Apr 13

Why I love IATEFL

Why I'm looking forward to the IATEFL conference in Brighton 2024
The IATEFL annual international conference is one of the biggest events in the English language teachers' calendar and in this video I'll tell you a bit about why it's so BRILLIANT......
(Cheat Alert- I actually made this for the 2023 conference, but my reasons are still the same!)

Video transcript - Looking forward to IATEFL

I went to my first IATEFL conference in 1999. I was heavily pregnant with my first child, who is now a fully grown adult and teaching himself in China. That first year was an absolutely magical experience for me. I already had a fair amount of teaching experience and I’d done the Delta, but to be surrounded by thousands of people who are interested in the same things that I am interested in was incredible. I felt as if I’d found my tribe. After that, I went every year for the next 20 years. When my children were small, I could only manage a couple of days away, but as I got a little older I started to go for the full week of the conference. In honesty, it has always been my favourate week of the year. And that includes Christmas and my summer holidays. Why is it so good? Three reasons.

The first is that it’s a brief slice of time out of your normal life. This in itself is always an interesting experience because it allows you a bit of space to stop and think about your professional life away from all of your everyday responsibilities.

The next thing is the people. It’s an amazing experience to be surrounded by thousands of people who all share your passion but who do it in so many different ways. Teachers of general English, business English, academic English, primary, secondary, everything you could think of, trainers, researchers, publishers, writers they're all there. And everybody is really approachable and friendly. After all, I’ve always got something to talk about. As well as that, there’ll be people whose books you’ve read, or whose material you’ve taught from. You sit down at the conference and glance at the name badge of the person next to you and realise that they wrote the course book that you were using last week. For me, as my website has grown, I’ve also had the wonderful experience of being on the other side of that, with people coming up to me to thank me for my material. This is always quite a buzz. And this doesn’t even start to address the rather wonderful fact that over time you make friends with people who you'll see the next year or you catch up with people who you know online, but have never met face-to-face.

Finally, there is the content. There are hundreds and hundreds of talks to go to. So many different sessions, covering such a variety of topics. It’d be impossible not to find something that would be interesting and useful and instructive and thought-provoking. You could argue that this kind of thing is available online any day you choose to access it and it’s true, but it’s not quite the same. For me, online conferences just don’t have the same ability to make me sit and listen. If I’m listening online with my camera switched off then I’m very likely to have a quick tidy up of the room that I’m sitting in or wander off to get a cup of tea and miss part of what was said. There’s something about being in a room with a group of other people to make you quietly sit and think and learn.

So, with all that you can understand why I’m really looking forward to it. The conference was cancelled in 2020 for obvious reasons and it was online in 21. It did take place last year but I wasn’t able to go because I was newly here in Australia, so after a four-year gap I am really looking forward to it.

For those of you who can’t make it this year, I thought it would be a nice thing to try to follow my week and share it with you. So I’ll be making videos about IATEFL over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them. Next week I’ll be looking at how you can read the program and choose what to go and see. So don’t miss that!

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