Today I’m getting on a plane and heading to New Zealand to present at the CLESOL conference. I’m nervous. I’ve checked to make sure I have my passport four times since I got to school. I keep opening my bag to make sure the flash drive, and flash drive back-up of the flash drive are still in their respective pockets. And I’ve driven my wife crazy asking her to listen to my presentation just one more time. I wonder if this gets any easier? I also spent the first 10 minutes of class today apologizing to my students because I will be gone for a week. Well, not just apologizing, I also gave a mini-version of the presentation I will be doing in NZ. It’s about some micro-activities to build English listening skills. My blog is peppered with examples of the activities I’m going to talk about, so I won’t take up more space here going into detail. But before I presented to a group of teachers across the ocean, I felt my students deserved to know that their hard work in class had helped change my ideas about how to teach listening. Most of the content of the lecture they have heard in class as I was teaching them the past two months. What they haven’t heard (or seen) is how their difficulties in listening for stress or their development helped to shape the activities we did in class. They didn’t know that I only added a dictation component to the activities because they had gotten so adept at segmenting out separate words from speech. They didn’t know that because they enjoyed identifying sense groups, I expanded the sense group activities. And they didn’t know that, as a class, they went from being able to identify 46% of words in spoken conversation to identifying 96% of those same words. I took a few minutes of class time to let them know that what they did in class was going to be shared with English teachers from around the world. And one of the students, Y-kun started smiling. When I finished, he said, “Kevin, is it true? Is all of that really true?” I assured him it was. It was true. More than that, without their help, it would never have been possible. Then I said thank you. I bowed low. I counted to three. When I stood up, I started the lesson proper. I’m heading off to New Zealand to present at the CLESOL conference in a few hours. I’m nervous. But mostly I’m grateful to my students for helping me explore what this learning of English thing is all about. And relieved to know that no matter what happens with my presentation, they will be waiting to keep exploring when I get back.