Conference Season Begins

As we gear up for the main season of conferences here in Japan, I decided to have a think about what I’d ideally like to get from the conference fairy:

New collaborators – I’ve been looking for and continue to look for other teacher/researchers who share a passion for exchanging ideas, working together on classroom research projects, stretching themselves in new directions and building long-term friendships. Specifically, I’m interested in the following areas:

• Fluency in EFL
• TOEFL iBT
• Classroom research
• Learner Autonomy
• Teaching Unplugged

Time to talk – It seems that most of the shop talk takes place after hours, with a beer in one hand, and music filling the room and my brain. I would like more time in sessions to brainstorm and share ideas. Assuming that colleagues at the same presentation share the same interest in that topic, it would be wonderful to have more discussion type sessions, perhaps facilitated by the main presenter.

Opportunities to bond – Months after a conference, I rarely look back at a particular session that I went to, and I almost never have reason to talk about them. However, I often reminisce about things I did with others: dinners, karaoke, sports activities, or collaborations in studying, writing or planning events. These are where the memories remain alive.

Inspiration – Thinking back over the past 4 or 5 years, only two or three presentations or workshops have really inspired me to take action in any significant way: to change something or introduce something new into my teaching. Of course, I make changes every year, but most of those changes come from reading or collaborating online. It would be nice to meet some more inspirational speakers at language teaching conferences.

New types of events – Two close friends went to a recent conference in the States. Neither of them new that the other one was there, but they both contacted me from the conference, telling me that they were overwhelmed (happily) with meeting people who wanted to connect with others. They both said they had never felt this at any conference to that point. Sounds great to me! And it made me wonder if we could have a Collaborators Corner or a Connect over Coffee section set up explicitly for those who want to find like-minded souls.

As I keep learning over and over again, there are different strokes for different folks, so I wonder what you’d like to get from upcoming conferences this season?

Here’s what’s on MY radar (sorry to others):

Sept 17-20 MASH JALT Equinox 2010 in Tokyo (Thornbury/Nation/Helgesen et al)
Sept 23 ETJ-JALT Equinox 2010 in Kita-Kyushu (Thornbury)
Sept 25 MASH JALT Equinox 2010 in Osaka (Thornbury/Nation et al)
Sept 26 27th Annual Hokkaido Conference (Thornbury)
Oct 16-17 The 2010 PAC-KOTESOL International Conference
Oct 31 The 5th JALT Joint Tokyo Conference 2010
Nov 6-7 The 31st Tokyo English Language (TEL) Book Fair and ELT EXPO
Nov 19-22 JALT 2010: 36th Annual International Conference
Nov 28 ETJ Kansai Expo

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Steven Herder
Managing Editor

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2 thoughts on “Conference Season Begins

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