Having heard a lot of things from various colleagues about previous IATEFL conferences, I was glad to finally get the chance to experience it myself. Of course, “finally getting the chance” isn’t entirely accurate as, until recently, I wasn’t even an IATEFL member, let alone thinking of attending! However, when I heard about the Speak for IH initiative, I thought, well, why not join and why not put in a speaker application and see what happens? I joined IATEFL and submitted my speaker proposal the day before the deadline and waited for the “… regret to inform you…” email.
It was thus something of a surprise to me when I heard that I had been accepted and that my workshop was going to be part of IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group showcase. I therefore have IHWO to thank not only for supporting my session, but also for spurring me on to applying to speak in the first place. I have spoken at conferences before, but never at such a large one (with over 3,000 delegates) and never at one where delegates have paid quite a substantial fee to attend. This puts a certain amount of pressure on your shoulders, but I’m happy to report that my session was well-attended and seemingly went down rather well!
What makes IATEFL different is the sheer variety of delegates and delegate backgrounds; there are TEFL luminaries, newly-qualified EFL teachers, university lectures, students and publishing representatives from all over the world in attendance. I was asked a lot of interesting and thought-provoking questions after my workshop (that I wouldn’t have been asked at a local or in-house IH event) and which will inform any future speaking proposals I submit.
I would like to thank IHWO for supporting me, both with the Speak for IH grant and their encouragement at the conference in the build-up to my presentation. Speak for IH is a great initiative and I would encourage anyone who is thinking of branching out into the conference circuit or thinking of participating in an event for the first time to apply and see what happens!
Ian Raby - IH Riga