Reflection on BELTA Day 2024

01/05/2024 - 13:23

For Len Van Renterghem, BELTA Day 2024 was his first. Find out in his blog post how he experienced the day.

I am excited to share my experience at the BELTA Day 2024 in Brussels. First of all, a heartfelt shout-out to my colleague, Paulina Christiaens, and the other members of the BELTA board, who organised and orchestrated this phenomenal day. (As fellow educators, they know the value of those cherished coffee breaks ☕)

💡 The conference kicked off with a captivating and energising plenary keynote on cultural awareness, titled “Helping Students Become Successful International Communicators,” delivered by the remarkable Chia Suan Chong.

Some takeaways from her enlightening session:

- Chia emphasized that the significance of interpersonal skills in effective communication is often underestimated in language learning. As educators, we must invest more effort in fostering relationships and finding common ground: Just because we understand our own intentions doesn’t mean others do. Let’s stimulate those “aha moments” in our students, encouraging shifts in perspectives and perceptions.

- Did you know that 51% of misunderstandings in business stem from differences in cultural norms and traditions? As intercultural communicators, we hold the key to bridging these gaps. By simplifying, clarifying, and organising our messages, we can minimise confusion and enhance understanding.

📝 In the first and the last breakout session of the day, Jessica Morseau and Hannes Pype unveiled an array of AI tools that allow educators to focus on what truly matters: nurturing student growth. Imagine using AI to provide targeted feedback on students’ writing or to create customized exercises for diverse classrooms. When used right, these tools are game-changers. They also covered the art of writing effective prompts, and shared some tried and tested ways to integrate AI into language learning, from chatbots that engage students in conversation to personalised content recommendations.

🎭 Abbie Moore from Hello Drama infused the conference with energy and dynamism, as she treated us to a sneak peek of her wildly successful escape room-style workshops. Designed specifically for English language learners, these immersive (and fun!) experiences, e.g. solving a crime, boost confidence, ignite creativity, and make learning more engaging.

👥 The day culminated in a "swap shop" where participants explored one theme in smaller groups. I had the pleasure of attending the session on cultural awareness, facilitated by none other than the brilliant Chia Suan Chong. We touched on topics such as diversity in course materials and the subtle art of giving fair feedback.

Looking back on this day, I highly recommend the BELTA Day to anyone passionate about English and intercultural communication looking for approaches, tools and inspiration to enrich their teaching practices.


Len Van Renterghem lectures Business English and Intercultural Communication in two English-taught management programmes at Artevelde University of Applied Sciences in Belgium. He is committed to exploring effective teaching strategies for bridging the theory-practice gap. The 2024 edition was his very first BELTA Day.