From India to Manchester: Report on the 49th IATEFL Conference held at Manchester, UK from 11th to 14th April 2015.

I represented FORTELL India, an associate of IATEFL at the 49th IATEFL Conference held at Manchester, UK from 11th to 14th April 2015. Associates’ Day was on 10th April 2015 where representatives of different associates across the world were invited to interact and network with global counterparts.

The day began with a warm welcome by Les Kirkham, the outgoing IATEFL associates’ representative. This was followed by an announcement of the 2014-2015 award winners. The categories were IATEFL training award, Projects Award and Associates Award. Attending associates were also encouraged to apply for these awards. In addition, IATEFL’s online events were highlighted and members were asked to motivate other members to participate.

Professor David Crystal, Patron of IATEFL addressed the attending representatives. He spoke on the topic ‘World Englishes: Where next?’ identifying a trend in English speaking nations that were subjected to colonial rule wherein they continue to adopt and adapt the language as per their circumstance. This, he argued, leads to the development of new ‘Englishes’ with characteristic variations in spellings and pronunciation etc.  He further added that English is a stress-timed language whereas in countries like India the register is syllable-timed. This too is an increasingly pre-dominant trend.

The afternoon session was about representatives displaying their posters, materials  and engaging in an interactive discussion. The hot questions on a pleasant Manchester evening were ‘Can we become members of this association?’ and ‘Can we write for this journal?’ The day came to a close with a formal welcome to the incoming IATEFL Associates’ Representative Lou McLaughlin.

During the conference each representative of associations under the IATEFL umbrella was given a dedicated slot to interact with participants at the conference and the wider audience. These sessions were in the Exhibition Section of the conference. Fortell India was allocated dedicated timeon 13 April 2015 from 11:35 to 13:40. Attendees were very keen to learn about ELT in India and how Fortell contributes to the professional and academic development of members. There were several inquiries about membership and the journal was widely appreciated. It was a proud moment for me to be an ambassador for Fortell, India.

Attending the conference was also an enriching experience. I am particularly appreciative of the space it provided for exchange of ideas. I was happy to share my experiences from India, a multi-lingual country with many ‘Englishes’, while learning from people in other countries. I learnt some new and interesting approaches and discussed several ideas to improve the experience for teachers and learners. I was pleased to contribute some unique strategies that were welcomed by other participants.

It was reassuring to learn that there were commonalities in the major challenges faced by ELT practitioners across borders. I was happy to observe that there was convergence over strategies to address these challenges. The discussions rejuvenated my enthusiasm for the work I have been doing in the area of teacher training and curriculum development. I consider it my good fortune to have interacted with colleagues from across the globe such as Czech Republic, Ireland, Romania, Angola, Venezuela, Serbia, Korea, Egypt, Nepal, Lithuania, China and Mexico.

The conference included all aspects of ELT ranging from teaching English to young learners to Business English as well as approaches to assessment. In addition to five world-class plenary sessions, there were about five hundred sessions including signature events, talks, workshops, forums, paper-presentations and an interactive language fair. I too presented a paper titled – ‘Hand-holding for effective formative assessment and better teaching learning outcomes’ at the conference.The conference aim of linking, developing and supporting English Language Teaching professionals worldwide was emphatically realised!

Kirti Kapur is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education in Languages at NCERT, India. Her expertise is in curriculum and syllabi design, textbook development, teacher training and research consultancy.