IATEFL 2013 Liverpool: My Experience

Laxman Gnawali

Last year I felt a strong urge to plan to attend the IATEFL 2013 Liverpool for several reasons. The main reason was that I had attended the conference before. When you have a taste of something and you like it and know the value of it, you want to go for it again.  So, I made up my mind to submit a presentation proposal and plan for other arrangements. I eventually attended the conference and I am recounting the experience of it.    

Whether our proposal is accepted or not, the process of writing it as per the guidelines is a learning experience. There are two documents we need to submit: a 50-60 word presentation abstract outlining what we will do during the presentation and a 200-250 word summary briefly discussing what is that we would like to establish. Though I was not working on it all the time, I spent more than a week writing, revising, editing, starting over again and the same process again and again. I also turned to friends for their input.

I was very careful about the proposal for a valid reason: apart from being accepted for a presentation, I also wanted a scholarship.  If the organizers liked the idea and saw that the proposal was not in a good shape, I would probably be asked to revisit it. But in case of the scholarship, there would be no second chance. I had to write a good proposal. So, I worked very hard. When I felt that my proposal was in good shape and would be competitive, I looked up the list and the descriptions of the scholarships the IATEFL was offering.

I had seen the list of scholarships before but had not minutely studied it to see which ones I was qualified for.  So, I visited the website http://www.iatefl.org/ and followed the scholarship link http://www.iatefl.org/scholarships/scholarship-overview There I saw that the criteria for each scholarship were different. Some were for those who had never been to the IATEFL conference, others for those who had never received any scholarship. Some were for teachers and others for teacher trainers. Some scholarships required the applicants to have an extensive experience in a given area and others looked just for an interest in it. Some scholarships offered a small grant and others had a generous amount for the winner. There were some that covered all the costs. Some scholarships required IATEFL membership, others did not. The deadline for all of them was 22 August. I considered them all and I finally submitted my proposal for five scholarships: IATEFL Gillian Porter Ladousse, International House Global Reach, International House Training and Development, Pilgrims Teacher Trainer Journal, Trinity College London Teacher Trainer.

Come the first week of October, I received an email which read:

Dear Laxman (if I may)

The IATEFL Scholarship Working Party (SWP) is happy to tell you that you are the winner of Gillian Porter-Ladousse Scholarship, congratulations. Please can you let me know immediately if you will accept the award and attend the Liverpool conference in 2013.

Very best wishes

SWP co-ordinator

I accepted the offer right away. Then the preparation started: the registration, the hotel booking, flight tickets, the visa, everything in place. I was at the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool on the 8th of April 2013. There were five of us from Nepal.

The 47th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition was a great experience: A state-of-the-art venue, world class book exhibition, gathering of 2500 delegates from around the world, about 40 parallel sessions at any given time, five key speakers including Prof. David Crystal, out-of-the-box evening events, networking events, live streaming on http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2013/, the list goes on.

My presentation was in the late evening and I was worried if I would have participants. To my relief, my session which was on “When Participants Experience, Understand and Articulate” was attended by sizable audience. I was also interviewed for the Liverpool online.

I spent five busy days in Liverpool and returned home re-energized. Two weeks later, I was asked by the scholarship committee to write in 80 words what I achieved by attending the conference, I wrote the following:

“Winning the IATEFL Gillian Porter Ladousse scholarship was instrumental for me to showcase an experiment on teacher training made at my University. Sharing the outcomes of the experiment from Nepal in the IATFL’s international forum was a concrete achievement for me and my University. This sharing enabled me to expand my network with fellow teacher educators from around the world. I also met great ELT names in person and brought home beautiful memories of the interactions I had with them.”

I feel that for ELT professionals, attending international events such as IATEFL has a number of benefits. To list a few: a) It is a great exposure to world Englishes. We experience Englishes from all over the world, b) We meet face to face those writers we have been citing, c) We are updated with the latest development in the field of ELT. We can bring home latest ideas in ELT, d) We can showcase what we have been doing at our workplaces and see where we stand and how others take it. I had all these benefits.

I am grateful to the IATEFL for accepting my proposal and providing me the scholarship. I am also thankful to Kathmandu University, NELTA and the British Council, Kathmandu for other support.

Appendix

This was the Presentation Proposal I submitted  for IATEFL Liverpool 2013.

1. The presentation title: When Participants Experience, Understand and Articulate

2. Type of presentation: Talk (30 minutes)

3. Presentation abstract (50-60 words)

In this presentation I shall focus on a primary EFL teacher training programme in Nepal that requires trainees to design and deliver a training course for working school teachers. How this process allows trainees to articulate their understanding of teaching learning principles thereby deepening their own understanding EFL pedagogy will be discussed; training structure and components will also be shared.

4. Summary (200-250 words)

Apart from experience and theoretical understanding, articulation of the experience and understanding is a firm way to learning (Edge, 1996) which is not realised in most teacher training programmes. Unless trainees explain and express their own experience and understanding to others who belong to the same professional community, their own understanding either will not be clear and even if it is, it will not last long.

With the idea in mind, we designed a primary EFL teacher training programme with touch of innovation. Normally, the teacher certification courses are of one year within which trainees complete course requirements including practice teaching. In our case, we added one more term. During this fourth term, participants are required to assess the needs of working teachers at local schools, design a twelve-hour training course based upon the needs, develop sessions and materials, deliver the training and evaluate the whole process. We saw that this act of expression actually helped them to develop a clearer understanding of the teaching learning principles for which they were trained. As they delivered the training, they not only organized activities but also had opportunities to express their own understanding of teaching and learning.

This has been a successful experiment of preparing principled teachers who know the rationale of their actions. The result is that the graduates of this programme are in demand and there is zero unemployment. In this talk, I share the programme structure and its components, the process and the attributes the trainees graduate.

The link to access my interview for the Liverpool Online:

http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2013/sessions/2013-04-09/interview-eryl-griffiths-laxman-gnawali

7 comments

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  • I read and appreciated the way Laxman Gnawali explains the details of the process of obtaining scholarship. I believe this will be helpful for our colleagues not only to win IATEFL scholarships, but also many other scholarships in the field. Video is also intreaging.

  • Rameshwor Bhandari

    The expression of Mr. Gnawali is very clear and it gives way for other interested persons to apply for attending such programs. Once again, I would like to thank Mr. Gnawali for sharing such experience which many persons hesitate.

  • Bal Krishna Sharma

    I appreciate Mr Gnawali’s sharing of the whole application and submission process for the conference. For novice colleagues wishing to submit presentation outlines, this reflection is an asset. In my case as well, I carefully read submission guidelines for the abstracts/proposals and evaluation criteria for that. It is also a good idea to have a peer go through the draft before you submit. Overall, good read!

  • T.P. Sharma

    Thanks Laxman sir sharing your effort and step-wise process which will be guideline to others.

  • Chandra

    I appreciate the way Mr. Gnawali has shared his experience using simple and clear language. It is really a good example for others interested in attending international conference especially IATEFL.

  • Laxmi Prasad Ojha

    I would like to thank Laxman sir for this piece of writing. Many of the ELT practitioners in Nepal wish to take part in such events but because of the lack of the information, they fail to do so.

    The first thing is most of us do not even know that there are scholarships for the interested and eligible candidates. Secondly, those who know there are scholarships do not know the procedure to apply for them. One major cause for such lacking is the poor internet access and online skill in us.

    I think many of us knew about both the areas through this writing. This will result in more and more applications for the IATEFL conference scholarships from next year resulting into many ELT practitioners and experts getting chance to be a part of the mega event which is like a dream come true.

    I request other NELTA members to come up with more stories about the events, programmes and courses they attend so that more people get benefited indirectly.

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