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Why Do I Attend CATESOL Conference?
12/01/2018

Vian Tormis

I came to America as an English language learner. When I was still a student in an ESL intensive program, I volunteered at a CATESOL conference. That was my first time at a CATESOL event and my very first memory of attending a professional conference.

I vividly rem...
I came to America as an English language learner. When I was still a student in an ESL intensive program, I volunteered at a CATESOL conference. That was my first time at a CATESOL event and my very first memory of attending a professional conference.

I vividly remember after a long morning of helping direct conference attendees to the main venue, I had a chance to attend one of the many concurrent sessions. I offered a comment to the professor who was presenting and the professor highly complimented my comment. I shared that I was an English language learner and she was so happy to find out that I was still a language-program student. She said she wish her students could come to the conference and participate like me. The professor might not even remember this moment, but to an ESL student like me, it was such great encouragement.

Because of that very interaction that I had, I started to love conferences. The more conferences I attend, the more I realize that conferences are great places for learning, inspiring, and growing. Although I have many, my top five reasons to attend CATESOL are as follows:


1. Consume Knowledge 
Great educators are non-stop learners. A four-day CATESOL conference is like a feast of knowledge for hungry learners like you. From the countless sessions with various topics around the TESOL field, you will always find a great amount of new and fascinating things to learn in your interested areas.

2. Be Inspired 
In Chinese, there is a saying "When three are walking together, I am sure to find teachers among them." I am always inspired by conference speakers as well as other conference attendees. Even with your familiar topics, you can still find a different perspective or come out with a new idea by hearing the presentations or collaborating with other attendees. Therefore, be open-minded, be self-reflective, and get ready to be inspired!  

3. Network with Awesome People
CATESOL Conference brings together people who have hearts for TESOL! The people who come to the conference are passionate educators. They are the people who would like to share their knowledge, who are eager to learn from each other, who encourage and motivate, who specialize in English language learning and teaching, and who advocate for English language learners. No matter you are a professor, a teacher, an administrator, or a student, you should come to find your community.

4. Stay in fashion, stay cool!
The world is changing fast! So does teaching techniques. My favorite part of attending a conference is to learn about new trends and tools. Through hands-on workshops and teaching demonstrations, I am always able to learn some cool concepts and tools that I can use the next day in my class.

5. Find Energy and Regain Passion
A conference is like a retreat for me. I love to feel the energy that people produce in a conference! Those sparkling eyes and enthusiastic conversations from the conference attendees remind me who I am as an educator. Sometimes our passion fades away from our memory in the midst of the chaos of daily life. If that is you, I wish you could come, experience the energy, and regain your passion and love.

Weina Li Chen, who came to America as an English learner, is currently teaching in an MA TESOL program at Pepperdine University while finishing her Ph. D. in Global Leadership and Change. She is specialized in gamification, world language education, and online learning.