Just over a week ago, I arrived in Glasgow for my second 5-day IATEFL Conference. In addition to attending the Conference, I went to the inaugural Pre-Conference Event of a new IATEFL Special Interest Group (SIG): IP&SEN (Inclusive Practices & SEN) SIG. I also presented a poster based on my Master's research, carried out at the University of Southampton.
Some of you reading this may not know of IATEFL or its annual conference. IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, is one of the big international organisations which bring together ELT (English Language Teaching) related professionals from a variety of global contexts. Every year, it holds an annual conference and exhibition in the UK, attended by about 2,500 people from around the world. Presentations are diverse in terms of speakers and foci: they may be research or practice focused, set in a multitude of contexts, and led by teachers, consultants, researchers or publishers. This diversity of presentations and delegates means that, although they may not be designed for the contexts with which you are familiar, many of the talks are relevant and can be adapted for purpose.
The Short Trek to Glasgow
Getting to Glasgow should have been a pretty simple and uneventful affair, and it certainly was in comparison to many colleagues' international journeys - a train to Gatwick, followed by a quick hop up to Glasgow. The trivial moments of eventfulness during my trip merely consisted of comical delays; nothing compared to the endlessly tedious, hilariously entertaining or downright terrifying journeys I would hear of in the coming days.
My first Glasgow-bound pause was a delayed departure, supposedly attributed to a truanting cleaning staff, leaving the cabin crew to tidy up. Naturally, this meant we missed our take-off window, giving another thumb-twiddling 20 minutes. After eventually landing in Scotland, we suffered further delays at the hands of a power surge-induced snoozing baggage claim conveyor belt. At this rate, the short sprint to Glasgow was in danger of becoming a marathon, with the delays taking longer than the flight itself. An eternity later, a klaxon and flashing lights roused the conveyor, which shuddered and spluttered to life, eventually delivering its load to the irritated yet docile gathering.
Finally, we were greeted by the (relatively) warm, sunny blue Scottish skies. A rarity if my last visit was anything to go by. And on to another rarity of this expedition; my first experience of smooth, simple, relaxing efficiency: the Glasgow Airport Express! The first leg of the journey that was free of delays, breakdowns or complications, allowing me to walk straight out of the airport, onto the bus for a 15 minute hop and 5 minute walk to my hotel. Finally, things were going well and as expected. Of course, my jubilation was to be short-lived, as I checked into the most disgraceful excuse for a Premier Inn I've seen (and I've been to quite a few)! The staff were fantastic but, unfortunately, it went down hill from there, with poky rooms, poor electric heaters, and a reduced breakfast selection. On the plus-side, there was a Costa pit-stop to fuel the walk to the conference every morning!
Coming up next...
Over this series of posts, I will roundup the IATEFL presentations and discussions I attended from a UK EAL context. I'll also reflect upon creating and presenting a poster at the Conference.
In my next post, I start off with the inaugural Pre-Conference Event of a new IATEFL Special Interest Group (SIG), IP&SEN (Inclusive Practices & SEN). I consider sessions about storytelling, self-esteem and the language of inclusive education.
Banner photo sourced via Pixabay.com. IATEFL IP&SEN SIG sourced via SIG.