The IATEFL International Annual Conference & Exhibition is one of the main events in the English Language Teaching calendar. The 49th IATEFL conference took place in a fabulous venue, Manchester Central, situated right in the heart of the city. Attended by over 2,500 ELT professionals from more than 100 countries, it involved a 4-day programme of around 500 talks, workshops and forums as well as a thrilling social programme. The participants were offered a unique opportunity to meet leading theorists and writers, and exchange ideas with professionals from all sectors of ELT. Moreover, a large ELT  resources exhibition was a one-stop shop to see the latest ELT publications and services. Plus, the IATEFL Jobs Market continued to grow in popularity with more and more recruiters and candidates using the conference as an opportunity to discuss and fill some of the best vacancies in ELT.

Associates’ Day was a special day where IATEFL Associate representatives could learn and share experience, good practice and everyday challenges in areas of mutual interest. The number of Associates has increased from under 80 in 2008 to over 130 today. Les Kirkham, IATEFL Associates’ representative, thanked the Associates Committee and stepped down after 6 years in the post and the Associates have elected Lou McLaughlin of ELT Ireland to take over for the next three years.

I was delegated by the LAKMA Board to represent LAKMA at the conference and present a poster “Promoting the CLIL Approach through a Teacher Association” at the Associates’ Day. This was a highly demanding task as I had to inform other representatives about the activities we do in the field of CLIL and to invite them to the 17th LAKMA International Conference “FOCUS ON CLIL – LITHUANIA 2015”. At the same time, I enjoyed specific sessions on subjects such as language competence and assessment in the 21st century, budgeting, encouraging membership and others.

On 10 April, a Welcome Reception was held where the IATEFL President Carol Read welcomed everyone to the conference and the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Susan Cooley, welcomed the participants to the city. The arrival of the cyclists Julian Sayarer, former round-the-world cycling record-holder, and Thom Jones, consultant and supporter of English projects worldwide, made that evening special. In order to raise money for charity and to support IATEFL projects, they covered the 1,120 km from Frankfurt to Manchester by bike. 

The programme allowed all the participants to choose what they wanted to attend according to their interests and tastes, although sometimes it was really difficult to decide where to go. The evening activities aimed to ensure that delegates relax after the intensity of the conference day.The plenary speakers of the conference went to the heart of current ELT issues, made us think about the wider world and delighted our literary taste buds. I was particularly impressed by Harry Kuchah’s talk on exploration of challenges which teachers face while teaching children in Cameroon. It was really unforgettable!

On 12 April, the IATEFL Annual General Meeting took place where everyone interested could listen to the Treasurer’s report, the presentation by the President and Executive Committee chairs on general issues, the SIG representative’s report and the Associates’ representative’s report. At the meeting, Marjorie Rosenberg was elected as President of IATEFL.

My presentation “Educating for Cultural Awareness” (12 April) took place in a format of a Forum – when 3 speakers have 1 hour for their presentations and questions and their talks have a common topic. My colleagues from Italy and Austria and me spoke on the topics related to Interculturality. I have never experienced such a thrill before – so many people looking at you, waiting for your ideas, listening to your conclusions! That was amazing! When our forum was over, I felt relieved and satisfied because ELT experts from all over the world were approaching, asking questions, thanking and wishing good luck. At such moments you feel that all you believe in is true. The experience of being a presenter at an international conference far away from home is invaluable.

I am grateful to the LAKMA Board for this chance of a lifetime. I hope that the experience I gained will turn out to be success in my everyday work teaching students. I had a great time, learned a lot, made a lot of new friends and established contacts for future co-operation.

For those who could not attend the conference in person, online coverage was kindly supported by the British Council:

Official photos of the conference taken by RachidTagoulla and Victoria Boobyer can be found here:

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