TESOL France: Review of conference

Blog - hancockmcdonald.com/blog/1

(Photo: Vice-president Debbie West and President Bethany Cagnol opening the conference)


Big on social networking, small on in-your-face commercial


There were 68 hour-long talks/workshops, punctuated by 3 plenaries, distributed across a Friday evening, a full Saturday and a short Sunday, and a total of some 350 participants at the event.


Reflective practice was a strong theme through the conference, underpinned by the plenaries by Gabriel Diaz Maggioli , Tom Farrell and Chia Suan Chong. There was also a strong Dogme presence at the event – to the extent that it had its own coding in the programme. Technology was also strongly represented, but presentations on the more traditional ELT concerns of language (grammar-vocab-pronunciation) and the 4 skills were perhaps in the majority, if taken together. There was not a big focus on the concerns of the school education sector, with only 1 presentation on CLIL, for example. This is probably a reflection of there being few French school teachers in the TESOL France membership.


There was generous time allowed between sessions for moving between rooms, networking, caffeine boosts and viewing the impressively international poster display (22 in all, with speakers on hand at three specific points during the programme). There were also socializing sessions with drinks and finger-food on all three days, and a variety show featuring acts by participants on the Saturday. There was a good space for milling around at the centre of the venue, All of this contributed to a good social vibe and a tipping of the balance in favour of networking as being the dominant raison d’etre of the event.


The publishers’ exhibition was small, with some surprising absences, and there seemed to be fewer publisher-sponsored speakers than at other conferences we’ve been to recently. This was also in tune with the relatively strong Dogme presence, this being a seemingly coursebook-hostile current of thought. All in all, this gave the event a rather less commercial flavour, which was refreshing.

See reviews of individual presentations here

Get Mark Hancock's downloadable material from Pronunciation for Listening here.

Get more on Annie McDonald's authentic listening talk here.


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