News

You can read recent blog posts below or choose one of these filters.
activities  |  barcelona  |  cinema  music  |  sagrada familia  teaching  |  theatre  writing  |


The valley and the dales

Vall de Llémena

So what does the Vall de Llémena near Girona (pictured here) have in common with the IATEFL conference in Harrogate (on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales)? Well, let's talk about the conference first. This year's IATEFL was special for different reasons. To start with, it's been four years since the conference was last held in Harrogate and therefore four years since the launch of Lindsay Clandfield's course Global, my first project for Macmillan. It was at the same conference that I'd had lunch with Emily Rosser and Dulcie Fry which marked the beginning of what was then called the NISC (New International Secondary Course). The NISC went on to become Beyond which we launched at this year's conference but more about that soon. 

This year's conference was also special because I received a Language Learner Literature Award for The Green Room which I wrote for Helbling Languages. I hadn't realised beforehand that I was expected to say a few words at the awards ceremony. In hindsight, maybe it was better not to have known. The last time I prepared an acceptance speech for the ELTons, I didn't win the award. There's something magical about being handed a microphone. Being a singer, I love microphones but the truth is I'd much rather sing than speak into one. There was a video interview with Jennifer Basset too. At one point we were asked if we ever wished we could write 'real books' ...

But the best thing about IATEFL is going to talks and workshops and suddenly feeling inspired again. It's so often the speakers you've never heard of who turn out to be the most inspiring. So, even though we only finished the main writing of Beyond the day before we set out to Harrogate, I left the conference with so many ideas and wanting to start writing again. Which brings us to the Llémena valley and a long walk through woods, down mountains, across rivers, and into some of the most beautiful and magical countryside I know. The surroundings were as inspiring as the conference and as soon as I got home, I found myself adding more notes to the notes I'd already made at IATEFL.  Now it's just a question of turning those ideas into words...