As part of my summer vacation, I had the great pleasure of serving as a plenary speaker at the TESOL Symposium on K–12 Teacher Development and Training on August 12, 2012 and the 12th Annual CAMELTA Congress on August 13–14, 2013. This 1-day event planned jointly with TESOL International Association and CAMELTA (Cameroon English Language and Literature Teachers Association) and held at the Catholic University of Central Africa, Ekounou Campus in Yaounde, Cameroon, provided a unique opportunity for teachers, teacher trainers and administrators in Cameroon, Africa, and EFL contexts worldwide to explore effective policies and practices in K–12 teacher development.
Joined by current TESOL President Dr. Deena Boraie of the American University of Cairo and Dr. Richard Smith of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom as plenary speakers, the event was a resounding success with more than 320 participants in attendance.
As a veteran conference presenter with more than 300 presentations in 36 countries worldwide under my belt, the event was unique for me in a number of ways. First of all, it was my first conference in Central Africa and my first sustained contact with TESOLers in this part of the world. The enthusiasm from the CAMELTA organizing committee and members was contagious with an opening ceremony replete with a choir and cultural show. Even more amazing was that many of the songs that were sung were written expressly for CAMELTA. It was also my first time to have musical accompaniment as drum rolls were even done during the plenary sessions!
Probably the best thing about these two events was the engagement of the members during the sessions. It was very refreshing to attend a professional development event where so many members asked pertinent questions and made insightful comments during the plenaries and workshops. Some participants even wrote and recited poems about what they got out of the symposium and conference. Sessions were jam packed throughout the 3 days and, amazingly enough, the closing ceremony had just as many participants in attendance as the opening.
My own participation in the event consisted of two plenaries (one for the symposium and one for the conference). My symposium session, entitled “10 Characteristics of Highly Effective EF/SL Teachers” and my plenary for the conference on strategic planning for personal and professional growth were both very well-received and I now have a significant number of Cameroonian Facebook friends with which to network.
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My thanks go to Dr. Rosa Aronson (TESOL International Association Executive Director), Sarah Sahr (TESOL International Association Education Programs Manager), Dorothy Forbin (CAMELTA President), and members of the conference committee for their superb event organization. I also express my gratitude to the sponsors who made the events and my participation in them possible: the Charles W. Seifert Fund, the Ministry of Secondary Education of Cameroon and the U.S. Department of State.
I can think of nothing more rewarding than spending some of my vacation time in promoting TESOL and expanding my professional development network. If you are interested in attending an upcoming symposium or academy, here is a short list of some possible events for you. More information can be found on the TESOL website.
27 September 2013—ESP: A TESOL International Academy, Sao Paulo, Brazil
15 November 2013— Envisioning and Creating the Future for English Language Teaching and Learning, Guangzhou, China
27 January 2014—TESOL Unplugged: Back to the Basics, American University in Cairo, Egypt
Respectfully submitted by Dr Christine Coombe, TESOL Past President (2011–12)