The Conference Co-chairs reflect on JALT2009:The Teaching-Learning Dialogue: An Active Mirror

Steve Cornwell, Osaka Jogakuin College, and Deryn P. Verity, Osaka Jogakuin College


Here are some reflections from the JALT2009 Conference Co-chairs.

Hi Deryn!

Hi Steve!

Well, JALT2009 is over; what was your favorite part?

A favorite is hard to pick, but I was really impressed with the attendance at the plenary talks. The hall was packed each time! We had five plenary speakers,each with different areas of expertise, and there were so many connections between them that the diverse JALT population surely felt it was being spoken to directly.

I know what you mean! And there are so many kinds of JALTers, aren’t there? I kept running into people I know from so many different contexts: graduate students, colleagues, old friends, people I’d met at Japanese public schools, department members from other places I’ve worked, etc.

That’s what JALT does: It allows you to make new connections and refresh old ones. You can challenge yourself to learn about something unfamiliar, push yourself into an area you’ve been avoiding... it’s really the ultimate professional development opportunity.

Absolutely! It’s a microcosm of the profession. And you can pick up so much in such a short time. Listen to this.


Last spring, I happened to meet a couple of young teachers, new to Japan, when walking from the train station to a JALT event. I encouraged them to come to JALT, and guess what? Some did! We kept running into each other during the weekend. Each time we met, they talked enthusiastically about how the conference was helping them not only develop new ideas, but also get into conversations with peers and more senior teachers. I think you and I both remember how exciting it was to attend our first international conference. It says something good about JALT that even a first-timer can feel that it was worth the time and effort.

You don’t have to be a new teacher to be a first-time JALT attendee. Did you know that this was the first time for 4 of our 5 plenary speakers to attend a JALT conference? Professional development is a lifelong process.

They mentioned how much they enjoyed it; they were really impressed with the conference, and everyone they met. We feel a strong sense of gratitude that they were able to fit us into their busy schedules and come to Japan for JALT this year.

Yes, gratitude is something I think everyone on the conference organizing team feels after an event like this! You can never really say “thank you” too often.

You’re right. So let’s say it again.

First, let’s thank everyone—nearly 1,800 people—who came out and made JALT2009 a lively, stimulating, and energy-filled weekend.

Sure! Next let’s thank those nice student interns, the volunteers who helped us all, whether we were looking for a cup of coffee or a computer cable... ...

Don’t forget the vendors, who made the International Food Fair possible. I heard great things about the food.

And the entertainment wasn’t bad, was it?

Nope! Samba and sake—what a great combination!

How do ideas like that get on the table?

Well, everyone knows that there is a formal conference planning committee (thanks, guys!) but did you know that sometimes people get involved with JALT because they have a great idea and want to work on it? We really benefited from some innovative thinking this year.

I think the publishers sponsored some of the social events, didn’t they?

You’re right; the publishers and other Associate Members are invaluable supporters of the conference. So we’d like to thank them too!

Say, Steve....

Yes, Deryn?

In wrap-ups like this we always focus on the good stuff. Do you have any things you regret about JALT this year?

Well, yes, there is one thing. It’s not exactly a regret but… I’m really sorry that, as a co-chair, I didn’t get to see many sessions.

I know what you mean. I regret missing out on sessions too, and what I really regret is not having had a chance to eat at the International Food Fair!

Well, at least next year, we’ll be able to get to lots of sessions and enjoy the entertainment and special events. JALT2010 is being co-chaired by Steve Brown and Donna Tatsuki.

Where is it being held?

In Nagoya, right next to the train station in a new conference center. I’ve already saved the dates: 19-22 Nov 2010.

What’s the theme?

“Creativity: Think Outside the Box.”

Sounds good! I hope everyone who enjoyed this year’s conference will come next year......and bring a colleague.

Or two.


Bye, Steve.


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