This year the annual conference of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language will be held over four days at the City Hall and National Museum in Cardiff, Wales.
On April 1st over 1600 teachers and academics from around the world will descend on Cardiff. This is no April fool’s joke. If you see people with identical bags and name tags wandering the streets you’ll know who they are. However, this year it promises to be a convention with a difference.
The IATEFL conference boasts an international line up of world-class plenary speakers; Marc Prensky (from USA), Elana Shohamy (from Israel), Bonny Norton (from Canada), Fauzia Shamim (from Pakistan), and Claudia Ferredas (from Argentina).
As well as being packed with over 400 talks, workshops, symposia and posters, the event offers a state of the art exhibition of teaching materials, as well as a rich social programme with a distinctly Welsh flavour. This includes ‘Tales from Wales’, presented by David Heathfield, a professional storyteller with Welsh roots; ‘A portrait of Wales’, featuring extracts from Welsh authors, presented by IATEFL’s patron, Professor David Crystal; and for the energetic, a Twmpath Dawns Band.
This year 93 different countries are represented at the event, making it a truly international occasion, with delegates from Vietnam to Venezuela, Cameroon to Micronesia. This is in line with the aims of the organisation of linking and supporting English language professionals worldwide.
So how do local teachers gain access to all this? We are pleased to announce a special ‘local day’ rate from 12 noon on Friday to the end of the conference on Saturday for anyone who lives or works in Wales; a real bargain. Find out more on IATEFL’s website: http://www.iatefl.org
However there are many thousands of professionals for whom attending the conference is usually no more than a dream because of the costs involved in travel to UK. This year plans are afoot to make the event accessible to many thousands more participants from around the globe through a virtual community space, known as ‘Cardiff on-line’.
The ‘Cardiff on-line’ initiative builds on the groundwork laid at our two previous conferences. It is an exciting and truly ground-breaking innovation made possible through collaboration between IATEFL and The British Council, and one that is very much in line with the charitable aims of IATEFL. It promises to be one of the biggest global teacher development events ever.
So what happens? A teacher in Mongolia, or Nepal, or Ethiopia will be able to sign up and participate in the conference from their own country. All the plenary talks, as well as a sizable number of other presentations will be shown live over the Net or recorded and made available on the conference site. We will also have forums to discuss all aspects of our profession, photo albums, chat sessions and prizes especially for our remote participants. A large team will be in place behind the scenes to bring the event to the remote audience, which is anticipated to be in the region of 7000 participants.
Cardiff Online is now live at: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2009
This year certainly promises to be different.
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