Key takeaways from IATEFL 2019

I like to write up my reflections from conferences because I often leave overwhelmed with ideas. Blogging about it helps me focus on the main points and lets me share my experiences with people couldn’t make it along. Here goes!

Diversity and Inclusion

I couldn’t blog about IATEFL 2019 without mentioning what Chia Suan Chong identified in her ETProfessional blog as one of the three key themes of IATEFL 2019.  My conference started at the IATEFL ESOL SIG PCE, where Jenifah Abu-Hassan shared her activity ideas promoting gender equality in the ESOL classroom and Philida Schellekens shone her light on differentiating tasks in multi-level classrooms.  I spoke about Creating Accessible Learning Materials, outlining which which fonts and colours to use to meet the needs of learners with specific learning differences and how to be inclusive to all protected characteristics in the classroom.

Speaking about Creating Accessible Learning Materials
Speaking about Creating Accessible Learning Materials at the ESOL SIG PCE

The importance of including protected characteristics in ELT materials, especially LGBTQIA, seems to be gaining momentum. Jennifer McDougall and Francesca Stella spoke about their FREE LGBT resource the Intimate Migrations toolkit and Tyson Seburn shared an example of how LGBTQIA can be included and normalised within a coursebook.  His talk wowed me so much that I was inspired to tweet him as a ‘world changer’.  Here’s hoping the world changes.

Changing the world!

Multisensory learning, improv and the importance of getting people moving

One IATEFL moment that has always stuck in my head was a workshop Johanna Stirling delivered at IATEFL Brighton in 2011.  She was promoting what has long been one of my favourite ELT books, Teaching Spelling to English Language Learners.  After a long day of talks, Johanna had us all up spelling words with our bodies (full body spelling I think she calls it).  It was great fun.  And to this day it remains my favourite IATEFL workshop ever.

I was delighted to see that Johanna was speaking not only at the ESOL PCE, but also at the main conference.  At the PCE Johanna had us all standing up, and running round the room to teach us ways to break down affective barriers and help our students to spell. She also shared a highly useful site for making word shape worksheets. At the main conference, her topic was Improv, and she had us all out of our seats and out of our comfort zones using a variety of communicative activities which I’m sure my students will love.

Talks I wish I’d seen

The beauty of IATEFL is that you learn as much chatting to other delegates as you do from the workshops.  I was lucky enough to sit beside Maria Belen Albarracin Fernandez who spoke about using Virtual Reality in the classroom but whose talk I didn’t get to see.  She showed me her VR camera and the amazing resources that she’d made with it. If she speaks next year, I’ll be there!

I also wish I’d seen the one about using Lego!  I bumped into my friend and colleague, Rosie Quin, after she attended Richard Venner‘s workshop on using Lego in the classroom.  I love Lego and was inspired by the idea.  Fingers crossed the college budget can extend to a box or two!

The winning ticket!

One thing I love about IATEFL is the opportunity to win and this year I won!  The MaWSIG signature event had a prize draw and I won all these lovely SfEP resources. They’re great!

SFEP MaWSIG
Lots of lovely books!

Free resources for Beauty Therapy

Having written a variety of vocational ESOL courses over the years, I was excited to hear about these resources for Beauty Therapists.

ESL resources for Beauty Therapy

An expected meeting!

Just before the conference my pal Maria, who works at the British Council in Valencia, said to me ‘Look out for my pals Craig and Nelson from the BC, they’re going to IATEFL’.  I agreed to do so but was sceptical of the chances of bumping into such a needle in a haystack.

Just after my very last talk, as I was about to leave the ACC for the last time, I noticed the words ‘British Council Valencia’ on a name badge.  And there they were! Some things are meant to be.  We chatted.  They were lovely and I wish I could have spent more time with them.  I guess I’ll just need to hop on over to Valencia in summer now.

BC Valencia

What were your highlights of IATEFL 2019?

 

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