The Innovate ELT Conference is an annual conference which encourages all people within the ELT industry to connect and learn from each other in a positive and dynamic environment. In 2016 it took place on May 6th and 7th 2016 at Oxford TEFL Barcelona. It is hosted and co-organised by Oxford TEFL and ELT Jam. Here, Nathan Beyerlein reflects on his experience from the perspective of a delegate and speaker.
When I first walked into the doors of Oxford TEFL, Barcelona for iELT16 I didn’t know what to expect. I registered and put on my lanyard, then I proceeded to mull around the reception area looking at the Cambridge and Macmillan stalls. I’d flown in from Vietnam to speak and attend the conference; perhaps it was the jet lag that kept me from realizing I was not in the thick of it. After a few minutes of looking at my watch and looking forward to the first plenaries, one kind soul let me know that there were free drinks in the garden area.
I went outside, and what I found was a buzzing party atmosphere where people from all walks of the ELT community were sharing stories and ideas. I grabbed a wonderful craft IPA from Espiga brewing company and excitedly joined in. After a few drinks and a lot of interesting conversations, Duncan Foord appeared atop an ivy laced balcony and gave the introductory talk. This was very different from any conference I’d attended in Southeast Asia.
The next few days were a flurry of conversations, connections, workshops and speeches. I came away with a deeper understanding of some important issues within the ELT community such as the native speaker vs. non-native speaker struggle, issues of feminism and the inclusion of certain technologies in the classroom. Beyond that, a number of workshops that I attended gave me some different takes on teaching methodology (some classic, some new) and a few practical teaching ideas that I will be employing in my classroom.
The most important take-away, however, were the people that I met. Through the course of the conference, I met linguistic academics, publishers, marketing executives, teacher trainers, app producers and a slew of passionate educators. As a speaker at the event, I thought it might feel intimidating to conduct a workshop with so many industry professionals. What I found was one of the most engaged, respectful and motivated groups of attendees that I’ve had the pleasure to lead in a workshop setting.
The event is rightly entitled Innovate ELT. I walked away from the event feeling more passionate, empowered and innovative about ELT than I have in a long time. I look forward to sharing these ideas with the teachers at my school and taking a more active part in the dynamic global ELT community that I now feel a deeper connection with.
If you’d like to read my post about ten things that I learned at the conference, you can check it out here.
Nathan Beyerlein is the general director of the language center GLC, Hoi An as well as blog editor for teflexpress.co.uk. He is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer who thinks the most important aspect of language acquisition is motivation.