Advice for KOTESOL International Conference

[I wrote this up a few years ago for a dear friend/former course participant and have been sharing it here and there since then. Another friend recently reminded me of its existence and suggested that I share it on my blog. After some thought I decided to share it, even though it might not be the most politically correct document.  I shared it before with some people from #ELTchat and got a favorable response so I thought it might be fun to share it here on the blog.]

Mike’s opinions on and tips for KOTESOL
(From September 2010) 

Disclaimer: It is not easy to recommend such things without knowing what you are into. I wanted to make sure to share something useful though. Below are my own personal opinions loaded with bias and judgment.

General tips:

  • A good overall tip is to remember that you don’t need to be active each hour. There is nothing wrong with relaxing and walking around.
  • I generally find that plenary speakers are very polished, well spoken and knowledgeable but that they don’t say much.
  • Some workshops ask you to talk a lot and participate a lot. While this is generally good it can get derailed by sitting next to the wrong person. It is terrible to say but I recommend trying to avoid white guys over 40 or so. 🙂
  • Some presentations are veeery dry and amount to the person just sharing their research. This is not for me.
  • There are quite a lot of presentations from around Asia. They might be interesting or relevant to you but they might not. I personally try to focus more on Korea and those from Korea.
  • The booklet that you get when you register will be a lot easier to read and follow than the online links as it will be organized in various ways. Check out the labels and see if you are interested in YL (young learners) or whatever.
  • I have never seen a good presentation about CALL. Maybe this is because I am a bit tech-savvy and the presentations are pitched to a different level…I am not sure but I have never enjoyed one of the many such presentations I have seen.
  • Be sure to check if a presentation is labeled as “commercial” because this means that they are trying to advertise or sell their product. Some people are less obvious about it than others but there is often the “sales” atmosphere in these presentations. The good news is that they will often give you a sample. One “dirty” trick that I have done before is to these presentations, get the book and then leave. I am not proud of it, but I think it was a good idea.
  • Speaking of books…there will be publishers displaying books. If you see something you like you might be able to get them to send you a sample.
  • The opening ceremony is boring and typically horribly run and a waste of time. The problem is that you have to sit through it if you want to get a good seat for the big plenary.



  1. danielcraig

    I don’t disagree with much here.

    I haven’t seen many CALL presentations that were that good. The ones that aren’t that interesting are the ones that focus on the technology and not the methods. This is a kiss of death for me because I already know the tech (let’s face it, not much out there that I haven’t signed up for already). I did see someone (unfortunately, forgot his name) present on his usage of discussion forums of all things. It was a great presentation. Not because he was polished but because he really focused on methods for making these systems work. However, again, that is one of dozens.

    There have been a few plenaries that I liked a lot. They’ve always been ones that I didn’t expect to be a good as they were. Maybe setting low expectations is a good suggestion to give folks going to conferences. The thing is, when you are going to a conference you have an interest in the field. This also means that you’ve probably heard about something similar from co-workers, Twitter, professional mags, or wherever. There’s not much out there that’s going to blow you away.

    Lastly, I would say don’t underestimate skipping presentations. I probably only go to 3 or 4 the entire KOTESOL conference weekend. I spend most of my time meeting up with folks I don’t get to see often and chatting with new people. Of course, I generally have to go to a few presentations to meet new people 🙂

    One more suggestion, bring your recharger. I burn through batteries like crazy at conferences. Last thing you want is to have a dead phone as you go out on the town on Saturday. Oh, or when you want to record that really cool presentation.

  2. barryjameson

    This will be my first conference, so you have just made me very nervous 🙂 I’ve developed an irrational fear that my presentation be very dry. Oh well, time to go buy some fireworks to jazz it up.

    • mikecorea

      Oh my goodness…That was not an intended consequence. mmmm I’d say if you don’t read from your ppt with your back to the audience and show 1/10th of the personality you show on twitter you will be more than fine. 🙂

  3. Robert Dickey

    * There are some good CALL presentations at the CALL-SIG conference each year in Japan. Otherwise, I agree with pretty much everything here.
    * Generally commercial sessions have more polished presenters who are also experienced classroom teachers. Most of these folks actually provide some clever ideas that you can use outside of their book. Don’t dismiss the commercial sessions too quickly.
    * One additional point. If you look little closer at program books, you will often find indexes and/or notations in the abstracts that can help you sort what kind of thing you want even more specifically than the jargon in the abstract.

    • mikecorea

      Thanks for the insights, Robert. It is great to hear from a KOTESOL pro on such matters. I think you make a great point about the commercial presenters being potentially excellent. I guess for me it just depends on how hard the sell is. 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Pingback: Reviewing The 2012 KOTESOL International Conference (aka #ICXX #IC20 #KOTESOL2012) « ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections
  5. Ratnavathy Ragunathan-Chandrasegaran

    Hi Mike,
    I’m probably way way way too late in replying this post, but it’s just funny how I stumbled upon this based on my search in google for “KOTESOL 2012 Conference presentation abstracts”. I honestly had the time of my life laughing at some of the things you’ve written!!!! I so totally love the fact that you’re bluntly truthful and yet have a hilarious touch in stating your points. I especially like bullets 3, 4 AND the last one. :). I sat beside a 40 something-ish white guy. I know. 😉

    I’d have to end this saying that I, for sure, was and still am absolutely delighted to have met you at the KOTESOL 2012 conference this year. 🙂

    Happy new year, Mike!~~!

    warm wishes,

    • mikecorea

      Now here I am laughing at you laughing about this.
      I actually wrote it a few years ago for one friend. Then I shared it with another friend who said it was too bad that only 2 people read it. Finally when I had my blog a few years later I thought I might as well include it (after making it a bit less blunt! haha).

      It was fantastic meeting you at the conference and is lovely to get to know you.
      Thanks so much!
      Happy New Year to you!

  6. Pingback: KOTESOL (part 2): Mike Long’s speech. | tjhampson

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