Monday, 4 June 2007

On Sunday (May 27th) I attended the first ever Conference on Career & Professional Development in Tokyo, sponsored by the Daily Yomiuri. I was there as a guest of Cambridge ESOL, and was part of an audience of over 130 teachers from all over the country listening to keynote speeches & attending workshops.

I try to I attend workshops regularly, and insist my teachers also go when they can – for example, there’s a bookshow & series of workshops held every autumn in Tokyo, run by the major publishers which Luna staff usually attend. This is important for the teachers, as they can see authors showing off how to use their materials properly, get new classroom ideas & generally improve themselves professionally. It’s also extremely important for Luna, as we are well known in the EFL community as a school which tries harder then most to develop its staff & improve our teaching methodology. We do not rest on our laurels!

So the conference on Sunday? Well, it was a gathering of mostly experienced educators – university professors & the like. We heard keynote addresses on:

· Trends in English Language Teaching (ELT) & I realised a couple of interesting points that will affect Luna – I’ve not really thought about demographics before, for example. Neither had I figured out that PC ownership in this country was relatively low (62% of uni students) whereas virtually 100% have cell phones & access the internet that way.

· Group Dynamics, when I realised a lot of teachers are actually rather strange! Singing “I love you forever…” – rest assured I didn’t join in. However, I did think about making sure my students are comfortable about singing & have a good reason to do so. Incidentally, the speaker was from Dokkyo in Saitama, where students recently took KET exams.

· A professor from a very famous university put everyone to sleep in his presentation; I remembered all the “making presentations” classes I’ve taught & how many ‘errors’ the presenter was making.

There were also a series of smaller workshops. I went to two. One was woeful – a self-declared ‘successful’ businessman talking about himself for an hour. The other was fantastic: how to use the internet & online resources. Probably the best/most useful presentation I’ve seen for a couple of years, and certainly going to benefit all of Luna’s students soon. How? Sorry folks, you’ll have to come to class & find out for yourselves!

Another reason these events are worth attending is the chance to meet fellow teachers/school owners, exchange ideas & experiences etc, and network with the kind of people I don’t get the chance to meet often enough – a chap from the Ministry of Education, my Cambridge ESOL colleagues & fellow examiners, publishers, authors, presenters, STEP-BULATS and so on.

A very long day trip to Tokyo, but all in all very worthwhile: come to Luna & find out how!