A con­fer­ence to re­mem­ber

The Korea Times - - OPINION - By Wayne Fin­ley Wayne Fin­ley (wayne­jfin­[email protected]) is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Woosong Univer­sity, as well as the Pub­lic­ity Chair and Teacher Train­ing Co­or­di­na­tor for Korea TESOL. To learn more about KOTESOL, check out their of­fi­cial web­site: https://

Amer­i­can foot­ball has the Su­per Bowl, ten­nis has Wim­ble­don and soc­cer has the World Cup.

On the English language teach­ing cal­en­dar in Korea, there is no greater spec­ta­cle than the Korea TESOL In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence. It’s a gath­er­ing like no other.

Ev­ery year Sook­myung Women’s Univer­sity, in Seoul, opens its doors to a thou­sand ed­u­ca­tors from all over the world.

This year the grand­est con­fer­ence of them all took place on Oct. 12 and 13.

The ple­nary speak­ers were Dr. Rod El­lis and Dr. An­drew D. Co­hen, two of the most fa­mous names in the world of English language teach­ing. Dr. El­lis en­thralled the au­di­ence with a talk on task-based language teach­ing, an ap­proach he is widely known and ap­plauded for.

It is an ap­proach that is used in ev­ery cor­ner of the globe be­cause it places greater em­pha­sis on the learner, rather than the teacher. The class­room be­comes a hub of ac­tiv­ity and au­ton­omy.

Dr. Co­hen, who is cur­rently learn­ing his 13th language (yes, you read that right), spoke on the pit­falls of us­ing apps, such as Google Trans­late, for fine-tun­ing mean­ing. In his view, Google Trans­late is only ac­cu­rate 60 per­cent of the time, which means there is still a long way to go be­fore tech­nol­ogy re­places teach­ers. In ad­di­tion to the ple­nary speak­ers, there were a num­ber of no­table fea­tured speak­ers.

Among them was Dr. Boy­oung Lee, for­merly of Ewha Wo­mans Univer­sity, who shared her in­sight into the or­ganic de­vel­op­ment of successful learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

The In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence was not just about speeches. There were other events, too, such as KOTESOL Gives Back, a re­sound­ingly successful fundraiser for Teach North Ko­rean Refugees (TNKR) and Korea Un­wed Mothers’ Fam­i­lies As­so­ci­a­tion (KUMFA), which raised a whop­ping 1.3 mil­lion Ko­rean won.

The an­nual Mem­bers Wine­and-Cheese So­cial also al­lowed for KOTESOL mem­bers to min­gle, swap busi­ness cards and take self­ies, all while con­sum­ing some fine wine and dairy prod­ucts.

The 2019 Korea TESOL In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence was a con­fer­ence to re­mem­ber. In other words: Dr. Lee Bo-young, “KOTESOL has al­ways been my big­gest in­spi­ra­tion!” Dr. Rod El­lis, “I thought it an ex­cel­lent con­fer­ence.” Dr. Cur­tis Kelly, “This was the best KOTESOL [In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence] ever!”

There is no doubt that ev­ery­one will be back at Sook­myung Women’s Univer­sity next year for an­other mem­o­rable get-to­gether of aca­demic minds, pas­sion­ate ed­u­ca­tors and pure love for pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment.

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