by Kirti Kapur
I represented Fortell India, an associate of IATEFL, at the 51st IATEFL Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland from 3 to 7 April 2017. The representatives of associates from across the world congregated on 3 April for Associates’ Day, to interact and network with their global counterparts.
The day began with a warm welcome by Lou McLaughlin, IATEFL associates’ Chair. This was followed by a presentation of the report for the year 2016-2017 highlighting the role of project awards. Set up in 2014, IATEFL Projects offers grants of up to £ 3,000 to one teaching association every year. The grants have to be used to finance a project that will result in an improvement in language teaching and learning in the local community and give an opportunity to less experienced teachers to take on an active role. Besides this, the project conducts two workshops for a minimum of 40 teachers in blended sessions (online and face-to-face). Attending associates were also encouraged to apply for these awards. IATEFL online events were highlighted and members were asked to motivate other members to participate. In the afternoon session, the representatives displayed their posters, materials, etc., and engaged in an interactive discussion. Many representatives evinced a keen interest in getting their article published in the journal Fortell. In the evening, there was a presentation on the Hornby scholarship. The day came to a close with the vote of thanks.
During the conference, each representative of the member associations under the IATEFL umbrella was given a dedicated slot to interact with participants at the conference and the wider audience. These sessions were held in the Exhibition Section of the conference. Fortell India was allocated a dedicated slot on 05 April from 10:15 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Attendees were very keen to learn about ELT in India and how Fortell contributes to the professional and academic development of its members. There were several inquiries about membership to Fortell and the journal was also widely appreciated. It was indeed a proud moment for me as the ambassador for Fortell India.
The conference provided a space for exchange of ideas, approaches and strategies. It was enriching to learn from my peer’s experiences and also to share perspectives from India. As always, coming from a multi-lingual country with many “Englishes” enables one to connect with and appreciate diverse cultural nuances. At the conference, I learnt some new and interesting things about the Gaelic language too. I was pleased to see signage in Gaelic and English on my way to the conference and back and was reminded of real life examples being incorporated in task based activities back home. While conversing with Les Kirkham, former chair, I had the opportunity to learn that Highland Scottish Gaelic is distinct from the Lowlands’ old English. At present, the Scots English—also known as “Lallans”—spoken in the Lowlands is closer to the original English than the English spoken in England. Before the 15th century, these dialects were known as Inglis (English) by its own speakers, with Gaelic being called Scottis (Scottish). Today, Scottish Gaelic is recognized as a separate language from Irish Gaelic. Scottish Gaelic co-existed with English for a long time in Scotland, and bilingualism was common during a certain period of history. I found the Scots people to be very polite and welcoming. Their understanding of socio-political history and its impact on education and society was inspiring.
The conference had a wonderful air of camaraderie and passionate engagement with ELT. Practitioners’ concerns about incorporating cultural history and local contexts in the teaching and learning spaces were shared across the board. It was stimulating to see the range of work and the strategies adopted by the co-participants towards enhancing learner abilities. Colleagues from Scotland, Ireland, England, Romania, Spain, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia and Mexico also stopped by the Fortell display area and discussed ideas and local initiatives. I spoke at a forum on the topic “Listening effectively: Teaching and Learning Through Task Based Activities” and enjoyed interacting with the audiences afterwards. The Scottish saying “Learn young, learn fair; learn old, learn more”, could not have been more apt!
Kirti Kapur, Professor of English at NCERT, India, has 29 years of teaching experience in the areas of English Language and Literature. Kirti is a recipient of the Ray Tongue scholarship awarded by IATEFL and the TESOL award for Professional Development. Her expertise lies in curriculum and syllabi design, textbook development, teacher training and research consultancy.