Onestopenglish at IATEFL 201319-Apr-2013
As onestopenglish publisher, I speak regularly with all the teachers and expert authors who produce lesson plans and worksheets for the site. I love the immediacy and variety of the job: teachers from all over the world visit the site – according to our analytics software we reach teachers in over 200 countries and territories, so it’s a truly global experience.
But once a year I get to fully immerse myself in the world of English language teaching at the IATEFL annual conference hosted by the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. This conference encapsulates the creativity, energy and enthusiasm you’d expect from bringing together 2,500 of the most motivated teachers and presenters in ELT and I think it represents the very best of the English teaching world.
The onestopenglish team was kept busy at this year’s conference in Liverpool. Back in August, we launched a “Creativity in the Classroom” Scholarship to IATEFL 2013, asking creative English language teachers to tell us about new and inventive ways they engage with students in class. The winner, Ana Maria Menezes from Brazil, won the scholarship with her ‘10 tasks challenge’, a project in which students use the language they learn in class to produce content using 10 different digital tools. With 20 years of teaching experience, Ana Maria is no stranger to continuous professional development, but it was her dream to go to IATEFL and it was great to meet her at the conference.
We also sponsored two of our regular authors to present at the conference. Luke Vyner, co-author with his brother James of ‘A Ghost’s Guide to London’, delighted our senses with a talk on ‘Using sound as a creative stimulus for language learning’. He showed how rich, multi-layered, ambient soundscapes can provide context for understanding that goes beyond language by provoking an emotional response, as well as providing opportunities for extensive digital storytelling.
Nik Peachey, author of our ‘Tech tools for teachers’ series, engaged our critical faculties with a talk on ‘Evaluating web-based tools for language instruction’. He practises what he preaches, commanding a range of web tools to elicit audience participation. We commented, said hello and contributed generally via a so-called backchannel (defined as, ‘everything going on in the room that isn’t coming from the presenter’) on Todaysmeet.com. Later on we offered ideas and voted on them as a group via Tricider.com. You can watch Nik’s presentation and find out more about the web tools and apps we reviewed in the presentation on the IATEFL/British Council website.
On the Wednesday night we let our hair down at the Macmillan party. As biased as I am, I’m sure plenty people would agree that Macmillan consistently puts on the best conference party. This year in Liverpool, it was at the Cavern Club, home of the Beatles, and we danced the night away to the Cavern Club Beatles, a tribute band so authentic that the tribute Paul had learnt to play the guitar left-handed for absolute authenticity!
I’m now back at my desk, catching up with emails and firmly back in the daily grind, but reminded, as I am each year, of why I do my job.