The first ELT conference I ever attended was ACEIA 2016. A group of us from the academy in Cáceres where I had just started working travelled down to make a weekend of it. I remember being amazed to be surrounded by so many people so passionate about teaching English that they would give up a Saturday to listen to or be one of those giving presentations about their ideas and approaches. Since then, I’ve attended a good many more webinar, workshops, conferences and begun to give talks myself. It was with excitement, though, that I returned to Sevilla this weekend as a speaker to the venue where it all began; and after the hiatus caused by the pandemic.
The plenary, given by Antonia Clare, stressed the importance of human connection. And this was a theme that spoke to me throughout my whole day. As I arrived, I saw a teacher who had worked for me at summer school (and later, caught up with other summer school colleagues who were also attending). As I left the plenary, I saw the centre director who gave my my first full time job in ELT. As I wandered the exhibition floor, I ran into others that I knew, but hadn’t seen for years, and recognised many, many faces. Having gotten to know Teresa Bestwick “twitterly” well via her web presence and #SIGTweetMeet, it was indescribably wonderful to sit in her session on personalising learning journeys and fill a notebook page with useful activities ideas. She also brought our attention to the TEFL Development Hub which also looks like a useful resource.
I heard Harry Waters talk with passion and humour about cultivating change makers and his work on Renewable English: many ideas for helping our students connect to issues in their locality while learning English. Claire Martine Moloney spoke to us about reflecting on our teaching and self-observation tasks we can do with a video recording of our lesson … if we are brave enough.
Over lunch, I connected with other speakers and felt welcomed by them as we discussed how talks had gone during the morning and those of us yet to present were wished luck for the afternoon sessions.
Being a speaker at an event like this is a privilege. It’s a whole other way of connecting with others in the field and it’s also quite fun! It was a pleasure to share my ideas with so many interested delegates and I’m grateful for their interested participation during the session and their kind comments after it.
Overall, it was wonderful to be back at an in-person ACEIA conference and so lovely to see beautiful Sevilla again.