Why I love IATEFL/conferences (2015 version!)

IATEFL is over for another year (well, it’s not quite – I think the final plenary is in process as I type! – but for me it is, as I am sitting on a train to London…) and once again it has surpassed expectations. If I am honest, I wasn’t actually looking forward to it that much this year. (Which is different from previous years when it’s been an “I can’t wait!” situation!) I was tired, I felt mildly annoyed that I was losing half an Easter holiday week for it (last year Easter holiday I travelled around Sicily with some family and had an actual break!) and I generally couldn’t be bothered. I arrived in Manchester on Thursday evening, checked into my ‘aparthotel’ room and thought, “I don’t want to be here…I want a holiday…bah.” Friday morning, I walked to the conference centre. As it came into sight, all the negativity fell away, to be replaced with some more customary excitement! “I’m at a conference, wheeeeee!” I was quite relieved when the switch flipped and have gone on to have an absolutely marvellous time in Manchester. It was definitely cure rather than kill! If it weren’t for wanting to get all these thoughts down while they are fresh in my mind, I would definitely not be typing right now… Over the course of the conference I have written and published 22 posts and a further 2 are waiting for finishing touches. None of the posts are less than 1000 words in length, most are significantly more. So I have written well over 22,000 words in the last 5 days (maths isn’t my strong point – correct me if I am wrong!). No wonder my fingers are tired! But it’s worth it when you get people saying: Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 14.06.03 Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 14.06.37 Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 14.06.47 (The last tweet was in response to me admitting that my fingers were officially tired!) I have seen a huge variety of talks and workshops: EAP, materials writing, corpus linguistics, teenagers, young learners, linguistics (David Crystal this morning!), IELTS, language testing (ELTJ debate), technology, publishing… and so it goes on. I think this is one of the things I love about IATEFL so much: the opportunity to connect with the bigger picture of my profession, rather than just my tiny corner of it. I also had the wonderful opportunity of sharing what I’ve done in my tiny corner with a handful of the many people who came to IATEFL and chose my talk (despite it being second to last slot on the last full day, when everyone is knackered!). I have picked up my customary Black Cat publishers bag (aka my alternative handbag for the next 12 months till I get next years!) from the exhibition hall. What an enormous hall! It was absolutely vast. I didn’t spend as much time in it as previous years, because I didn’t want to be tempted into buying books (my usual weakness) to carry back with me when I relocate back to the UK in under two months. I did, however, treat myself to one book: The Company Words Keep published by Delta Publishing. Looking forward to trying out some of the activities in the next 6 weeks. I think I successfully managed to bump into everybody I wanted to bump into with very little organisation. And that’s another thing I love about conferences and IATEFL in particular (because it unites people from all over the place): the opportunity to catch up with people who live and work a long way away from where you live and work but who you’ve met through social media,  doing your M.A./Delta, at previous conferences or because you used to work somewhere else a long way from your current location. I LOVE all the hello’s! And as I slipped off after David Crystal’s talk today, without attempting to find anybody, I managed to avoid any goodbyes! Not so keen on goodbyes… So it was that after dragging my heels every step of the way to the conference, I felt a real pang when I handed in my lanyard and name tag for recycling and walked out that main entrance door for a final time. Having spent 5 days going in an out and…very happily.  On the plus side, I no longer have something round my neck that says IELTS and I’m no longer labelled as “Elizabeth” (Who is this “Elizabeth”? :-p ) IATEFL is over for another year but the injection of enthusiasm, freshness and connectedness that I have had from it will last for a while yet. Next year is IATEFL’s 50th anniversary, to be held in Birmingham, so if you haven’t yet made it to this wonderful conference, that could be an exciting first time! If there is any way at all you can make it, even for just a day, go! There is no way you will regret it. Thank you IATEFL, for another amazing conference. See you next year! Hopefully by then my fingers will have recovered… 😉 Thank you everybody who made my conference experience what it was – you are all fabulous! <Cheese over and out!>

8 thoughts on “Why I love IATEFL/conferences (2015 version!)

  1. Lizzie, I’m so impressed with your constant and consistently informative posts throughout the conference. I’m not sure how you managed it as as I was running around like a mad thing trying to find rooms and halls and toilets (and coffee to keep me going!) Choosing talks alone kept me busy 🙂 But for all of those fabulous talks I missed out on, I’m delighted to have your summaries to read now that i’m home. Well done!!

  2. Pingback: IATEFL 2015: All my posts indexed! | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  3. Pingback: IATEFL 2015: All my posts indexed! | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  4. Thank you! You’ve managed to (more rather than less) portrait how I experience conference(s) before, during and after them, though I love hugging people (so even if I don’t really like goodbyes I love those hugs)! Wanted to come to your session, but mine was happening at the same time 😦 and I kind of couldn’t miss it.
    Looking forward to your next posts, and in the meantime enjoying the ones about this year’s IATEFL sessions (I haven’t attended) which make me feel like I actually haven’t missed out on anything! Thanks for that, once again!

  5. It is really lovely to read such positive posts about the conference. I look at the opportunity to attend if and when possible as something to cherish. So many of us get a great deal out of both international and local events. I am also very happy about the fact that the online programme has done wonders to foster the mission of IATEFL, which is linking and developing teachers around the world. Thanks for contributing as well to that mission, Lizzie.

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