Why I´m looking forward to the IATEFL BESIG Summer Symposium

This way to the Eiffel Tower!

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 FinanceMarjorie 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 LearningEric 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.

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