One week after Manchester hosted the 2015 IATEFL conference I can now talk about my experience following all the sessions and workshops that were available online. Thanks to the British Council, which offered many of the talks and lots of interviews live, the work of those who attended the sessions and tweeted the main events happening, and those have been actively blogging during the last week, I must say it has been a very enjoyable experience that has provided new insights and thoughts about the concept of English Language Teaching. I would like to express my gratitude to all the people that took part and made it possible.
Friday 11th was the kick-off for the Pre-Conference event and, although there were no live sessions, we could follow the event on twitter. Authors Ben Goldstein, who gave a seminar at Centre d'Idiomes de la Universitat de València not long ago, and Ceri Jones, discussed the use of pictures, how and where to find them, and how to make the most out of them in order to motivate students. They have worked together to write Richmond coursebooks Framework and the Big Picture which we have used at the Centre d'Idiomes for quite a long time. MacMillan author Sue Kay, who is responsible for the Inside Out coursebook, gave a talk about multiple choice questions in reading and listening activities. Avoiding the use of humurous language and keeping the same length for the different options were some of the tips she mentioned.
From Saturday's events I would recommend the talks given by Peter Watkins, David Petrie and Michael Green on modern aproaches to developing reading skills, how students must find a purpose for reading, not just because their teacher says so; how we can make use of social media networks to provide students with other sources for reading; the length of texts which affects how we approach the reading activity; and the concept of deconstructing the text to undertand the purpose of the writer. Another talk that looks promising, although I haven't had the chance to see it yet, is the one by Jeremy Harmer about testing and how we should look at it from a different perspective either if you love it or hate it.
One of the most inspiring sessions from Sunday was the forum on online resources for CPD and teacher trainer activities by Ellen Darling, John Arnold and Gayle Norman. They talked about a concept I have recently discovered which is recorded conferences, teacher trainer webinars and blended courses for teachers. These resources provide free opportunities for professional development. This forum is connected to Tuesday's talk by Caroline Moore, an expert in digital language learning platforms, on web conferences for teacher development.
From Monday's events I recommend the talk by Catherine Whitaker on using social media technology to motivate students, especially young learners. And the forum on online learning platforms where they discussed the present and future of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). I have a special interest n this topic as I have registered for two courses offered by Future Learn in collaboration with the British Council and British universities; the aim is to see how they work and see whether this concept can be applied at our institution.
This is my post about one of the most important events in English Language Teaching; it has been a very rewarding experience that I hope to repeat next year, this time in person hopefully.