The 56thIATEFL  International Conference & Exhibition 2023 was held in Harrogate, UK. The conference was a four-day program (April 18-21) with an array of talks, forums, workshops, and exhibitions related to English language learning and teaching (ELT). Many practicing teachers, material developers, and language educators from all over the world had a unique opportunity to come together and share their insights and experiences. Participants explored ways to develop resilience in various aspects of language education such as teaching, assessment, professional development, and material development. Plenary speakers Evan Frendo, Divya Madhavan, Lesley Painter-Farrell, Ofelia Garcia, and Awad Ibrahim gave inspirational talks on different subjects including English at the workplace, teacher resilience, ESOL teachers as activists, race, and popular culture.

This year Gülçin and İlkay from ScOLa UGE program presented at IATEFL 2023.

Reflection by Gülçin

My talk, entitled “Teacher, Are You There? Establishing Teacher Presence in Online Classes,” was part of the TDSIG showcase day. During my session, I discussed the key components and skills needed to establish teacher presence in an online classroom. I also presented a range of practical ideas and strategies for developing one’s teaching presence in online courses. As my main research area is teacher development, the opportunity to give a session on the TDSIG showcase day and engage in discussions about the latest trends and best practices in ELT with like-minded professionals was truly enriching. I was also grateful for the positive feedback and engaging questions from the participants, which affirmed that my topic resonated with their interests and needs. At the end of my session, there was an idea-sharing section where I also learned a lot from the participants. It was rewarding to see attendees actively participate in the discussion and share their own experiences and perspectives.

In addition, I attended various sessions that provided insight into teacher development and helped me reflect on my own skills and practices as a teacher. Overall, I can say that presenting at the IATEFL conference was a unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with fellow ELT professionals. It pushed me to refine my ideas, conduct further research, and polish my presentation skills, while deepening my understanding of the latest developments in the field of teacher development and providing me with new ideas and inspiration for my own teaching practice.


Reflection by İlkay

My presentation,  “Clear Minds, Full Hearts: Effective Feedback in Online Writing” was part of a forum session on teaching writing. In my research, I looked into the efficiency of using direct and indirect language in the online textual feedback process to explore innovative ways to prevent confusion among students and encourage them to take corrective action in online writing progress. Since the focus of my topic was teachers and their acts of speech on written online feedback, it attracted a lot of attention. I had quite a big group of audience who were very engaged and interactive during the session. My presentation was the most interactive part of our forum session since many teachers had question marks about their way of speech act in textual feedback. Thus, the presentation continued with question-answer dialogs. My other forum contributors Vahida and Elaheh did presentations on formative writing assessment and peer feedback on writing. As a group, we established a good rapport with each other and the participants. After our session was completed, the audience approached us to thank us, asked several questions, and made comments.


One of the highlights of the conference was Evan Fredo’s talk on English for the workplace since he wanted to encourage the audience to think about changes happening in workplace language teaching. He highlighted that new answers were needed if we were to remain relevant. In this aspect, his speech was inspirational because as an EAP instructor knowing what is happening in business English could help me to develop more teaching skills I can apply in my undergraduate courses. Another highlight of the conference was Kirsten Holt’s presentation on teaching myths. The fact that some practices, familiar techniques, and debunked methodologies or materials are open to being discussed has encouraged me to question the existing practices so that we can take radical actions in teaching. Furthermore, my forum contributors Vahida Berberoviç and Elaheh Tavakoli taught me new perspectives regarding peer feedback and formative assessment in writing. Clare Bowes’s presentation on designing learning materials for social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube was quite interesting since it gave insights about establishing an online learning community, especially during the era of substantial online audiences. Mindfulness sessions held on every morning before the presentations were very fun and interesting, as well. Rod Bolihto and Alan Maley’s work on the relation between teacher’s effectiveness and his/her personality was one of the highlights too since it suggested that personal experiences can help to develop effective teaching qualities. Finally, my colleague Gülçin’s session taught me the significance of teacher’s presence before and after the class, as well as during the class.