There are experiences that leave an indelible mark in our lives and this is how I describe my trip to Harrogate. I am a Business English trainer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My passion for teaching languages and interacting with people from different cultures led me, some years ago, to become a member of IATEFL and actively participate in BESIG. This year I was awarded one of the two Facilitators Scholarships to attend the 48th IATEFL Annual Conference in Harrogate.
During this enriching week, it became clear to me that no matter the geographical distances and cultural backgrounds that separate us, teachers share similar needs and values across the globe. For example, we are keen on learning from other colleagues’ experience and sharing ours unselfishly. Our current common interests lie on using technology to enhance teaching and foster students’ engagement. We are also interested in understanding the route that English as a global language is taking in this highly interconnected world and its impact on ELT. Undoubtedly, the Conference gave us a unique opportunity to learn about these issues in the thought-provoking talks and debates in the hands of leading ELT professionals. It also became clear to me that IATEFL makes an amazing job of turning this sometimes lonely profession – especially if you are a freelancer – into a collaborative activity.
Meeting other scholarship winners from all over the world was also a once-in-a-life experience. We engaged in interesting conversations at the tea party and the special stand at the Exhibition Hall. I also had the time of socializing at the diverse evening events.
I would like to make a special mention for the BESIG, a team coordinated by highly professional and thriving trainers. I was able to see the energy and passion they put into brining innovation to the field of Business English. In this sense, they offer a wide range of professional development opportunities to their members and gather the most prestigious trainers to discuss the future of BE. Being present at this debate was, for me, a privilege to understand where our profession is heading and how to keep up-to-date.
On the BESIG Day, I gave a talk about developing soft skills in Business English courses. I described two authentic techniques used in management programs to develop persuasion and teamwork and explained how I have integrated them in my classes. I was thrilled at sharing my experience with trainers from all over the world and at listening to the enriching exchange of ideas that followed my presentation.
All in all, I returned home with a renewed sense of our profession, full of energy to keep on improving and delighted to having met so many wonderful colleagues. Thanks for this wonderful experience!