TESOL-Arabia, 11-13th March 2010, Zayed University, Dubai, UAE
I’ve been off the ELT conference circuit for some time. I’ve continued to do talks in the UK, but have avoided the major conferences for a few years, since Karen and I did tours of Hungary and Italy with OUP, giving our English As A Funny Language- A History of ELT Dialogue talk. We got involved with writing a course in American English for two years (which was aborted), then we were completely tied up with the eighty video scipts for My Oxford English which kept us away from conferences. Now with Fast Track to Reading I’m back and with something completely new to say.
So TESOL-Arabia was a change, and I’d been so invisible for four years that, yes, people did come up and say Didn’t you used to be Peter Viney? I spoke twice and did a round-table debate on Native Speaker Teachers v Non-Native Speaker Teachers.
It was simply the best-organized conference I’ve ever attended, in the most pleasant and comfortable surroundings. See this link for TESOL Arabia’s own photo gallery.
Atrium and Garnet Education stand
Everything went like clockwork, and the book exhibition (which is like the “Home Page” on a website for travelling authors) was in the beautiful and lofty atrium. Publishers often complain about crowded book exhibitions stuck in the corner of conferences, but this one set the benchmark. There were coffee stands dotted through the atrium, so people could go for a chat in comfort, it was spacious and well-lit. The lecture rooms had Club Class style aircraft seats, and all the AV equipment worked seamlessly. There’s always that moment of terror as you connect your laptop to someone else’s system, in spite of the reassuring feel of British square 13 amp sockets throughout Dubai. If you travel with a Mac, and use Keynote instead of PowerPoint, you prefer to use your own equipment. Every presenter was given one of those remote controllers with the laser highlight as a gift, and that was a vast improvement on using a wireless mouse, which is my normal method.
From TESOL-Arabia’s photo gallery
I saw almost nothing of Dubai. We left the hotel each morning (most of the speakers stayed at the Al Bustan Rotana … yes, that’s the hotel that was in the news recently, and everyone was saying “Not on the second floor please”). The 25 km drive to the univesity enabled us to view the tallest building in the far distance through the mist. We spent all day at the conference and returned to the Al Bustan Rotana every evening. As usual, socializing with other presenters was a major part of the event.
I always carry a compact camera, which was the source of many of the signs in Fast Track, as well as the ones in the ELT articles here. It died on the way to Dubai, producing only Monet like impressionistic pictures. Fortunately Richard Peacock of Garnet Education was able to capture the ones of me on an iPhone.
The moderator of our debate was Les Kirkham, who was at both Bournemouth School and Hull University with me. We’re pictured here at a conference social event.