ELTjam had a great time at IATEFL this year and there has been a lot of interesting discussion to come out of it. The discussion around native speaker bias in the industry has been brought to the fore through the excellent plenary from Silvana Richardson, and the follow-up panel discussion on the subject, made up of Marek Kiczkowiak, Christopher Graham, Burcu Akyol and Josh Round. There have been some great posts to come out of this discussion as well; we particularly enjoyed Hugh Dellar’s post on the CELTA and native-speaker bias, as well as Anthony Gaughan’s response. Other conference highlights were Sandy Millin’s excellent talk on time management (Berta hasn’t let go of her notebook since) and Paul Driver’s truly innovative talk on language learning and digital games.

But now with IATEFL behind us, it’s time to look forward to Innovate ELT, the conference that ELTjam run in partnership with Oxford TEFL in Barcelona. This year the theme is Grassroots ELT: Power to the Teacher and therefore ties in well with some of the things that have come out of IATEFL this year. The main conference is on 6th and 7th May, and so with less than two weeks until it kicks off, we’re excited to give you a rundown of what to expect from the event this year.

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The OH garden in the Barcelona sunshine

Pre-Party: This year the conference begins a little earlier with an ELTjam Pre-Party on the Thursday night, the 5th May. This is a chance for some informal chatting and networking and we’ll have talks from ELTjam staff and guests on topics around communication and interaction, with a focus on the local Barcelona education and start-up scene. Tickets are free. Come one, come all and enjoy a free local craft ale on us. Register here.

PCE: As another first this year, we also have a range of Pre-Conference Training sessions on the Friday before the main conference begins.  The two sessions from ELTjam (on ELT in the Digital Age, and Learner Experience Design (LXD)) filled up quickly so we have opened a second session for each and there are a few slots left. Nick Robinson and I will be delivering the sessions and you can expect to see us running from room to room, presenting and helping attendees as they learn, share and collaborate. And if teacher training and leadership are more up your street, there are still seats left in OH’s great PCE sessions running at the same time. Tickets to all sessions here.

Loads more plenaries: This year we have 9 mini-plenaries. All slots were applied for rather than automatically going to well-known (white, male) ELT celebrities (although we do have some of them too!), and we’re really excited about all the topics. Expect to hear talks on learner empowerment, professional equality, native speakerism, English as a lingua franca and personalisation, amongst other things. Exciting!

Local food and drink: This year we not only welcome back Espiga as craft beer sponsor and provide Vermut from local organisation Morro Fi, we also have catering from the local Sambucus Cooperativa, with an amazing selection of Catalan food.

Artwork: This year we wanted to bring a bit more colour and style to the conference, so we teamed up with local artist duo Alejandra Atares Abad and Laura Gómez García to make limited edition tote bags and beer labels for the conference. The pair will also be there doing a live mural in the Oxford House garden during the conference so we get to see some iELT artwork being created.

The conference itself: At its core, Innovate ELT is about learning, sharing and collaborating, and there are so many great opportunities to develop, network and socialise this year. We have loads of great sessions, panel discussions, demo lessons, team presenting, mingle activities, group tasks and a massive ice-breaker! Check out the schedule here.

Pathways: To help you navigate the packed schedule, we have introduced seven pathways through the sessions. So whether you’re into, whether it be activism and equality, EdTech or young learners we have suggestions for the talks you might be most interested in, spread out throughout the conference.

Last year was a great success and this year promises to be even better. More info can be found on the website, and tickets are available here for the PCE sessions and the main conference.

You can follow @InnovateELT on Twitter and the #iELT16 hashtag for updates.

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