The latest issue of English Language Teaching Journal carried an interesting article, by Simon Borg, on the benefits of participating in conferences, as reported by ELT professionals. Unfortunately the article is behind a paywall, but if you or your institution have a subscription to ELT J, you can follow the link below:
Borg, S. (2015). The benefits of attending ELT conferences. ELT Journal, 69(1), 35-46. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccu045
Alternatively, or in addition to reading the article, you may want to read Simon Borg’s blog about the research project which is reported there.
So, what are the benefits?
In addition to the perhaps obvious advantages such as networking, becoming better acquainted with teaching techniques and broadening one’s theoretical knowledge, the participants in Borg’s study reported that their professional confidence increased in five ways:
- They felt a sense of achievement, especially if they had delivered a successful presentation.
- The opportunity to compare their professional experience with that of other ELT professionals working elsewhere (particularly when these comparisons were favourable) seemed to enhance the teachers’ sense of self-worth.
- Teachers became more aware of their own potential.
- New knowledge and skills helped to bolster their credibility in the eyes of their colleagues back at their workplace.
- Conference participation helped to combat feelings of professional isolation.
These empirical findings seem to confirm considerable anecdotal evidence regarding the value of professional conferences for ELT professionals, and hint at the need for increased support by employers to make conference participation easier.
And a request…
That said, I can’t help pointing out that there are a large number of teachers, in Greece at least, and I imagine elsewhere too, who don’t always seem keen to participate in such events. What might be some reasons contributing to such reluctance? Is Borg overstating the benefits? Borg’s research focused on large conferences such as IATEFL; is it possible that the quality of other conferences is uneven? Are there institutional obstacles at work? I’d love to hear your views, so feel free to add a comment below, send me a message, or tweet your thoughts to @AchilleasK!
Featured image by Dungodung (Own work) [CC BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons