Review: 13th BRAZ-TESOL National Convention "Proud to be"

Braz-tesol -

BRAZ-TESOL holds a national conference every two years, and in July 2012, the event was held in Rio de Janeiro. It was truly a national event, with delegates coming from all over the country - and it's a big country, with some internal flights being several hours long.
The event took place at the Faculdade CCAA in the north zone of the city, far away from the picture-postcard south zone where most of the hotels are, so delegates from out of town had a lot of travelling to do. But there were shuttle minibuses to the site from the nearest metro, which made it doable.
The site consisted of two tall buildings, and arriving at talks meant taking a lift up one or the other of these. There was some confusion at first, while delegates tried to work out if a given talk was, for example, on the 4th floor of building A or building B. Fortunately, the conference minders were extremely efficient and helpful. Queues at the lifts lead to many delegates resorting to the stairs, hard work for those going all the way to the 8th floor!
There was a cafeteria, food tents, and a couple of bars across the road. There was no single space allotted to the publishers' exhibition. Instead, the publishers had rooms scattered around the site. They weren't specially easy to locate at first, though there were notices giving their locations posted around the buildings. However, during the event, you were likely to stumble across them all in the end, especially as they had their own product-related sessions in their rooms.
It was a huge conference, and the 3½ day programme was packed to bursting with workshops, talks and plenaries. There was a total of 270 talks given by 263 presenters. Must have been a nightmare for the schedulers! In fact, the programme was so full that there was no break for lunch and only one short coffee break in the afternoon. Clearly it was up the delegates to make their own breaks by skipping the sessions that they would least hate to miss.
The actual programme itself was an attractive booklet, lacking only perhaps some kind of map of the site. It would have been good if the contents of this programme could have been made available a little before the event, on the website for example. We felt rather in the dark about what to expect.
There were 4 plenaries on each of the 3 main days of the event, and they took place in an air-conditioned marquee in the car park. The speakers were well-known international names, mainly from the UK or North America. Between the plenaries, there were 4 slots per day, with as many as 23 parallel sessions in each slot. Delegates had a lot of choosing to do! From the few sessions that we were able to attend, the talks seemed to be of a high quality - well planned and interesting (several of them are reviewed in previous blog posts). Conversations overheard in the queues for the lifts, the lifts themselves and brief exchanges on the stairs confirmed this impression.
Given the huge number of sessions, the range of topics on the programme was broad, reflecting areas of interest at both international and national level. There were many presentations focussing on the use of technology, strategy training, motivation, critical thinking, skills, pronunciation and assessment, along with others concerning, for example, ESP courses for Brazilian learners and understanding Brazilian speakers of English. The sessions related to learners of all ages and levels, so there was something for everybody in each of the programme slots over the 3½ days.
We think we can safely say that the 13th BRAZ-TESOL Convention organisers and volunteers achieved the reward they’d hoped for, as stated in the convention programme, ‘the smile from all the members, who come from near or far in order to gather for an unforgettable professional and personal experience.'

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