What is IATEFL?
IATEFL is an international community of ELT teachers which includes more than 4,000 members from 130 countries throughout the world. The purpose of the organisation is to ‘Link, develop and support English Language Teaching professionals worldwide’. That is, it supports teachers and other ELT professionals and provides a platform in which educators from many countries come together, share their views on teaching and teaching experiences and learn from each other in the field of English language teaching. More than 120 Teachers’ Associations throughout the world have connections with the organization. Every year an international conference with an extensive programme of talks and workshops is held in different locations by the organization. More than 2,500 delegates attend the conference. It has regular publications and the annual conference selections publication, and it organizes monthly webinars and an annual web conferences. It gives grants to teachers to make them become active in annual conferences, SIG events and online courses.
The 53rd International IATEFL Conference
One of the most important events in ELT world is the IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition. I had the opportunity for attending this year’s conference, 53rd International IATEFL Conference. It was an amazing and invaluable experience to me as an English teacher and researcher. Thus, I’d like to share my views and experiences on the conference starting with the description of the event.
IATEFL 2019 was held on April 2-5, 2019. Nearly 500 talks, workshops and forums took place in the conference, and approximately 3,000 ELT professionals from more than 100 countries attended the conference. It provided delegates with the opportunity to meet trainers, theorists and writers, and exchange ideas with colleagues from ELT world. Besides the conference, delegates had the opportunity to attend an exhibition which included 50 ELT-related exhibitors and could see the latest ELT publications and services and find out about the latest products, services and trends in the world of ELT. A variety of exhibitors including publishers such as Pearson and Richmond, examination boards and course providers including Bilkent University, University of Birmingham and University of Exeter participated in the exhibition, and also a selection of events took place each day. In addition, the delegates were informed about some of the best vacancies in TEFL in the Careers Fair.
Each day before plenary sessions, there were “how to sessions”. They were related to different topics from ELT such as “how to give a presentation at an international conference”, “how to move from being a teacher to becoming a teacher trainer”, “how to write a review for publication”, and “how to be successful in an ELT interview”.
After “how to sessions” plenary speakers made their speeches. Paula Rebolledo was the first plenary speaker. She is an experienced English Language teacher, a researcher and a consultant. She is interested in teaching young learners, teacher education, professional development and teacher-research. Her session was on April 2, and it was on “teacher empowerment”. The second plenary speaker was John Gray whose research interests are the global spread of English and its promotion and marketization. He is also into issues of gender and sexuality in language teaching. His speech was on April 3, and it was on gender and sexuality in English language teaching and generally in education. He said gender and sexuality are problematic concepts in English language teaching. He emphasized that English language teaching materials, English language tests and many teacher education courses support heteronormativity, and he offered some remedies to deal with the problems of gender and sexuality. On Thursday April 4, Aleksandra Zaparucha, who is an experienced Geography and English teacher in Geography and EFL/ESL/EAP teaching, gave his speech. He is engaged in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) and made his speech on CLIL, its characteristics and benefits. The last plenary speaker was
Lindsay Clandfield, who is a well-known award-winning writer, teacher, teacher trainer and international speaker in the field of ELT. He made his speech on April 5. He talked about some developments in educational technology and some widely used terms related to it such as interactive, personalisation, gamification, and so on. On the last day of the conference, there was a closing plenary on “Future directions in ELT: where are we headed?” with Katherine Bilsborough, Evan Frendo, Amol Padwad and Mercedes Viola. After four presentations, an interactive discussion was made. The aim was to look at the future of English teaching from various angles including next generation workplace needs, materials to support a changing learning context, and new roles for the teacher. All plenary sessions were inspirational, and they generated meaningful discussions.
Each day of the conference was full of sessions from 10.40 to 18.10. Because there were many different talks in many different rooms, it was necessary to choose the sessions which are the most appealing ones to me, and it was very difficult to make a choice among a large number of interesting topics including materials development, ELT methodology, educational technology, vocabulary teaching, teacher training, giving feedback, teaching speaking and pronunciation, teaching reading, research methods, classroom activities, assessment, EAP, using corpora in ELT, discourse and so on. The presenters were great, and I always left the room with a meaningful takeaway.
To sum up, the 53rd International IATEFL Conference in Liverpool was extremely rewarding due to the inspirational speeches by professionals, well-selected presentations, conference events, the exhibition and the career fair. The next IATEFL Annual Conference and Exhibition will take place from 18th April to the 21st April 2020 in Manchester. If you would like to have an unforgettable experience, broaden your knowledge, learn about the current trends and topics in ELT, come together with hundreds of ELT professionals, and revitalise your passion for teaching,I strongly recommend that you become a member of IATEFL and enjoy the conference next year in Manchester!