The last time I attended the IATEFL annual conference was in 2015, when Magdalena de Stefani, Maria Muniz, Juup Stelma and I took part in a symposium on Teaching English to Young Learners. Since then, I have always made a point of attending again, and I have consistently failed to do so. Life happens. Academic life happens even worse. Missing this year’s conference in Brighton was particularly disappointing, for at least three reasons. One is that I missed another opportunity to get together with the growing community of language teachers from Greece, for whom an IATEFL attendance is a regular event. It is always great fun to be among this closely knit group of friends, and one always feels very welcome among them. If you are not sure about attending, this group of teachers is reason enough!
Greeks (and friends!) in IATEFL
A second highlight I missed was the Forum on CLIL for English teachers, featuring Jacqueline Douglas, Patricia Reynolds and close colleague and friend Anita Lämmerer. Some of the themes that were raised in the forum included the need to prepare teachers who teach CLIL courses with appropriate instruction on integrating language and content. It is too often erroneously assumed that if you are a good language teacher and have some content knowledge / have good content knowledge and happen to know the target language, that is enough to teach CLIL effectively. I would not be surprised if many of the ambivalent findings about CLIL relate to this casual attitude towards preparation.
Finally, I was very disappointed to miss a chance to be there with my publishers, Multilingual Matters, who were represented at the conference by Laura Longworth (@Lauracvp), arguably the nicest acquisitions editor in the industry. It has been brought to my attention that she was constantly harassed by my friends, who wanted to send me a photo of the book Sarah Mercer and I edited, Language Teacher Psychology. According to her blog post, written shortly after the conference:
It was clear from the opening evening exhibit hall preview that it was going to be a busy conference … Sarah Mercer had been the plenary speaker at last year’s conference and many delegates were already aware of this exciting new book. I especially enjoyed meeting friends and colleagues of the editors, who were happy to let them know the good news of the book’s popularity, sometimes by taking a photo of the book at the stand to send to them!
Sad as it was to miss the actual fun, it certainly felt nice to have this constant stream of photos coming in my Facebook inbox :)
Next year’s conference will take place in Liverpool on 2-5 April (pre-conference events on 1 April). I have made a point of attending!
Featured image by IATEFL; in-text photo by Eftychis Kantarakis, used with permission.