Opportunities and challenges: advice from the experts at IATEFL

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IATEFL 2019 Advice from the experts

IATEFL is one of the biggest conferences in ELT. Each year, around 3000 professionals from over 100 countries meet, mingle and become inspired during the 4-day event. Teachers, authors and publishers come together to share ideas, discuss new industry developments and learn from one another.

At IATEFL 2019 we were lucky enough to speak to a number of authors and ELT specialists. We discussed the opportunities and challenges facing English teachers and also shared insights on a range of topics including professional development, self-care and the importance of community.

Here are some of the highlights.

What are the biggest opportunities in ELT?

Leonor Corradi is an ELT academic consultant and a teacher trainer. She is also a passionate advocate of the role of educator as mediator for learners. She believes you should find a balance between “your students’ needs, and the materials that you use to create learning opportunities for your learners.”

Hugh Dellar, co-author of the Roadmap series, believes that a more connected world represents an opportunity for teachers. “Students are more connected to English in a way that perhaps wasn’t true in the past.”

Teacher and trainer Virginia Parker agrees. She told us that “increasing accessibility – especially for young girls and women – is a great opportunity that technology provides for us.” 

And, for Jeanne Perrett, teacher trainer and co-author of Now I Know, the biggest advantage of improved access to technology is the wealth of resources we now have at our fingertips. “There are so many different ways to teach English now.”

What are the biggest challenges in ELT?

Addressing the needs of your students was a common theme when it came to English language teaching challenges. Jeanne feels that classroom management is something that teachers often struggle with. “It’s not just keeping your lessons useful and creative,” she says, but also “being able to deal with large numbers of children who all want to learn at different paces.”

Teacher and teacher trainer Steve Oakes says that “motivating learners and keeping them motivated,” is a key challenge.

Dr Ken Beatty is a TESOL professor at the University of Anaheim. “You’re always teaching a group of individuals,” he says, “and each of those individuals has different ability levels, different motivations and different reasons for being there in terms of looking into the future of how they’re going to use that language.”

Amanda Davies, teacher trainer, author and editor, highlights a different challenge facing teachers – maintaining their own wellbeing. “Teachers work a lot of hours, and they feel a great responsibility to their students. I would like to see more support and more help given to teachers so they don’t burn out.”

What advice would you give other teachers? 

Some of our ELT professionals focused on the importance of professional development. 

“Don’t be afraid to take risks,” says Virginia Parker “Don’t be afraid to grow.” 

This advice is echoed by teacher trainer Michael Brand. “Keep learning, keep renewing yourself – there are so many ways we can improve. Try and do something new every month, or every week – as much as you can manage.”

For Amanda, that development goes hand-in-hand with collaboration and community. “Speaking to other teachers is one of the things that helped me most. Collaborating with other teachers, sharing your materials, going to other teachers’ classrooms really helps to build your confidence.”

And Larry Zweir, Associate Director for Curriculum and Instruction at the English Language Center at Michigan State University and series editor of University Success, also highlights the importance of community. “You will succeed,” he says, “if you can create a community feeling in your classroom.”

Finally, Ken Beatty advises educators to take the long view when it comes to career development. “Our impact is not over the course of a single semester or a single year of education – it’s over a lifetime.”

Want to hear more? Watch these inspiring professionals sharing their insights below: 

IATEFL 2020 and the Pearson English Global Teacher Award

The IATEFL 2020 conference is taking place in Manchester, England next April. Once again, we’ll be there to offer insights, share experiences and meet inspiring educators like you. And you could be in with a chance of winning an all-expenses-paid trip to the event, by entering the Pearson English Global Teacher Award.

All you need to do is share your own English teaching story. Tell us about something you’ve done or achieved that has changed the life of your students or made a difference to your school. 

The deadline is the 10th of January, so there’s still time to enter! Five winners from across the world will be chosen to attend either IATEFL in Manchester or TESOL in Denver. 

Apply now for your chance to win! 

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