“Being our 50th birthday, we spent around a year planning what is the best it could look like, and how we could suitably honour the work that’s been done over the last 50 years to support English teachers [and] English teaching,” she enthuses.
The conference is open to the public, but primarily aimed at English teachers.
“It’s all about English teaching, so the audience is mainly English teachers, [and] English teaching at university level, so the people who are training English teaching in education and literary studies, and all of the pre-service teachers. So these are our three main groups.”
The conference will play host to a number of exciting programs, including a writing competition for delegates. “…we’re asking English teachers to enter that competition, it’s a 50-word competition, so they can write in poetry, any sort of prose, in a blog, anything they like, to talk about their idea of the English classroom,” Laing explains.
The best of these stories will be compiled and possibly published in a book.
As well as the writing competition, attendees can look forward to keynote speakers Larissa McLean-Davies, associate professor at the University of Melbourne, and Markus Zuzak, author of acclaimed children’s novel The Book Thief.
Laing estimates a high turnout for the conference this year, and is expecting more than 350 attendees.
“We normally have somewhere between 250 and 350, and we had 380 two years ago,” she explains, adding that many past award winners and presidents will be attending, and this year’s keynotes should attract a large audience.
Another unusual event following the conference will be an attempt at the world’s biggest English classroom. “We’re hoping for 1000 students to be engaging in that class all at once, for the Guinness Book of Records ... we’re hoping that will happen in September,”Laing says.