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This time last week I’d just heard the opening plenary at the 23rd IATEFL Slovenia Conference, held in the comfortable location of the Vesna in Topolšica. I’d also spent part of the morning enjoying the fitness and spa pools the hotel has, jumping up and down with some morning aquatic gymnastics.

If I had to sum up this event for Slovenian teachers, I’d have to say it is a treat – I’m not sure there are many other ELT occasions that match it for warmth, comfort and fun. Here are some of the main takeaways for me.

Language and content teaching can learn from each other

As demonstrated in László Katona’s workshop on mixing up his ELT and natural sciences. One of the most interesting things László mentioned was how he actually borrows a lot from language teaching methodology when he teaches chemistry. This was evidenced by a number of videos that his students had produced based around chromatography experiments. It sounded like a lot of the teaching of content subjects like science takes the form of lecturing; this is the kind of transmission model of education that I hope we are moving or have moved away from in ELT, but that perhaps lingers on in other areas.

Technology makes more sense when it brings us together

Ken’s plenary, in which we were all involved in simple and snappy tasks with our phones, tablets and other smart devices, all about how these can actually facilitate person to person interaction, rather than everyone’s eyes being focused on a screen. Some interesting historical tidbits, including a look at a one-room school house in Canada, gave the talk a personal feel. I hadn’t been to a KW talk for a while, so this was a nice reminder of his style – light-hearted, but thinking about an important topic in these times when our attention is often fractured and divided in many different directions.

People are what make these events for me

As you can see from the snaps I took, these people are what matter to me. The only slightly sad thing is that these gatherings feel rather too short and too few. Here’s to the next time we meet, wherever that is!

Drawing through-lines from conference to conference

This was what I saw in Barbi’s talk (you can see her sitting in the brown jacket in one of the pictures above) weaving a talk from something she saw at the previous IATEFL Slovenia about ‘Generation Z’. The tiny room was packed as she waited to start and then led us through her observations about the learners she teaches, her young godson and also actually herself and her ‘Generation Z syndrome’! Give her a plenary room next year!

That’s all for now!

I need to dash – another conference today, this time NATECLA London in Mornington Crescent. There’s probably another post like this coming with what I’ve gleaned from other IATEFL Slovenia sessions – the closing plenary by Luke Meddings, Margarita Kosior’s account of fostering learner autonomy with her students in Greece (and a mini interview!), and a workshop on being creative, critical and compassionate as an educator from Uwe Pohl, Margit Szestay and Anna Csiky. Stay tuned!