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Gearing up for IATEFL 2014

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I head to Harrogate tomorrow for IATEFL 2014, but I actually left Halifax last Tuesday evening, and have been spending a few days’ vacation in London and Edinburgh. That, combined with the fact that the lead-in to any trip (I’m away from home until April 19) is a whirlwind of errands and things to do, has meant that I haven’t even had a chance to sit down and go through the Harrogate program at all. (I did, thankfully, finish the slides for my own presentation before leaving, so I wouldn’t have it hanging over my head on vacation.)

What I’ve been reading

The blogsphere and the Twittosphere have been abuzz with  people making lists of what they want to check out, and more less getting themselves all psyched up for the conference, somewhat akin to a group of superfans getting excited before their team plays in the final.

David Read’s list of EAP presentations looks interesting, Iand  got a big laugh out of Nicola Prentis’s post on archetypes of ELT. Rachael Fionda’s musings on the value of face-to-face conferencing hit home for me; her post reminded me of the fact that I will not have a minute to myself for the next 5 days (!) but also has me looking forward to that feeling of utter inspiration and flow of new ideas that I predict will start to hit halfway through the first morning of sessions.

Adam Simpson gives 10 great tips for getting the most out of IATEFL, mostly focusing on the social media and networking side of things. His advice is great, but many of the things he mentions are things I struggle with. For example, do I spend my lunch break huddled over my tablet, crafting a blog post about the sessions I’ve just seen, or do I use that opportunity to go start up a conversation with someone I’ve met or talk to a publisher about a new product that’s relevant for me? At least year’s conference, wifi access was unreliable and spotty, which meant that I couldn’t do much tweeting/blogging in real time unless I went back to my hotel room. Also, do I spend the days leading up to the conference networking with IATEFL attendees on Twitter, or do I spend it prepping and preparing my actual IATEFL presentation?

The one downside of e-publications for me is the lack of the ability to browse and flip through them easily. So I think I’ll wait until I have that fat, 200-page IATEFL program in my hand, and then start circling and highlighting my way to something of a conference plan, with lots of room for last-minute coups de coeur, networking, and sanity breaks. I try to maintain some sort of a balance between sessions on EAP, ELT management, and materials development. At work these days I’m knee deep in developing assessments, so I might try to check out few talks on that, especially listening assessment. I also do like sessions on global issues and sociolinguistics; for example, the panel discussion on linguistic imperialism at last year’s IATEFL was one of the highlights of the whole conference.

See you in Harrogate!

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