What do I expect from IATEFL, 2015 Conference at Manchester ?

With five world-class plenaries and 500 sessions in 4 days, the 49th international conference of IATEFL 2015 at Manchester, UK is a big challenge for an ordinary ELT practitioner like me. I have been spending a lot of time perusing and exploring the ‘official conference programme’ published by the IATEFL, and every passing moment makes my heart beat faster with a sense of bewilderment. My first hand experience of attending the IATEFL conference at Liverpool in 2013 prompts me to be very cautious as I don’t want to miss the sessions which are relevant to my academic pursuit and professional growth.
The plenary speakers, Donald Freeman, Joy Egbert, Harry Kuchah, Carol Ann Duffy and Ann Cotton, the internationally acclaimed ELT experts are already in my list. Donald Freeman, the distinguished Professor at the School of Education, University of Michigan and one of the former Presidents of TESOL, will deliberate on the ideas about how teaching and learning work, about the teacher’s role, and about the classroom goals of English instruction. Joy Egbert will look at the question of engaging learners with technology, Harry Cotton will explore the challenges of English language teaching in difficult circumstances and Ann Cotton deliberate on secondary education for girls.
ELT is a dynamic enterprise, it has to adjust itself with the changing global scenario and therefore, we should not be constrained by our set notions of ELT. Our theories of ELT and our traditional ELT perspectives should not go unscrutinised and unchallenged. Hope, Donald’s plenary will rejuvenate us and give us enough food for thought and action.
ELT and technology have become synonymous to the English teachers of the 21st century and Joy’s plenary will be a rewarding experience for the ELT practitioners.
The professional hazard of English teachers teaching English in difficult circumstances is a well known fact of the modern world. Hope, Harry Cotton will explore the issue of ELT in difficult circumstances from multiple perspectives. ELT in the 21st century is a victim of the political, social, cultural and pedagogic turbulence and we, the English teachers are often at the receiving end. Is there a way out to extricate us from these difficulties? How can we teach English better, in spite of the difficulties looming large in the ELT horizon?
Ann Cotton’s plenary is a welcome addition to the history of IATEFL Conference and I look forward to listening to her. She will persuade us of the justice and imperative of secondary school education for girls.
Some of the talks and workshops selected by me for the time being are as follows:
(1) ‘Teaching language or teaching culture?’ by Benjamin Dobbs . Is Language an aspect of culture, or is it a synonym for culture ? Are language and culture separable? What are the approaches to an integrated course on language and culture? What are the implications?
(2) ‘Learners’ responses to using literature to enhance their intercultural enhance competence’ by Jennifer Schumm Fauster. Literature has a long history of being used in the language classroom, but how do students respond to it being employed to enhance their intercultural competence?
(3) ‘Social networking: developing intercultural competence and fostering Social networking’ by RubyVurdien Vurdien Vurdien.
(4) ‘ Teaching culture – teaching critical thinking’ by Ivana Kirin & Marinko Uremovic . How to raise students’ awareness of their own culture and how to help them appreciate diversity in the global world today. Teaching culture can offer activities that can help students develop their critical thinking skill.
(5) ‘Continuous and comprehensive evaluation(CEE)—a reality check’ by Ravinarayan Chakrakodi, a Hornby scholar from India.
(6) ‘Teachers helping teachers: the Venezulean experience’ by Evelin Ojeda Naveda, a Hornby scholar from Venezuela.
The international IATEFL conferences are for the teachers, of the teachers and by the teachers. Therefore, like all other English teachers teaching English across the globe, I expect a lot from the IATEFL conference at Manchester. I expect it to be intellectually stimulating, academically rewarding and pedagogically challenging. The ‘world cup’ of the ELT world is sure to unfold innumerable surprises for the thousands English teachers attending the Conference either at Manchester or from the comfort of their homes. It is immaterial if we are attending the Conference on line or offline. It is the ELT spirit that matters, it is the urge for our professional development that counts.
One good news for the online delegates. They can take part in the discussion forums linked to the main conference themes and interact with conference presenters via the IATEFL website, ‘Manchester Online.’ They will be able to watch live video sessions of the conference on the ‘Manchester Online.’Can’t make it to Manchester for #IATEFL? Follow the conference online Starts Friday 10th April iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2015.

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