What I’ve learned at MEXTESOL 2009 in Monterrey

Some things I learned at MEXTESOL….well, I had this amazing idea of writing daily blog posts from the MEXTESOL conference in Monterrey as I honestly thought I’d be able to catch at least a couple of talks and workshops eventhough I’m here manning the stand. My thinking was that hardly anyone will come to the stand when H Douglas Brown or Pete Sharma are speaking so they’ll let me go to the talks too…but, as they don’t say in Mexico, no way Jose! (they’d probably say no guëy!) I was wrong. Having said that, I did get to have brief chat with Mr Sharma about, among other things, the challenges of providing feedback on distance courses. He really is a nice guy and he didn’t mind my cheeky question about whether he actually still teaches (he says he does). I really wanted to catch his talk on technology and pedagogy but ni modo – not least as my workshop tomorrow will be on continuous assessment and technology (I wanted to steal some ideas!).

Anyway, if you’re still reading – this is supposed to be a teacher development blog , right? – And all I can tell you is that if you’ve never been to a big teaching conference – you really should – this is my first (major) one and it really has been an eye opener. There are loads really interesting talks and workshops from obvious stuff like technology in the classroom to more thought provoking stuff like sexism in efl.

In addition, there are tons of interesting people to meet and loads of good teaching books to buy, many at quite low prices.

However, after 2 days in the exhibitors hall I’ve been surprised by a couple of things on the commercial side:

1. A lot of people seem to go to conferences to pick up as much free stuff as they can, even if it’s crap like notepads and pens.
2.Major publishers and large chains of language schools go to any length to get your attention – one school, on this occasion, had teachers dancing on tables telling people to “shake it” if they wanted a free t-shirt.
3.Behaviourism is alive and well in courses books for kids.
4.Piracy is affecting the ELT industry – some rather dodgy looking materials are on sale in the hall.

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