Jennifer Holden Speaks for IH at IATEFL

Jennifer Holden, DoS and Head of Teacher Training at IH Palermo Language Centre, spoke for IH at IATEFL 2019. In her session 'Teaching Older Learners: Who? Why? How?' she explored what an 'old learner' really is and shared some practical ideas on how to cater for them in the general English classroom. Here she describes her experience in a very unique way:

'I am a trainer and DoS, not a writer. Something I do write regularly, however, is lesson plans. So, I tried to think of which lesson framework my experience of IATEFL fits into:

Was it PPP?

Well I presented, practised and produced, but not in that order.

Was it test-teach-test?

At moments it did feel very much like a test; cramming the night before, feeling anxious before going into the room… Fortunately, there was only one test stage.

Was it task-based learning?

Here goes…

Main aim:

By the end of the conference, I will be better able to deliver a workshop on Teaching Older Learners at an international conference.

Subsidiary aims:

Network with lots of colleagues both from IH and a vast array of other TEFL contexts

Represent IH on an international stage

Anticipated problem


It’s expensive to go to IATEFL

Ask IH for a grant!

No-one will be interested in my talk

Make the abstract as interesting as possible, then tell everyone you meet that you’re presenting!

Presenting on the final day

Prepare the session well in advance, leaving space in your brain to concentrate on the sessions beforehand.

Make the session as interactive as possible to keep flagging delegates interested.


Stage aim



To prepare for the talk


Brand your materials

Practise, practise, practise!

Core task

To present at IATEFL Liverpool 2019

Don’t get too nervous

Take a deep breath

Start with a joke

Fake it ‘til you make it

Post task

To get feedback on my workshop

Come down off an adrenaline high

Accept comments gracefully about your well-received workshop

Kick yourself for planning too much!

And no lesson would be complete without a self-reflection...


In the end, it really wasn’t that scary and was well-worth the pre-conference jitters. I’d done lots of work beforehand to ensure that I was confident with my materials and subject. I was worried, though, that there were other seminars presenting on a similar theme to mine. However, I was reassured that my talk was relevant and a contemporary issue to be explored.

As it was my first time speaking at IATEFL I was offered the opportunity to have a mentor to help me prepare for the seminar. I was very honoured to be supported by Mario Rinvolucri who shared his expertise to ensure the workshop met the needs of the audience.

The help I received from IH was also invaluable; Diana England’s guide to presenting at conferences is full of useful advice and the support from my fellow IH Italy colleagues gave me extra confidence to succeed.I was really proud to represent IH and all the great work we do.

Being able to attend IATEFL was really eye-opening for me. It was really inspiring to meet delegates from all walks of TEFL life (who knew there were so many?), whether teachers, trainers, writers or speakers, I learnt so much in the week; not just in the sessions but in the coffee breaks too! I came back buzzing with ideas on topics ranging from learner identity to emergent language, teaching creative writing to management techniques'.

Can I go back next year please?'

Jennifer Holden