Celebrating 50 Years: BC TEAL 2017 Conference and Anniversary Carnival!

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by Shawna Williams

[This article was first printed in the Fall 2017 issue of TEAL News.]

FIFTY years is quite the feat, and so BC TEAL took the opportunity of its golden anniversary to celebrate that milestone with aplomb. In recent years, the annual conference has had a celebratory feel, but this year in particular we decided that it would be our main goal, opting for the theme of “Celebration”.

To keep with the festive theme of the year, the conference kicked off with the Anniversary Carnival. Jill Hadfield, a prolific author and scholar, was our Main Attraction. Having come all the way from New Zealand, Dr. Hadfield challenged Carnival attendees to think differently about motivation, imagination, and L2 identity. Following her keynote presentation, attendees were paraded from one end of VCC to the other by the aptly named Carnival Band.

Under the ‘Big Top’, attendees could try their hand at the fishing game, the balloon darts, and the TCF’s ring toss. A multitude of silly photos were taken at the Carnivalizer (a selection accompanies this article). Giggles and guffaws were heard during laughter yoga. Fortunes were proffered by Will Shall. The ‘butcheries of the English language’ were displayed in the Castle of Horrors. Many memories were rekindled in the Retro Room (OHPs! Sound Masters! Cassette Tapes!). Meanwhile, the craft beer kegs were drained dry, and appetites were sated with carnival fare, including cotton candy and popcorn. While there were many sentiments along the lines of “We should have a carnival every year!” perhaps we will wait for another milestone before recreating the magic of our first ever carnival. Many thanks goes out to everyone who made the Carnival possible and especially to our ‘carnie’ volunteers for keeping the festive spirits high and festivities on track!

While the main conference itself had a necessary tone of professionalism, the celebration theme carried over into the following days. Attendance on Friday was well over 500, and rooms were packed full. Penny Ur of Cambridge University Press, in a wonderful display of her generosity, gave a repeat session of her workshop when the room was filled beyond capacity. The workshop focused on applied teaching tips. Participants shared ideas about organizing group work, teaching a text, giving and correcting homework. On Friday, Andy Curtis inspired—and entertained—the attendees with his plenary talk 50/50: Looking Forward—To an Uncertain Future, not to mention the wayward red ball rolling to his feet. Saturday’s keynote was the aforementioned Penny Ur. What a delight to celebrate our 50th with big names from the EAL world.

We were delighted to partner with Vancouver Community College as our host institution. VCC itself has had a long history of offering EAL programming and has been a strong supporter of BC TEAL over the decades. The event space and new B-building housed most of the conference sessions, while keynotes were held in the auditorium in the older A-building, adding to the retro vibe.

Sessions were well attended, colleagues from across the province met and mingled and got caught up. The celebration dinner was catered by Tayybeh—‘a celebration of Syrian cuisine’ is their tagline, and a fitting one at that—a group of Syrian woman whose amazing food and stories were the perfect fit for a crowd of language teachers. The PechaKucha was again a major highlight. The meeting of many of our 50 at 50 was inspiring. And there were two recipients of the BC TEAL lifetime contributor award: I was humbled to be presented this award alongside Michael Galli. The celebration wrapped up with scrumptious anniversary cake and a performance by a group of LINC students from VCC, reminding us why EAL teachers do the work we do.

Preparations are now underway for the 50th Annual Conference (while 2017 marks our 50th anniversary, it was the 49th annual conference), and I suspect that some of the celebration will carry over to this event, which will be co-hosted by UBC’s Vantage College and will feature a day-long symposium from TESOL International Association.

Biographical Information

From the Fall 2017 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Shawna Williams was recently awarded the BC TEAL Lifetime Contributor Award. She has served on the BC TEAL board for many years, and was conference co-chair for BC TEAL’s 50th Anniversary Conference and Carnival.

This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Williams, S. (2017, Fall). BC TEAL 2017 Conference and Anniversary Carnival! TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/TEAL-News-Fall-2017.pdf

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