Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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“OK I'm off. 10 days in Japan: 9 talks, 2 'conversations', 1 Pecha Kucha and a Zen temple or two. Wish me luck! #MASHeq” (@thornburyscott on Twitter)

As luck would have it
We’re pretty lucky here in Japan that we live in an exotic “destination” that academics, business people and relatives love to visit. It may be a little difficult for some unconnected travelers to negotiate the land of the rising sun, but for those coming to a conference, Japan is always a fascinating venue. Based on all the good sushi, good conversations and good people that attended JALT 2009 in Shizuoka last year, Scott Thornbury was wide open to the opportunity to visit us again for Equinox 2010 in Tokyo, with visits to Kitakyushu, Osaka and Hokkaido as well.

We have since realized that we were incredibly lucky to have approached Scott Thornbury because he has already proven that he has all the right stuff: internationally acclaimed author, totally engaging speaker, thought-provoking blogger, and one of the first people you’d like to have a beer and chat with before, during or after a conference. Beyond all of those stellar credentials, he has the qualities that any conference organizer values most; he is fun to deal with, totally organized and professional, and entirely low maintenance.

Over the past 6 months, I have had the pleasure of Skyping with him once or twice a month, and exchanging dozens and dozens of Email. He has taken a keen interest in the organization of Equinox 2010, asked for our input on his presentations, and given advice on our programming ideas at each step of planning our conference. While I was huddled in front of my computer at 9 or 10 pm in Japan, he was always as sunny as the Spanish weather streaming into the office at his home in Barcelona. Having the chance to ask questions about linguistics, share ideas about teaching and laugh together was something I hadn’t expected.

In fact, during my MA TEFL studies, I read his How to Teach Grammar and I very clearly remember saying out loud to myself upon finishing, “OK, I’m sold. I wish I could meet this guy someday and take a grammar course from him”. I’m pretty sure my MASH collaborators might even remember that conversation because even three years ago, we began riffing, “Wouldn’t it be cool to contact him and do an online course with him?”

So now, some very lucky people are also going to have the same opportunities that I had. Rather than flying in, speaking and then leaving right away, Scott will have an extended conversation with attendees at Equinox 2010 in Tokyo from September 17-20. We have built in plenty of discussion time with the unofficial theme of “Celebrating Collaboration”.

The chance to hang out with Scott has attracted some of the keenest, most active, hard-working teacher/researchers from around Japan. We have space for more at Toyo Gakuen University (Hongo Campus), so whether it’s for 1 day or the whole 4-day conference, we invite you to join us for a guaranteed fun and meaningful experience.

Check in each week for new editorials by David Paul, Theron Muller, Barbara Sakamoto and myself. We love hearing from you.

Steven Herder

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