I close my eyes and imagine a place where I can meet hundreds of teachers from different places on earth, with different backgrounds, with different interests and with the same passion: learning and sharing. I open my eyes and see this place is real, like my very own self that meets these teachers and shares with them the same enthusiasm for teaching. This place is the wonderfully orchestrated 53rd IATEFL Conference 2019 held in Liverpool. The location of the event was right on the water with beautiful views of the coastline. Overall, approximately 3,000 attendees participated in over 500 talks! In these sessions, fellow colleagues presented their findings from their part of the world and discussed how it could be adapted to the participant’s home country. It was Aysu’s first time at IATEFL and Nick’s third, and both of us eagerly await next year’s conference.
Nick was fortunate enough to fly early to Liverpool and attend the special interest group on Learning Technologies. Here participants discussed how technology and feedback can be used to assist English language learning. After a great presentation on defining what feedback is and what it should be, the audience was shown several technologies that are currently being used in the classroom. This included uses of Artificial Intelligence and Screen Caption technology. During the conference, we attended several Teacher Training sessions, two of which stood out. One particularly memorable session focussed on using Lego to enhance teaching and learning, and another focussed on Assessing through Games.
Aysu has been into poetry since she could remember for her own pleasure, but for the past couple of years, she has been interested in using poetry in the ELT classroom. You can imagine her excitement at joining a poetry session with Doris Suchet to hear her ideas, poetry is another way to find out about one’s own, and certainly a great way to connect with others.
The Oxford Test of English
Oxford University Press’s Oxford Test of English Launch Event was a huge success. It was held in the beautiful Tate Liverpool Museum where many gathered to celebrate this new endeavour. The Oxford Test of English is a computer adaptive general English proficiency test certified by the University of Oxford. Nick was at the party and met several teachers eager to access this test for their students, enabling them to access further education.
The thing we will probably remember the most though was the people we met and interacted with. All the presenters were incredibly generous and approachable. We met so many teachers from around the world and learned about their students and working conditions. Conversations with teachers from Nepal, Russia, England, Thailand, Kosovo, Brazil, the Netherlands, Greece, China, and Bulgaria all helped to shape our knowledge of ELT globally, as well as help us to reflect on our own situation in Turkey.
One final note
Throughout the conference, this snippet from Alice in Wonderland haunted us:
The Hatter asks ‘Have I gone mad?’ and Alice answers ‘You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret, all the best people are.’
I believe we, as the people attending IATEFL, are all ‘bonkers’ like ‘all the best people are’ because we are the living proofs that we can create a world that is equal, inclusive, kind, hungry for learning, and open to sharing.
Nick Manthei is a full-time teacher trainer for Oxford University Press. He has previously taught in Istanbul and Izmir. He recently finished his Master’s degree in Education at Endicott College on International Education with an ESL Concentration. Nick has an optimistic outlook on Education in Turkey and the world and gives real examples of how education can be made better starting with the most important person in the school: the teacher.
Aysu Şimşek is a passionate advocate of continuing professional development. After graduating from Istanbul University with joint honours in American Culture and Literature with Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy, she embarked on her own teaching career. As a teacher, Aysu had the fortune to work in supportive teaching teams and personally benefited from the valuable guidance of mentors. Now in her role with Oxford University Press, Aysu meets and supports teachers from across Turkey and is proud to be an active member of a global community of dedicated educationalists. She is a holder of a CELTA qualification, has co-written articles for Modern English Teacher magazine and TEA Online Magazine.