The 17th annual convention of TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece – Thessaloniki 2009

Experienced firsthand by Zarina Markova

The ever changing world of schooling … the sky is the limit!!!

I always like to go to conferences. For me they are both useful and enjoyable. Apart from the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the modern ELT world, I love gathering with colleagues, meeting new people, making friends. I find the sense of togetherness created at such events rather inspiring.

I always like going to Greece. It attracts me with its beauty and history but what always makes me return there is the charm of the Greeks, their ability to show how welcome you are and how glad they are to have you as their guest.

What results from the blend of the conference appeal and the fascination with Greece? A memorable experience that is worth sharing.

The 17th annual convention of TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece was held in Thessaloniki on 30th October – 1st November 2009. The event was superbly organized – there were participants from 10 countries, varied and slick presentations and behind it all a highly efficient team, the TESOL Northern Greece board, who made sure that everything ran smoothly.

The theme of the conference ‘The ever changing world of schooling … the sky is the limit!!!’ was chosen so as to focus on the constantly evolving and developing nature of teaching. The event brought together internationally well-known practitioners in ELT: Gary Anderson, Penny Ur, Philip Kerr;  experienced teachers of English as a foreign language: Caterina Skiniotou, David Gibson, Julia Tanner-Bogia, Melania Paduraru, Simona Mazilu and young professionals: Connie Theodoropoulos, Corina Custurea, Milena Tanasijevich. The participants took part in 6 plenary sessions and thirty concurrent talks and workshops on variety of topics:  how to teach grammar without a grammar book; the potential of good stories, films, poems and songs; working towards a critical mind; the 21st-century English Teacher; learner-centredness, etc.

On Sunday afternoon, there was a panel plenary on the SEETA Community. The participants were taken on a tour of the moodle platform. The discussion focused on the value of open forums for teachers to grow and develop, as well as to express their views on their teaching situations. And last but not least – to have a good time!

The social programme included Taverna Evening with plenty of music and dancing (no breaking of plates, though!), a tour of the old part of Thessaloniki and – the most surprising and memorable of all – The Mad Teacher’s Corner! It took place in the book exhibition area during the breaks. Mad teachers revealed their mad talents as follows: they sang songs, danced, mimed, played musical instruments, told jokes and anecdotes, satyrised or simply improvised. All in all, they had fun and helped the rest do so, too.

To sum up, my first time in a TESOL Macedonia – Thrace Convention was an unforgettable experience. The talks I attended were most interesting and gave me food for thought. I had the chance to meet the people I work with on the SEETA platform. I was embraced with warmth, hospitality and professional solidarity. All this will make me return to Thessaloniki again and again. I look forward to the 18th annual conference of TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece.

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