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Wednesday
Dec012010

Differences between JALT and ETJ

 

 

 

 

 

Well another November has come to an end which means that the two main events for language teachers are over, the JALT National conference and the ETJ Expo.

I had the opportunity to attend both the JALT national Conference (held in Nagoya this year) and the ETJ Kansai Expo. While both events are run by language teachers for language teachers, I’m always struck by the different character of the two events. I wouldn’t presume to say which is better, I don’t think it is possible decide, but I would like to point out a few differences.

The biggest difference in my mind is illustrated by the names of the two events: The JALT National Conference and the ETJ Expo. I think that really says a lot. JALT puts on a conference whose main purpose is for language teachers to give and attend presentations. Some are academic, many are practical and a few are commercial. The ETJ Expo on the other hand is that – an Expo. It is a place for teachers to come and meet with publishers (and other vendors) and find out about the latest products in our field. Of course there are presentations, mostly from publisher reps and/or authors, but there are also some local presenters offering practical teaching ideas.

One criticism of JALT is that they seem to be more focused on university teachers. Whereas ETJ focuses on secondary school teachers, small school owners and the like. I don’t think this is a fair criticism. I don’t think JALT is being exclusive – simply practical. University teachers often have a budget for travel and there is a culture of attending academic conferences. That is to say is attending conferences is considered part of the job of being a professor. Since professors are more likely to go to JALT, JALT has more of a university focus. But of course everyone is welcome.

One of the criticisms of the ETJ Expos I often hear is that they are too commercial. But again, I don’t think that’s fair. I’m a language teacher and I use textbooks and being able to meet with publisher reps to talk about their products is very useful to me. I also really appreciate being able to meet with authors and find out how they recommend using their materials.

Ultimately, I feel that the most important benefit from attending these kinds of events is the chance to meet new people, expand my horizons, and make myself a better teacher and in this regard both events excel. At the end of the day, what I can say is that I am glad that I could attend both the conference and the expo. I think that our profession is better off for having both.