A Guest Post by Deborah Healey
Dr. Deborah Healey has taught English and trained teachers for more than 35 years. She currently offers online courses for teachers internationally through the University of Oregon’s American English Institute and teaches in the Master’s Program in Linguistics. She has presented extensively internationally on technology in education. She is a coauthor of TESOL Technology Standards: Description, Implementation, Integration, lead scriptwriter for the ELT game Trace Effects, and a member of TESOL International Association Board of Directors.
I had the pleasure to speak at the 23rd Annual HUPE (Croatian Association of Teachers of English) Conference on 24–26 April 2015 at Solaris Resort in Sibenik, Croatia. Most of us rode down on the bus together from Zagreb through some beautiful green areas and mountains.
The theme was “Inspire and be Inspired,” and the conference presentations did that well. The location on the Adriatic Sea with beautiful beaches was a different sort of inspiration, though the water was still a bit too cold for swimming.
About 420 people attended. Most were from Croatia, but attendees also included representatives from the Bosnian, Czech, and Greek associations of teachers of English, as well as me representing TESOL International Association. I presented on each of the 3 days of the conference: two workshops (“Tech Tools for Busy Teachers” and “Creating Rubrics for Writing and Speaking”) and the closing plenary (“Gamification: Hype or Useful Teacher Tool?”).
The conference was very successful overall. There were 60 sessions, including workshops and plenaries, about vocabulary (especially collocations), grammar, testing, teaching methods, effective materials, and more. One of the most interesting and impressive sessions was the plenary by Paul Dummett on “The Power of the Image.” He spoke about the work he’d done with National Geographic images as part of a textbook series. They started with compelling images, then built language content around the images rather than adding images to language content. Quite a few sessions addressed use of technology, a subject I’m particularly interested in.
Plenty of coffee breaks, plus activities each evening, allowed a lot of time for networking, even for those who attended all the sessions. Because the conference was at a self-contained resort, most participants took meals together. I learned that in Croatia, having a coffee with someone is much less about the coffee and much more about conversation. Congeniality abounded!
It was very good to hear from Suzana Anic-Antic, the TESOL representative/international liaison, about her efforts in sharing information from TESOL with her colleagues in HUPE and other affiliates. She and other HUPE Executive Committee members communicate mostly through HUPE’s Facebook page. Because everyone I met seemed to use Facebook, this made a lot of sense.
HUPE is a mature organization. It is clear that they have built their skill in putting on conferences with 23 years of practice. Executive Committee (EC) elections also took place at the convention. I was pleased to see some overlap with returning EC members plus an influx of new blood. It is a relatively large board, with eight officers and eight regional branch representatives. Their structure and governance could serve as a helpful model for newer international affiliates.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience to represent TESOL at HUPE. I met many dedicated ELT professionals, both newer and more experienced, with a keen interest in improving the profession. A lovely conference with lovely people!