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One teacher's experience of the 52nd International IATEFL Conference in Brighton 馃

Updated: May 3, 2019

This post is in English only for reasons you might realise as you continue scrolling down 馃槤

There aren't many events that get me as excited as the IATEFL conference and there are two reasons for that. The first of those reasons is that I get to travel to various British cities: last year it was Glasgow, this year Brighton, and next year Liverpool. The second reason is that I get to spend 4 days surrounded by thousands of English teachers from all over the world and some of the world's leading ELT experts.

I wasn't taking part in the pre-conference event this year so the whole things started for me on Tuesday. I did, however, arrive in Brighton on Monday to register and to explore the city a little bit before the conference. At registration I got my conference guide. I had the conference app installed on my phone ages ago but I never got round to actually planning what I want to see and what talks and workshops I want to attend. Trust me, you need to plan this! There are over 20!! talks and workshops happening at each time slot 馃槻 It can get a bit overwhelming having to chose just one out of 24 things 9 times for each day (I feel tired just writing this 馃槄). To be honest with you, I have 3 time slots filled with 3 or 4 different talks for Tuesday (it is Monday evening now as I'm writing this for you). I decided not to decide until the very last moment. They all sound very good and interesting and I wish I could be in 4 places at the same time!!

Tuesday - day 1

So the first day of the conference was a mixed bag, to be honest. It started well with a plenary session by Lourdes Ortega. Ortega is a professor at the Georgetown University and her area of expertise is Second Language Acquisition. So to put it simply: she knows her stuff when it comes to language learning. Her lecture was all about the relationship between language teaching and language research and how teachers can benefit from actually reading and applying the finding of the research into their practise. She stated very clearly that it is each teacher's individual decision, though. Why am I emphasising that? Because she said something that made the whole room gasp. She said ..... drum roll please .... that "the earlier the better" approach to language teaching is a myth and that there is an extensive body of research that proves that it makes no difference to the learners' eventual language level. I am writing this with the expectation of making a lot of Polish teachers gasp as well because it's been quite a popular topic of discussion recently. I am not able to quote the research itself but it's definitely something I want to read about!!

My next session was by Tom Veryzer and dealt with student engagement in the classroom. It was a very lively workshop where I got to scream, dance, move around, and fake laugh (I was told to do so). Normally, it wouldn't be my cup of tea but I enjoyed it. The thing I'm going to definitely use from it is starting the lesson talking quietly to get students' attention and get them to start listening.

After that I chose Ken Beatty's talk on motivating the teenage brain. An interesting piece of information I got from it was that "teenager" is not someone ager 13 to 19. For girls it's 11 to 20 and for boys 12 to 25! Beatty listed some facts about teenage brain, out of which I found the following most interesting:

  • Teenage brain has difficulty interpreting other people's emotions.

  • Teenage brain struggles with cause-effect reasoning.

  • Teenage brain experiments with emotions and its subjects are parents and teachers.

  • Teenage brain takes a lot of time to develop empathy.

  • Teenage brain needs a lot of sleep.

My last session before lunch was on professional development and self-evaluation. Simon Brewster discussed his school's policies on that topic. This talk was the last peace missing for me to start recording my lessons and watch them back to see what I should work on.