The TESOL Annual Convention & English Language Expo is an incredible event, for teachers looking to find their ground and develop as professionals as well as for seasoned experts striving to share their knowledge and experience with others.
If this is your first convention, or if you would like to improve your experience for next time, here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of TESOL 2018.
- Take risks. (This does not mean parachuting in to Chicago, but if you decide to do this, be sure to post pictures with #TESOL18 in your Instagram!) Do not limit yourself by choosing only sessions on topics you are most proficient in. Discover fields you know little about and you will learn a lot of new information and get fresh meaningful knowledge.
- Engage. The TESOL convention is a wonderful opportunity to meet teaching professionals from all over the world and learn from them in the environment of understanding and exchange of experience. It was amazing to look around and realize that everyone around me was my colleague, that I could come up to literally anyone and speak about teaching English, about the ups and downs of our profession, our joys and challenges. Everyone I talked to was extremely friendly and as excited as I was, and each had their unique story to share. Be sure to do lots of networking and exchange contact information to stay in touch and continue sharing your experience and practical resources after the convention.
- Speak up. The convention brings together teachers of English from multiple countries, who are truly passionate about what they do and are ready to share this passion. The presenters always welcome comments and questions from the audience, and they are usually willing to stay after their presentation to exchange their contact information and answer any additional questions. I was delighted to find that the people who write the articles and textbooks I have read are extremely approachable and happy to talk.
- Organize. The convention website and the TESOL app (available in February) have all the necessary information to help you prepare for the event in advance. Be sure to plan your time before you get to Chicago: Prioritize the sessions you most want to attend, but have other options available. Make a contingency plan in case you feel overwhelmed or want to explore more.
- Log in. Here I do not only mean the convention app, which is definitely a wonderful tool to use before, during, and after the event. Log in to all your social media and discover the magic of hashtags and location sharing! Find the people, with whom you have had this most amazing conversation, in LinkedIn or Facebook; like and share pictures from the convention on Instagram; tweet about your TESOL discoveries. And definitely do not forget to take a selfie with your favorite presenter! Your experience may help other people, and of course it is simply excellent to be able to keep up with your colleagues’ successes and achievements.
Kira Kondratkova is a Fulbright student from Volgograd, Russia, currently studying at MA TESOL program at San Francisco State University. Graduating with a major in teaching Mandarin Chinese and English, Kira had taught at Russian language schools and as a private teacher for several years. Fulbright scholarship brought her to California, where she is continuing her education in the atmosphere of cultural diversity and unlimited opportunities for professional growth.