I met a Hungarian statistician from Leighton Buzzard at the Innovate conference in Barcelona this weekend. She’s taken an initial ELT teacher training course, but teaches statistics, not English. The fact that she’s attended the conference every year since it started five years ago says so much about Innovate. There’s an incredible vibe around the conference and a passion for the profession that I haven’t seen before at other conferences. Maybe it’s the craft beer and vermut being served in the garden that gets everyone talking; maybe it’s the internationality of the event, with teachers from all over the world coming together to share their experiences; or maybe it’s the size of the event: big enough but small enough that you can chat to lots of different people over the two days.
There’s also an incredible variety of talks and drop-in sessions to attend. For example on Friday evening during the drop-in sessions, I found out about EDIA Papyrus, a new programme being developed to assess the CEFR levels of texts, got to travel into space with Google glasses, chatted about the factors to consider when incorporating EdTech into our lessons and got a quick peek at Cambridge English’s Weekly – an exam preparation calendar for teachers.
Saturday kicked off with Anastasia Dedyukhina‘s plenary on #homodistractus with a look at how smart phones and social media are affecting our concentration and memory levels. Later there were talks on topics such as Agency in the Secondary Classroom from Dirk Lagerwaard, an introduction to TBLT (Task-Based Language Teaching) with Geoff Jordan, Dan Barber on Luddite Language Learning, Gemma Archer (self-proclaimed former pron-phobe) on the future of pronunciation instruction, while Sarah Bromley introduced us to chatbots our learners can use.
And in between the plenaries, drop-ins, demo lessons and talks, there was always time to catch up with old friends and make new contacts and I feel another important element of Innovate is the space and time it provides for networking, which is sometimes missing at other events. If you’re passionate about ELT, this would be my must-do event for next year – a great opportunity to meet like-minded ELT professionals, pick up some new ideas and critique the way of the world as it stands, all while sipping on a local craft beer.