As usual, NILE had a strong presence at the annual IATEFL conference, this year in Birmingham. With nine presentations (some of the slides published below), the launch of our 21st birthday celebrations, a toast for the Macmillan-NILE partnership and countless meetings and networking events, the IATEFL conference means professional development and new opportunities for the whole delegation. Here, Maria Heron gives her personal account.
This year’s 50th IATEFL conference lived up to my expectations and I came home buzzing with ideas and eager to discuss others with colleagues back in Norwich.
Two sessions were particularly memorable and moving: Silvana Richardson’s plenary on ‘The ‘native factor’, the haves and the have nots’ and Patricia Santos’s talk on ‘Teaching at a public school in Rio’.
I had been looking forward to going to the first one ever since I found out that my friend and fellow Argentinian was doing this plenary but the second one was unplanned and just as moving and inspirational.
Silvana’s topic on the plight of non-native speaker teachers for visibility and recognition struck a chord with a lot of the audience and her standing ovation was well-deserved. Her thoughts resonated round the conference and beyond IATEFL. I feel for my friends and colleagues, some of them my former CELTA trainees, who are struggling to get work because certain employers proudly advertise themselves as ‘only working with native speaker teachers’. At the same time, I feel proud to work for an organisation where nativespeakerness is not an issue. NILE seeks to employ the best trainers round the world, whatever their L1 might be.
Patricia’s talk had quite a lot of the audience in tears. She works at a primary school in Rio de Janeiro where, unlike most teachers, her main battle is not against educational policies, the curriculum or mountains of paper work.
Her main struggle is against her pupils’ hunger for food, rather than hunger for education, and the violence in her pupils’ neighbourhood and in some of their families.
Her school has very limited resources and her learners can’t read or write so she needs to be creative and resourceful. She believes passionately that she can make a difference to these children’s lives and her passion and drive are contagious. We have been in touch since the conference and I hope this sharing of life and work experiences will continue in the future.
Catching up with my friends and colleagues from around the world, making new contacts and friendships, dancing away at the Macmillan party and winning the international quiz in true British style, i.e. with no prize but just the glory, are also part and parcel of IATEFL and the memories will stay with me for many months to come.
A selection of our presentations are available below. Please contact us for other sessions.
Sarah Mount & Hanna Furre
Gavin Dudeney & Thom Kiddle