How do YOU Choose a Conference Session?

So many numbers... Naomi's Photos
So many numbers…
Naomi’s Photos

Consider the following situation before answering the questions below.

You are faced with the following data about the upcoming ETAI International conference:

50 workshops and talks
13 research papers
12 keynote speakers of international renown
11 members of the ETAI board and volunteers who are working hard to make it happen
9 sessions aimed specifically at teacher educators including a SIG Day, organised by our TT&D SIG:
6 Short N’Sweet presentations
5 symposia – organised by Macmillan Education, the British Council,
Google Teachers Academy (GTA) graduates as well as two research
4 international plenary speakers
4 UNworkshops
3 Forums on various topics
3 Special / evening activities: Quiz night, Pecha Kucha, Energizing Debate
2 presidents in attendance – presidents of both TESOL and IATEFL –
international associations (ETAI is an affiliate/associate of both)
1 organization that makes it all possible: ETAI

You can’t possibly attend all sessions, workshops and events. So how do YOU choose which ones to go to?

Naomi's Photos
Naomi’s Photos

Do you choose to attend sessions according to the identity of the speaker (someone you know of, someone you have heard before)?


Are you “topic oriented”, basing your decisions on the topic, regardless of whether you’ve heard of the speaker before?


Do you employ a “potluck approach”?  Do you randomly attend sessions according to where you happen to be instead of traipsing around the venue?


Naomi's Photos
Naomi’s Photos

Do you do what I personally do, which is employ “the eclectic approach”?

I make it a point at every conference to…

*try and attend sessions given by speakers I know from previous experience and speakers abroad (seize the opportunity!),

*attend some sessions chosen according to topics that are directly relevant to my life as a classroom teacher,  such as vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension strategies and more.

*randomly pick talks given by teachers whom I never heard of (especially first time presenters), partly based on their proximity to the location I happen to be in when my tired feet start protesting. When I was a young teacher I never would have entered a session on listening comprehension activities or integrating songs in the classroom – I teach Deaf and hard of hearing students! Yet I’m so glad I began including “potluck” choices. Such sessions have sparked many an unexpected idea for things I could do in my own class!

So how do YOU choose which session to attend?

Oh! Don’t forget to leave time to chat with other teachers – that’s an important part of the awesome conference experience!

5 thoughts on “How do YOU Choose a Conference Session?”

  1. Brilliant! Thank you Naomi!
    I also suggest leaving time for ‘networking’
    One rule of thumb: talk to at least two people you know and introduce yourself to at least two people you don’t know.
    Some of my best friends have been made ghis way!!!

    1. Absolutely, Micki!
      Networking is a vital part of the conference experience and so beneficial in the long term!

  2. Make sure you arrange to meet those virtual friends from social media at the conference. Pick a time and place or you could miss each other completely. After all, that’s how I met Naomi!!! (I think it was in Liverpool.)

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