I am just back from IATEFL
, the UK’s premier English Language conference. The comedy highlight was definitely the photo booth at the IELTS stand, which we ran with our partners the British Council and IDP
. I am sure I asked my colleagues Chloe Shaw and Gad Lim to camp it up fully but I fear it was me that channelled the spirit of 1970s variety television most effectively.
The conference was held this year in Birmingham, and had around 3000 people from across the world in attendance. I caught up with my old pal Alison Barrett from the British Council in India to talk about what we could do together around teacher development. I met Ann Burns from the University of New South Wales who is going to be on the same stage as me at the English Australia conference later this year. And I reconnected with Donald Freeman who we work with at the University of Michigan, home of our CaMLA
exams in American English.
We hosted events to promote Cambridge Exams Publishing
, two of our ventures we run jointly with Cambridge University Press. They were both packed and there’s real interest in our approach to learning materials that prepare people expertly for our exams.
Michael Carrier, who works with us on strategic partnerships ran an excellent signature session on the thorny issue of classroom observation, which generated a lot of interest. But as ever, the biggest highlight of the event was getting a chance to hear from so many practising professionals in our field - teachers, teacher trainers, academics, publishers. It is a place to mainline the best of what’s being done all over the world.
One of my interests is architecture and I have to say Birmingham served up three treats (all pictured) that channel some of my geekier passions. Trains – the stunningly re-imagined New Street Station. Books – the new Library of Birmingham with its remarkable Shakespeare room on the roof. And pubs – the Bartons Arms in Aston, one of the country’s greatest Victorian confections. IATEFL’s in Glasgow next year and I am sure the conference and the city will provide some educational and architectural gems.
Chief Executive, Cambridge English