|Jean Theuma investigates the highs and lows of the 2014 conference|
The 48th IATEFL conference was held in Harrogate, and not for the first time. Harrogate is a popular venue for
IATEFL and many flocked to the conference to be enlightened and stimulated. I was not able to go in person but
thanks to modern technology I was able to follow the conference online via twitter and the British Council online
service which streamed many of the talks. The conference was held from 2nd to 5th April and was attended
by delegates from all over the world.
A great selection of symposiums were on offer, amongst which 'The Creativity Symposium' was met with
enthusiasm. Various popular authors looked at creativity from different perspectives; Alan Maley looking at the
hows and whys of creativity; Chaz Pugliese talking about the flow of creativeness; Hanna Kryszewska created art
in the classroom and Mark Almond dabbled in drama.
Training sessions were on such diverse topics as activities for the classrooms, wondering about the profession
of an EFL teacher to thinking about how to develop further. Speakers included Jim Scrivener, Jeremy Harmer,
Adrian Underhill and Paul Dummett, who have all recently spoken at workshops and conferences in Malta. Malta
was also represented by Odette Vassallo and Daniel Xerri, whose poster presentation demonstrated how learner
corpora can enhance a teacher's willingness to carry out research in their classroom. Daniel also collaborated with
Caroline Campbell and talked about using portfolios for teacher development.
Beyond all doubt, the plenary talk which rocked the boat the most was Sugata Mitra's controversial prediction for
the future of learning. Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communic-
ation and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK. Since 1999, through his "hole in the wall" experiments,
he has shown that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are, can learn to use computers and the
internet on their own using public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds. The resultant changes
in the lives of people and the ecomomy of the country can only be guessed at.
Next year's IATEFL conference will be held in Manchester and speakers are starting to prepare their talks ready
for submission from now. The conference dates are from 11th to 15th April 2015 and the IATEFL 2015 web-site
is already up and running with information about how to book, how to get there and where to stay. You might
want to start thinking about being there ... I know I am!
click here to find out about sponsorship to attend an IATEFL conference