Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

From 4th-6th November 2011 I was lucky enough to be in Paris for the excellent TESOL France conference. I had attended one day conferences before, but had never been to an international one like this, and it was a great experience. Other people have already blogged in depth about the majority of the sessions I attended, so I won’t do that here. Instead, I want to share some of my favourite memories from the weekend, some of them accompanied by photographs. Apologies in advance for anyone or anything you think I might have missed out.

I had already met Sue Annan and Deniz Atesok as they were staying at the same hotel as me (in fact, Sue had recommended it to me on Twitter). Arriving at 4p.m. on Friday, I was greeted by a group of profile pictures come to life 🙂 in the form of Elizabeth Anne, Vicky Loras, James Taylor, Brad Patterson, Divya Brochier, Ania Musielak, Dale Coulter, Sue Lyon-Jones, Steve Muir and Madame la Presidente herself, Bethany Cagnol. It was slightly overwhelming, but they soon made me feel comfortable and even though I’d just met them in the flesh for the first time, it felt like I’d known everyone for ages thanks to Twitter.

After attending the opening plenary by Stephen Brewer and the first seminar by Eugene Schaefer, the drinks party was a chance to meet Ceri Jones and thank her in person for everything she’s helped me with over the last few months. Here too were Antonia Clare, Mike Harrison, Matt Ledding and Anna Loseva. The evening was spent at a karaoke bar. My favourite performance was by Petra Pointer singing ‘Smooth Operator’, though the huge group singing ‘Backstreet’s Back’ were pretty impressive too 🙂 Marisa Constantinides, Cecilia Lemos, Shelly Terrell, Isil Boy and Beyza Yilmaz complete the list for the day 😉

The next morning started with my first-ever PLN-presented seminar, by Mike Harrison, about using sounds and images to prompt students to speak or write.

Mike telling us who he is

Mike telling us who he is

Ania Musielak was hot on his heels, with a drama seminar which include a lot of audience participation.

Ania supervising while Vicky mimes making a sandwich to Dale

Ania supervising while Vicky mimes making a sandwich to Dale

James, Dale and Mike listening attentively to Ania's explanations

James, Dale and Mike listening attentively to Ania’s explanations

Matt 'picking up a girl in a bar'

Matt ‘picking up a girl in a bar’

Vicky waiting for her next set of instructions

Vicky waiting for her next set of instructions

Arjana Blazic gave me a beautiful red heart with Zagreb written on it, which now has pride of place in my hall. At lunch, Brad bought me a tasty millefeuille as my prize for winning a competition on his blogmany moons ago. (Thanks Brad!)

Millefeuille

Millefeuille

Ceci’s afternoon talk about writing was full of PLN members. Here are some of them:

Dale, Dave (who will soon be joining the PLN we hope!), James, Ania, Mike, Deniz and Petra

Dale, Dave (who will soon be joining the PLN we hope!), James, Ania, Mike, Deniz and Petra

As you would expect from a group of people who connected through Twitter, iPads and other portable devices were very evident during the weekend. Here are Mike and Vicky with theirs before Luke Meddings‘ plenary. Guess what Vicky’s doing!

Mike and Vicky

Luke’s plenary was a fascinating comparison between Dogme and finding your way around a city like Paris. I particularly enjoyed his improvised performance of the scene from the film which his iPad wouldn’t play, featuring an impression of Greta Garbo.

Luke Meddings

After Luke’s plenary, I finally had the chance to meet Fiona Mauchline, who I’ve been chatting with for ages as part of eltpics. She did a seminar about motivating teenagers to write.

Look at this!

Look at this!

The last seminar of the day was by Shelly, talking about how to use mobile devices with your students.

The evening was one of the highlights of the conference, an open mic night showcasing the talents of EFL teachers from around the world. Here is a selection, starting with Willy Cardoso:

Willy Cardoso being watched

Willy Cardoso being watched

Beth singing 'Love in the dictionary'

Beth singing ‘Love in the dictionary’

Shelly reading 'Brown Cinderella'

Shelly reading ‘Brown Cinderella’

Matt and Brad

Matt and Brad

Rakesh reading his funny poems

Rakesh reading his funny poems

Matt: too sexy for his shirt

Matt: too sexy for his shirt

Matt’s performance stole the show, and you can watch it too (or here)

Marisa and Sue dueting

Marisa and Sue dueting

Getting up on Sunday morning was a challenge but worth it. I started the morning at George Vassilakis’ seminar on preparing learners for speaking exams, followed by Kate Kleinworth talking about writing skills. After lunch, I went to Nesrin Eren‘s session on Multiple Intelligences with Milada Krajewska. The look on Nesrin’s face when she realised she recognised us was great, and how I imagine my face looked for much of the weekend! The conference ended on a high note with Geoff Tranter’s plenary about humour in the classroom.

Sunday was also the day when Marisa asked me to video as many PLN members as possible for the eltchat blog. You can see the results here.

Of course, I didn’t only get entertainment and fun out of the conference; there were so many ideas and I’m still processing them now. I’ve already used ideas from Eugene and Ania’s sessions in my lessons, and I’m looking forward to using others as soon as I can. The most difficult thing all weekend was choosing which session to go to, and I ended up missing out on talks by Marisa, Matt, Ceri, Antonia, Willy and Dale, though I have to say that’s a good problem to have!

Thanks to Beth and the whole TESOL France team for organising the conference, and to everyone in my PLN who was there for making me feel so welcome and inspiring me so much.

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Comments on: "TESOL France 2011 a.k.a. meeting my PLN for the first time" (20)

  1. Anna Musielak said:

    Sandy I am so happy we met in Paris:) And can I just say – your blog is addictive;) I already used some activities you suggested with my FCE/CAE students:) And I plan to use some of your ideas for my business classes:) Ania

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    • Hi Nesrin and Ania,
      It was great to meet you both and I’m looking forward to catching up again at a future conference. Will you be in Glasgow?
      Ania, I’m really pleased that you find the activities useful and hope that you’ll like the couple more that I’ve got in the pipeline in the next couple of weeks.
      See you both again soon 🙂
      Sandy

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  2. Dear Sandy,
    It was indeed a great pleasure to meet you in person. I think it was during my 20 Question game when I recognized the beautiful face belonged to you! I don’t know what kind of an expression I had on my face, but I know it was because of the surprise and the happiness to see you there! Thanks a lot for coming! I wish we could have had some more time. Maybe the next time 😉

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  3. Yey Sandy – you really sum up well the mixture of fun and inspiration which conference going has become since Twitter reared its head 🙂
    Great meeting you
    Elizabeth

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  4. שמגט!
    Although I’m sure you have learned a lot at the conference in any case, it is INFINETLY much better when you have people to share with – both the info and the fun!
    At theGlasgow conference I look forward to reading about your AWESOME presentation – I can see the future! LOL!

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  5. oops!
    That first word was supposed to be Sandy! Sorry!

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  6. It was great meeting you, too, Sandy, and you did a fantastic job with the interviews; get ready for Glasgow, girl!!!! You should be our roving reporter at IATEFL for #ELTchat!!!!

    I am as upset to have missed Fiona’s talk as you are to have missed others in the same slot – but I was doing mine – pretty good excuse huh?

    Anyways, I will be sharing those slides and a post soon – probably as an article for the TESOL France Newsletter which I have been asked to do.

    Marisa

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  7. Glad to have met Sandy and a wonderful weekend indeed. Hope to meet up again soon.

    Cheers, Brad

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    • Thanks for the comments Brad and Marisa. It was s o much fun meeting you, and I really enjoyed the millefeuille Brad. Marisa, it would be a pleasure to be the eltchat roving reporter at IATEFL, and I’m looking forward to seeing your slides and reading your article.
      Sandy

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  8. Enjoyed reading your post, Sandy, I’m so glad I had this wonderful opportunity to be there and meet you.
    all the best
    arjana

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  9. […] great lesson plans which I’ve used again and again. I had the pleasure to meet Ceri at the TESOL France conference in Paris in November 2011, and know first-hand that she is such a friendly, helpful person […]

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  10. […] the four weeks between October 22nd and November 20th 2011, every free hour I had when I was not in Paris or marking my FCE students’ work, I spent doing the International House Certificate in Online […]

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  11. […] TESOL France a.k.a. meeting my PLN for the first time […]

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  12. […] in Brno in the Czech Republic, and the second six in Newcastle, UK. I’ve been to Krakow and Paris. I’ve become part of a huge community of teachers on Twitter, kept two blogs, become a […]

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  13. […] For those who will be at IATEFL, hopefully I will see you at my presentation (Wednesday 21st March, 17:55-18:40, Boisdale 2), entitled ‘Go online: getting your students to use Internet resources’. To help you decide whether you want to come or not, Adam Simpson interviewed me and created a presenter profile with the results. I’m looking forward to (re-)meeting a lot of my PLN, especially after the great experience I had in Paris in November last year. […]

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  14. […] attended local conferences in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and international conferences in Paris (2011) and Glasgow (2012). I am a member of both TESOL France and […]

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  15. […] decided to try an idea I’d first heard about at TESOL France in November 2011: journal writing. By the time I left Newcastle I’d done it successfully […]

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  16. […] time to attend conferences in France and in the UK (thanks IH […]

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