IATEFL Liverpool: Day 2

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Day two at of the IATEFL conference was a day of extremes; it included some of the best stuff I saw at the whole conference, and one of the worst conference presentations I have ever seen!Since I subscribe to the “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” school, I will refrain for ripping apart the absolutely atrociously bad plenary presentation, and focus on the excellent array of presentations and forums I was lucky enough to take in.
There were a few takeaways from the plenary, though: when presenting at a conference for an audience of your peers, don’t insult their intelligence. Don’t try to be funny, quirky, or eccentric to try to engage your audience; be knowledgeable, informative, and engage them intellectually but saying something of substance, and the rest is just icing on the cake.
Oh yeah, and organize your talk! I have bunch of handouts I usually distribute to my EAP students on structure and organization of an oral presentation which I’m happy to share. :)On to the good stuff.
Session 2.1. Jessica Mackay. The Ideal L2 Self: Motivating Adult Learners. (available online here.)
Her talk struck a particular chord with me as my master’s research also dealt with learner identity of university undergraduate students. Hers were Catalan and studying in Barcelona, while mine were Chinese and studying in Nova Scotia, but regardless, her talk included some great, and very practical techniques for harnessing factors related to identity and motivation with a class of undergrads.
Session 2.2. Shelly Terrell,  Transforming trends: effective integration of ‘bring your own technology’ . (The Prezi to accompany her presentation is available here.)
Shelly’s Twitter feed is a non-stop stream of great resources and links, and her presentation was just as informative. Though it was focused on young learners, it definitely got me thinking of how we can use learners’ own devices, and simple cell phones at that, to stimulate communication in the classroom.
Session 2.3. Double-header of short presentations on ELT publishing: What’s next in my career? Time to get published! by Nick Robinson and A steep learning curve: from teacher to writer by Thomas Ewens. 
Whenever I’m at a conference and see a presentation on ELT publishing, I usually attend, as I do do some ELT materials writing. Very often, the presenter is telling the story of how they got into publishing by accident years ago and what they’ve done since then. The problem is, many of the career paths I’ve heard described  by writers who started publishing anywhere earlier than 10 years ago are no longer possible, or relevant, in this modern-day age of digital publishing, and many old-school writers have little to now familiarity with digital publishing. So I’m happy to report that this was NOT the case with these two speakers. They had practical ideas, advice, and experience in the modern-day world of indie, on-line and traditional publishing; in particular, they referred to SmallEpic ELT Publishing and The Round.

Session 2.4. Leaders as listeners: developing people in a learning organisation. by Julie Wallis. 

This was a very hands-on workshop that incorporated theories of listening with practice.

One of the highlights of the whole conference for me was the forum discussion on Linguistic Imperialism, organized by the British Council, and available here.
The line-up of panelists was fantastic (Becky, R.K. Ndjoze-Ojo (former Deputy Minister of Education, Namibia), Sarah Ogbay (University of Asmara, Eritrea),
Robert Phillipson (Professor Emeritus, Copenhagen Business School, The Netherlands) and Danny Whitehead (British Council, Indonesia). One of the exciting things about attending an international conference of this type is the chance to see or even meet the people behind the names you see on course books, on on your MA reading lists. Phillipson’s writings on linguistics imperialism where an important part of the MA coursework, and hearing him speak was fascinating.
All speakers were eloquent and knowledgeable,  the debate was thought-provoking, and the whole event was well-moderated–something which is very important when questions are being taken from the floor.

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