Teaching can sometimes be a rather lonely pursuit, especially for ELT teachers away from home in foreign countries. It can also be a rather homogenising experience, if you’re teaching in a specific context and only really have contact with teachers in the same situation as you. In both situations, I think many ELT teachers miss out on the chance to hear about the current debates, research, trends, methods/approaches, etc that are being shared around the world. I believe that some sort of networking and sharing of ideas beyond a teacher’s immediate context is a key aspect of professional development.
The purpose of this post, then, is to provide a few links and tips that will help ELT teachers find this big world of ELT beyond their teaching situation and get them ‘networked’ with other teachers, to facilitate inspiration and development as a teacher. The list does not pretend to be complete; please feel free to add further links in the comments below. Also, I’m focusing somewhat on the German-speaking world since that’s where I am based and know most about what’s going on. Still, the first three links are of global appeal, and I hope that the list will be helpful for teachers in a wide range of contexts and locations!
IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language)
If I could only recommend one organisation, this would be it. I’ve been a member for a number of years and the conferences and publications have been a constant source of inspiration and professional development opportunities. Double thumbs up from me!
Based in the UK. They say about themselves: “With over 4,000 members IATEFL is one of the most thriving communities of ELT teachers in the world. Our mission [is] to “Link, develop and support English Language Teaching professionals” worldwide”.
As a member, you get a bimonthly copy of the ‘Voices’ mini-journal/newsletter with information about research and events going on in ELT around the world, a free copy of ‘Conference Selections’ with summaries of presentations given at the latest annual conference, free membership in a Special Interest Group with newsletters and events, a cheaper registration rate for the annual conference, and cheaper subscriptions to some of the leading journals in the field (e.g. ELT Journal).
Their next big annual conference is going to be in Manchester in April 2015, find out more here: http://www.iatefl.org/annual-conference/about-the-annual-conference
Each month, they provide provide a free webinar held by a famous name in the field. For details of the upcoming webinars (on topics such as coursebook evaluation, intercultural training, teaching with technology) see here: http://www.iatefl.org/webinars
TESOL International Association
They see themselves as a “global and collaborative community committed to creating a world of opportunity through teaching English to speakers of other languages.” And say about themselves: “For nearly 50 years, TESOL International Association has been bringing together educators, researchers, administrators, and students to advance the profession of teaching English to speakers of other languages. With more than 12,000 members representing 156 countries, and more than 100 worldwide affiliates, TESOL offers everyone involved in English language teaching and learning an opportunity to be part of a dynamic community, where professionals like you connect with and inspire each other to achieve the highest standards of excellence.” See here for a brief introduction: http://www.tesol.org/docs/membership/tesol-brochure.pdf?sfvrsn=2
The host a large annual conference of which I have only heard good reviews (see: http://www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn/international-convention ), and provide publications and an online resource-bank, and guidelines for best practice in ELT. They also create a newsletter and have lively online discussion groups on specific interests within ELT. Webinars and online courses complement their busy programme of symposiums and conferences (though the time-difference makes webinars slightly problematic for those living in Europe!). See here for the full programme: http://www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn/online-courses-seminars and http://www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn/symposiums-academies )
If you visit their website you will see that the homepage is very ‘busy’ and not always easy to navigate, but I think this simply reflects the variety of services and activities TESOL International Association offer and are involved in. If you have the time to click through, you will definitely find something that is relevant for you – whether you are a student, teacher, teacher-trainer, materials writer, etc. Definitely a thumbs up from me!
Teaching English – British Council
This is slightly different from the other associations listed here as it is mainly an online community. That makes it especially interesting to those who cannot travel to conferences, etc, and/or don’t have much spare cash to spend on memberships and travel costs. Why register with TE? They say: “Registration on this site is totally free and allows you to interact with other users as well as add comments and download certain material. You can:
- build your own profile in an international online community;
- access our tools for teachers;
- join monthly online workshops;
- watch our teaching tips videos;
- sign up for a variety of teacher training courses;
- join in discussions with teachers around the world.”
The online discussion forums are really lively and cover an enormous range of topics. They also offer free webinars and instructional videos and articles, as well as training courses and workshops, both as self-study and with a trainer (see: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/teacher-training ). There is also free access to a number of journals and research publications via the site (see: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/publications ). Again, double thumbs-up!
TEA (Teachers of English in Austria)
They say about themselves: “As the only national association appealing to the needs of teachers and future teachers of English at all levels, TEA is concerned with helping to better the overall competencies of teachers of English in Austria by a commitment to excellence through international cultural exchange. Of equal importance, TEA is also a platform for the exchange of ideas that leads to overall improvement in the effective teaching of the English language.”
Members have access to a free online-journal and receive discounts at various cultural establishments around Austria (mainly Vienna). They also host an annual conference and a number of workshops and summer schools, see here: http://www.tea4teachers.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=35&Itemid=2
For me, what’s interesting about TEA is that their learners are German speakers, which means that a lot of what they do is directly relevant to my own teaching situation. But they do cover a wide range of contexts: young learners, adults, university, secondary school, business English, etc. So there will probably be something of interest to lots of you! Their conferences are naturally smaller than those of the international associations mentioned above, but that also means that the costs are lower, and the events are less overwhelming for new teachers / students.
German Association for Teachers of English (GATE)
Since this association is part of a larger umbrella organisation in Germany for teachers of all foreign languages, not everything is available in English (some parts of the website are still only in German). Not everything here will be relevant for everyone, particularly those teaching outside of Germany, and there is a real focus on secondary education. Nonetheless, they say about themselves: “The German Association for Teachers of English, English and more (E&M e. V.), represents the interests of teachers of English as a foreign language, irrespective of types of school and age of students. It also addresses academic staff in the fields of adult education and in-company language trainers.”
As a member, you get two magazines aimed at school teachers of EFL, a newsletter about teaching English in Germany, and can participate in their local and national conferences. Their website provides tips on lesson planning, articles on quality development, and information aimed different school-types in different Federal States. I think this organisation is of most relevance to those teaching English in German secondary schools; but if that is you, then it has quite a lot of very specific information.
MELTA (Munich English Language Teachers Association)
This is a more local organisation, aimed really at teachers based in and around the Munich area. Anyone is free to join, though, and to go along to conferences, talks, workshops, etc that they regularly organise. They often have famous speakers and themed one-day “conferences” on specific areas of ELT. Their welcome is warm, and the newsletter (free for members) is very informative, if sometimes very Munich-oriented. I think the best aspect of such local organisations (more are listed below) is the networking opportunity that joining provides. For such a small organisation, MELTA is very active and offers a wide range of events and professional development opportunities – (local) thumbs up!
Other regional organisations in Germany:
These are the clickable links to other ELT organisations in Germany which are similar to MELTA:
Other useful links:
A list of more ELT organisations (all of which are affiliated with IATEFL) in your country, here: http://www.iatefl.org/associates/list-of-associate-members
Links für Englischlehrer in Deutschland: http://www.wagner-juergen.de/englisch/