TESOL 2013 experiences and feedback
This March I had the excellent opportunity to attend The TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo 2013 held in Dallas, Texas (USA) which was due, in part, to contributions from The David Nunan TESOL Institute Travel Award and The School of Education conference fund.
This conference is one of the biggest annual events in the English language teaching industry and I wanted to make the most of my experiences by choosing to attend during the final year of my doctorate. At this point in my studies I feel more in control, so to speak, with what and how I want to present my research and so I thought this event would be a very good platform for my work to date.
I went in with high expectations and I certainly was not disappointed. For an event that drew in around 5000 attendees over 5 days, it had a very congenial and friendly atmosphere. The majority of the people I spoke with were generous with their time and were genuinely interested in my work. One of the best features of this conference is the way in which grad students (masters and doctoral level) were warmly welcomed. There was a dedicated day set aside before the conference (i.e. 8 – 5pm!) just for grad students, where there were presentations, posters, free lunch (yay) and, my favourite event, the Doctoral Forum. It was a relaxed, laid back session in which academics from different US universities sat at different tables where grad students could go up to and get feedback about their research. Students were given a list of names, their research areas and preferred research methods which helped attendees pick and choose who we could speak to. It was refreshing to speak to different academics because their feedback make me think a little differently about how I could approach my work. Also it was excellent practice on how to describe your PhD in under 60 seconds!
The other bonus about this event was that I got to network with other doctoral level students who were researching in race and language identity in TESOL. I even found not one but two other student who were working in a similar area as me and we’re thinking of collaborating in the near future. Exciting! Having the opportunity to meet literally dozens of other PhD students in TESOL was truly wonderful.
My presentation was well received by an audience who was very interested in sharing their views and thoughts on racial / linguistic identities and experiences of being an ethnic minority ELT. I deliberately incorporated more discussion time into my talk because I wanted to provide a space for individuals to share their views on a subject that isn’t widely discussed in TESOL. Race is an awkward and potentially contentious topic so it wasn’t surprising that the discussion got rather emotional. However, the overall discussion that ensued proved, to me, just how much this topic affects individuals.
In all I felt very fortunate to have attended such an event where there was a genuine sense of collaboration between education professional are passionate about what they do. This experience has given me that extra push to see past my PhD to the possibilities ahead and that, in itself, is very motivating.
A version of my post conference report for The David Nunan TESOL Institute will be posted online (SOON) and can be accessed by clicking on this link: http://www.davidnunan.com