Photo: (L-R) Susanne Döll, Steffen Musterer and Christine Gieseler
Back to Berlin! In our second Meet a Sponsor article, we go behind the scenes of our last conference with our Berlin-based Gold sponsor, Cornelsen. They reveal the team effort and processes involved in organising conferences and reflect on how BE materials publishing has changed over the years. They also tell us about the latest “big thing” Cornelsen has introduced to make the learning process richer.
Cornelsen was founded by Franz Cornelsen in 1946. His vision was to build bridges between people and connect them through language. The first publication was “Peter Pim and Billy Ball” for teaching children English as a foreign language. In 1987, we stepped into the world of Business English teaching with “Basis for Business” and have been developing new business English material ever since.
How did you feel about the 2019 conference being in the city where Cornelsen is based?
We were thrilled to welcome the BESIG community to our hometown! It made the logistics a little bit easier and it took some of us to a part of the city we hadn’t really explored before. Travelling to unknown places or cities is part of the BESIG adventure, isn’t it?
What were your memorable moments of the Berlin event?
One of our memorable moments was Steve Brown’s plenary speech, entitled “Indoctrination, Empowerment or Emancipation? The Role of ELT in Global Society.” He is a very enthusiastic speaker and his topic is relevant not only for language teaching but also beyond. His speech gave us something to think and talk about throughout the day. But Steve Brown was only one of many interesting BESIG speakers. It never fails to impress us how carefully selected the BESIG talks and workshops are! Another memorable moment was the lunch break under the golden autumn sun with handmade chocolate ice-cream.
How long have you been involved in organising ELT conferences? And the IATEFL BESIG annual conference?
Cornelsen has been involved in ELT conferences for many years and with different colleagues over that time. The company is made up of a team of editors, product management and marketing people that has been involved in various constellations. At some of the IATEFL conferences, only our editorial and product management teams take part. But the IATEFL BESIG annual conference is our joint event that we attend and organize as a full team.
Tell us about the work that goes on behind the scenes before, during and after events.
Once we know when the next conference will take place, we start thinking about sponsoring packages and possible get-togethers with the team and the speakers, such as a lunch or a dinner. The planning involves thinking about which speakers we will sponsor and all the needed arrangements as well as considering locations and limitations.
During the conference we make sure that there is always a team member at our stand and that we attend as many talks and workshops as possible. It’s the perfect chance to meet the trainers, to notice their needs and get in touch with potential authors and advisers.
When the event is over, we analyze the positive and negative points and consider what could be improved. We also discuss and exchange new ideas to be included in the editorial work.
How can conference delegates get the most from their time in the exhibition area?
From a sponsor’s perspective, it’s always good to have just one exhibition area and to combine that with the area for coffee breaks and preferably lunch break. Conference delegates can grab a coffee or tea and stroll around the exhibition area to get inspired or discover new material. They are very welcome to take the opportunity to leaf through various books.
How has business English materials publishing changed over the years?
This is not much of a surprise, but digitalization has had a great impact on the publishing of business English materials and still has. For example, back in the day, the listening exercises were done with a cassette player, whereas now digital devices make the work in the classroom easier with audio files only one click away. Furthermore, more videos have been added in the last years and the productions are getting better didactically and artistically. Of course, business English learning topics and approaches have changed too: 30 years ago, the focus was more on writing letters, giving offers and answering complaints. Today, the themes of intercultural communication, personalization, mediation, communications skills and business English as a lingua franca find their way into Business English materials.
What trends do you see happening in ELT publishing/business English materials publishing? How is Cornelsen reacting to those trends?
Apps are the big thing now. That´s why in Cornelsen we have already introduced the PagePlayer-App into our projects. Easy to use, it contains all the audio files, videos and extra material such as interactive exercises and reading texts for each lesson, to make the learning process richer and more comfortable.
Questions by Maria Szugfil
Editing by Mike Canning and Mandy Welfare
1st June 2020