The ABC of ELT

General reflections on IATEFL PL 2017

Saint Mark’s church tower in Bielsko-Biała

Yesterday I presented at, and then returned from, IATEFL Poland in Bielsko-Biała-Biała. I had a great time (dare I say better than the previous year) and felt really fired up for the new academic year that will soon be starting. I hope to share some specifics from certain sessions but today I want to give some overall impressions as well as personal reflections that I had from the conference in contrast to last years conference.

Going with people

Last year I was the only person from my school who went to the conference. I also had to wake up early, catch a flight and try to work out how I could get to the hotel I was stating in and the conference venue. This year, I traveled with a colleague, met an old acquaintance and knew some other attendees from previous years. This lead to a lot more fun even and having some people cheer me on during my talk.

awareness filter up!

Last year I didn’t realise quite how sales focused IATEFL Poland is (and possibly every IATEFL). My previous conference experience had been the International House Young Learners’ conference where there were book stands but in general it was much more teacher development focused. This year I knew that there would be many different companies with stands trying to sell things and that certain talks would be basically sales pitches without any real content of worth. I managed to navigate round these very well with one exception.

That exception managed to create a very compelling talk title with a couple of statements that were discussion worthy…but instead they just pitched a course book that “applied” these ideas.

Next year I hope to avoid them all.

More SEN stuff (well dyslexia)

One of the themes I noticed this year was more talks with a SEN (usually Dyslexia) focus. That’s interesting to see considering my talk last year was on Dyslexia. I also picked up a methodology book on teaching Dyslexic students that I might do a review of once I’ve finished reading it.

Technology less as a theme more as tool

One of the touches I liked was the greater presence of technology as a tool rather than the focus of sessions. In the past I’ve seen things about “Why smartphones are important for teaching” but now it seems many sessions made reference to how methodological ideas could be implemented with various different devices.

This is not a hard and fast rule nor do I think all sessions on a piece of technology are bad (especially as I lead one last year in house on using IWBs!) still, I much prefer starting with methodology and then selecting tools rather than the other way round.

Sharing sketchnotes

This was also the first year I had the courage to share my sketchnotes from the sessions. I had been experimenting with sketchnoting for a good few years now and I was pretty dedicated to taking sketchnotes of the previous year’s conference. However, I had never had the guts to share them. After all, I made mistakes and some of my pictures weren’t the best. In one case I ran out of space, in another I decided to use a second page…only to realise that I didn’t need that much extra space.

Still, I saw a good few people liked them on Twitter and some people retweeted them. This makes me think that it was worthwhile sharing them…and seeing as my talk was on Sketchnoting I kind of had to put some action behind my words.

A new talk

My session on “using visual note taking or sketchnoting with young learners” seemed to go well. I managed to finish about 5 minutes under the allotted time and rushed my start a bit (I always do this when stressed). I noticed some puzzled faces at certain moments that I think mostly came about due to lots of information in a short space of time, plus some of my instructions could have been clearly.

Still I received positive feedback and I believe I can build upon that.

I’m already looking forward to next year

Next year is in Wroclaw, a city I visited this year and thought was beautiful (and full of lovely craft beer). As such I hope I can get the time of to attend that one as well.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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