In My OPINION
Calls for papers are out as conference time will be upon us again soon. Also, everyone has opinions on how these conferences should be run. A letter in the EL Gazette highlighted several problems that were experienced by one person, a publisher attending the last ThaiTesol conference.
The area for the booksellers was probably too cramped for the book publishers’ tastes, but there were many visitors. STEVE GRAHAM
Publisher not pleased
Publishing companies have an important part to play in today's English language learning and teaching. A concerned publisher detailed his or her conference woes in a recent UK publication, which is available at http://tinyurl.com/y7swlgm . Listening to what he/she has to say could help our government agencies and Thai organisations to better plan our future conferences.
In my opinion, for the commenter to say that the last ThaiTesol event was "poorly organised and poorly attended" was very harsh. However, from a publisher's point of view, I agree that the area designated for publishers to sell their wares was extremely limited. There wasn't enough room to swing a dead cat, let alone allow several hundred people the opportunity to browse and empty their wallets.
This shouldn't detract from the hard work that the organising committee puts into producing these events. There are people on the committee who are dedicated and conscientious. What seems to be lacking is some kind of coordination to provide conferences and facilities that benefit everyone attending.
How do we know what people want to see and listen to? What do the publishers want? Of course, I am not naive enough to think that we can make everyone happy, but I do think that there needs to be some kind of collaboration among all parties concerned as to the way ahead.
Another interesting aspect to the published letter was the perceived lack of quality control of the presentations. "Too many research-based presentations delivered by poor presenters" was one of the charges. Some readers might be surprised by my opinion on the matter.
I believe that there should be a place for people to present the latest research conducted towards their PhD. However, this needs to be clearly labelled so that those who want a more practical presentation or workshop know whether to attend or not.
PhD students need to present, so do BEd students and so do Thai teachers of English who don't have the required English-language skills to present in English.
They can present in Thai. If strands were clearly labelled and rooms allocated for the designated strands and publicised so that everyone knows, I am convinced it would benefit everyone.
In addition, a further charge was that there were too many presentations taking place at the same time, resulting in small attendances in all the presentations and what the letter writer called a certain amount of "rubbish".
I suppose that reducing the number of presentations would inevitably increase the quality. However, Thailand needs a stage on which to display its research and teaching methodologies.
Towards the future
I don't profess to have all the answers, although I do practise what I preach in my column. The letter writer explains how publishers are becoming "jaded" and that if there isn't a change soon, events like ThaiTesol will "die through lack of support".
I agree that incentives do need to be offered so that new blood can be attracted to these events, and that networking needs to be promoted as a form of learning and understanding.
I encourage interested parties to contact me at "Education" with opinions and recommendations for the future. These will be collated and forwarded to those organising conferences in Thailand with a view to reversing this lack of confidence which I believe is quite well spread throughout the country.
Steve Graham is an English-language teacher at the Language Centre, Udon Thani Rajabhat University in northeast Thailand. You may discuss matters related to this article, by sending your comments to 'In My Opinion' at email@example.com .