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The modern ELT teacher isn’t far from training opportunities. With in-house training programmes, free online webinars, online courses, special interest groups, local groups and more, training arguably has never been easier to access.
Each channel has its own benefits. Perhaps slightly more traditional is the conference event, of which there are now a huge number to pick from. While we’d encourage any professional development and trying a range of inputs is a good thing, we have a soft spot for conferences (both organising and attending).
So, from our experience of organising quite a few, here are some top tips from the English UK team!
1. Be ready for learning: and lots of it!
Probably the most important part of any conference is quality learning, delivered well.
English UK’s Conference Producer, Tom Weatherley (pictured left) says: ‘With almost all speakers having an ELT background, ensuring engagement and learning is second nature, and that can be across many, many sessions. Bring a pen (or two) and be ready to take a lot of notes.’
2. Implement and follow up
Any training or development should have an outcome. A classic method is to arrange a feedback session with other staff members. It might be a good idea to arrange the date of this before you head to the conference, to beat procrastination. By making yourself look over notes and having to feedback ideas, you are more likely to retain information. And you are spreading the benefits of the event.
3. Make your own programme
One of the great things about many conferences is the choice. IATEFL is the biggest, but many smaller events still offer a choice of four or more parallel sessions, allowing every delegate to build their own programme. From established big names to new speakers – there will be a variety of learning, giving attendees more flexibility. Tom says: ‘We’ve had fantastic plenary and conference slots from big names – but of equal importance and excitement is giving opportunities to new speakers: for them saying new things and for us giving them a platform to say it.’
4. Indulge your passions
Conferences are a great place to meet others and find people to connect with. At English UK we want our 2020 conferences to allow a space for people to discuss their interests and passions. In addition to best practice sessions, we will have sessions on ELT’s relationship with some of the bigger issues of the day, including sessions from Lead 5050 focussing on women’s progression in ELT; the effects of ELT on the environment; LGBTQI+ issues and more.
5. Make connections
Conferences are a fantastic place to make connections with other ELT professionals, and find people who either share your passions or open up new areas for you. Take people’s names; have a quick chat; follow their suggested links; find them on twitter and in other communities; find blogs and podcasts – a good conference is a gateway to new worlds.
6. Have fun
We think the best learning comes when people are relaxed, well fed and enjoying the event, so we try make sure our ELT conference is a great day out for delegates.
Eleanor Thomas (pictured left), English UK’s events and training officer says: ‘As a team we are very delegate focussed and try to ensure the lunches are up to scratch. We put on networking receptions supported by our partners, and occasionally run raffles, giveaways and more – we want our events to be an enjoyable experience.’
So, in summary, here’s the take-away version:
• Take a pen and a pad – be ready to take notes!
• Schedule a feedback session within your organisation to make sure you implement what you have learned.
• Make your own day – read the programme in advance, and for larger events either download the app or have a note of where you want to be at what time.
• Indulge your passions – conferences are a great opportunity to find out about new things and connect with new ideas and communities.
• Take down people’s names and find them online – it can open up new communities.
• Allow yourself to enjoy the day – soak up the atmosphere and hospitality. It’s important to not only learn on the day but feel enthused and reinvigorated.
We hope you found our tips interesting and are ready to head into the conference fray!
The English UK ELT conference, covering academic management and classroom practice, is on 17 and 18 January 2020, in London. Read more and book your place online: englishuk.com/elt-conference
The English UK regional groups put on great regional conferences too:
• English UK Scotland, Saturday 29 February 2020, Edinburgh: englishukscotland.com/academic-conference-2020
• English UK South West, Saturday 8 February 2020, Bournemouth: englishuksouth.com
• English UK North (usually early October): englishuknorth.com
• English UK South West (usually late October): englishuksouthwest.com/annual-conference-agm
The content for this page was paid for and provided by English UK