The 2012 Young Learners’ Conference in Prague, Czech Republic

Kylie Malinowska (IHWO YL Advisor) & Sophie Montagne (IHWO Membership Services & Internal Communications)

The 2012 Young Learners’ Conference in Prague, Czech Republic was well-supported and thoroughly enjoyed by all. Held on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd March, 63 YL teachers and coordinators from 37 IH schools in 18 countries gathered in the Czech capital for two days of fun and informative sessions.

The theme for the conference was ‘Fads, Fashions & Forerunners’, but what we really wanted was to encourage and nurture the ‘international staffroom’ already present in places such as the YL Teachers Google Group. There is increasing competition in the TEFL world with an increasingly flooded market in some places and the nature of our work is changing. For many of us it’s no longer enough to provide top quality teaching in our top quality schools. We need to stand out from the crowd by providing extra-curricular activities. Off-site teaching projects are becoming more common and it’s time to face and embrace the often dreaded ‘T’ word whether we like it or not.

There was a strong focus on using technology in teaching throughout the conference. Shaun Wilden’s thought provoking session grabbed the attention of even the most technophobic among us with his Harry Potter spin and he reminded us that embracing technology is not so just about bringing new teaching tools into the classroom but rather about adapting the way we approach teaching and reaching our ‘market’ as the world changes.

Sessions were based on a diverse spectrum of subjects including handling parent teacher meetings, teaching dyslexic students, managing summer camps, supporting new YL teachers, student motivation and YL classroom management. The emphasis was on sharing and supporting each other and throughout the conference new friendships were formed, emails exchanged and ideas we shared. One of the sessions which best exemplified the general feeling was that of Carol Crombie from IH Viseu. Conference participants shared ideas and launched a new ‘recommends’ project that will hopefully continue throughout the IH network.

Having our Teacher Training Coordinator Shaun Wilden present at the YL conference meant more than a Harry Potter spectacular. It enabled us to run an online session on teaching YL 1:1 with Anette Igel live from the conference (you can catch it at the next TOC on 25th May if you missed it). And we were able to offer our IHCYLT Q & Q session live online for those tutors unable to attend the conference in person.

With so many enthusiastic YL specialists in one place, the conference was never going to be dull and IH Prague laid on an array of cultural activities to introduce everyone to their stunning city. These included a boat trip along the river with dinner and a disco onboard, a city tour and a delicious meal in a Czech brewery.

By the end of the conference everyone was sad to leave both new and old friends, but were buzzing with new ideas to implement in their schools. The conference conversations continued via the YL Google Group, which has benefited greatly from the conference with an increase in both participants and forums.

Session presentations are available to download in the IHWO Affiliates Area (YL conference page) and conference projects are still continuing. Video from Kylie’s USP session will be available soon (complete with notes and contact details), the IHCYLT standardization took place at the end of April and Carol’s recommendations will continue to be circulated.

Many thanks once again to Radmilla Prochazkova’s fantastic team at IH Prague, who made the conference so enjoyable and a great success. Special thanks go to Kristyna Pavlatova for all her hard work and to our very generous sponsors Pearson and Oxford University Press.