ISTEK thank-you notes

Between Luke Meddings and David Hill at the start of the conference

As I’m sure all of you who are involved with ELT are aware, the rather special ISTEK conference took place at the Yeditepe University campus in Istanbul last weekend. I have asked Luke Meddings, a regular speaker at ELT conferences who was at ISTEK for the first time, to write me a guest blog about his experiences. He’s promised it ASAP. 😛

Vanessa Hatoum and Louis Savoy, introducing Jan Blake, the opening speaker at the conference

In the  meantime, I present for you some of the emails I received from participants who attended my talk Ten Things I Think I Know About Teaching (and Learning). I don’t do conference handouts any more, so if people want the contents of the talk, they have to email me and I send them a word doc.

I get a bigger – and warmer – response to this request after speaking in Turkey than I do in any other country.

But there is a task! 😛

Below are fourteen of the emails I received, written by participants from Turkey and five other countries. Only one of them was written by a native speaker. So the task is



Dear Mr. Wilson,

I thank you so much for the amazing and enjoyable presentation full of facts as opposed to what course books say all the time 🙂

It was a huge honour to be in your session.

You always welcome to Turkey.

You might have a flight soon. If yes, have a very nice flight.


Hi Mr. Wilson,

I listened you at Çevre College last month, and today in ISTEK ELT. I think I am lucky to have chance to listen you and attend your session.

Thank you for sharing and your help.

Take care,


Hello sir,

I listened to your session this weekend in Yeditepe University, Istanbul. You promised to send the Power Point presentation notes. So if you would care to send a reply to my mail (with the attachment of course), I would really appreciate it and I could share these ideas with my colleagues here at school, which will help us a lot.

Thank you very much and I really enjoyed listening to you. Hope to see you again.

Have a nice week.


Conference organiser Burcu Akyol with one of the organising team



I attended your session on Sunday, Apr 3rd, and would like to receive soft copies of your presentation.

Thank you very much for the wonderful session 🙂


Hi Ken,

I was at Istek conference last weekend and in your session as well. It was wonderful. I really enjoyed it. Could you send the presentation? I would like to share them with my friends at school who didn’t have the chance of coming to the conference.

Thank you


Dear Mr. Wilson,

I have attended to your keynote session on the 3rd of April. Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas with us. Could you please send me your presentation.

Thank you for your concern.

Caught sharing some gossip with ISTEK roving reporter Mark Andrews


Dear Mr Wilson,

I’m writing to thank you for a really entertaining Sunday afternoon. I hope you enjoyed your time at Yeditepe as much as I did. You mentioned that you would be willing to forward your notes from the presentation so may I thank you in advance for this.

Should you ever find yourself in Izmir, please get in touch, as I’d love to show you around our school and the city.

Kind Regards


Dear Mr Wilson,

It was so inspiring and rewarding to be able to attend your session at İSTEK Conference. Thanks a lot.

I’d like to have your presentation if it wouldn’t cause you too much trouble.

Best regards,


Dear Mr. Wilson;

I am one of the attendants of the presentation you gave on Sunday at Yeditepe University. I am also the one who couldn’t get up because of the crowd when you wanted us, the people under 25, to stand up 🙂   (I have a problem with my age)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our company as much as we did yours. It has been a great pleasure being there and meeting you.

This is my first year as a teacher and I could really use some help so I was wondering if you could send me you presentation as you said you would.

I am looking forward to it.

Kind Regards.


Hello Ken,

Could you please share your presentation from ISTEK sesssion with me? I’d very appreciate that, and MANY THANKS again for a wonderful conference experience!



Thanks to ISTEK schools giving us this opportunity to get together, share our ideas and get new ideas. We had wonderful time in there, met with different people from different parts of the world and from different backgrounds and experiences.

Thank you Ken for your lovely smile and great ideas that you shared with us. If it’s possible I would be really happy to get your presentation Ken. If it’s possible please send me an e-mail.

Have a nice day.


Dear Ken,

I will be so happy if you send me your talk or the source that i can read about.

I’m looking forward to your next session.


Hi Dear Ken,

First of all thank you for your great talk at ISTEK last week. It was a great pleasure for me to be there. Would you please send me your powerpoint slides that you presented at the conference?

Thanks in advance.

Best regards,


Dear Mr Wilson,

I attended your talk at ISTEK conference. I am sure you don’t remember me even though I was sitting on the stairs during your talk. You had full house and even Scott Thornbury had nowhere to sit- it made me feel so special that I was there chairless too. What is more, I hope you haven’t spotted me mending my tights with nail polish during your talk. I just had to act immediately because the ladder could become bigger. My Greatest apologies for that disrespecting behaviour.

Would you be so kind so as to send me the notes from your talk? I would be delighted if your answer was positive. I am sure I will benefit from reading them and putting your ideas into practice. Hopefully my students too.

I promise to behave next time during your presentation. Look forward to it.

Best regards,

Jan Blake's opening plenary. Is she the best story-teller in the world?

88 thoughts on “ISTEK thank-you notes

    1. Well, as you can imagine, Sue, I won’t give the correct answer until I’ve had more replies. But rest assured the first three to get the right answer will be invited to dinner in the Wilson kitchen in Fulham at a time convenient to all. 😛

    1. Dear Ms Strong,

      I refer you to the answer to my previous correspondent. 😛

      Just typed ‘precious’ instead of ‘previous’ – one letter change and the pronunciation is different. How does ANYONE learn how to pronounce English??

      See you in Brighton.

      1. Maybe it was a Freudian slip, Ken. Sue *is* rather precious, after all.
        (Almost typed “previous” there, which of course, she’s not.)

    1. Wonderful – I’m so pleased that there are a variety of answers! 😛

      I’ll post the correct answer at the weekend.

    1. Thanks for coming here, Penny – it’s better to keep all the answers in the same place!

      Penny originally answered on twitter, which is AGAINST THE RULES (rules which I have just invented).

  1. hello Ken,

    i love the task. I would also go for number 7:-)

    btw- Would be great if you could forward the notes from your talk to my email address too. I could show you around the school and city too! 😉


    1. And Ania’s vote means it’s neck and neck between 4 and 7. 😛

      Pixie, now YOU’RE breaking the rules. If you want the word doc, which includes five activities from my book Drama and Improvisation, you have to send me an email.

      1. ‘Soft’ number 4 was also on my mind but 7 is my choice:)

        A HUGE ” I”M SORRY ” for breaking the rules, will try to make up for it in a minute 😉

        Rulesbreaker – Pixie 🙂

  2. Hi, Ken!

    Agree with Sue, this is a challenging task! Think there might be a surprising answer so will choose No. 8. It was a pleasure to attend your presentation and yes, I would like the notes.

    Dinner in the Wilson kitchen, next on dream list before ISTEK 2013, esp. if Dede is making the dessert!

    Lovely to meet you both!

    1. Excellent – number 8 making a showing after a slow start. Number 4 and number 7 are neck-and-neck out in front at the moment.

      As it’s Grand National weekend, I think I’ll try to use horse-racing language as the race progresses. 😛

    1. You most definitely get a yellow card IF you read the reply to Pixie Ania and IGNORED it.

      If on the other hand, you DIDN’T read the reply, then I unreservedly apologise for threatening you with a yellow card.

    1. Hi Teresa,

      I don’t actually know if the native speaker is a Brit or not – just going by the name. But the votes are totting up for more than one, which is great!

  3. Ken,
    4 looks unusual at least to me – asking for soft copies whereas you told us during the talk you were “going green and eco-friendly”, so I’d put my bet on 9.

    PS. It was particularly precious to see my own short, compared to others, thank-you note=), so if you allow me some freedom of space here, I’ll redeem myself and say that for me it was an honour to attend your session and I’m extremely happy to be living in an ELT era with you, Scott and many other effective educators who focus on learners and their needs.

    1. Well done, Anastasia! You’ve added to your email without giving away which one it is! Although I guess we have to assume yours isn’t 4 or 9 😛

      Thank you for the lovely words. The fact is both my audiences at ISTEK were warm, friendly, attentive and out to have a good time.

  4. Interesting task. The more I read about ISTEK, the more I’m looking forward to IATEFL as going to Turkey just wasn’t on the cards, but I’m hoping Brighton can be as exciting.

    Most people seem to be going for numbers 4 or 7, but I’m going to take a stab at number 10, because native speakers make mistakes too and I’m convinced there’s a trick in this task! ; )


    1. Hi Richard!

      well, the only ‘trick’ is that if the emails have an error in them, it’s a very small one and could be the result of email short-hand. But they are all presented as I received them, so no tricks in that sense.

  5. Hi Ken,

    I didn’t attend ISTEK unfortunately. But I’m still interested, both in the task and in receiving your powerpoint presentation! My guess is that the native speaker is #5. I’m really curious! When will you give us the answer?!

    Best, Daniela

    1. Hi Daniela – not sure where you are based, but if ISTEK 2013 (there won’t be one next year) was on the cards for you, you must go. I think everyone here in these comments who attended the conference this year would agree with me that it is a very very special conference indeed.

      I will announce the winner on Sunday or after 50 votes – whichever comes first 😛

    1. Hi Beth!

      you don’t thank in advance? I do, well, I think I used to. Maybe it’s a generation thing! 😛

      See you in Brighton.

  6. Hi Ken,

    really nice thank you notes…all of them 🙂 Would be funny to use them with students 🙂

    I vote for number 4!


    1. Hi Vladka,

      absolutely no problem using these emails. Would you let your students look for errors first?

    1. Hi Mike,

      I think your vote may have taken number 4 out into the lead. Going to count them up after I’ve finished this reply.

  7. Unlike the previous guesses, i put my vote on 6, 10 or 12. I have a feeling that über polite addressing isn’t likely to come from a native speaker. The use of capital “İ” and “Ç” made me eliminate those messages.

  8. Hello Ken,

    I’d say it’s number 4… Can’t really say why 4 and not 7, suppose because I read it first. Or is the right answer something completely different?! Hm… 🙂


    Number of votes cast: 26

    1 Number 4, with ten votes
    2 Number 7, with six votes
    3 Number 8, with three votes
    4 Number 14, with two votes
    5 Joint fifth, with one vote, numbers 5, 9, 10, 12 & 13


    Number 4 was written by Gamze Tamtürk, the Business & Science ESP Coordinator at Yeditepe University. Number 7 was written by Mark Waghorne, Director of Studies at The English Academy in Izmir.


    The winners are Sue, Helen, Ania (who all attended ISTEK), Ty, David and Kirsten. You are all invited to dinner in West London at a time suitable to all concerned. Genuine offer!

    1. Thank you, Gita. I’ve had some tweets and emails asking me if number 14 is genuine and it is. 😛

  10. Ooooh tricky!
    I’m going to say 7 is the native speaker.
    I initally thought 4 too but it’s so short it’s difficult to judge it.
    Using mistakes is a bit murky so I’m going by instinct.
    I shan’t be attending Brighton but I’ll be following online!

  11. Dear Ken,

    I didn’t understand why most of the people have chosen number 4:) I think it’s number 14. I’m really curious about the answer.

    By the way I found your interactive post very exciting. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi David!

      my IATEFL talk has the same title as the ISTEK talk and will be 15 minutes longer. More pertinently, it will be de-Turkey-fied, and for an international audience.

      Frankly, I find it easier doing talks like this for an audience of people who all work in the same country and teach the same kind of students, but that isn’t possible at IATEFL.

      I’m on at 2.35 Sunday in Room 1. There’s room for 100, so bring 99 of your closest friends. 😛

  12. I’d like to repeat my tweet!

    @TeresaBestwick @kenwilsonlondon number 7 is the native speaker, methinks!

    Just got home from work, so sorry this is late.

  13. I thank in advance and I’m young! And I can be very polite in emails, believe it or not. Then again, I don’t speak “standard English” being from Liverpool 🙂

    Number 7 is just excellent English, “should you ever” etc.

    If number 7 is not a native speaker, can we make them an honorary native speaker?

    1. Interesting additions from a Scouser to the pool (forgive the pun) of opinions about this set of emails.

      I presume you speak educated Scouse – which puts you in the same language group as Prof David Crystal – not a bad place to be.

      1. David Crystal’s route to being an educated Scouser is a very roundabout one – born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, grew up first in North Wales, then educated in Liverpool, and now living back in North Wales. And he’s something of a linguistic chameleon, not surprisingly.

        I really recommend you read his autobiography ‘Just A Phrase I’m Going Through’ to read the whole very interesting story.

  14. Interesting that another Scouser (Kirsten) has opted for number 7 as well.. the plot thickens 😀

    I sometimes say thank you in advance for things in formal emails too, Ken; maybe it is a generational thing?


    1. No – Kirsten says she does it and she’s … ahem… a different generation to you and even to me. 😛

  15. I also thank in advance and use “Should you ever” in formal e-mails. I have seen this style in several Turkish people’s mails.

    I voted for 12 since I think typing “i am” is a bit native, isn’t it?

  16. I’m sticking with 4, but, looking at number 7 again, I’m wondering if it’s from a native speaker who’s been living abroad for a *really* long time…

    1. Aha … and there’s ANOTHER point for discussion – do NESTs suffer linguistically when they live abroad??

      1. Mmm, well perhaps less so nowadays, with global communications – although it would be interesting to hear from people who do.

        Maybe I was going by my own experience of living in Paris in the 80s. The only contact some of the older expats there had had with native-speaker English over the previous 30 years or so had been with each other and the World Service.

      2. yes we do! only 7 months in and i’m softening my speaking and speaking english in a foreign way. nevertheless, number 7 (thinking of the prisoner, here), is just a really polite guy with an apropriate writing style. nothing “odd” about his language as I see.

  17. I’ve been undecided for a while, even more so now that i’ve read all the comments and votes…
    My gut tells me it’s 4 – informal, short, casual – something a non-Nest might not feel comfortable enough to write.
    7 was my suspect no 2 but the beginning sounds like a model sentence from textbooks ‘i am writing to thank you…’, something a student of english once learned…
    8 sounds too grateful, 9 sounds like it might be a native feeling too relaxed… argh…
    my guess is you were also surprised by the native’s email and that’s why you turned it into a task…
    i’ll go with 4, for better or for worse 🙂

    1. Hi Liv,

      nice to see you here again!

      Written English is SO MUCH harder to get right, right? 😛 I think register is SO difficult when it’s an e-mail to someone like me who’s just done a talk. Some of us are quite unapproachable. 😛

      I’m adding your vote to the list (below)

  18. Good Morning!

    Have been digitially distracted for a while. Pleased to see the contributions (let’s get to 50 today so all is revealed). Interested to find out whether other NESTs feel they suffer linguistically when they live abroad. Not so much ‘suffer’ but definitely miss out on some of the latest introductions to the language and also miss hearing old expressions such as ‘in fine fettle’. Thank you, Mr. Andrew Wright!

    1. Julie,

      I have to say that the email you sent after my talk was my favourite, but it arrived after I put this post up, and of course you’re a native speaker, so I couldn’t add it. But just cos I love it, here it is:

      Hi, Ken,

      I would appreciate it if you could send me the presentation notes and activities. During the actual presentation I laughed so much, I had too many tears in my eyes to make enough notes! Hope someone in Greece requests the presence of you & Dede soon. I’ll be there!

      Kind regards,
      Julie Raikou

  19. That’s good to know! What about recording the Brighton session and posting online so we can enjoy your comments once again?!

  20. Hmmm, this is very tricky. I know from experience when writing short emails in a hurry (especially when unsure about the register) that I often go back and quickly edit something without checking it and re-reading it.

    That’s why I think the answer could be either no. 13 or no. 10. In no. 13, they could’t decide whether to say ‘Dear’ or ‘Hi’ and so went for both. In no. 10, I reckon they were going to say something like ‘I’d very much like that’ but then changed their mind and intended to write ‘I’d really appreciate that’ but forgot to edit it properly.

    So, as no-one else has suggested no.13, I think I’m going to plump for that one.

    Also, the fact that you decided to post this task makes me think that the NEST email is less than obvious. No. 7 for example, is probably a red herring.

    However, the more I keep reading them, the more I think it could be any from about 8 or 9 of them! It’s soooooooooo difficult!

    1. I like your thinking, I went for number 10 because of the reasons you mention, I thought it was a simple slip and was intrigued by the capital letters as well.

      Oh well! Congrats to the winners.

      1. Number 10 was written by someone who has actually made one of the above comments, someone who is neither native speaker nor Turkish. I will let her decide if she wants to reveal her identity. Or – from these clues – you might be able to work out who it is! 😛

    2. Number 12 was written by ISTEK conference presenter Gamze Günaydı, who’s a lecturer at Istanbul Aydın University. Excellent presenter, if you get the chance to see her in action. 😛

    3. The number 12 comment was a reply to Peter Fenton – but my blog is playing silly buggers this morning and not locating my replies where I actually wrote them! :~

  21. Hi Ken

    I vote for number 4. If it’s not written by a native, it is definitely the most informal one.

    Nice task 🙂

    1. Hi Slavica!

      nice of you to drop by – long time, no see.

      Your vote has been added to the total (below). All will be revealed later. 😛

    1. Helloooo Branka, nice to see you here…

      Your vote has been added below… let’s see if you’re right. 😛

  22. Congratulations to the winners!

    # 10 is my own, and I’m Russian ))

    Ken, great task, will look forward to more equally challenging posts )

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