On attending teacher’s conferences

I am now on a plane on my way to Natal-RN, where I’ll participate tomorrow in BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte’s symposium, and I took this time to write this… ‘comeback post’, after a pretty long hiatus. Many months ago, I wrote a post on lesson observation here, and have owed the blog readers a follow-up post on peer observation ever since. Well… sorry. This post will not be about peer observation, but next month’s will, I promise.

What I want to talk to you about this month, if you don’t mind, is the very reason why I am on this plane today (wishing you could all be here as well). The reason is: If memory serves, I am going to my sixth teacher’s conference this year.

Why, you ask? Well, not only am I going to one of the most striking places in the country, but also tomorrow I’ll have the chance to talk (rant?) to a group of peers about my greatest passion in ELT at the moment: language development for teachers. As if that weren’t enough, I’m also going to get to see teachers discuss their passions and interests in the area with us, and will undoubtedly —as it invariably happens— go back home on Sunday feeling incredibly energized and full of new ideas to put into practice in my classes on Monday. What’s not to love?

Presenting in conferences, by the way, is a fantastic way of studying and polishing up your knowledge of a certain area. Imagine, for instance, you’ve decided to give a talk on pronunciation, more specifically on how to teach features of connected speech. You will certainly –if you don’t want to make a fool of yourself—have to dedicate a few hours to really understanding the difference(s) between assimilation and juncture, elision and contraction, and so on, which means that by the time your slides are ready you’ll be truly (even more of a) pronunciation wiz. If, however, you’re wary of presenting in a conference you’re attending, especially if it’s your first, you’re not required to. You can simply sit back, relax, and learn from colleagues from all over different techniques and new ways of doing this incredibly rewarding thing we do: teaching.

Here’s a question: Who’s your favorite ELT author today? Maybe you thought of international names such as Jeremy Harmer, Scott Thornbury, Michael Swan, Jim Scrivener, Penny Ur, Adrian Underhill… or maybe (hopefully!) the names which came to mind were those of brilliant RichmondShare columnists such as Natália Guerreiro, Isabela Villas Boas, Marcela Cintra, Edmilson Chagas, Marcelo De Cristo, Luiz Otávio Barros… Well, I have seen every single one of these ELT stars in conferences in Brazil and abroad in the past few years. Every last one of them! I have even become friends with many of them, I’m proud to say, and much as it is immensely rewarding to read their work, it is even more incredible to have the chance to have a bee… I mean, a conversation with them at the end of a busy conference day.

Expensive, you say? Well, it can be a bit, but not as much as you think. On October 21st, for example, there will be a one-day BRAZ-TESOL event in Curitiba. If you buy tickets today flying from São Paulo, for example, you’ll pay about 200 reais for the two-way trip, and you can easily find a friend to share accommodation expenses with. Believe me, it’s much more doable than you think, and much more rewarding and fun than you could ever imagine. And our BRAZ-TESOL has Chapters all over the country, so that if going to Curitiba is hard for you, there’s always Manaus, Belém, Goiânia, Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, São Paulo, Paraíba, among many others.

Here are a few one-day (and longer) conferences I can remember off the top of my head which you can consider attending:

  • APLIES conference (Associação de Professores de Língua Inglesa do Espírito Santo): September 23-24;
  • BRAZ-TESOL TD SIG one-day event in São Paulo (bit.ly/3rdbttdsigregister): September 30;
  • BRAZ-TESOL Pernambuco one-day seminar: October 1, 2016;
  • BRAZ-TESOL Curitiba one-day seminar: October 21, 2016;
  • BRAZ-TESOL SIG Symposium, place to be confirmed: July 2017;
  • 16th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference in Caxias do Sul-RS: July 2018.

That’s it! We’re preparing to land in Natal and I have to wrap up this post. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you all very soon in a conference or two (or twenty) around our beautiful country.

Oh, I almost forgot! If you’re not a BRAZ-TESOL member yet, you can rectify this situation right now by visiting www.braztesol.org.

See you in September!

*I want to dedicate this post to my good friend Andrew Kirkpatrick, and to the memory of his brother David. You’re in my thoughts, my friend, and I hope to see you before long.

Higor Cavalcante

Higor Cavalcante is a teacher and teacher educator based in São Paulo, Brazil. He’s been in ELT for going on 19 years now, and his main interests in the area are language development for teachers, extensive reading, and pronunciation. He is the first vice president of BRAZ-TESOL, as well as the author of ‘Inglês para professor’, published in 2015 by Disal, and the upcoming ‘Inglês para professor 2’. Find out about his courses for teachers at bit.ly/hccoursesforteachers.

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