05 mar 2018 Tips on the 16th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference in Caxias do Sul
This is a post for all of you who are planning to attend the 16th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference (16th BTIC) in Caxias do Sul, RS, in July, but don’t know where to start. In case you haven’t heard of the event, BRAZ-TESOL is the largest ELT association in Brazil and its international conference brings together speakers and attendees of all over the country and the world in 4 days of professional development and relationship building. (Rumor has it that BTIC might just be the largest ELT conference in Latin America and possibly the 4th largest in the world!) So without further ado, here are some tips for the conference attendees.
1. Check the week-at-a-glance schedule before you buy tickets and book hotels.
2. If you’re flying there, consider Salgado Filho International Airport (Porto Alegre) as your destination.
Flights to Salgado Filho International Airport in Porto Alegre are usually much cheaper and offer more possibilities than flights to Campo dos Bugres Airport in Caxias do Sul. From Porto Alegre, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump from the city that will host our 16th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference. You can book a transfer with the partner travel agency, hire a car, or get there by a 2-hour bus. Based on my research, there is a bus straight from Caxias to Salgado Filho International Airport, although I don’t think it leaves from the airport to Caxias. To get to the conference, then, you may need to go to the coach station in Porto Alegre. And Angela Franck Minella says you can get from the airport to the coach station by subway! Alternatively you can get there a few days early and take a bus straight from the airport to Gramado and Canela, in case you’d like to do some tourism before the event.
3. Invest in a pre-conference event. It’s well worth it!
If you can arrive early on the first day, do consider attending a pre-conference event (PCE). Paid separately, PCEs are organized by the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and provide a full day of talks on the same topic. If you’re interested in, say, Diversity or Teacher Development, you can attend the pre-conference event exclusive for that topic and spend the day with professionals who have the same interests as you. Networking made easy!
4. It’s your vacation time, so set aside some time for sightseeing.
You know what they say about all work and no play. And we teachers work a lot. So take advantage of your vacation time to enjoy what the region has to offer. Caxias is located in Serra Gaúcha, with its cozy mountain feel and many wineries, including a medieval-style castle that offers wine tasting in the very city of Caxias do Sul. Famous for the Festa da Uva, Caxias even has a museum consecrated to this fruit. You can also look for interesting spots nearby: the Gaúchas Bruna VS recommends Bento Gonçalves and Garibaldi, which boast not only beautiful landscapes but also great cuisine and wineries (just google Vale dos Vinhedos for a breathtaking taster). A little further down, Gramado and Canela, the national destinations of chocaholics, fans of fondue and nature-lovers, are not that far from Porto Alegre and Caxias.
5. Check the weather before you pack.
The conference will take place in the mountains in Rio Grande do Sul in the winter, so chances are you will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sport that stylish heavy coat you bought (when you accidentally forgot you live in a hot region) and never got to wear.
6. Consider taking a minicourse as an extra feather in your cap.
In this BTIC, we will have minicourses for the first time, complete with a certificate issued by our host, Caxias do Sul University. The minicourses consist of the whole PCE day plus the mornings of the following conference day and will focus on specific themes to be announced soon.
7. Network before, during and after the conference.
If you don’t know anyone who is going to the conference but don’t enjoy doing things on your own, look for us Facebook/WhatsApp teachers. Strike an online conversation with other attendees so you have some company when you get there. And when you arrive at the conference, take advantage of pair work activities and coffee breaks to meet other teachers. After all, we English teachers are a cool bunch who usually love to talk. By doing so, when you go back to where you live, you’ll be taking more than knowledge back home. You’ll be bringing with you the relationships you’ve built and a personal learning network that can help you grow as a professional: a conference yield which is even better than chocolate.
(But do take some chocolate with you as well, or your loved ones will never forgive you.)