Now that we are close to the opening of the XII Prescott School ELT Conference in Arequipa (the most important convention for teachers of English out of Lima), I think it is time for us to ponder on how important it is to attend and/ or participate giving talks in these events.
Of course there are conferences and conferences. So it is always a good idea to check the quality of the speakers and organizers. Most events have a web page where you can read CVs and abstracts of workshops and talks. Another good idea is to ask around. Have your colleagues attended this event in past years? Will they recommend it? Usually, other teachers can tell us about the organization, timetabling, costs, and other etc´s we can´t see until we are “on the horse.”
Then, there is the question of usefulness, and that is a very personal issue. You´ll have to ask yourself if the event is really going to contribute to your professional development, if it is worth the effort not only paying a fee (normally affordable or free in the case of commercial talks) but also using your free time to be there. Academic meetings may not give us what we need, and commercial events might not be what we expect, since the bottom of them all is to try and sell their products: Are we ready to oversee this and attend anyway?
Finally, do we have anything to contribute, in other words, give a talk, present an experience, or disseminate some news? I must confess that I think that the ELT scene in Peru needs to refresh, new professionals have to come forward and share, take the relay, make the field progress and improve. That only depends on us all.
What do you think?