So you want to speak at a conference

Teachers from Singapore share their tips after presenting at the 17th Annual English Language Teaching Conference in Myanmar

The 17th Annual English Language Teaching Conference took place recently in Yangon, Myanmar, with a group of six teachers from Singapore speaking at the conference. Their sessions were very well received, and Allen Davenport, ELT Consultant for Cambridge University Press, told us that “the Singapore teachers looked like rock stars at the BC Conference in Myanmar”.  So we decided to ask them what advice they would give to other teachers who are thinking of presenting at an ELT conference.

The six presenters and their session topics were:

  • Lorna Haizelden – Listening: Before, During and After
  • James King - Communicative Writing Classes for Primary Students
  • Ludger Tremblay - Maximizing Learner Interaction
  • Wendy Naylor - Pronunciation: the Sounds of English
  • Martin Yakabuski  - Words Alive! Robust Vocabulary
  • Leslie Davis - Inspiring Writers and Starting with CLIL

What was it like presenting at the conference?

Ludger: By presenting at the conference, I realized that the process was as important as the presentation. I had been reading theory for a year, including books by John Hattie and David Didau, as well as Making Thinking Visible and The Autonomy Approach, and all of this reading really shook my beliefs about teaching and learning.  It caused me to reflect on my practice and I realized that I wanted to offer students something different. Preparing for the actual conference helped me crystalize my ideas as it forced me to articulate the concepts I had been reading about. I kept thinking. ‘Can you communicate that clearly to other teachers? And make them want to try it?’ 

Wendy: I had such a great time on both a professional and personal level. The local teachers that attended my session were so keen and enthusiastic to learn and try out new classroom activities and techniques. It was very rewarding to be in a position where I felt comfortable sharing what I know and also investigating an aspect of teaching, which I am passionate about, from a different perspective.

Lorna: It was a great opportunity and the local teachers were so welcoming and appreciative. The first five or ten minutes were a tiny bit nervy, but after that it was really fun!

James: We were told that most of the attendees would be local teachers with limited resources so the challenge was to try to come up with low-tech, practical ideas that they could take away and use in their classes. I think we were all slightly nervous before our presentations but the workshops went well.

Outside of presenting, what was the best part of the experience? 

Lorna: One of the best things about the whole process was working together with colleagues before going:  getting advice and tips, rehearsing and getting feedback, and seeing other people’s ideas in practice. It felt like being part of a team and I wish I had started doing that earlier.

James: It felt good to be part of a positive, supportive group of teachers and trainers.

Wendy: For me, personally, I developed confidence in delivering teacher training; but what I really enjoyed was working closely with the other teachers and the Teacher Development Centre to design our workshops.

Ludger: The challenge of presenting at the conference was exciting and working with my colleagues, who set the bar for presentations really high, increased my motivation. Their presentations were so professional and I wanted my presentation to be good too! The group was positive, supportive and I grew a lot in the process.

Would you recommend presenting at a conference to other teachers? 

Lorna: I would advise anyone to do it when they get the opportunity- and start working together as early as possible in preparation for it.

Ludger: Yes! But even if you don’t present at a conference, there is nothing better than having an opportunity to sit together with colleagues and talk about teaching.