The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Monday, March 26, 2012

Glasgow 2012

I'm just settling back at my desk, and ploughing through my inbox, after an absolutely exhausting, but incredibly useful time at the IATEFL conference in Glasgow last week. There's so much I could say about what was a very intense week, but I have a big backlog of work to get on with, so here's just a summary.

Getting out there:
As a freelancer working away at my desk, my days generally follow a fairly low-key sort of routine, so to suddenly find myself out all day (Tues started at 9am and finished around midnight!), surrounded by people; chatting, having meetings, going to sessions and socialising in the evenings was a radical change of pace and absolutely shattering! It also made a really nice change though and it was lovely to be so sociable. I caught up with lots of people I know, collected over 20 years in ELT. A surprisingly large number of old teaching colleagues from my early days in Athens and Prague now seem to work for ELT publishers, then there were folks from my time in Cambridge (working in-house at CUP) and a myriad of other people who I've worked with and for in 12+ years of freelancing. It's lovely to catch up with old friends, but it's also incredibly good for business too; renewing old contacts, chatting about what I'm doing and what they're doing and crucially, about what what we might be able to work together on in the future.

Stirring the grey matter:
In amongst all the schmoozing, I did also get to a few sessions. After many years of IATEFL conferences, I tend to be quite selective, but I managed 3 or 4 sessions a day. I'm not going to run through a review of each thing I went to, but I think each one succeeded in sparking at least one new idea to take away with me. And oddly, it was some of the sessions that had the least impact at the time that have lingered and been pondered on the most since.

The talk:
I think my talk on Thursday morning went okay - after I'd worked out what to do with a radio mic when you're wearing a dress with no waistband!! It was a fairly straightforward, academic sort of presentation, describing how we went about selecting and grading vocabulary for the COBUILD Key Words For IELTS series. I talked through my slides without missing out anything major, I waved my hands about as usual, but remembered not to wander around too much for the cameraman filming the session.

I noticed a few members of the audience smiling and nodding in recognition at various points, but when I got to the end, I wasn't altogether sure how it'd gone down. I finished in good time, so I rather nervously invited questions. I say 'nervously' because at several of the sessions I'd been to, especially the larger ones, invitations for questions had just been met by a general shuffling and people starting to leave. So I was relieved when a good sprinkling of hands went up and we had a good 10 minutes of really interesting questions. Afterwards, a couple of people commented that I dealt well with some tricky questions, but actually, I think it was the part I enjoyed most. It's quite difficult to prepare a talk at something like IATEFL where your audience is likely to be a mix of fellow (and rival!) publishers and writers, along with some 'real' teachers from a huge range of backgrounds. So it's really nice to get a bit of proper interaction and a chance to talk about the things that are really of interest to the people there.

Thank you to everyone who came along and to the lovely folks from Collins ELT who helped it all run smoothly. If you're interested, my PowerPoint slides and the handout to go with my talk are now available on the Glasgow online website. I understand the video of the talk will be edited over the next couple of weeks and may well end up on a website - I'll post the link if and when.

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