As an ELT (English Language Teaching) professional, the IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition is one of the most important events in your calendar. Every year, thousands of ELT professionals from over 100 countries gather to exchange ideas, learn from leading trainers, theorists, practising teachers, materials writers, and publishers, and explore the latest ELT publications and services in the Exhibition. In this article, we will share the ultimate guide to making the most of the IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition in Harrogate, from planning your schedule to networking and exploring the resources on offer.
Planning your Schedule
The IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition is a four-day event starting on Tuesday 18th April in Harrogate. The programme includes a diverse range of talks, workshops, forums, and plenaries, covering all aspects of English language teaching and learning, from pedagogical theories to classroom practices, from technology to assessment, from teacher training to material development. It’s essential to start planning your schedule to make the most of your time at the conference and avoid missing out on sessions that interest you.
The IATEFL website provides a helpful online planner that allows you to browse the programme, filter sessions by topic, type, or speaker, and create a personalised schedule with reminders. When planning your schedule, consider your professional goals and interests, as well as your availability and energy levels. It’s tempting to attend as many sessions as possible, but it’s also important to take breaks, network, and explore the Exhibition and Careers Development Zone.
Make the Most of your Networking opportunity
One of the biggest benefits of attending the IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition is the opportunity to meet fellow ELT professionals from around the world and build your professional network. Whether you’re a seasoned conference-goer or a first-timer, networking can be daunting, but it’s also essential for career development, collaboration, and inspiration. Here are some tips for effective networking at the conference:
• Introduce yourself to other attendees before and after sessions, during breaks, or at social events. Be friendly, approachable, and open-minded.
• Prepare a short elevator pitch that summarises your professional background, interests, and goals. Be clear, concise, and enthusiastic.
• Ask questions, listen actively, and show interest in other attendees’ work and ideas. Networking is a two-way street, and you can learn as much as you share.
• Exchange business cards or contact details with new connections, and follow up after the conference with a personalised message or invitation to connect on social media or professional platforms. Don’t be generic!
• Attend special events, such as the welcome reception, SIG and forum meetings, or the gala dinner, to meet like-minded professionals in a relaxed and social setting.
Remember that networking is not just about collecting business cards or pitching yourself. It’s about building authentic, meaningful relationships with people who share your passion for ELT and can support and inspire you throughout your career.
Exploring the Exhibition and Careers Development Zone
The IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition is also home to a large resources Exhibition, featuring over 50 ELT-related exhibitors, including publishers, assessment providers, technology companies, and professional associations. The Exhibition is the perfect place to explore the latest ELT publications and services, discover new teaching materials and tools, and meet the people behind them. Here are some tips for making the most of the Exhibition:
• Plan your visit to the Exhibition in advance, using the Exhibition Guide or the IATEFL app, to identify the exhibitors that interest you the most and their location in the Exhibition hall.
• Take your time to browse the stands, talk to the exhibitors, and collect samples, brochures, or information about their products and services. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request demos or trials.
• Attend the presentations or talks at the Presentation Stage, featuring exhibitors showcasing their products and services, or the How-To Sessions at the Careers Development Zone, focusing on career guidance and job opportunities.
• Network with other attendees at the Exhibition, especially those who share your interests or needs, and exchange tips and recommendations about the exhibitors you’ve visited.
The IATEFL Careers Development Zone is another essential part of the conference, providing a dedicated space for exhibitors focusing on careers guidance and job opportunities, as well as a presentation stage showcasing how-to sessions and much more. Whether you’re a job seeker, a career changer, or a professional looking for advice and support, the Careers Development Zone can help you navigate the ELT job market and develop your career. Here are some tips for using the Careers Development Zone:
• Visit the exhibitors that interest you the most, such as recruitment agencies, language schools, universities, or professional associations, and learn about their job vacancies, requirements, and benefits.
• Attend the How-To Sessions at the Presentation Stage, featuring practical advice and tips on CV writing, interview skills, networking, or freelancing.
• Talk to the Careers Development Zone staff, who can provide personalised guidance and support on your career goals, skills development, or job search strategy.
• Network with other attendees at the Careers Development Zone, especially those who share your career interests or aspirations, and exchange insights and experiences.
Rounding Things Up
The IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition is a unique opportunity for ELT professionals to learn, network, and explore the latest ELT publications and services. By planning your schedule, networking effectively, and exploring the Exhibition and Careers Development Zone, you can make the most of the conference and enhance your professional development. Remember to stay curious, open-minded, and enthusiastic, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the event. We hope this guide has been helpful and inspiring, and we hope you have an amazing time at this year’s IATEFL International Annual Conference and Exhibition.
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