IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) is an organisation for English Language Teachers to develop and support each other throughout the world. They regularly post their online magazine, IATEFL Voices, six times a year, assist in establishing local Teacher’s Associations, organise various Special Interest Groups, as well as other events and conferences. One such group, the Materials Writing Special Interest Group (MaWSIG), focuses on exploring and improving materials for classroom and wider publications.
On Saturday November 16th, John Hughes will be hosting a webinar entitled: “Writing ELT Classroom Materials for a Wider Public”, which will “look at first draft materials written for a lesson and analyse how they can be made user-friendly for other teachers.” John is a well-known ELT author, contributing to over twenty book title and online publications, including Life (National Geographic Learning) and Telephone English (Macmillan). He runs ELT writing courses for Oxford University Press and for various language schools. The session will also include tips and advice for teachers who wish to improve their ELT writing skills and learn more about (self) publishing.
The other event Sophie is co-ordinating is a one-day conference, “New Directions in ELT Materials Writing“, looking at the “latest thinking in ELT materials writing and development, with some of the industry’s biggest names and experts.” The conference will be held at The King’s Centre in Oxford, and will feature talks and discussion panels from the likes of Simon Greenall, Antonia Clare, Lewis Lansford, John Hughes, Simon LeMaistre, Laurie Harrison, Nicola Prentis, Johanna Stirling, Steve Elsworth, Berni Wall, Marcos Benevides, Sarah Cunningham, Sue Kay, Victoria Boobyer, Paul Dummett and Laura Austin.
Also later in April, Sophie has arranged one of the Pre-conference events on April 1st, before the Annual Conference in Harrogate called “Writing for Digital”. You can learn more about the IATEFL Annual Conference here.
I asked Sophie some questions about the upcoming events.
“What is your role with the events you are co-ordinating and how have you prepared for them?”
Sophie: “My role is to plan the events, along with our committee and make sure they go smoothly on the day. This involves everything from booking the venue, arranging refreshments, to timetabling the speakers, ensuring they know what they are talking about, and when, and generally all the ‘nitty gritty’ behind the scenes.”
“We’ve been working on the events since May, as planning far in advance is key. The members are potentially going to be coming from all over the world and are made up of quite a range of skilled professionals within the field of ELT; so ensuring that we have a range of events and speakers is also important so that our members feel they are getting the support and advice they were looking for from our SIG.”
“Is this your first time event co-ordinating?”
Sophie: “In my previous role at Youth Dance England I used to co-ordinate a lot of events, so it’s something I am quite familiar with; although organising a conference for ELT professionals is quite different to a youth dance performance platform. However there are many similarities and needing to be organised is paramount!”
“How are you feeling about the forthcoming events?”
Sophie: “I’m really looking forward to them! I know we’ve worked really hard to get the venues sorted and the line-up of speakers look amazing. All we need to do now is to sell enough tickets to break even and for the technology to work on the day and I’ll be a happy bunny!”
“How may these events impact emc design?”
Sophie: “These kind of events are so important for emc design to be involved in. As we primarily work with ELT publishers, it is crucial that we understand the pedagogical implications the materials we work on have in the classroom. This helps us to improve and create designs that have maximum impact for English language learners.”
“We also need to understand how current themes, educational changes and circumstances are affecting our clients. So being able to listen to some of the best experts in the industry is a great way to keep on top of changes and bring back new ideas to make emc design even better to work with.”
“Lastly, why should people go to these events?”
Sophie: “Anyone who is working in the field of ELT or Publishing should be coming to these events. The webinar is particularly useful for teachers who have lots of materials but want to know how to make them more effective in the classroom. This also applies to those who commission materials for the classroom as well as those who help produce them.”
“The conference is going to be a really exciting mixture of ELT experts from a wide range of disciplines. We have authors (established and new ones) speaking about the changes in the industry, project managers giving us their insights into how new workflows are impacting the writing process as well as, hopefully, an audience who is ready to engage and ask pertinent questions to our expert panels.”
The webinar, “Writing ELT Classroom Materials for a Wider Public”, begins on Saturday November 16th, 15:00 GMT, and you can register for free here on the day.
The one-day conference, “New Directions in ELT Materials Writing”, is not until Saturday January 25th, 2014, book tickets quickly as there is limited space, and based on what Sophie has said about the events, you don’t want to miss out.