The second ISTEK conference takes place next weekend in Istanbul and it’s already causing a major buzz on the airwaves. The first conference last year was simply astonishing, for many different reasons.
Firstly, the organisers decided to have a two-day conference rather than just one, which is normal for spring conferences in Istanbul and other major Turkish cities. They also decided to charge a fee to attend, whereas all the other one-day conferences are free to attend.
They still managed to persuade more than a thousand people to attend. Most of them were Turkish, of course, but another fourteen countries were represented there.
Secondly, they decided to invite a number of top conference plenary speakers, and all of them agreed to attend. The result was a first-time conference with plenary addresses from Jeremy Harmer, Herbert Puchta, Lindsay Clandfield, Nicky Hockly, Luke Prodromou and Andrew Wright.
Last but not least, the atmosphere, particularly in the plenary hall was absolutely amazing. An important reason for this was the team who introduced the plenary speakers, Vanessa Hatoum and John Barth, who pitched each introduction at just the right level of delight and deference.
This year is equally mouth-watering as far as the plenary speakers are concerned. They are Rod Bolitho, Jan Blake (the poet and story-teller who wow-ed everyone with her amazing talk at IATEFL UK in Harrogate last year), Scott Thornbury and Interchange author and doyen of the ELT writing world, Dr Jack C Richards. Jack is not a conference junkie these days, so it’s amazing that they persuaded him to attend.
Scott Thornbury and Jack Richards, two of the most famous ELT New Zealanders of all time, at the same conference – terrific!
An innovation this year is what the organisers have called ‘Concurrent Plenaries’ – two sets of simultaneous talks which at any other conference would probably be plenaries in their own right. Speakers include current IATEFL President Eric Baber, e-learning gurus Nik Peachey and Gavin Dudeney, Turkish star Ozge Karaoglu, Teaching Unplugged author Luke Meddings and ELTON award-winners Russell Stannard and Jamie Keddie, amongst many others. The concurrent plenary speakers will do their talks twice.
There are even more great presenters providing concurrent workshops, a really impressive list of events for one conference.
I don’t know for sure but I imagine that – like last year – the conference plenaries will be live-streamed. For anyone who has never seen Jan or Scott speak, or who wants a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Jack Richards at work, this is your chance.
And yes, I AM going, I AM giving a talk and I’m REALLY looking forward to it.
Here’s a link to information about this year’s events.