Monday, January 13, 2014

Tracking conferences and connecting with other speakers

From time to time, I read posts on Facebook from people who wish it were easier to keep track of the many ELT conferences that take place annually, and it's true - I expect it's on the wishlist of every ELT conference speaker and those who attend conferences, but rather than it stay simply a wish, what would be the best way to make it happen?

The major teacher organisations are probably in a good place to make it work, and it is true that IATEFL publish a listing of conferences in their Voices newsletter, but this is only available to members and so not accessible publicly online. TESOL publish a calendar of events, but this only seems to include those events related to the organisation or affiliates (the annual IATEFL conference is not included on the list, for example), so unless someone well-placed in either of these organisations takes it on, we'll have to look elsewhere.

The British Council is another organisation very well placed to manage such a list, especially given the support the organisation gives to ELT conferences around the world, on a local, national and international level. Perhaps the best place to host this list of conferences would be the excellent Teaching English website, and indeed there is a home for this list there, but "the directory of upcoming educational events and conferences around the world" currently only lists past conferences and so is hopelessly out-of-date.

A quick search on the Web leads to other listings, such as the Conference Alerts website, with a listing of language conferences worldwide and the ELT Calendar, which lists only events in Japan.

Individuals have also tried to compile lists, such as the 2013/14 conference calendar for Turkey published by Tony Gurr.

Perhaps the best way of promoting such a directory though, would be to adopt what other professionals in other sectors are doing, which is using the website Eventbrite to publish details of an event and to use the associated website Lanyrd to give details of speakers/attendees and help them connect to each other. Eventbrite is now being used a lot by some ELT associations to publicise events - I first realised its effectiveness for this during this TESOL Spain event in Barcelona - it seemed to make it easier for the organisation to manage the event and easier for the participants too.

As for Lanyrd, I came across it again last Sunday (although I'd actually signed up for an account in 2012) and discovered that BRAZ-TESOL have been flirting with it for a while now, although it doesn't seem they are using it for all their events and haven't used it recently. As a conference speaker it looks like a very interesting way of advertising what you have to offer and a great way of connecting with people at events, but this would only work if other people actually use the site (as is the case with all communities and social networks). What do you say, shall we give it a go, or do you know of a better way to keep track of ELT events and the people who attend them?

Revision to post:

I should have remembered this (Thanks to Julie Raikou!), but Tyson Seburn has been keeping a crowd-sourced ELT events calendar which is probably the best source that is available at the moment. There's a form where people can submit an event at the bottom of the page, so I encourage you to do so whenever you know of one that is happening.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks a lot for this useful post. I want to share a site I have been working on. I am trying to do my best keeping it updated:

    Upcoming Worldwide TEFL/TESL Events



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  2. Thanks for sharing this, Mauricio - I was hoping this post would encourage people to tell me of other sites such as yours that I had missed out on. Great work!

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  3. Thank you. This is also a great wiki to check from time to time: http://www.wikicfp.com/cfp/

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  4. Thanks Graham. I was about to send you a link to Tyson's calendar then noted your revision :-) This is the best one I've seen, both for the content and the ease of browsing, plus the crowdsourced aspect! I've added a few events from my part of the world.
    Here's the link again for anyone who missed it above:
    ELT Event Calendar: http://fourc.ca/calendar/

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