I was lucky enough to be able to attend the JALT National conference last week, held in Kobe.
I think this was my third JALT national conference, and strangely I think it was also the one I liked the most.
I say strangely because I actually came down with a bad cold on Thursday night, and spent much of my time in Kobe feeling hungover -despite not drinking a drop for the last couple of weeks! It was probably the least social conference performance I have put on for a while, only managing to speak to a few people and skipping all the social events.
The thing about JALT national is that it is so big that there is the potential to have all sorts of different experiences, depending on what you do and which sessions you go to. In the past I have felt the average quality of presentations at the national conference was not as high as the ones at smaller, more specialized conferences (like the Pan-SIG or the ER Seminar). There are also so many things going on (well over 20 simultaneous workshops in most time slots) that paralysis through too much choice is actually a real danger 🙂
So to sum up my experience of this year’s JALT national:
- Kobe was great. An attractive, convenient, interesting city.
- The venue was great too. Easy to get to and suited to purpose.
- The keynote speeches were great this year. I saw three of them. Interesting and thought-provoking.
- The cafe at the back of the EME was pretty good, fast and tasty (good iced coffee too).
- Keith Folse was fantastic. Great speaker, and I’m really glad to have found his textbooks (we’re talking about introducing a writing course at TU). Here’s a video of his keynote in Korea in 2011.
- The sessions I went to were almost all good.
- I did manage to meet some new people and talk to some people I hadn’t spoken to for a while.
- Having a bad cold was not fun.
- My hotel, due to lack of planning on my part, was on a different island to the venue, resulting in a 40-minute, three-train commute each morning. Oops.
- The venue, while great, consisted of three buildings and it took me until the morning of the second day to get it straight in my head. Memo to self: go in on the Friday evening and figure out the venue.
- I don’t like paying 2000 yen to rent a projector for my presentation, especially when they belong to JALT and were bought with donations from the SIGs… on top of the not cheap fee to attend the confenrence seems a bit much.
- I missed a lot of people I had been wanting to talk to.
Things I learned
- Lots of assumptions I had about bilingualism might not be true. Need to do a lot of reading.
- Xreading has incredible potential. If they are able to do half of the things they are planning to, we might end up adopting their extensive reading system.
- The Great Writing series looks incredibly interesting.
- Communicating with parents may well be the key to a successful English school. Lots to work on.
- Cambridge English might be okay as private language schools go (I have doubts sometimes) 🙂
Despite worries about the typhoon and how it would affect flights, etc. and that damn cold, this was a very smooth and enjoyable conference. I had a great audience at my workshop and ended up learning several new, pertinent things over the three days of the conference. The organizers and volunteers should all feel very satisfied and proud of themselves.
Anyone else make it to JALT National this year? What good things did I miss?