Sunday, April 15, 2018

IATEFL... One more year that I wasn't there...

Every April, I have a dream.... To go to IATEFL convention. Every year I cannot do it. I have been taking part in competitions, I have been applying for scholarships, I have been asking for sponsorships, I just couldn't make it so far. It's a bit of a disappointment, since I consider it to be the biggest international event for EFL teachers. I also can't understand why anyone wouldn't like to go.
So, I have been following the convention online reading tweets, blogs and watching it livestream and I thank British Council for giving us people the chance to watch some of the talks for free, from the comfort of our home.
I usually apply to be an official blogger, this year I have missed the chance, I haven't seen an add anywhere, so I just watched without taking notes. I watched just to watch. And I will watch everything there is online, now that summer is coming and I'll have less work and more time.
But being the Social Media Manager for TESOL MTh this year, gave me the chance to post pictures and quotes on the organisation's twitter account and Instagram, so let's say I was still reporting in some way.

So far I have managed to watch all the plenary talks and some sessions and today I will try to write my impressions and personal thoughts so far.
Dorothy Zemach's talk about how books are made was amazing. I had the chance to work closely in the EFL book industry, and I knew about PARSNIPS's and things that should not be written in an EFL book, I knew that pay is going lower and lower every day and I also know how difficult it is to write material in specific levels (been there, done that, nailed it :P) and how many people are behind a book creation.  I really admired the fact that she told the truth. A lot of people do not want to pay for their materials and are too lazy to create their own. And it is really a shame that sometimes we don't appreciate the trouble writers get into in order to write a book. As Dorothy said "It's time to pay for your stuff"!

I have also admired Britta Fernandez Schmidt. It is absolutely amazing the work she and her organisation have been doing to educate women in places where human rights are not considered rights, but privileges. The statistics she showed gave us the truth about what women face and how important it is to make people understand that something has to be done in order for some people to actually live a decent life. The videos with women and men in the programme gave hope.
Barry O' Sallivan looked at the history of English language testing and it was very interesting to see how back language exams go and how difficult they were back then. Nowadays, there are so many different institutions that offer language testing and I never realised how far back these exams go.

I also managed to watch a couple of sessions. One that really interest me was Phil Longwell's session about Mental health. I have been following his blog for quite some time now, since I had a talk about Mindfulness in TESOL MTh and his blog collection was very helpful indeed. It is surprising to see how many teachers suffer from anxiety and depression and other mental health problems, and that most of the times, they are being avoided and excluded from work and are not helped.

Another session I would like to mention was Ana Lucia de Mello Carrier's about drills. I was not planning to watch this, I just came across the livestream. Having actually been raised with drills, I believe that there was no other method when I learned foreign languages, I am not if favour of this kind of exercise. For me as a student, it was very boring to repeat and repeat and not have the chance for a more communicative lesson. The one I have been trying with my students nowadays. But I will not lie. I have learned English. I have learned with the drills. And it actually depends on what kind of students you have, what means you have, what situations you have to face. So, I am not excluding it as a method. Ms. Carrier has shown us some helpful ways how to use drills in the classroom.

My virtual visit to IATEFL has not finished yet. I still have a lot to watch and read and pretend I was there.
Until next year...

You can watch more over here.

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