What is IATEFL? It is a short for International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. IATEFL organizes conferences all around the globe. The international conference, which will be held in Manchester next year, has been around for almost 54 years. There are local events organized in numerous countries, including us. IATEFL-Hungary first appeared after the change of regime, in 1990, and it has been carrying the noble responsibility of recharging our creative batteries ever since. Luckily enough for the ridiculously overpaid (that is, beginner teachers), the past two conferences were both held in Budapest, a good forty-five minutes from my door. Walking ahead on the dirt road of bitter social commentary: if it had been otherwise, I might not have been able to show up at all. I would have been incredibly disappointed, and the reason is:
IATEFL-Hungary is not simply a conference. It is a vibrant social gathering that overwhelms you with inspiration while helping you regain your hope and motivation you might have lost wading through the misty jungle of Hungarian education.
Walking through the door of the venue feels like entering the vortex in Sliders. You immediately get swept up in the spring scented buzz. Excited organizers are bustling around, searching for the name tags and gift bags, representatives of publishing companies and language exam centers are setting up their stands in the exhibition area, and you, smack dab in the middle of all this, are waiting for your turn in the line. Meanwhile, more and more familiar faces emerge from the crowd, including peers from teacher training, colleagues from local schools and, of course, university professors who accompanied me on my sever-year journey. There are some long-awaited reunions around the corner that make me feel like a teenager pushing against the cordon, waiting for my beloved stars to hit the red carpet.
The colorful conference program offered quite a variety of workshops and presentations, just as usual, crowned by plenaries with special guests, such as British linguists Sarah Mercer and David Crystal. The theme and title of this year’s event was ENGaged: spotlight on learning.