How I have changed as a conference-goer

In July I had the chance to attend the 15th Braz-Tesol international conference. As I chose which workshops and talks to attend, I realized how much my profile had changed since I first started attending these kinds of events.

My first international conference was in 2008 when I had the chance to go to the ABCI (Associação Brasileira de Culturas Inglesas) international conference in São Paulo. At that time I had been teaching for 4 years, but had never done any teacher training courses. I clearly remember I was looking for practical activities that I could use once the semester started. Talks and workshops that had words like ‘mobile phones’, ‘activities’ or ‘games’ in the title would attract me. On the other hand, words like ‘research’ or ‘theory’ and even ‘pronunciation’ would scare me off. Things were very similar in 2010 when I attended the LABCI conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Between 2012 and 2014 I had the opportunity to attend my first two Braz-Tesol conferences (in Rio de Janeiro and João Pessoa) and also an IATEFL conference. After doing the Celta and having started the Delta, things changed a bit. Whereas in the past I was afraid of pronunciation and phonemic symbols, now I was eager to learn about these things. I specifically remember attending a workshop from Ricardo Sili and Mark Hanckock at Braz-Tesol in Rio where they talked about pronunciations problems (and solutions) for Brazilian students. Likewise, I started attending more theoretical presentations, such as Alan Seabra’s workshop in João Pessoa where he talked about Testing. In both cases, I had a chance to expand on the knowledge I had or things I had studied about. At this point in my career I thought I had good enough practical experience so I was looking for things that could widen my horizons outside the classroom and possibly allow me to start a career as a trainer.

Going into this year’s conference, I had a clear goal in mind. Being a Celta tutor, I was interested in talks and workshops that I could use in the input sessions I teach. I had the pleasure of seeing Eduardo de Freitas talking about boardgames, Ilá Coimbra talking about authentic materials, Ricardo Mucciolo talking about speaking, Luiz Otávio Barros talking about listening, and Karin Galvão talking about social media, all of which are directly related to sessions I either have taught or want to teach at the Celta.

What about you, dear reader? What do you look for when you go to a conference? Have your choices changed in the past few years?

Thanks for reading.


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Ricardo Barros

Ricardo Barros is a CELTA tutor and freelance teacher trainer based in Jundiaí–SP. He has taught English since 2003, working as a teacher, teacher trainer, academic coordinator and Cambridge examiner. He holds the DELTA, CELTA and a BA in History from Unicamp. He is a moderator for the BrELT facebook group and advisory council member for BRAZ-TESOL. He also blogs at

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