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8 Reasons You Should Attend a TEFL/TESOL Conference This Year

If you’re looking for a fun way to connect with other teachers, learn about professional development for ESL teachers, and network with schools offering new job opportunities, attending a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference is a great way to invest your time!

If you’re new to teaching, you’ll want to get initial training and qualification with a TEFL certificate. You can explore our online TEFL courses to get started!

What are TEFL/TESOL Conferences All About?

TESOL Conference China 2019

Keynote address at the 2019 TESOL Conference in China

Often hosted annually by a national or international TESOL/TEFL organization, TESOL conferences offer educators a chance to network, discuss the latest research and practices in the industry, and listen to panels or keynote speakers that include top field professionals.

A great example of one such conference is the upcoming TESOL 2020 International Convention & English Language Expo, which will take place in Denver, Colorado from March 31 to April 3 and which is hosted by the TESOL International Association. Another top TESOL conference that will take place this spring is the IATEFL’s 54th International Conference & Exhibition. The conference will be held in Manchester, England from April 18 to 21.

Why Should You Consider Attending a Local or National TEFL/TESOL Conference?

Bridge will attend and present at both conferences as an educational institution, but these events are primarily for teachers and others in the field of teaching English to network with peers and experts, connect with job opportunities, stay on top of industry trends, and foster professional development. While attending either of those TESOL conferences will look great on your TEFL resume, not everyone can attend an international event. Fortunately, there are also many local professional TESOL organizations that you can join to reap many of the same benefits. Below are some of the main reasons that attending a conference can be so rewarding.

1. Network with other teachers/admin in your field

Bridge staff at the TESOL Conference in Chicago

Attending a past TESOL event in Chicago

TESOL conferences offer many opportunities to network with other professionals in the industry. Networking can lead to meaningful connections with educators from all over the world. You can exchange ideas, compare professional experiences, and get inspired by other teachers. Some of these connections may go on to become an integral part of your teacher support group, as keeping in touch via online platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook is easy.

If you have a Twitter account, you might even be able to reach out to other teachers planning to attend the event. Before the conference begins, just search Twitter for teachers using conference hashtags or tagging the conference host. And, a must-follow tip is to bring business cards to the conference. Chances are, you’ll want to pass out quite a few!

2. Meet industry experts and “gurus”

Presenter at a TESOL Conference

A TESOL session about global teachers

International TESOL conferences allow you to meet leading industry professionals face to face. You’ll be moved by their stories and find out exactly how they were able to take their careers to the top. This year, the TESOL 2020 International Convention & English Language Expo will feature Andrés Ruzo as the opening keynote speaker. Ruzo hosts the National Geographic’s Latin American show “Misterios del Inframundo” (“Mysteries of the Underworld”) and has traveled the globe furthering various conservation efforts. Other keynote speakers at the 2020 TESOL conference include Mandy Manning, 2018 National Teacher of the Year, who teaches refugee and immigrant students and Zarina Blankenbaker, President of Tarrant County College (TCC) Northwest. Getting to hear from these inspiring individuals is a great reason to attend TESOL conferences like this one!

3. Present your research

TESOL conferences provide an opportunity to present in your area of expertise, either individually or with colleagues. Sign up to showcase your research at a booth or get in touch with the conference host about running an informative panel or workshop. Some of this year’s session topics at the IATEFL’s 54th International Conference & Exhibition include how to get published in an academic journal, incorporating empathy in the English language classroom, and teaching English in underserved contexts. No matter what topic you choose to cover, it will look great on your resume!

4. Find a job

There are many great ways to learn about job opportunities at TESOL conferences. For starters, you may get to peruse recruitment tables or booths hosted by conference sponsors who might have positions available. You can also learn about the teaching markets worldwide just by talking to other teachers who have experience working abroad. Not only could attending a conference and networking lead to your next teaching job, but it could open up doors for an admin position or other opportunity, such as writing for an academic journal or presenting on a panel at an upcoming convention.

Search open TEFL/TESOL positions today on the BridgeTEFL Job Board!

5. Add professional development to your resume

Employers want to see that you’re dedicated to continuing to improve your teaching practices no matter how long you’ve been in the field. Attending TESOL conferences shows your current and future employers that you’re a lifelong learner and that you actively seek to improve your teaching and your students’ experiences. Attending conferences looks great on your resume and can also provide interesting and relevant talking points for future job interviews.

6. Learn about the latest research and teaching methods

Attendees visiting booths at the TESOL Conference in China

Attendees visiting booths at last year’s TESOL event in China

A great way to get new ideas for your classroom is to attend conference sessions on the latest innovations and theories in the academic sphere. At a TESOL conference, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss these topics with your peers and industry experts. Some of the session topics at the TESOL 2020 International Convention & English Language Expo include recent global trends in English language instruction, researching the practices of online teachers, and creating classroom materials in a digital world. You can then take the information you learn from these sessions and present it to your colleagues back home!

7. Get out of your bubble and feel a sense of community

It can sometimes be difficult to maintain perspective when you’ve been teaching in one community for a long time. Attending a TESOL conference provides you with a global context for what you do and reminds you that you belong to a group of individuals who come from all over the world and who share your passion for teaching. Learning from teachers who have different backgrounds than you and who are from other parts of the globe is an invaluable experience and can lead to exciting classroom ideas or teaching revelations that you’d never have had otherwise.

Meet a cross-section of Bridge grads who are global English teachers making a difference worldwide! 

8. Travel to someplace new

TESOL Colombia

TESOL conferences often present opportunities to visit places you’ve never been to before. If you’re considering attending a conference abroad, it’s worth asking the school or language institute where you work if they’ll sponsor you to attend since it’s for your professional development and will benefit your employer as well. If an international trip is out of reach, consider attending a local event, one that’s in your country or even your home state. Take the opportunity to explore a new place and find out what it’s like to teach there.

There are numerous benefits to attending a TESOL conference, and it’s something that every teacher should strive to do. Start by taking a look at upcoming conferences, and maybe Bridge will even see you in Denver at the TESOL 2020 International Convention & English Language Expo!

Learn more about how you can make the most of professional development opportunities in this article: Professional Development for ESL Teachers — 8 Ways to Boost Your Resume.

Camille is a content marketing manager, specializing in the language industry. Her love for language and experiencing other cultures has taken her around the globe, and she has taught English abroad both in the classroom and online. When not working or traveling, she can be found spending time with her family or — when not chasing after her two young daughters — cozying up with a good book!