Sights & Sounds: BESIG conference 2008

A quick scan of my micro-sized office will reveal the remnants of a business English conference: brochures and catalogs on the floor, my ticket stubs tucked beneath the scanner, business cards propped up by a six-day old coffee cup -but drat, where's the American guy's card, what was his name again?

Is it in my purse? Hmmm...

Oh and of course, my ultra handy netbook is resting precariously on top of my filing tray - the mini computer looks like a cute toy even though it's actually more powerful than my laptop - he's (his full name is The Little Blue Guy and we're in love) just FULL of draft versions on the different sessions I attended at BESIG.

Ya, my work's cut out for me!

I'll be posting reports of these sessions up bit by bit, in between other lesson tips, ideas and reflections on teaching business and ESP English but in the meantime thought I'd quickly share some of the videos and photos I shot during the conference: made a little compilation which I hope you'll enjoy:

Creative Commons License
BESIG 2008- video by Karenne Sylvester is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. You have my full permission to download a copy or embed it into your own blog/website. To do so, go here. To learn more about creative commons, come here.

The BESIG organizers organized a very, very efficient event.

As soon as one entered the door, it was clear what to do, where to go and how. Coffee abounded, there was lots of space and most of the presenters were highly professional, prepared and interesting with much knowledge to pass on.

My feedback would include:

To the BESIG coordinators:

Timing - 40 minute sessions are too short.

Most of the presenters could not stay within the time frame, understandably. My personal recommendation would be to provide one hour sessions instead, asking trainers to present for 45 and leave 15mins room for questions and discussion.

Know your audience.

While the great majority of the sessions I attended were fantastic and I'll report on those, some weren't. Some were an utter waste of time.

The main problem seemed to lie in the fact that the trainer didn't know who he/she was presenting to.

Sometimes I felt like I was in someone's very tiny personal institute rather than at an important BE conference - sort of like being with a bunch of unqualified trainers who were being taught the first round of basics or being given information best saved for an in-company group meeting.

However, the reality is that in most sessions I was surrounded by at least one or two
  • Authors
  • Directors of Studies or Assistant Directors of Studies
  • Entrepreneurs and freelancers
  • Teacher-trainers

and in all the sessions:

seriously committed BE teachers.
It costs time, money and energy to make it to a conference - we're not on holiday, so

1) be prepared
2) involve your audience
3) finish your research before presenting it - we're not interested in what if
4) spend a little time with powerpoint* and get to know it, it can be your friend
*obviously it's not always necessary to use new media, when it's not used the presentation should still be commanding.
5) practice your presentation

Publishers' Panel:

This needs to be a double session (or at least 1.5hrs).

There was only time for 2, max 3 questions(?). The room was jam-packed: we had stuff to hear and stuff to discuss, we are your community: your purchasers, your reviewers, your critics - there wasn't enough time to do this in.

That said, great stuff the rest of you:

John Allison, aside from your fantastic materials, you're a clear and dynamic presenter and I am actually going to cave in and buy yet another Business English coursebook, if you're involved in The Business, I'll check it out. Emery, I may never ever fly again but I will pass on your details if I meet teachers who want to specialize in aviation English. Schofield, my students are currently reading/listening to your readers, enjoying them so far and I've asked them to write up the reviews themselves! We'll post the results up soon. Prof. Azennoud I really enjoyed learning about Morocco - it snows in Morocco!!!- and your developments there, thanks for coming to Germany to share.

Useful links related to the video:

New Business English teaching certificate
Skylight, CTLC-C
Training in Aviation English for teachers and learners

Macmillan Education
Aviation English Student's Book and DVD Pack
Business Upper-intermediate: Student's Book DVD ROM Pack

Langescheidt readers by James Schofield
Room Service (Summertown Readers)
Peril in Venice (Summertown Readers)
Summertown Readers: Ekaterina

Cambridge University Press, Cambridge English for...series
Cambridge English for Job-Hunting Student's Book with Audio CDs (2) with CD (Audio) (Cambridge English for)


3 Responses to “Sights & Sounds: BESIG conference 2008”

  • Eric Baber says:
    December 01, 2008

    Thanks for the feedback Karenne - glad to hear you enjoyed the conference. Thanks in particular for the very useful feedback (e.g. session length) - we've noted it and will see what the general feedback on that was like and then see what the general opinion is.

    See you next year, in Poland! :-)


  • Anonymous says:
    December 02, 2008

    Thank you for the little mix video : very interesting for someone like me who doesn't know anything about BESIG ! I must admit I was a bit frustrated as I would have loved to listen more about the differences in frequency of "in terms of" both in conversational and business English ! oh and also the bit about "having fun" in learning, with another presenter : this concept of "having fun" seems a bit too dictatorial to me sometimes : you *must* have fun or you won't learn !!
    Anyway good luck to you and the blog and thank you for all your generosity and enthusiasm.


    December 02, 2008

    Hi Marianne,

    I'll be posting up a blog entry on the Plenary and what Mr McCarthy was talking about - it's seriously fascinating stuff. Will send you an email when it's up :-). In the meantime check out the BESIG site, a great organization and valuable resource.

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for your thanks, yes, hope to see you in Poland too - and perhaps I'll present! (If they'll have me).
    p.s.-Liked your blog, am sad to see it's not in progress anymore. Let us know when you're back in blogosphere...I'm sure you can't really stay away ;-)


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