The IATEFL experience through the eyes of our Scholarship winner

One of the ways TDSIG gets involved with IATEFL is through our scholarship; every year we invite people to apply for the Michael Berman Scholarship, with the winner getting the chance to attend the IATEFL conference and our Pre-Conference Event. This year we were happy to have Gerhard Erasmus over from Taiwan. This post is part of a mini-series that Gerhard has written for us – the IATEFL experience through the eyes of our scholarship winner.

Having the opportunity to attend my first IATEFL conference in person is probably the most exciting thing that has happened to me this year and I was delighted when I received the email. The purpose of this series of posts is to document my journey to, at, and after the conference, but also to encourage others to apply for the IATEFL scholarships in the future. Since becoming a member, I have always watched the streamed talks and while they are excellent, there is nothing like being there in person and I am already planning to attend again in Liverpool next year.


Gerhard (centre), with Joint Coordinators Sinéad and Tyson

It was awesome […] Over the last decade I’ve been to lots of conferences, but IATEFL is quality on another level. I can’t thank you enough.

Gerhard Erasmus

Before the conference

The majority of my time before the conference involved getting ready for my talk and generating data from the development programs I work with in my context. This involved getting meetups going in Taiwan where teachers could meet and share ideas and arranging a few workshops to help with the development of teachers in my context. There was a lot of IATEFL promotion happening and this was made easier by the novel approach TDSIG has taken with Developod, Facebook Live videos and the blogposts.

During the conference

The Pre-conference event (PCE)

The PCE was hosted by TDSIG and LAMSIG and focused on whether personalized professional development was indeed possible. There were four excellent talks focusing on how this is done in different contexts.

Fiona Wiebusch and Clare Magee highlighted the importance of creating platforms, followed by flaming passion (where do you want to develop and what really interests you), supplying the ‘time, space and money’, and finally working towards evolution rather than revolution.


Ed Russell spoke about trusting your teachers to develop and giving them the opportunity to do so. He highlighted the importance of Professional Development Groups where teachers can work together to address puzzles (rather than problems) and allowing them to research and reflect, experiment and then share.

Liam Tyrell shared his vision for creating culture change by picturing what it looks like, finding allies in the Silent Majority (teachers who are excellent teachers but not always vocal), making sure that everyone does at least something, and adjusting hiring practices to hire the people that fit into the culture of your organisation.


Ania Kolbuszewska spoke about the difficulties of dealing with teachers teaching different languages and the importance of cross cultural communication and understanding. She highlighted the importance of understanding how different people, languages and cultures view CPD and addressed these issues by ensuring that there is a reality that everyone buys into, and to ensure that loaded terms are avoided while providing opportunities and space to develop.

These four talks were followed by Open Spaces in which we were put into groups and allowed to explore selected areas in more depth. There were a few coffee breaks, a fantastic lunch and some delicious ice cream to ensure the day was a massive success.

Did you come to the LAMTDSIG Pre-Conference Event? What were your takeaways from the day? Leave us a comment below – and keep your eyes on the TDSIG blog for parts two and three of Gerhard’s IATEFL experience!