By JOHN PERVEZ
—I attended the CATESOL Los Angeles Regional Conference on March 4, 2017, as a stipend awardee, volunteer, and presenter. Enabling me to go, the CATESOL Education Foundation made the experience delightful. There is nothing better than speaking with and working alongside like-minded people who all hold the same educational values.
As a graduate student pursuing TESOL and Rhetoric & Composition, my passion for these conferences is indescribable. I have attended a handful, including the 2016 LA Regional at Cal Poly Pomona and the 2016 CATESOL Annual Conference in San Diego, but this was my first time attending as a presenter. As such, one of my hopes was to inspire conference attendees as I have been inspired in the past. Thanks to the hard work of Poster Session Coordinator David Coleman, I truly believe I was able to do so! I had a great time discussing my research on the varied use of sentence types in the ESL classroom with others. I left with some great suggestions so that I could expand my research in the future.
The conference theme, “Sharpening Skills to Shape the Future,” was brought to life as presenters shared their insights into how we might be able to more effectively and efficiently cater to the needs of our students. I was able to network with other TESOL graduate students in addition to meeting seasoned ESL instructors, presenters, and writers. These opportunities set CATESOL apart from other types of organization.
Although I didn’t have a chance to visit all the captivating presentations, one of my fondest experiences came from interacting with conference attendees. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the collective knowledge of such progressive minds. Specifically, I remember informing an enthusiastic undergraduate student about the process of joining the TESOL graduate program; in that same moment, I turned around and began a conversation with a retired ESL instructor. Sharing insight and experiences is what CATESOL is all about!
Also inspiring was the plenary led by Karen Taylor de Caballero. Considering the role of phonological awareness in our classrooms, Karen discussed new and innovative techniques for teaching vowel sounds through colors. What a fun idea! As an up-and-coming ESL instructor, I really appreciated Karen’s dedication. She encouraged audience interaction in addition to delivering a humorous and thought-provoking plenary.
In fact, part of my volunteerism involved directing conference attendees toward the 3 p.m. plenary. Instead of just motioning people toward the correct building, a fellow graduate student and I decided to wear the official CATESOL directional arrows in an attempt to entertain passersby. It’s a long walk from the main hall to the plenary speaking area, so we decided to provide some entertainment by playing music and by dancing. Although I’m not particularly talented in that respect, many stopped to take pictures, to dance, and to laugh with us.
Last, thank you for the tireless efforts of those who made, and continue to make, these CATESOL conferences so wonderful! You are truly appreciated!
John Pervez is pursuing his master’s at Cal Poly Pomona with a dual emphasis; his primary focus is TESOL and his secondary is Rhetoric & Composition. He works as Agent Relations representative at Cal Poly’s English Language Institute (CPELI) and also works on campus as a writing tutor through the Learning Resource Center. These experiences have given him opportunities to student and substitute teach. He has taught in Yongkang, China, and is planning to lead a team of teachers to Jinhua, China, this summer.
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