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Quality of the TESOL Arabia Conference

 
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Pat



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 9:36 am    Post subject: Quality of the TESOL Arabia Conference Reply with quote

Let's actually discuss teh quality of the conference.

I think it may be too big for its own good. Sort of you can't be everything to all people. The other side of the coin is that this is the one opportunity for EFL professionals from the area to get together.

As for the job fair, I thought it was pretty well organized and there was an broad range of employers. I do sort of wish some scheduling could be done before the conference, though, to save time and improve the conference attendees' flexibility.

Regarding the presenters, I thought there was a wide range, some pitiful and some excellent. Keith Folse was brilliant and I thought the IT village was worth a visit or two.

On a rather petty note, shouldn't coffee/tea be gratis?

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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15857
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2004 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pat,

Just curious - why should coffee and tea be gratis? I love free stuff myself, but most Gulf teachers are paid enough to afford to pay. Smile Or were they price gouging?

Considering how many new educational institutions that there are now, the growth doesn't surprise me. Was everything held at one hotel or was it spread all over Dubai?

I was always fortunate to be able to attend purely for the social aspect - neither job searching nor presenting. But, it has been a few years now.

VS
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shebab



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2004 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As for the job fair, I thought it was pretty well organized and there was an broad range of employers.


While most of the interviewers were professional and courteous, a handful needed to be trained in career counseling. Comments like "I don't care about your last degree," "what salary are you making now," "what can you do to improve our program"(without explaining what their program was to begin with!) or "why aren't you married" are unprofessional and uncalled for. Evil or Very Mad
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Pat



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2004 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right; those questions are entirely unprofessional and unrelated to job performance. Perhaps TESOL Arabia could put together a few suggestions for employers, as it does for job seekers.
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Albulbul



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 364

PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Career Counseling" ?

Come on, Shebab, remember where we are ! This is not a multinational located in Seattle. You are talking about a bunch of guys who are new to all of this.
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shebab



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2004 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In none of my years of interviewing with outfits in the Gulf have I been asked "why aren't you married?" I understand that being asked marital status and religion is necessary for visa/contractual purposes-being asked WHY is not. Mad
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stoth1972



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 674
Location: Seattle, Washington

PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2004 11:23 am    Post subject: A bit disappointed Reply with quote

To be truthful, I found the conference a bit disappointing. Perhaps it was just my luck, but from the go I found the organisation TESOL Arabia to be very unorganised. In an attempt to be organised myself, I registered in December and submitted my credit card details by fax. It wasn't until a few weeks before the conference that I realised I hadn't received anything. I promptly contacted TESOL Arabia and received no response. I contacted them again and was plainly told that there was no receipt of a charge to my credit card. Well, unlike some of my counterparts in other institutions, I had to pay for the conference on my own and take time off as personal time. I sent follow up emails explaining that I was enrolled in an MEd TESOl course delivered in Dubai, needed to attend, could not afford the phenomenal on site fee...no response. After a little arm twisting by my friend and I at the actual conference, they did concede as their records indicated I had registered, but not been charged, last December.

I was happy enough with that. I then ventured into the job fair "room" to encounter someone else who had obviously experienced the same problem and me. 30 people were crowded in this little room trying to register, make appointments, etc.... all while this woman ranted and raved about the lack of organisation by TESOL Arabia and the volunteer's inability or lack or desire to proactively resolve what seemed to be a minor mistake on the part of another volunteer. There was no room to look at the postings, make an appointment...God help us all if there had been a fire!

I don't mean to bitch and moan. I did see some good speakers but overcrowding and technical problems from non-compatible laptops seemed to plague every presentation I attended.

One good thing did arise from the conference, I felt spurred on to present myself as some of the teachers working in the UAE presented badly researched and ill-prepared topics. Example? There was one individual discussing offensive course content (based on Islamic society standards) yet this person, after 10 years in the UAE, spoke no Arabic, claimed to know nothing of local television.... sigh. I suppose all conferences have the good and the bad. Perhaps I was just unlucky.
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 4:22 pm    Post subject: Re: A bit disappointed Reply with quote

stoth1972 wrote:
Perhaps it was just my luck, but from the go I found the organisation TESOL Arabia to be very unorganised.


The Middle East is relatively unorganized. You need to understand that some of the people who are connected with TESOL Arabia in supporting roles do not hail from the first world and have little experience of the level of service that you or I might expect. I ran into some of the (understandably baffling) difficulties of the sort that you mention, but I didn't see anything unusual or particularly egregious -- just an average amount of ME foolishness.

If you'll accept some advice, be prepared to shepherd every bit of paperwork through when you make a reservation, send in a payment, etc. Get e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and names; call people, check on everything, and check again. Always be polite. And if you're looking for work in the ME, hoo-ha!, hang onto your hat, 'cause there be a wild ride a-comin'!

(This is not in any way a criticism of your criticism.)
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stoth1972



Joined: 16 May 2003
Posts: 674
Location: Seattle, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2004 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair point. Sadly, this is my 5th years in the ME (half of which have been spent in Egypt, of all countries). I guess I expected TESOL arabia, an organisation run by primarily westerners, to operate in accordance with western standards.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15857
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stoth,

I will admit that I haven't been to TESOL Arabia for a couple of years, but in the past I must say that I found them quite organized. In fact, I was impressed at even the very first one.

Perhaps this is more a reflection of my too many years in the Middle East. But, we also need to remember that the organizers of the conferences are having to deal with organizing a conference 'in the Middle East.'

--- if you get my drift --- Shocked

VS
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12092
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 12:45 pm    Post subject: Expectations Reply with quote

Your expectations were too high. Remember where you are.

It is amazing that something like this happens at all.

And you want it to be run like some Microsoft Conference in California ?
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12092
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 12:45 pm    Post subject: Expectations Reply with quote

Your expectations were too high. Remember where you are.

It is amazing that something like this happens at all.

And you want it to be run like some Microsoft Conference in California ?
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Bindair Dundat



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2004 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stoth1972 wrote:
Fair point. Sadly, this is my 5th years in the ME (half of which have been spent in Egypt, of all countries).


Ah, then, you know the drill.

stoth1972 wrote:
I guess I expected TESOL arabia, an organisation run by primarily westerners, to operate in accordance with western standards.


Again, not to criticize what you're saying, but when I stop and think about the gap between western *standards* and the reality of living in the west ("Your call is very important to us. All calls are answered in the order in which they are received. Please do not hang up and call again, as this will only delay your call."), I think that we *sometimes* exaggerate the differences.

Been there done that, and ran screaming.
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shebab



Joined: 17 Sep 2003
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 5:45 am    Post subject: customer service in the US Reply with quote

So very true, Mr. Dundat!!! The quality of customer service in the States has been going downhill for some time now...just try getting a phone installed in Indiana with Ameritech with more than monosyllabic responses, or information about connecting flights at Miami Airport from the clueless workers at baggage claim... Rolling Eyes
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