been in a classroom for ages. All theory and no practice. And this reflects in the shit they put out in the guise of “ESL materials”.

[quote=“Durins Bane”]I received an invite to the ETAROC weekend…all sorts of training courses and seminars and such and I believe them to be a whole lot of horseshit.

Most of the presenters at the ETA are classroom teachers. The publishers sessions clearly state that’s what they are on the programme schedule. I agree that some of the presentations are time-wasters, so pick and choose the sessions carefully. Some are very good. It’s luck of the draw. I’ll be there on Friday and probably Saturday, so PM me if you’d like to meet up. I’ll not be sticking with the colleagues.

I can understand finding fault with individual books, sure, but dismissing the complete catalogs of publishers requires more than contempt and hubris…[/quote]

I have just gone through the catalog (I am only interested in the children’s books and will speak only of that section) and I can not find one book that I can even grudgingly accept. Here are some examples.

“Two apples, please”…No,no,no. “I want two apples, please.” Always ask the child to speak in complete sentences. Please, oh please, give me a book that doesn’t teach contractions at beginning levels. Too many examples of short answers and contractions to point out.

“three songs in every unit”. “memorable songs and chants…”. Put this stuff in another book, or at the back of the book. Combine games with this. Don’t include games, songs, and chants with the chapters.

Again, most of the books are having a teacher play a tape or CD in the class. This they can do at home. Classtime is to be spent speaking. I cannot accept a book that has phonics, reading, and conversation all under one cover; something, usually phonics, suffer.

The stroke order of the alphabet in one of the writing books is wrong, as well as the capital “I” :?

[quote=“Soddom”]Publishing workshops aside, ask the presenters and you will find the majority do in fact teach or have considerable experience of teaching (though clearly their methods may differ from yours). Sure many will self

it seems like there are a lot of seminars/workshops/speeches during those 3 days…i’m going up to Taipei and give them a try!

I decided to come up from Tainan to attend, but the 1,500 a night is really expensive for me to stay there at the youth activity center.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a cheaper place to stay that does not have a serious rat, cockroack, or smell problem? (Last time I was up in Taipei I tried one of the family hostels, and had a rat crawling in my hair in the middle of the night.

Any other choices? I was browsing LP, but it’s kind of old.


It starts tomorrow and I still have yet to figure out how to register. I printed out the schedule and know my first, second and third choices for each session. If anyone can help me I would be grateful. I have searched for a phone number online as well as emailed them at lisa@crane.com.tw but no one has replied. I hope I can take part. Maybe I should just show up…

Just go there and buy a ticket. It’s no biggie. Keep the receipt and your company or school should reimburse you.

I know of at least two people at Lotus Hill who will go tomorrow (Saturday) and I am sure there are more. What about a taxi or car pool??? Anyone interested?

let me know


I am just off now to see what can be seen and hear what there is to hear but I understand yesterday was wild as they only let in so many people to each workshop/talk and then close the doors so you can’t be guarenteed a place in any event even if you show up early. It’s very silly as these kinds of events (multiple lecture conferences) usually have an actual registration.

Just got back to Tainan from the conference last night. I went last year as well, but I probably would not attend again next year because:

  1. Too crowded and chaotic-I often either couldn’t squeeze into the room, or if I got there early, I ended up being packed between bodies myself. I am not necessarily claustrophobic, but on one occasion, I was beginning to feel a bit whoozy, and couldn’t get out for some air due to the people being packed in. And often there was a constant stream of traffic in the room-in and out, in and out, sometimes making it difficult to catch what was being said.

  2. Poor quality of most of the presentations, particularly the “research” ones given by Taiwanese college or university teachers.
    I’m sorry, and I don’t want to offend Taiwanese, I know that often there is a lot of pressure to publish or do research with no support for it, but I found most of them to be downright worthless. I’m not a fan of applying empirical and scientific research methods in this particular genre anyway, but I can find it worthwhile for at least getting me thinking about different aspects of teaching if the research is good. However, with only one exception, they all took a survey and gave it to their students. Often the survey simply asked some silly questions like “Do you like the current curriculum of your English department?” or “Do you think English classes are more important, or your other subject classes?” Then, they do their beautiful number crunching (and Taiwanese are awesome number crunchers-no joke), and come up with some very scientific looking charts, and graphs to tell you-surprise! That Taiwanese college students are not happy with just about everything. So, you end up with a bunch of numbers that do absolutely nothing to help you plan your classes, curriculum, or what-have-you. I’m not sure where Taiwanese would publish this sort of stuff, but I’m certain any publication outside of Taiwan would not accept what I have seen as real research.
    Actually, the best I saw was one given by a graduate student who was doing a project for his thesis on “writing blocks” by EFL/ESL students trying to write in English. He actually tried the think aloud method (not another survey, yeah!) and seemed to be trying to get at some more qualitative information as to why students had problems, and exactly what kind of problems they were having. Unfortunately, it still had serious flaws, like in his use of the term “writers block” to mean anything that slows down or stops the writing process. He also measured the time it took students to write something as a measure of how good their writing is. Sit me down next to an ESL/EFL student anyday, give me the same assignment, and I guarantee you I will take longer, but write something much better. Anyway, I thought it was great that he was trying something a little different. Kudoos to him!

On a positive note, there were a few highlights. Jeremy Harmar, of the “How to Teach English” “How to teach Grammar,” "How to…etc. series was excellent. I attended both of his talks. He is an excellent and engaging speaker. There was another Brit (sorry I can’t recall his name right now) that talked about the “Language Planning” method. Basically, it means ways to allow your students to get ready for speaking, instead of just pointing at them and saying “speak now!” It’s simple, but it makes a lot of sense and made me realize how often I do this to students. There was also a Brit male and a Taiwanese female who wrote a conversation book “No Talking in Class.” They were very good speakers (especially the Taiwanese female), and although they were definitely into selling their book, they gave some helpful tips on trying to teach large classes conversation. I also found them in the publisher’s room, and they were very helpful in talking to me and encouraging me and giving me ideas on how to deal with these impossible university situations in Taiwan.

So, there were a few highlights, and I’m glad I tried it. but not worth the trip, IMHO. Anybody else want to give their 2 cents/NT/?

I saw that book and it looked like a good text, probably for high school students and older.


i have a modest proposal to make: why doesn’t the entire non English speaking world give up speaking English for a year, give up learning and studying English, and then come back a year later and see if in the interim they got any better by osmosis.