YL Conference 2019

Belfast, United Kingdom
22-23 November 2019

We are really pleased to confirm that the YL conference this year will be hosted by IH Belfast on 22nd and 23rd November 2019.

Participants will be from all over the world and there will be a mixture of plenaries and workshops with both Young Learner related managerial content and practical classroom ideas.

As always we are looking forward to sharing the wealth of expertise in the IH network.  This will be an opportunity to share old and new ideas, to explore principles and procedures of YL teaching and to collaborate with the wonderful IH YL community.

REGISTRATIONS CLOSED - if you missed the registration deadline please write to conference@ihworld.com

Conference venue

Holiday Inn Express

106 University St,

Belfast BT7 1HP

Book on hotel website as soon as possible for best rate and to ensure availability. 

Conference outline                                                                                                                               

Please click here to see the full programme

Thursday 21st November - Welcome drinks at IH Belfast (6 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.)

Friday 22nd November – Full conference day, dinner together in the evening  

Saturday 23rd November – Full conference day, dinner together in the evening

Sunday 24th November – Local tourism option to visit the North Coast (from 9 am to 6 pm)

Conference Speakers

Nick Bilbrough - The Hands Up Project : The play’s the thing

Drama is a powerful language learning tool for everyone – not just those who are good at English, or good at acting. Because of this, the Hands up Project runs an annual play creating and play performing competition for young learners in Palestine, for which this year we were awarded a British Council ELTon award for innovation.  Using videoed examples of short plays performed by young learners there, and a link-linked ‘remote play’ performed directly from an UNRWA school in Gaza at the end, we’ll look at what short-term and long-term benefits children and teenagers may get from this experience.

Alex Thorp - Trinity College London:You know who I am, do you know how I learn?

A learner of any age brings their entire psychological being to any learning experience, carrying so much more than their identity as a ‘learner’. Through exploration into insights into contemporary educational and positive psychology this session explores how to help develop young learners’ positive psychological capital, evidenced to improve fulfilment of learning potential. Through practical application of the HERO model in positive psychology, we consider how, as teachers, we can influence our student’s psychological disposition in the classroom. Participants will leave with a clear and practical understanding of the pivotal role a leaner’s psychological capital has upon their learning success.

Malcolm Mann - Macmillan Education: Why do we fall in love? And what's that got to do with ELT anyway? 

Metaphor is not just a literary device. Rather, it is central to all communication – and yet many ELT courses barely focus on it at all. In this workshop, we'll take a practical look at some of the fundamental metaphorical principles underlying why particular words, phrases, phrasal verbs, idioms etc are used in English. We'll explore how recognising the patterns and principles behind them can help students make sense of some of the weirder and/or seemingly random aspects of lexis.

Kay Bentley - Cambridge University Press: CLILifying Primary course books

As CLIL is a buzzword in Europe, language teachers, who may not be teaching subject-specific CLIL programmes, should be aware of how to adapt some parts of their course books to make them more CLIL specific. In order to do that, teachers need to be clear about what CLIL is and what it isn’t. Adapting pages or even sections in course books then becomes straightforward. This plenary will therefore give you ideas about how to CLILify ELT course books so they become more challenging and more motivating for learners.

Jen Dobson: Integrating soft skills in our programmes for early years.

Most early childhood teachers instinctively understand the value of social competencies and how to nurture them. However, how far are these an integral part of our very young learner ELT courses? We will determine what these essential character skills are, and give practical ways of ensuring their successful implementation in our programmes whether supplementing existing ones, or creating our own.

Jen Dobson: Taking responsibility for safeguarding young learners and teens online

The integration of online tools is both motivating for learners and teachers alike. However, in our ‘in loco parentis’ roles we need to ensure the e-safety of our young learners and teens. This workshop aims to raise awareness of the issues involved while offering practical preventative solutions to take to our classes and places of work.

Luke Meddings - sponsored by IH Belfast: Teaching statisticians to sing

A meme came by on Facebook: you’re not in the traffic, you are the traffic. The same applies to testing in education: we didn’t ask for it, but we’re part of it. Let’s consider how can we push back, making space for kids to be kids, and stop being the gardener who in John Holt’s words ‘constantly pulls his plants up by the roots to see how they’re doing.’ Spreadsheet culture impacts us all, but who teaches the statisticians to sing? Luke will explore these questions in the light of the conference as a whole, listening in to identify emergent themes across the two days we’re together.


IH Belfast has selected two very convenient accommodation options:

1. Holiday Inn Express : Conference venue

2. Ibis Hotel : 3 minutes walk to the Holiday Inn Express

Optional tour

Sunday 24th November

The Giant’s Causeway and North Coast (Game of Thrones locations included) Tour Itinerary

You will have the chance to visit the Dark Hedges beautiful avenue of beech trees planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century to impress visitors now one of the most photographed sites in Northern Ireland, after featuring as the King’s Road in Game of Thrones! Bushmills Distillery the oldest working distillery in Ireland. Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway commonly called the eight wonder of the world, Carrick-a-Rede and Antrim Coast Road.

See the full programme here.

COST:  £25

Booking: required

Free time

In your free time don't miss out on the opportunity to visit some of the beauties of Belfast. 

Titanic museum: Titanic Belfast is the world's largest Titanic visitor experience and a "must see" visit in any tour of Belfast and Northern Ireland. It is located in Titanic Quarter, right beside the historic site of this world famous ship's construction. Housed in an iconic 6-floor building, this state-of-the-art visitor experience tells the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end.

COST: £9 for late-saver ticket / £18 Normal price

St George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions and was voted the UK's Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities It was built in 1890 and is one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland. It has been selected for numerous local and national titles and awards for its fresh, local produce and great atmosphere.

COST: free

Our partners 

Our sponsors


See the video from last year's conference: