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InnovateELT 2023 Conference: innovative, in-person, and in search of speakers!

InnovateELT is back, and we have some exciting changes to tell you about! Marking its 9th edition this year, the event will take place at Oxford TEFL Barcelona on 20th and 21st May 2023. As always, the event promises to bring together everyone and everything that makes our industry innovative. Sound like something you could get on board with? Whether you’re an InnovateELT veteran or hearing about it for the very first time, this article will tell you all you need to know.


What is InnovateELT?

InnovateELT is an annual conference that’s been going strong since 2015. True to the name, our aim is to discuss the role of innovation in language education and celebrate some of the most exciting things happening around us. We pride ourselves on being different from other conferences you may have attended. But what makes us stand out from the crowd?

  • Something for everyone: As you’ll see, this year’s conference theme has been carefully selected to make sure that whatever your experience level or specialist area, there are sure to be sessions which appeal. Teachers, trainers, leaders, writers, EdTech specialists, publishers – all of them have found a home at InnovateELT.
  • Networking focus: We include social events, discussion opportunities, quizzes, games and more. 
  • Fostering of new talent: InnovateELT welcomes and supports first-time conference speakers and attendees. We believe these provide an interesting counterpoint to the more experienced voices we also attract.
  • Community feel: The conference takes place at our working language school in Barcelona, and our connections with the local area and ELT community mean that the event has a great atmosphere. We also connect to the wider education community through our charity partnership with CAMFED.
One of my favourite pictures from last year’s event really captures the spirit of InnovateELT!

What’s the theme of InnovateELT 2023?

This year’s conference theme is ‘Who Needs Theory in ELT?’

According to Kurt Lewin “There is nothing more practical than a good theory”. Is he right? At InnovateELT 2023, we’ll be exploring whether our industry is driven by theories.

I’ll talk in more detail about our Call for Papers later, but in a nutshell, our Director, Duncan Foord, explains here what we’re looking for:

“I’m hoping to see proposals for sessions which include ideas for English teaching, teacher training and ELT leadership or management which are so practical we can use them on Monday morning, but which include a reflection on whether they are based on theory. If so, which theory is it? If not, what are they based on?”

– Duncan Foord, Oxford TEFL Director

Duncan feeling cheerful as InnovateELT 2022 got underway!

What’s new at InnovateELT?

We pride ourselves on listening to our community, and have looked over the feedback from the 2022 event with a fine-tooth comb. Happily, participants were overwhelmingly positive about what was on offer. Naturally, though, there were some suggested areas for improvement too. We’re planning InnovateELT with all of this firmly in mind, and attendees can therefore look forward to:

A return to our traditional May event date

As you’ll remember, this year’s conference will take place on 20th and 21st May. Of course, the warm breezes of Barcelona in spring are a treat for even the most widely-travelled conference-goer. However, there is also a more practical reason for putting InnovateELT back in its rightful spot on the calendar. Attendees based in Europe told us that they were rushed off their feet in late September, preparing for the new academic year and/ or making the most of some final days of family time. Given that our goal is to bring together ELT professionals from far and wide, we’ve decided to go with the majority and switch back to our original May event.

As travel restrictions in our part of the world have all but disappeared, we’ve also designed the timetable with the visiting attendee in mind. Starting at 14:00 on the Saturday and finishing by 16:15 on Sunday, you could make a flying visit to InnovateELT if you wanted to. Less pressed for time? We can recommend a few sights to see, and restaurants to try…

Our neighbourhood is especially charming in spring

A face-to-face InnovateELT across two days

One of the greatest achievements in the history of InnovateELT is the successful jump to an online event when circumstances demanded it in 2020. We are proud that we were able to maintain the InnovateELT sparkle and keep our community together during very tough times. Now, though, the moment is right to go fully face-to-face. It was partly testimonials like these which guided our thinking:

There is a family feel about it that is enhanced by the frequent generous breaks in the lovely garden. It’s well worth going every year, as then there are more and more familiar faces among the speakers and the attendees.

– Chris Fry, InnovateELT attendee, 2022

I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Innovate ELT conference. It was great to be back and see old acquaintances and meet some new people with fresh ideas.

– Jody Hansen, InnovateELT attendee, 2022

The future of online events at Oxford TEFL

Can’t make it to Barcelona this time? Don’t despair! We’re taking the best of what we learnt at the online InnovateELT and applying it to various other online events throughout 2023. Keep an eye on our Facebook page, Instagram, and LinkedIn to find out more..

Simpler pricing

InnovateELT is better value than ever, and we’ve made our pricing structure as clear and fair as possible:

InnovateELT pricing table

Early Bird tickets are on sale now. These are and will remain the cheapest way to attend InnovateELT 2023. Don’t miss out! You can also see that the Early Bird and Speaker prices are the same. This means that you can go ahead and purchase your ticket now, even if you’re planning to speak at the event.

How can I speak at InnovateELT 2023?

*Our Call for Papers deadline is Friday 17th February at 12:00 Spain time. You can make your submission here*

If you have an innovative idea to share with other ELT professionals, you’re probably thinking about submitting a proposal to speak at InnovateELT 2023. You will remember that we are focusing this year on the question of ‘Who Needs Theory in ELT?

To give you some inspiration, we’d welcome proposals for talks, workshops and demo classes on topics such as:

Ideas for English teaching, teacher training, and ELT leadership and management which are so practical we can “use them on Monday morning”, but with a reflection on whether you think they are based on theory (if so, which theory?), or not (in which case what are they based on?). 

Reflections on the interplay of theory and practice in ELT. To what extent does one inform the other?

Common challenges experienced by teachers, trainers, and leaders: are these best addressed by a theoretical or practical approach?

Theories that you and/ or other professionals have explored. What practical applications do they have for teachers, trainers, and leaders in ELT?

Integrating theory and practice from outside the traditional ELT sphere, especially in the areas of sustainability, well-being, and entrepreneurship for teachers.

We also invite proposals for short plenaries which address the question of whether we need theory in ELT.

The creative response of our community to the annual theme never ceases to amaze us, and the ideas above are simply a guide. If you have an idea that you think would fit well at InnovateELT 2023, please do feel free to submit it for our consideration!

Interactive sessions are always especially well-received

Other things to look forward to

By now, I hope you’re starting to share my enthusiasm for InnovateELT 2023! One perk that we haven’t yet mentioned is the prizes on offer. These have yet to be finalised, but typically include some or all of the following:

There are also a few other surprises waiting for participants at InnovateELT 2023 which I’ll keep to myself for the time being.

All in all, this year’s conference looks set to be the best so far and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible joining us in beautiful Barcelona! 

To buy your ticket for InnovateELT 2023 click go the registration page.

Submit your proposal for a workshop by completing this application form.

Email [email protected] for any other information (including about group discounts).

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