IATEFL Liverpool 2013 – How to get there update

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



Hello IHL Teachers.

There are 17 days to go before the deadline for proposals for IATEFL 2013 inLiverpool, so I thought I’d re-upload my post from last year for would-be speakers. I’ve updated my answers to your questions from last year, and after a chat over a glass of wine with one of the orgainsing committee, I’ve added a couple of tips too.

Presenting at IATEFL is such a rewarding experience, and attending the conference an excellent way to get and share ideas and to find out what’s going on outside the school, both for teachers and trainers, so if you’re interested in presenting, get your proposals in. It really is worth it.

Can you predict/target a theme for the conference?

Yes and no. No, because the conference is huge. At Brighton, there were over 500 talks and workshops, 2000 people attended from over 100 countries,  and a further 50,000 attended online, so there really is something for everyone. Just by looking at what speakers from IH have covered in the last 3 years alone shows you what a broad range of options there are. We’ve spoken about issues with CELTA terminology, the use of metaphors on training courses, the problem with using pedagogic rules and the benefits of DIY development. We’ve also presented on visualisation techniques, Inner voice coaching, Systemic Functional Grammar, training the trainer, using Self-Access centres, Transposition, Critical Thinking, Dogme, the CELTA on-line, Action/Research and  managing an online writing team. Last year, we also had a party celebrating 50 years of training at IH and had a stall with IH World, so we’re very well represented and hopefully, this will continue next year.

It’s also worth considering who goes to IATEFL. The conference is attended by everyone, from newly qualified teachers to Academic Managers, primary school teachers in India to lecturers in the States, writers, researchers and publishers, and career teachers from London looking for the best parties (MacMillan, if you’re interested). Like I said, there is something for everyone.

However, there are broader areas to explore. One way to decide if your talk is suitable for the conference is to look at the SIGs (Special Interest groups). These include Business English, ESP, ESOL, Leadership and Management, Pronunciation, Teacher Training and Education, Teacher Development, Learning technologies, Young Learners, Testing and Assessment, Learner autonomy,Global Issues, and Literature, Media and Cultural studies. If your talk/workshop fits into any of these categories, it may be worth saying you would like it to form part of a SIG. At Brighton, Andy and Alastair were both part of SIGs, as was Chia in Glasgow. For more details about IATEFL and SIGS, click here.

Then there are the symposiums (a collection of speakers presenting on the same theme). In the last 2 years, these have included Distance Learning, Academic Writing, Critical Thinking, Dogme, Writing language learning literature, Drama, World Englishes and the beautifully named ‘The ELT blogosphere’. I was part of the Critical Thinking symposium at Harrogate in 2010, and though it was quite a frustrating experience at times with all the liaising (or lack of it) it did help my proposal get accepted. It was also very interesting to find that other teachers and researchers were interested in the same things as me.

Therefore, though it’s not really possible to predict a theme, it is worth noting where your proposal might fit and who your target audience is. Preferably not this lot.




What’s the best way to adapt your proposal to get it accepted?

It’s a case of knowing who you want to present to and making sure that it’s clear to them what you’re talking about. One thing that helps is a snappy title (It has to be 10 words or less). In Glasgow, I went for “Don’t tell  the police – they’re not important‘. Tania Pattison from the organising committee said that it stood out and this helped it get accepted. I really liked Mel and Cat’s title from Glasgow – ‘Up CELTA creek without a paddle‘. Very intriguing. This year I’m going for ‘Puppet-masters and puzzle-solvers: A marriage made in heaven?“Hopefully snappy and with a question thrown in too.

Sometimes, it’s good to just say what the talk is about. The year before, I chose “Critical Thinking in the Language Classroom“. That’s what that talk was about and all the critical thinking bods showed up. As I said above, a question is a good option too. At Brighton, Alastair went for “ELT terminology – a useful tool or unhelpful jargon?“. This showed what he wanted to talk about, and the fact that he would be opening up a dialogue with his audience.

You then have to write a 50-60 word abstract. This must reflect what your talk is about. I find it helps to see this as a menu. I say what I want to talk about and how my talk will progress. If there are tasks, say so.

Finally, you have to write a 250 word summary of your talk. This is for the committee and will not appear in the IATEFL brochure for 2012. I find this bit is easier to write than the 50-60 word summary, as I can really just run through the content of my talk and who it is aimed at. Again, if there are tasks or any interaction with the audience, include this here.

For a comprehensive list of titles and abstracts from the 2011 conference brochure, click here. (Quite big so takes 30 seconds or so)


Do I have to talk about something new?

New for who? The key is to consider your audience. For example, at Brighton I went to a very interesting talk on Dictogloss. This is nothing new for an old lifer like me, but what the speaker was talking about was the fact that when the students were building their texts, she noticed that her learners weren’t really negotiating the content of the new model or scaffolding each other’s language. One or two dominant students were basically dictating what the new model should be. She then started recording students doing dictogloss, and found much the same thing in all the classes she observed. This was interesting as though her topic was a fairly well known one, she was shedding new light it.


How do I do it and when do I need to do it by?

The deadline for submitting a proposal is the 13th of September. Before you do that, you’ll need to speak to your line manger, but please feel free to come and speak to me or Maureen, who really helped me when I did my first proposal. For all the documents you need, click speaker proposal information guidelines liverpool v2(1) or go to http://www.iatefl.org/liverpool-2013/liverpool-2013.


Looking forward to more of your questions and responses.





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