In just over a month´s time, Business English professionals will be converging on Paris. Some will have taken the Metro to ParisTech in the Butte aux Cailles area of Paris, which feels a little bit like a small French village tucked away within the capital. Others will have taken a taxi and then a plane and then a train and then the Metro, having travelled a much greater distance to make it to the symposium they´re all attending. And why are they making such a big effort to go to this symposium, the IATEFL BESIG Summer Symposium, which takes place on June 16th? Why will I be getting up at 5.30am and spending 6 hours sitting in a train on my way to Paris? Well, in fact, there are many reasons why I´m going to be doing this, but here are 7 of them:
1) David Crystal will be giving the plenary, need I say more! The living legend, ELT guru and patron of IATEFL that is David Crystal will be talking about English and the internet.
2) Coaching: Michelle Hunter, Alison Haill and Natalie Gorohova will be giving talks and workshops on this topic, one which I´ve become more interested in recently. Coaching skills can help us become more effective business English teachers and give us a new skill to add to our repertoire, which we can then offer to clients.
3) English for Banking and Finance: Marjorie Rosenberg, who is one of the leading experts on English for Banking and Finance will be talking on this topic, one which I´m interested to delve deeper into after having recently started teaching a one-to-one course with a student, the Head of Finance in a multinational company, who wants to focus on Financial English.
4) Selling Yourself: Mike Hogan and Bethany Cagnol will be passing on some tips about how to maximise your income as a freelance business English trainer, and get more interesting and varied work offers. As a freelance trainer myself, of course, this is an important topic for me. As much as I love business English, it´s also my job and selling myself is something that I have to do just about every day, in some shape or form.
5) Using Corpora: Evan Frendo is a fantastic speaker who has (quite literally) written the book on business English teaching. I´m very interested in English as a Lingua (ELF) and corpora building, as I believe it really is where the future of effective BE teaching lies. I know that corpora building is a good way of composing a bank of relevant vocabulary for learners, but I´d really like to know more and find out how I can actually use it in my courses.
6) Task-based Learning: Eric Halvorsen will be giving a talk on task-based learning, which is an area that I became interested in after finding out more about it on the CertIBET course I´m currently doing. I know that Eric did his MA TEFL dissertation on this subject and has come up with some interesting and useful for ideas for implementing task-based learning in business English courses.
7)Myths and Controversies in BE teaching: Chia Suan Chong is a great presenter and I´m sure she´ll give an interesting talk on recent issues in business English. It´s always good to keep abreast of what other people in the field are doing and thinking about and to decide where you stand on these issues.
So far I´ve only talked about the sessions I´d like to attend, but some of the best reasons for going to conferences are often apparent before, in between or after them. The last time I attended an ELT conference, which was the IATEFL Annual Conference in Glasgow at the end of March, I had some excellent conversations with other delegates about, amongst other things:
- a possible gap in the market for training in native speakers on how to effectively deal with their non-native speaker colleagues in English
- whether or not Poland should join the euro zone
- what it´s like to do the Trinity College, London Certificate in International Business English Training
- the TIRF English for the Workplace study
- what it takes to become an ELT materials writer
- how to set up an English Language Teachers Association
- the possibilities for doing a train the trainer course in intercultural communication
- the respective advantages and disadvantages of being an embedded trainer, as opposed to being a freelance trainer
These face-to-face conversations with other trainers and professionals within the field of business English are invaluable to me as a business English trainer, without them I would probably just plod along, teaching the same lessons I´ve been teaching for the last 5 years, in the same way, I wouldn´t have as many resources and ideas at my disposal to meet my learners´ needs as I do, my career might not be as lucrative as it is, and I wouldn´t have the relationships with other trainers I have and which are such a great source of support and encouragement to me as I travel from company to company on my own from Monday to Friday!
So, for all of the above reasons—and the fact that I´ll be doing a workshop on how to adapt authentic materials for classroom use—I´ll be at the IATEFL BESIG Summer Symposium in Paris on June 16th. Paris isn´t such a bad place to spend the weekend either!
Keep an eye on the events page of the BESIG website for further information about the symposium.