Teacher Development via Conferences: The Way Forward ... Unfinished Business

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Conference Development, the topic I have chosen for this month for several reasons close to my heart.

To name one: I started attending ELT International conferences as lecturer back in 1999 (LABCI Montevideo, Uruguay) ... the beginning of an enchanting 15-year journey to date (with some travelling as well ... indeed).

To start with I wish to share with you, dear reader, not only my experience as speaker, but also some of my assumptions:

  • CPD is at the core of our life long learning path, placing learning at the centre. My love of books and research are priorities.
  • Globalization advances in telecommunication and transportation. We have to make the most of them.
  • Learning function is emphasized: The more we learn, the more we can demonstrate knowledge effectively and expertise in the educational ELT ESL TEFL sector ... effectively focused on enhancing student learning and our own as well. Face-to-Face Conference benefits? ... Loads
  • You may select the lectures & workshops to attend depending on your personal interests
  • Networking, networking, networking ... opportunity to meet authors and big shots
  • Intense feeling of being part of a community ... you`ve got the chance to be where action in the ELT world is happening
  • Last, but most definitely not least: Unique opportunity to visit stands with latest materials (all in one place and some chance to enter attractive raffles All this while enjoying what it may become a nice productive holiday break: treat yourself after a hard working year long devotion to your students.

Several conferences run during the year, as well as talks ... some also post their recording online or even plenary live streamed. (NB consider time difference), with a few that are entirely online Is there an Added Value at all? ...


  • If you are watching recordings, it is in your own time, not clashing with your set arrangements for the day and you may go over and over them.
  • You can make the most of shared knowledge at all times, working effectively alone, taking responsibility of your CPD

My advice? If you make the effort of watching in "real time", you've got added benefits:

  • Ask questions directly, which may likely to be answer if there is Q&A section
  • Interact with an Online Moderator
  • As a follow-up activity... why not write a blog about your findings?

Mind you, not all conference talks are streamed, but most plenaries are, so you still feel part of the experience!

However, due to work commitments or other reasons i.e. a failing internet connection to mention a critical one or just unforeseen circumstances, you are faced with watching pre-recorded session.

What to do in that case? Yahoo! Make the most of them all! This is the time when you can access them, pause, repeat and use lectures as precious input.

Input? Yes, because behind all this process is your own critical thinking. Your approach ought to be critical, not just a passive listener but look for opinions, theories and points of views ... be a strategic listener: you should ask yourself why the lecturer is including certain details and if they are valid to your working environment (or maybe they could be applied in the near future) and pay attention to the right detail to keep yourself engaged.

In the end my motto: "It is what we do what really matters" As we know, this fortnight is massive in terms of Conference Development:

  • TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo, from 26 to 29 March 2014 in Portland, Oregon.
  • IATEFL Conference, Harrogate 2014, between 2 and 5 April 2014. You may even become a registered blogger. (NB. Coverage from 1 April) So let us get involved and make a difference in our professional development.

This is Patty Alarco-Vizcarra signing off for now, wishing to hear & read from you and your ELT experiences.