May 09

After ISTEK ELT and IATEFL 2011

It’s been a year since I wrote a post with the same title, about the two events that changed my professional life, goals and vision, the two events that taught me a lot about being a better organizer and presenter.

Some of my colleagues wrote wonderful blog posts about ISTEK ELT and our blog is full of great videos and entries thanks to our roving reporter Mark Andrews who did a fantastic job during the conference.

Having been an event which inspired me to think bigger and more creatively as an organizer, the IATEFL conference, once again, was full of wonderful sessions and social events. I’m already looking forward to the next conference.

In this post, I want to share the three things that I’ve learned from these two events both as a presenter and organizer. I find it interesting that the things I’ve learned apply very well to both roles of mine.

Always think big & Success is a matter of attitude.

I’ve learned that almost nothing is impossible if you have clear aims and if you always think positively about what life can bring to you. I believe in the Law of Attraction though I am not a person who reads books full of lists and strategies that claim to help you become a more successful person. I simply believe that if your mind has positive thoughts, you will attract positive things. The same belief applies vice-versa (if you think negative thoughts, you will attract negative things).

Having good communication skills is much more important than lots of other things in professional life.

In both events, I witnessed several problems and different attitudes towards problems (technology problems or different occasions in which either a presenter or a participant is discontented about something). And I saw different cases where problems were solved smoothly or became something bigger. This was because of either the attitude of the problem owner or the problem solver. No matter how great one’s educational background or field knowledge is, if they lack communication skills they have very little chance to be liked by others and be successful in life…but it is never late to work on it:-)

Live every moment to the fullest.

If you concentrate too much on the stressful part of your job, it is certain that you will miss the best part of it. If you are presenting something, it means that you are sharing something that you think is worth sharing and this also must be an event that you celebrate yourself. So try to develop strategies to make this happen. As an organizer I can’t say that I can live every moment of the conference to the fullest but I try to do my best. As a presenter, I am doing much better than I used to do at the beginning but, of course, I have lots more to learn.

I hope I can get comments from experienced organizers and presenters about the strategies they use:-)


I also would like to tell you about one of the highlights of the IATEFL. Actually, the anecdote took place on my way back home, up above the clouds. I sat next to an English teacher, Nevin Adalar, who is a senior lecturer at Eastern Mediterranean University. She presented at the IATEFL, as well, but we didn’t have the chance to meet there, on the ground:-). We had a very nice chat and talked about conferences, teaching, technology and lots of other stuff. I even managed to do my presentation to her at 20.000 feet:-) She turned out to be the aunt of one of our students in Kindergarten whose teacher is running a class blog. She kindly accepted to be filmed about what she thinks about blogging from an auntie’s perspective:-) Here is the video:

Thank you Nevin! It was a pleasure to meet you!

I’m already looking forward to the next IATEFL in 2012 and ISTEK ELT in 2013:-)


You may also want to read:

It’s ISTEK time again” by Ken Wilson

Time to Hit the Road & Head to ISTEK” by David Dodgson

10 Things For Teacher Bloggers To Do Before The ISTEK Conference” by Adam Simpson

Is it the Conference Season?” by Helen Strong

6 Reflections from ISTEK” by David Dodgson

ISTEK Thank-You Notes” by Ken Wilson

WHY I MISSTEK” by Luke Meddings

My Weekend at ISTEK” by Anna Varna

Motivation and Inspiration” by Eva Buyuksimkesyan


ISTEK ELT photos on Flickr:


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  1. Brad Patterson

    Hey Burcu-

    Was great meeting you at IATEFL. I was pleasantly surprised at how done-to-earth you were, and in the same vein, Bethany Cagnol of TESOL france. Maybe it’s because you’re both great communicators as you’ve expressed above.

    Shouldn’t this be something taught in school… a simple class on how to speak with your body, or how to maintain eye contact, or how to follow other people’s voice, input, emotions and how to react according to what they are showing. So many possibilities !

    Cheers, b

    1. burcuakyol

      Hi Brad! It was great meeting you too!

      You can be one of the best teachers if communication skills are taught at school:-)

      Thanks for the comment!


  2. Sue Lyon-Jones

    Hi Burcu,

    I enjoyed reading your post-conference reflections, and thank you once again for giving me the opportunity to present at ISTEK. It was a wonderful experience and a truly amazing conference, thanks to all the hard work you and your team put into it!

    Attending and presenting at conferences has changed the way I view a lot of things as well… as you say, you learn so much when you attend them, and it makes you reflect deeply and consider new ideas and different ways of doing things.

    Looking forward to the next conference already too, and hope to see you there :-)


    1. burcuakyol

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks a lot for your comment and for coming to ISTEK.

      Hope to meet again soon:-)


  3. Ken Wilson


    lovely post.

    the especially lovely thing is that you can read it as thoughts about attending conferences, or about teaching, or indeed about life. :)

    I’ve watched you presenting on a number of occasions, and indeed addressing the thousand or so people who attended both ISTEK conferences. You seem to be someone who doesn’t suffer from nerves or self-doubt in any way, shape of form. You are very lucky. Never change!

    For the rest of us, feeling apprehensive or nervous before a conference presentation is probably a useful way to focus on what we are about to do. I blogged about this at the start of the conference season a couple of months ago and – after 20+ presentations since – I can confirm that I felt nervous before all of them. No bad thing.

    For anyone who wants more advice about presenting at conferences, this is the blog I wrote about it – http://bit.ly/eHJWwl

    1. burcuakyol

      Hi Ken,

      Thank you for your comment and the nice words:-)

      It is very nice to get good feedback from a gifted presenter:-)I DO get stressed before presentations but I think I am good at hiding it:-)

      Thank you for sharing those very useful tips with us.

      Have a great week!


  4. jmb

    Hola! I was reading your blog and thinking that maybe you or your readers find interesting this new language learning website. It has a lot of music videos subtitled in English, Spanish and French! Check it out! http://www.mylingo.org

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