ELT conferences are a fantastic opportunity for English language teachers to network, learn from other teachers, and discover new resources and ideas.
This week is the 52nd IATEFL conference, one of the biggest events in the ELT calendar. If you're attending this or one of the many others around the world, check out our 10 tips to help you get the most out of an ELT conference.
1. Plan your journey.
This is a crucial starting point when attending an ELT conference. If you are in an unfamiliar city then working out where the venue is and the best way to travel there will make sure you arrive feeling relaxed. Have a look at the event website for their advice on the nearest train stations or bus stops.
2. Research any authors you particularly want to see.
Are they speaking? Perhaps they have said they will be there on a certain day, or are offering a chance to meet them at their publisher’s stall or a SIG event. Their social media accounts are a good place to start, or if they blog they may have shared some information there.
3. Have a plan for the conference talks.
There are always so many wonderful talks going on that it pays to identify in advance those which are the most relevant and interesting for you. At a really large event like the IATEFL conference, there can be dozens of talks at the same time so make sure you have planned ahead to know where you want to be and how to get there. Take a look at the IATEFL schedule here.
4. Make sure you visit the exhibition.
Exploring the exhibition will give you a chance to discover new resources, learn more about training and opportunities. Been considering purchasing a certain book for a while? Find out where the publisher’s stall is and head there, they may have discounts for you so don’t risk them running out of copies on hand (English Teaching professional certainly will - visit stand 92 for ETpedia discounts!). Exhibitors will be more than happy to talk with you so take the time to find out what they can offer you.
5. Download the conference app.
Most big conferences now have an app for the event. This normally contains a timetable, maps and other essential information, so is a must have for getting the most out of the exhibition.
6. Do some networking.
Attending with colleagues can be a great opportunity to gather new ideas or resources for your school/institution. It is also a chance to catch up with teaching friends and previous colleagues. Reach out before hand to arrange to meet up at the event or during your trip - you don’t know when you will next have the chance!
7. Explore the area.
Whether you have travelled up the road or across countries, there are always interesting things to see and do in the host city and depending on your plans, you are likely to have a bit of time to spend there. If it is not your native country, then make the most of seeing the culture, enjoying the food and immersing yourself in the language. If it is your native country, find out more about some of the tourist attractions you have never visited or take a trip off the beaten path to less known sights.
8. Don’t forget about the practicalities.
Take a look at the available options for food and drink. If you know you will be in seminars for a long time, make sure you’ve got some water with you. It sounds obvious, but these are the things that get forgotten!
9. Use the hashtag for the day to share your experiences and find out about what is going on.
Keeping up with an event on Twitter can give you so many insights that you might have missed otherwise. The event, the exhibitors and the speakers will be sharing news about what is going on that may not be included in the event guide. Make sure you share your own pictures and insights of the day as well, and become part of the online event community. This week, use #IATEFL2018.
10.Make the most of it and enjoy!
ELT conferences are wonderful opportunities to not only focus on your professional development, but also to network, speak to friends and get new ideas for the work you love. We hope we’ll see you there!