Feb 24

Going To IATEFL For The First Time? Here Is Some Advice For You From My PLN

Having been the source of inspiration of ISTEK ELT, IATEFL Conference is the most important ELT event of the year for me. This year, I am very happy to be presenting with Luke Meddings and looking forward to meeting the ELT professionals and friends from all around the world.

I have been invited to do a ‘how to get the most from conferences’ session at the British Council Pre-IATEFL Event that will take place on 9th March in Ankara. While preparing for my talk, I wanted to ask my PLN as well and posted this question on Facebook:

What advice would you give to a teacher who is going to the IATEFL conference for the first time?

I was amazed to see the great answers and wanted to share some of them here on my blog.

Begum Kut Be calm. Concentrate on your session, make friends and learn as much as you can:)

Beyza Yilmaz Be ready for the unexpected. Have a back up plan. Stay calm.

Vicky Saumell Allow yourself to miss a few sessions and stay outside chatting and networking with colleagues from around the world!

Adam Simpson Have fun. Don’t go to every single session. Go to the social events. Get on twitter. Take pics and post them here.

Mürüvvet Tutkun Çelik Exhibition hall is also a place to discover and keep up the date.

Laura Woodward Enjoy it!

Beyza Yilmaz Keep in mind that you can follow Twitter and Facebook updates about the other sessions and watch some of the recordings later. Enjoy the conference.

Eva Büyüksimkesyan The app is great. Pre-plan and enjoy the sessions, networking and evening events.

James Taylor Go at your own pace. Maybe you’ll want to run and around and see as much as possible (I did!) or you’ll want to take your time. And go out in the evenings, that’s the best bit!

Sandy Millin I’d second Adam’s advice about Twitter – getting on there before you go means you have a ready-made group of people to speak to when you arrive – it made it a lot less overwhelming for my first time last year. Or she(?) could speak to people on the IATEFL Facebook group.

Julie Raikou Seconding Sandy Millin, connect earlier thro’ Twitter and Facebook so you get to share your interests & can have follow-up discussions F2F.

Sarah M Howell Bring comfortable shoes!

Nata Jo Practice, practice, practice in front of the mirror if need be.

Make use of the speakers’ quiet room. Ask IATEFL volunteers where it might be. Have somebody who loves you a lot but is professional enough observe you while practicing and ask them to come up with a list what you might be doing wrong( even gestures, posture, tone of voice , pauses, non verbal content etc). Do NOT put your handouts and flash memory in your check in luggage.

Ela Wassell I would recommend reading Sandy Millin‘s #ELTchat summary: http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/how-can-we-get-the-most-from-conferences-whether-we-attend-or-not/
It’s all there! It helped me a lot!

Esra Aydin If it’s the first time you’ll be in Liverpool, you should visit the Beatles Museum It’s really amazing..and enjoy the conference.

Cecilia Lemos Don’t be afraid to interact and meet new people. It’s a fantastic opportunity to network and broaden your PLN.

Carla Arena Join the Facebook groups for IATEFL and start interacting before getting there.

Walker D Tanner Don’t fall asleep where your boss can see you. Kidding I find it useful to go to workshops for all skills instead of just the skills you most enjoy teaching.

Carol Read Lots of good ideas already mentioned – all really useful and great to hear. Be open to the experience and remember i) that the formal sessions are only one part of the conference, you don’t need to go to all of them, and ii) other people are likely to be feeling the same as you and will welcome a friendly chat and exchange any time. Above all, enjoy!

Eric Baber As Carol says, all the main points have been said already. My main suggestions would be: 1) accept that you won’t be able to see/do everything, and be selective – don’t tire yourself out on day 1, and leave energy for the evening events! 2) Select a mix of sessions to attend. Don’t *just* go to see all the big names, but choose a selection of big names and no-names, and topics you know you’re already interested in know something about and some totally left-field ones (to you at least) – something you’ve never given much thought to but sounds interesting. 3) Try to plan one or two days in advance, but be prepared to change your choices. If for example on day 1 you attend a session on something you didn’t know much about but found fascinating, you might want to attend another session on the same topic on day 2 in preference to another one you’d already chosen. 4) Try to take opportunities to chat with other delegates about what sessions they’ve been to and make a note of anything you might want to re-visit later on – e.g. watch a recorded session online afterwards if it comes highly recommended. 5) Attend the plenaries – it’s great being in one big room with all the other delegates, and are chosen to give a broad spectrum of ideas. And yes I know they’re first thing in the morning, but still I think those would be my main tips!

Bruno Andrade Never miss a plenary session! Although they are very early, they’re invaluable sessions! And do talk to people during breaks and lunches! It’s another powerful PD opportunty!

Willy C. Cardoso or – following up Bruno Andrade‘s advice – watch the plenaries online from your hotel room if you’re not an early bird.

Thank you Begüm, Beyza, Vicky, Adam, Mürüvvet, Laura, Eva, James, Sandy, Julie, Sarah, Nata, Ela, Esra, Cecilia, Carla, Walker, Carol, Eric, Bruno and Willy for your contribution:)


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  1. Marjorie Rosenberg

    Tske a look at the programme and decide carefully which talks you want yo attend. Take part in the evening programme. Bring lots of business cards. And don’t be afraid to talk to people.

  2. Pajama Tutors Language Learning

    I would definitely add networking with people and making friends and contacts. This is invaluable at any conference.

  3. Adam Simpson (@yearinthelifeof)

    I liked the idea of crowd-sourcing a blog post so much I’ve gone and done it myself!

  4. Marjorie Rosenberg

    I tried last week to leave a comment. Here’s another try. Bring lots of business cards. Don’t be afraid to introduce youself to people. Go to the evening programme events. Stop by the IATEFL stand and talk to TA and SIG reps there. Look through the programme and decide which talks you want to go to. And-enjoy the experience!

  1. ‘Going To IATEFL For The First Time? Here Is Some Advice For You From My PLN’ by Burcu Akyol | English Teaching Daily

    […] Going To IATEFL For The First Time? Here Is Some Advice For You From My PLN […]

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