If you’ve never heard of it before, IATEFL is the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. It was started in 1967, so at the time of writing it has existed for over 55 years. You can find out more about the history of IATEFL in the free publication by Shelagh Rixon and Richard Smith, available on IATEFL’s About page. I read it a few months ago and found it utterly fascinating!
My IATEFL story
In 2011, I became active on Twitter just before the IATEFL Brighton conference happened. The community I was part of suddenly went crazy, with tweets from the conference letting me know about the huge range of talks people were attending, and the meet-ups they were having. I learnt so much from reading those tweets, felt a huge amount of FOMO, and promised myself that in 2012 I would be there.
The next step was to work out how. As a third year teacher, I didn’t think I could afford the conference fee myself, so I investigated scholarships. I decided to apply for the IH John Haycraft classroom exploration scholarships, as part of which I had to write a conference proposal and abstract, neither of which I’d done before. Thanks to the help of Ceri Jones, for which I’m eternally grateful, I was able to submit a strong application, and was lucky enough to win that scholarship. That took me to Glasgow 2012.
Since then, I’ve been able to attend every IATEFL conference. Here’s a 2020 post sharing photos from the conferences, along with links to my summaries of talks I attended each year. These are the posts for the 2021 summary and 2022 summary. I’ve learnt so much from the conferences, and made so many friends there. It really is the highlight of my year every year!
Special Interest Groups
IATEFL’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) cover 16 different areas, and I think I’ve attended events run by most of them! I’ve been to both face-to-face and online talks, workshops, and pre-conference events, all of which have been great for my learning and for networking with others interested in that area.
Since 2021, I’ve been a member of the committee for the Materials Writing Special Interest Group, which is probably the one I’ve learnt the most from. It’s really helped me to understand how language learning materials work, how they influence teachers and students, and how they can (and should!) be improved. The people I’ve worked with on the committee and met at the events are also a super-supportive bunch. Through being on the committee, I’ve met a whole range of new people, and learnt new skills, including designing the updated MaWSIG website using Divi, something I had no idea about when I started!
Before being on the MaWSIG committee, I spent a couple of years on the Membership and Marketing Committee, which offers advice to IATEFL on how to make the Association as relevant and interesting to current and potential members as possible.
Apart from the SIGs, IATEFL does many other things. This 4-minute video will show you some of them:
In 2022, I was priviliged to be asked to become an IATEFL Ambassador. Along with Evan Frendo, Sarah Mercer and George Pickering (and hopefully others in the future), I’ll be working to let people know about IATEFL and how it can help them. To that end, please do ask questions in the comments below, and share what you’ve learnt from IATEFL if you’ve been a member or been to one of the conferences.
2 thoughts on “Why I’m a member of IATEFL”
I have just paid/registered for the 2023 conf. This is my first time. I am pursuing Dip TESOL (UNIT2 in progress rest all done ). I run an independent after school program for learners in Hyderabad, India for aged 5 till adults. It’s a reading and activity club, a writing club for high school and middle schoolers..
Hoping to get some new ideas for young learners and teenagers and also some ideas on how to make learners autonomous at the conference besides all the innovative teaching stuff that I can’t wait to see at the conference.
That’s great to hear! I’m sure you’ll find lots of ideas at the conference. Check out the YLTSIG and LA SIG (Young Learner and Teen / Learner Autonomy) websites, pre-conference events, and showcase days during the conference to help you select what sessions you want to attend. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you!