English Language Teachers’ Association of India (ELTAI)


Our Association had a humble beginning and has grown into one of the largest professional associations of teachers in the world just like a tiny seed becoming in course of time a big Banyan tree. It started with just six members, all belonging to just one city, Chennai, and has grown into a fairly big organization with 3864 members and 40 chapters in different parts of our country. You may wonder how it happened. Well, it is quite an interesting saga.

Journal first, Association later!

It is interesting to note that our Journal was started first and our Association much later. Why and how did it happen? As early as 1974, The Journal of English Language Teaching (JELT) —the first of its kind in our country — was published, thanks to one of the well-known educationists of that time, the late Padmashree S. Natarajan. He really wanted to start a professional association of teachers of English but he knew that teachers would not join it and pay a subscription without some incentive. So he decided to tell teachers they would get a free copy of the Journal if they joined the English Language Teachers’ Association once it was started.

The Journal of English Language Teaching was thus first started and it provided an opportunity for the teachers to get themselves acquainted with recent research findings in the teaching of English and also share their experiences with others. He priced it just a rupee per copy and almost single-handedly promoted its sale. He visited schools and colleges and requested them to subscribe for it. Purely out of pure regard for him some subscribed, but he didn’t give up. He wrote letters to the heads of a few well-known educational institutions in the state requesting them to subscribe for the Journal. He did not have a typewriter nor anyone to assist him and he was, in fact, in poor health with failing eyesight, but with missionary zeal he wrote letters with his own hand and thus did the canvassing. Then there was also the paucity of articles for publication. He requested his close friends — one or two — to write almost for every issue. The point is the Journal saw the light of day only due to the persistent efforts of this old man. At the beginning only a hundred copies were printed and in fact some remained unsold. But he didn’t give up and soon the circulation went up. But unfortunately it never went beyond 400 copies or so.

ELTAI is born!

Eleven years later — in 1985 — Mr. Natarajan started the English Language Teachers’ Association of India (ELTAI). A small group of teachers, including the writer — just six of us — met at his residence. We had a discussion on the importance of professional development of teachers as a key factor in enhancing the standards of education in our country. At that time there were only trade unions of teachers concerned with working for the improvement of their service conditions. At our meeting he mooted the idea of starting an Association of teachers concerned with organizing teacher development programmes — seminars and workshops — for them. We all agreed and assured him of our help in his great venture. He said enrolment of members of the new association would be easier if we said all members of the Association would get a free copy of Journal. Thus our Association came into being and we were able to enrol about 256 members only.

Promoting ELTAI — New strategies

After the passing away of our Founder in 1974, a new team of office-bearers took charge of the Association and decided to carry forward the good work initiated by him, adopting certain new strategies.

For enrolling members it was decided to conduct a number of workshops, seminars and refresher courses for teachers of English. Schools and colleges were contacted and they were told no fees would be charged for their teachers to attend these staff development programmes.

At the events we organized teachers were told about the benefits of joining ELTAI – a free copy of our Journal, opportunities provided for the improvement of their teaching competence, interacting with ELT professionals and also for getting their papers published in our Journal. This strategy is working well and we still have teachers coming forward to join ELTAI.

Another strategy adopted was to provide cash awards for teachers undertaking action research and also for using ICT tools in teaching English. The allotment of some subsidised memberships offered by IATEFL to our members has also helped to enrol new members, besides familiarizing them with the great work done by IATEFL.

Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

There are two Special Interest Groups — English Literature SIG and Computer Technology SIG — both of which quite active. The former has been running an e-journal — Journal of Teaching and Research in English Literature — for the past five years. The other SIG has been publishing its own e-journal — Journal of Computer Technology for ELT. These two open access journals may easily be accessed on the web by clicking on the direct links given to on the home page of our website at www.eltai.in

IATEFL and Hornby Trust Projects

ELTAI was the first recipient of the IATEFL Project grant along with another country in Europe. We received a handsome grant of GPB3000 for our innovative project on Training the Trainers in Virtual Learning. A group of 17 teachers were selected from all over the country and were trained in using web tools in ELT. They were then required to train teachers in their area.

Training our teachers - a room of teachers at computers

Another project undertaken by our Association, with support from the Hornby Trust, UK, was on training teachers in using smart phones for the teaching and learning of English.

The project now in progress relates to our ‘Shakespeare lives – 2016’ celebrations undertaken in collaboration with the British Council in six different cities in India. Competitions for students in soliloquies, a quiz and enacting a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays are some of the events. Seminars are being organized for teachers for discussing the relevance of  the playwright’s works for all ages and cultures.

Annual conferences

Conference - teachers watching a presentation

We hold our annual conferences regularly and they are international too. They are attended by not less than 600 teachers every year.

ELTAI: an Associate of IATEFL

As an Associate of IATEFL, we are able to provide a fixed number of subsidized memberships of the world organization to our members. Almost every year a member is sent to attend the IATEFL conference with some financial assistance from us. A few have won IATEFL scholarships too to attend the international event. There have been a few contributions too from our members during the recent years for publication in Voices [the IATEFL magazine/journal which all members receive for free].

We have had a few IATEFL representatives too at our annual conferences — Peter Grundy when he was the President, as well as Jeremy Harmer, Eric Baber and George Pickering.

Online Discussion Forums

Opportunities for our members to interact with one another and also to give them updates about our association are provided by our Google group discussion forum. Members of the Computer Technology for ELT SIG have got a separate online forum too.

Collaboration with the British Council

The British Council has been collaborating with us in a range of our activities for a number of years now. It provides a plenary speaker for our annual conferences. Along with the IATEFL and Hornby Trust it has provided support to us in carrying out successfully our projects on virtual learning and mobile learning. It has also sponsored an ELTAI member to attend the IATEFL annual conference in some years.

Looking ahead

Our target for the current year is to enrol at least another 500 members.

We hope to start a separate website for providing the e-version of our Journal. At present members may access it only on our website.

If you’d like to find out more about ELTAI or our journals, you can visit the websitefacebook or Twitter.

About Dr. S. Rajagopalan

Dr S Rajagopalan

A former British Council scholar, an alumnus of the London University Institute of Education and former Professor and Dean, Annamalai University in South India. Patron, ELTAI.  He can be reached at srajagopalan7 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Research Special Interest Group (ReSIG) (Nicola Perry)

The Research Special Interest Group (ReSIG) brings together people who are interested in doing research in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). It is a broad organisation made up of, not only academics, but also other practitioner researchers, especially a growing number of teachers engaged in action research. The SIG aims to promote and support early-stage practitioner researchers taking their first steps in research. In addition, we provide a professional home for more experienced researchers who wish to engage with a community addressing key issues within ELT research and practice.


ReSIG’s mission to promote and support teacher researchers is borne out by three publications in the last two years: Teacher-researchers in Action, Teachers Research!, both published in 2015, and Teachers Engaging in Research, published in 2016*. These publications are the result of support for projects encouraging research, followed by conferences to present it. Teachers Research! was the result of an event in 2014. This in turn led to an event in Turkey in 2015 which produced Teachers Engaging in Research. In 2016, there was the ‘Teachers Research! Chile’ conference, from which we eagerly await the next publication.

Other regular publications include an annual newsletter, containing not only research papers but other articles related to research and classroom practice, book reviews, reports on events and interviews. We also produce an e-news mailing for our members three times a year to keep them up-to-date with regular events and webinars.


A regular event in the ReSIG calendar is the online discussion. Running 3 or 4 times a year over a 2- or 3-week period, the discussion centres on a theme, defined by a series of questions, concepts or readings. The most recent one was entitled ‘Views of ELT History’ and was a warmer for the ReSiG pre-conference event in Glasgow in April 2017. I imagine, like me, most people would not think English language learning and teaching has much of a history. However, we all have views about the past which may influence our view of the profession and our place in it. We often assume that things have progressed and that the present is an improvement on what went before. From this discussion, it seems that there may be a lot of ‘myths’ or clichés about the past which historical research can dispel – for example, particular views about how methods have developed, or how much or how little teachers used to use the students’ mother tongue or ‘communicative activities’ in their practice. The profession is much older than I imagined and its history is fascinating. The discussion is available to everyone and can be found on our Yahoo group. The easiest way to access it is through the ReSiG website.

Opportunities to present research are important to academics and teachers alike so a key element of what we do is supporting conferences and offering scholarships to attend them. This year, the 2nd RESIG Teacher Research Conference took place at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul. Held in June, plenary speakers included Derin Atay, Anne Burns, Kenan Dikilitaş, Judith Hanks, Richard Smith and Mark Wyatt. The speakers highlighted recent developments in teacher research with a focus on different aspects of research engagement.

Earlier in the year, a significant event for ReSIG was the conference for teacher-research in ELT, ‘Teachers Research! Chile 2016′, held on 19 March 2016. The conference was supported by the British Council Aptis for Teachers and IATEFL ReSIG. It also offered two scholarships which enabled teachers from Argentina and Brazil to attend. The two scholarship winners were Laura Aza from Argentina and Debora Oss from Brazil. They each gave excellent poster presentations. Under the slogan, ‘Presentations of research by teachers across Latin America for other teachers’, the conference attracted around 150 participants, with presenters coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. The event was remarkable for placing teachers at centre-stage from beginning to end.

In 2017, we are supporting an online event, Classroom-based Research for Professional Development EVO 2017. The aim of this project is to provide a hands-on introduction to inquiry-based teacher development, especially for teachers working in difficult circumstances (large classes, low-resource classrooms, etc.). The project takes participants through different stages of teacher-research, engaging them in practical activities which will gradually build their confidence in this area.

IATEFL Research SIG Pre-Conference Event, Glasgow, 3rd April 2017

This one-day event aims to show how uncovering ELT history can provide useful new perspectives, both for our own professional practice and for the field more generally. The day-long workshop will be of interest and use to practising teachers and teacher educators as well as to students currently researching their own topics, historical or otherwise.

The day will be led by Richard Smith and Friederike Klippel. Richard is a Reader in ELT & Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick, where he teaches and supervises MA and PhD students. Friederike Klippel held the Chair of English Language Education (ELT/TESOL) at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich from 1994 to 2015. In the academic year 2016-17 she is guest professor for TEFL at the University of Vienna. She has published on a wide range of aspects concerning English language teaching and language teacher education.

This PCE is proving very popular but you still have time to get the early bird discount rate if you get your booking in before 12 January.

Find out more

If you are interested in learning more about the ReSIG, please take a look at our website to find out about our events and upcoming webinars. You can download the books discussed earlier and you should take a look in the Resources section. There is a plethora of useful, interesting and exciting material in there. A real treasure trove! Go and have a look!

We’re also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/iateflresig and you can follow us on Twitter @IATEFLresig.

We are always happy to welcome new members. Please come and join us!


Teacher-researchers in Action, edited by Kenan Dikilitas, Richard Smith and Wayne Trotman (2015)

Teachers Research!, edited by Deborah Bullock and Richard Smith (2015)

Teachers Engaging in Research, edited by Kenan Dikilitas, Mark Wyatt, Judith Hands and Deborah Bullock (2016)

About Nicola

Nicola Perry

Nicola is an EFL teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer, working on projects all over the world and currently in Mauritania. She has an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. One of her research interests is in developing learner independence and encouraging teachers to become aware of how their own beliefs about education affect what they do in the classroom. She is on the IATEFL Membership Committee and the ReSiG committee.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. If you’re not a member, find out more about joining. We look forward to hearing from you!

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The Saudi Organization of EFL Education (Dr. Tahany Albaiz)

Supervised and operated by the English Language Institute at the University of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi logo

Although the English language Institute started as a branch, it has become an independent institute within the second public university in the vibrant city of Jeddah, The University of Jeddah. To grow even bigger and bigger, we decided to join the prominent IATEFL in 2015 and named our IATEFL organization The Saudi Organization of EFL Education. It is the second IATEFL associate in Saudi Arabia, along with KSAALT TESOL.

At the organization we planned many training courses that aimed at improving professional skills of language instructors across the institute. To make our professional development efforts more interactive and global at the same time, we’ve chosen to associate ourselves with the IATEFL, benefiting from a variety of webinars that offer up-to-date topics related to teaching English.

One of the strong starts for the Saudi Organization is being one of the main sponsors of the 1st International Conference of EFL Education which was held in Jeddah in October 31st till November 2nd. With the Saudi Organization of EFL Education as one of the exhibitors at the conference as well, we have collected many members who are very much interested in applying for membership.

Saudi conference info

As our future sustainable plans, we are aiming at establishing a plan that connects our activities with the Saudi Vision 2030, leading to enhancing language proficiency all over the country and extending regionally and globally. We also aim at not just being sponsors of conferences, we aim at organizing our own independent conference in the Gulf area. Our website is now under construction and will be launched soon. We can be contacted via our emails:

Dr. Saeed Aburizaizah (saburizaizah@uj.edu.sa)

Dr. Tahany Albaiz (talbeiz@uj.edu.sa)

Dr. Sahbi Hidri (shidri@uj.edu.sa)

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Why LAMSIG? (by Andy Hockley)

Management wordcloudPerhaps you’ve recently moved from being a teacher to some form of management role – maybe senior teacher, ADOS, Academic Manager, Coordinator, Director of Studies or some other role or title. You’ve probably faced a few challenges in making that transition (see my article from a few years ago for some of those challenges and some advice). You might have been in a management position for a while, and you may even own your own school.

One of the challenges that managers often face can be a sense of isolation – as teachers we have a ready-made network, a staff room, where we can chat and connect to other professionals doing the same job as us. We can ask for advice, complain about the coursebook, laugh about something that happened in class, and generally have a close professional relationship with a group of our peers.

LAMSIG members at an eventManagers, however, typically don’t have that convenient network, that community of practice. In a large organisation it’s possible you do have peers at your level, but in many cases you are working on your own, and while you hopefully have a good working relationship with the teachers, you are now working in a different area of focus and you can’t share the same stories and bounce ideas off people in the same way.

So, clearly then, a professional network, a community of practice for academic managers, would be a worthwhile and useful thing. And if you can’t find that in-house, then it will have to be outside.

One of the best ways to find a supportive and professional network is through the IATEFL Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (LAMSIG). As the coordinator of LAMSIG I’d like to share with you some of the things we offer and how we feel we can help you.

Face to face Training

A LAMSIG training sessionWhile there are dedicated training courses for managers in language teaching organisations, like the IDLTM and DELTM for example, it is possible that you don’t have the time or access to the resources that would make such a course a viable proposition. LAMSIG offers shorter more focussed training held at least twice a year.  Prior to the IATEFL conference itself we annually run a pre-conference event (PCE), a training day for those attending the conference (or, indeed, those not attending the conference – there is no requirement that you attend the whole conference if you wish to simply attend the PCE). In recent years we have held PCEs on performance management, continuing professional development, managing difficult people and conflicts, preventing burnout, and teamwork. The next PCE in Glasgow next April will be on “Ethical and Effective Recruitment and Induction”.


Slide: Encouraging teachers to take charge of their own CPDLAMSIG runs 3 webinars a year which are open to all and completely free. Past webinars can be watched as recordings for those who are not able to attend live, and are available to everyone. Among the webinars that have so far been held (and which are still available for viewing) are “How to do ELT management research”, “Coaching and mentoring in ELT”, “Appraisals”, “Revitalising coasting teachers” and “Encouraging teachers to take charge of their own CPD”. All those recordings can be accessed from the LAMSIG webinar page.

Conferences or other similar events

Conference hallLAMSIG partners in a number of conferences – either one-offs or with partners in annual events.  In recent years we have held or been involved in events in Barcelona, Brighton, Abu Dhabi, London, Dublin, and most recently Warsaw. In February 2017 we will be partnering for the third consecutive year with International House Barcelona in their annual conference.


April 2016 LAMSIG newsletterLAMSIG members receive two print newsletters and one online e-bulletin per year, with articles and advice written by managers all over the world. This is a great resource for those managing in ELT and the only one of its kind.


Selected articles from old newsletters are freely available on the LAMSIG website, a resource which many managers make great use of.

Online Community

As well as the website and the various resources contained therein, we have a very active facebook page, on which interesting and relevant articles are regularly posted, a twitter account which also connects ELT managers around the world, and a LinkedIn group for academic managers.

As you can see, as an academic manager you are far from alone. Check out the LAMSIG website, see what we can offer you, and how you can become part of a global community of practice. Join LAMSIG – and get discounts on events and receive the newsletters. And, if there is something we could offer but we are not doing, let us know and we will see what we can do. Finally – get involved. As with everything the more you put into something the more you will tend to get out of it. You have lots to offer to our community too, and we’d love to get your input, participation and contributions.


Andy Hockley

Andy Hockley is the co-ordinator of LAMSIG and is a freelance educational management consultant and trainer based in deepest Transylvania. He has been training (both teachers and managers) for 20 years and has been coordinating and training on the IDLTM (International Diploma in Language Teaching Management) since its inception in 2001. He is co-author of ‘From Teacher to Manager’ (CUP, 2008), ‘Managing Education in the Digital Age’ (The Round, 2014) and author of ‘Educational Management’ (Polirom, 2007).

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. If you’re not a member, find out more about joining. We look forward to hearing from you!

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How IATEFL shaped my journey (Gerhard Erasmus)

Like many other teachers around the world, my route into ELT was poorly planned and probably a little haphazard at best. I came to Asia having quit a career I did not enjoy back home and with little in terms of what to actually expect. My only teaching experience was limited to tutoring math, teaching sales people how to use an HP10B financial calculator to calculate vehicle loan repayments and coaching chess. Looking back, I should probably have done a CELTA way before starting in ELT, but I didn’t. By the time I decided that I actually enjoyed teaching and wanted to keep doing it, I was in a race to get myself qualified and find role models. Unfortunately, in Asia, that is a little harder than one would probably expect it to be. At first, it was easy to find senior teachers or examiners willing to chat over a beer, but soon, I felt like I had outgrown that kind of professional development and wanted something more. My wife and I started a small language school and soon I was the person people were asking for advice. I realized how little I actually knew and to be honest, I was embarrassed by it. I had done a few TEFL certificates, but nothing as robust as a CELTA or Trinity Cert.

At that point, I joined IATEFL for the first time. Due to the costs of studying (I did a Delta, MSc Ed and a PGCE, but not all at once), I let my membership lapse for about two years until my studies were completed and then rejoined. Overall, I have now been a member for about 5 years. I have remained a member mostly because I really find it worth the while. The webinars and magazines have a wealth of information that I could apply not only to my school, but also to people asking me for advice. I was aghast at the poor advice I was given by people early in my teaching career and the idea of being in contact with people who actually take this ELT thingy seriously was a breath of fresh air. I promised myself to always make sure I have role models that I can look up to and people that I could learn from and that I would never give the type of poor advice I had received when I started. IATEFL supplied this and more. I have made great contacts through the years and learned a lot. I am currently a member of quite a few Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and all for their own reasons.

  • YLTSIG (Young Learners and Teenagers) – In Asia, young learner teaching and examining is a huge part of the market.
  • LAMSIG (Leadership and Management) – I had to learn how to manage my teachers and school better and used lots of their articles in my Delta module 3 as I did it on ELT management
  • TDSIG (Teacher Development) and TT&ESIG (Teacher Training and Education) – To help me develop my training skills
  • TEASIG (Testing, Evaluation and Assessment) – As a big part of what I do now is examining and assessment and occasionally training assessors and examiners
  • MaWSIG (Materials Writing) – And this has actually lead to some writing work that has been very rewarding.

I also subscribe to most of what is available through IATEFL in terms of magazine and other subscriptions and find that although there’s a lot of reading, I have remained true to what I set out to do, which is learn and find role models and hopefully be a role model for others.

So, what exactly did I do?

Meet people

Finding the role models was actually fairly easy. If you find an article that really appeals to you, email the author. Very often they are more than willing to answer questions and direct you to other reading. I have managed to connect with some of these people on Facebook or at seminars and conferences, and they have introduced me to others.

Write and contribute

Once you’ve read the publications a few times, why not contribute. It’s great for development and one of the reasons I am writing this. Magazines like the SIG publications or ETP or Modern English Teacher are always looking for articles. You might not get published immediately, but the process is well worth going through. If the idea of writing an article is daunting, why not start with a review or a blog post, perhaps for the IATEFL blog?

Watch the webinars

There are so many it is often hard to choose. Actually seeing people at conferences or seminars that have done webinars is a great conversation starter and again puts you in contact with people in the industry that actually make a career out of it, and that is what I really wanted; to make a career out of teaching.

Attend the conferences

This, unfortunately, is not something I have been able to do, but it is on my list of things to do. I would love for more IATEFL conferences to take place outside of Europe, but considering that the main conference is often streamed online, there is no reason to not take advantage of this.

In short, I don’t think I would even have known what Delta was had I not joined IATEFL and the people I have met, webinars I have watched and articles I have read have made every cent I spent on membership and subscriptions worthwhile. I look at myself 15 years ago and think “I have grown into something I can be happy with.” I am hoping I can do the same for others. The role of IATEFL in this process has been amazing and I hope others get to experience it as well.


Gerhard Erasmus is currently the Director of Studies at a language centre in Taipei, Taiwan, and actively involved in teacher training, from entry-level qualifications to tutoring on the Cambridge Delta. He has authored a Young Learners series and co-authored the ebook Brainstorming with Hall Houston. His main area of interest in ELT is teacher development, including continuous professional development. He has recently become a member of the YLTSIG committee. You can contact him at heimuoshu@hotmail.com

Gerhard Erasmus

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Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA)

BELTA logo

The Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA) is a registered non-profit professional forum for ELT practitioners in Bangladesh, a country in South Asia, small in size but with a massive population. BELTA was first established in 1984 and was an active forum for more than a decade when it provided a robust direction to the English Language teaching community, particularly at the regional level.

Unfortunately, during the nineties BELTA remained dormant but, in September 2003, after a spate of strong lobbying by a number of forward-looking English language teachers, it was officially revived and an ad-hoc committee was formed before an elected Executive body took over. Since then, BELTA has not looked back. It now has a membership of nearly 2500 with thirteen regional chapters besides two SIGs – Young Learners and Assessment.

BELTA’s mission is to link and support English Language teaching professionals throughout the country and thus contribute to improving teaching/learning and subsequent capacity building of the learners themselves. Its objectives are to assist in developing and empowering English teachers (primary and secondary levels), to facilitate effective communication within the English language teaching community and to enable teachers to network and find their own voice.

In recent years, BELTA has additionally focused on the following:

  • Reaching out to teachers in marginalized communities.
  • Focusing on teachers in 30/40-year age group in order to promote young teacher engagement and encourage the growth of leadership amongst them.
  • Promoting tolerance and appreciation for diverse religious and ethnic groups by selectively targeting teacher participants, particularly in the outreach ELT programs.
  • Expanding the outreach focus to women teachers with a knock-on effect on empowering girls as most women teachers are based in girls’ schools.
  • Encouraging the use of technology and encouraging members to take up opportunities for teacher development through MOOCs and free on-line courses on offer.

BELTA has international links with IATEFL, TESOL, AsiaTEFL, JALT, MELTASPELT, NELTA and AINET. It has MOUs (memorandum of understanding) with most of them which facilitates one member (sometimes two) from each TA to participate in the annual international conference of the other TAs. In addition, registration is waived and accommodation is also provided. Over the last 25 years, BELTA has actively participated in a number of collaborative projects in the South Asia region. Below I will describe one such project.

Sharing Best Practices: Strengthening Teachers Associations in South Asia

A six-day intensive seminar in December 2011, sponsored by the British Council, brought together 30 members of seven South Asian English Language Teachers Associations in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Organized as a retreat in an idyllic location in a lush-green suburb, it brought together TA [Teaching Association] reps from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan and Iran. Each TA was represented by four members – a mix of experienced and newer members.

The objective of this seminar was to enable TA participants to share best practices and learn specific skills related to running and extending their associations effectively. In addition, it explored ways of creating stronger links between TAs in the region. The sessions focused on strategic planning, financial management, marketing, fund-raising & sponsorship, promoting transparent succession planning and raising the confidence levels of less experienced members in their volunteer roles. The participants gave joint presentations about their own TAs, and shared success stores and challenges. On the final day, TAs delivered short presentations on the post-seminar projects which they had designed and would be carrying out.

During the seminar, a sub-committee looked into future regional co-operation between the TAs. The following proposals were made:

  • Signing Memorandums of Understanding which would include the exchange of newsletters, journals, sharing of information regarding visiting speaker itineraries and annual conferences and a waiving of conference registration fees.
  • Participation in Peer Support Reviews, in which TAs would self-assess themselves and then be peer reviewed by TA members from other TAs at their annual conference.
  • Exploring opportunities for future collaboration by setting up a Virtual Learning Environment or a Discussion Forum e.g. Yahoo group.
  • In the longer term, organising a regional conference and carrying out joint research.

The longer term success of this seminar needs to be evaluated through the performance and the commitment of the TAs, and the extent to which TA representatives are carrying out their post-workshop projects. With regards to BELTA, we have organised workshops to address issues BELTA had identified as major challenges – ‘Personal Effectiveness’ and ‘Leadership Growth’. BELTA had also identified the challenge of keeping its regional Chapters alive and interested. With this in view, a bilingual Chapter Handbook has been devised, providing realistic and user-friendly guidelines for new Chapters to be mentored and to develop into effective TA entities.

The most significant post-seminar outcome was the Peer Support Review (PSR) that was initiated in Sri Lanka during SLELTA‘s International Conference the following year. Again supported by the British Council, two representatives from among the seven TAs attended – first undertaking training on PSR, then carrying out the actual review and finally giving feedback to the host TA, SLELTA. Simultaneously, the visiting participants represented their respective TAs on a Panel Discussion and presented papers at the SLELTA conference. Similar PSRs were carried out later at other conferences, including during BELTA’s international conference in 2015.

To conclude, although BELTA members all have regular jobs with professional, social and personal commitments, BELTA is fortunate in having a core group of motivated and hard-working individuals who believe in the following: Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.

About Arifa

Arifa Rahman

Arifa Rahman, Ph.D, Professor of English Language & Teacher Education, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Immediate Past President, BELTA, is an English language teacher-educator and researcher. She is also an editor, reviewer and educational consultant. With numerous international publications, she has presented widely at national and international conferences. She is passionately involved with BELTA activities. You can contact her on arifa73@yahoo.com and you can also visit BELTA’s website.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Introducing Pronunciation Special Interest Group (PronSIG)

Why PronSIG?

Pronunciation is often a relatively small part of teacher training programs. When we are thrown into the classroom, we have little guidance regarding how to answer the many pronunciation questions that our students have.

Many teachers (both native and non-native English speakers) lack the confidence to teach pronunciation because they don’t sound like the speakers on the CDs that come with our textbooks, but pronunciation is arguably the most important part of learning a language. At least that is what we believe in PronSIG.

I transitioned from being a general Business English teacher to focusing only on pronunciation training because I found that this is the area that holds my students back the most. Despite having studied English for many, many years, they worry about being judged not for what they say, but how they say it.

As members of PronSIG, we are passionate about helping our students speak up in the world. We are interested in pronunciation and its relationship with other language skills, particularly listening. We are all about encouraging and promoting best practice in pronunciation teaching across a range of contexts, from young learners to professional and academic English.

Who is PronSIG for?

PronSIG members attending the PronSIG pre-conference event (PCE) at this year’s IATEFL conference in Birmingham.

PronSIG members attending the PronSIG pre-conference event (PCE) at this year’s IATEFL conference in Birmingham.

PronSIG is filled with a great mix of teachers, accent specialists and the top researchers and authors in this field. I was intellectually star-struck when I attended my very first PronSIG event (the PronSIG PCE in Manchester two years ago) to find myself surrounded by the authors of all my favorite pronunciation textbooks and references.

No one eats alone! A group of PronSIG members have dinner together before a one-day event in Dublin last year.

No one eats alone! A group of PronSIG members have dinner together before a one-day event in Dublin last year.

The warm and welcoming attitude of the members of this closely-knit community can be felt from the minute you walk in the door. It is a place for open sharing, learning and dialogue. We truly enjoy each other’s company and have a “no one eats alone” rule that has led to us organizing many casual dinners and get-togethers in conjunction with our live events.

All are welcome in PronSIG. Whether you are a teacher looking for practical pronunciation activities to apply to the classroom, or a researcher who likes to discuss global trends in English pronunciation, you’ll feel at home in this community.

PronSIG Events

In addition to our yearly PCE at the spring IATEFL conference in the UK, we organize one or two other live events, as well as online webinars throughout the year. Just this last weekend in Brighton, we had a fascinating one-day event, Different Voices, featuring plenary speakers John Wells and Adrian Underhill in addition to a strong panel of 12 additional speakers running breakout sessions. The day’s topics covered everything from intonation to the physicality of creating sounds, to specific pronunciation exercises that can be applied to the classroom.

Some of the speakers and participants attending the Different Voices event last weekend in Brighton.

Some of the speakers and participants attending the Different Voices event last weekend in Brighton.

Our most exciting PCE is coming up at the next IATEFL conference in Glasgow, where we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Jones’ landmark English Pronouncing Dictionary. Featured presenters include the editors of the current edition of Daniel Jones’ dictionary (Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, 18th Edition), Peter Roach, Jane Setter and Robin Walker. They’ll be walking us through a century of changes and developments in English pronunciation. You can learn more and register on the IATEFL website.

SpeakOut! The Journal of the IATEFL PronSIG

Speak Out! The Journal of the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group, now in it’s 55th issue.

Speak Out! The Journal of the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group, now in it’s 55th issue.

The PronSIG Journal, SpeakOut!, is a biannual publication featuring articles and reviews on pronunciation and listening. It is a leading resource for pronunciation professionals and researchers worldwide. The 55th issue was just released last month.

The journal is free for members of PronSIG, and non-members can purchase past issues through IATEFL. You can view “tasters” of past issues on our website, including activities you can try out in the classroom.

Learn more about Pronunciation and PronSIG

We welcome you to attend our events (both live and virtual), follow us on social media and subscribe to our SIG journal, SpeakOut!.

PronSIG website screenshot

We have an active presence on Facebook and Twitter and you can learn much more about us and our upcoming events on our website.

About Heather


Heather Hansen is Director of the corporate training firm Global Speech Academy and is a member of the PronSIG organizing committee. Based in Denmark, she works globally delivering keynote talks, running corporate workshops and coaching leaders in pronunciation and presentation skills. She is creator of the online Pronunciation Mastery Program, has a significant YouTube following and is author/contributing author of 4 books.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. If you’re not a member, find out more about joining. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Simon Greenall

Simon Greenall is a long-time member and past president of IATEFL. He very kindly agreed to be the first individual member featured on the blog.

We’d like to feature posts by members from across the organisation, especially (but not exclusively!) if you’ve never written for IATEFL or for a blog before. If you’d like to find out more about how to join in, please contact blog@iatefl.org. And now, over to Simon…

Simon Greenall

Tell us a bit about you and your teaching career

I left university and went to work as a lecteur in the Université de Lyon 2, France, where I taught for six years. I belonged to the Faculty of English and the Continuing Education Department, and worked with undergraduates as well as mature students with specialized needs, such as learning English to be better equipped for the job markets, business English, legal English and even English for petro-chemical engineers and Galenic Pharmacists. For some of these courses, as the director of studies, I had to write specialized material, although it often transpired that many of these students already knew the specific lexis of their specialism but just wanted to be a member of an international linguistic community.

What inspired you to join IATEFL initially?

I returned to the UK in 1982 with a couple of book commissions and began work as a textbook writer. But I was very conscious that even after six years teaching, I still had an enormous amount to learn. IATEFL was and still is the highest profile and most accessible association for teachers this side of the Atlantic.

So for me, IATEFL was the fast track to developing my very limited knowledge of language teaching and to learn about teaching contexts beyond my own country-specific experience. This was essential not just for my own work but for my awareness of the international dimensions and requirements of ELT.

How long have you been a member? How has the organization changed over that time?

I suppose I must have joined in 1983 or 84. The first IATEFL conference I attended was at Strawberry Hill in London. It was small but very active and busy, and most notably with the same welcome as the vastly larger IATEFL conference offer today.

IATEFL came into existence at a time when ELT had yet to develop into the extensive industry it is today. At the time, English still wasn’t the international language it is today, but the professionalism showed by those early volunteers for the association was very apparent.

Over the years IATEFL has grown bigger and better in so many ways. In the same way that teachers are now professionalized by qualifications and students by the need for standardized assessment, IATEFL kept pace with the process of professionalization. It couldn’t have survived otherwise. But what I like especially about IATEFL is that its spirit of commitment to quality education and its friendly, relaxed support for its members and associates is the same as it was on a much smaller scale all those years ago. That’s an incredible achievement for such a large association with such an international and culturally varied outreach.

How would you summarise your experience of IATEFL?

As a rank-and-file member I saw IATEFL as essential to my professional development. As a young textbook writer, I gave presentations at the annual conference almost as a rite-of-passage and on one occasion attended by as many as four people.

As president of IATEFL from 1997–99 I achieved an overview of international ELT which would never otherwise have been possible. I met so many different people from teachers to publishers to other textbook writers to ministry officials and exam specialists. It also directly led to my work in China which has absorbed most of my time since I stepped down as president. No one in China knew my name or my books at that time, but they did know about IATEFL and my work as president. When my publishers suggested I might be suitable to join a team preparing a course for Junior High, Senior High and universities, my Chinese colleagues approved my appointment with enthusiasm. Thanks to IATEFL!

Are you a(n active) member of a SIG? What made you choose it? What do you get out of it?

I’m no longer an active member, but nevertheless I belong to the recently formed MAWSIG, the Materials Writing SIG, which despite a slow start, has become very active and, I believe, extremely helpful to people at any stage of their writing career.

Do you work with any other teaching associations or organisations? What makes IATEFL different?

No, I don’t belong to any other teaching associations, although I’ve attended conferences and done training in about fifty countries around the world.

In the 1990s, the British Council conference in Italy was the biggest event apart from the IATEFL annual conference. It was superbly organized and made a huge contribution to ELT in Italy and in the region. It was the first time I spoke to audiences of over 1000. TESOL was and remains an essential date in the ELT/ESOL calendar, although for my taste, it’s too big and impersonal now. TESOL Greece was a conference I attended regularly, and the friendliness of the organizers and participants was something I appreciated greatly. Conferences all over the world are motivated by the teachers’ pleasure in meeting professional colleagues and learning from them.

IATEFL has been fortunate to benefit from all the positive aspects of these and many other conferences I and other volunteers have attended, and I hope has avoided some of the negative aspects as well.

Can you share one activity, tip or resource that you’ve learnt about thanks to IATEFL? Why did you choose it?

Not really a tip or a resource, but I learned that what makes you suitable to be elected president of IATEFL was nothing to do with the skills you had used in the job. I discovered managerial skills which I didn’t know I had, and developed a great deal of self-confidence, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the daily issues of management and lose sight of the big picture. This was invaluable for everything I’ve ever done since.

Do you have any interesting stories to tell related to IATEFL? For example, from an event you’ve attended, a person you’ve met, or an idea you’ve used in the classroom.

I wish I could think of something funny, because I have the impression that alongside the hard work, there was a great deal of laughter and great fun to be had with people who were at the top of our profession.

One idea which disappeared: while I was president, we decided to carry out a makeover of the IATEFL brand, introducing its logo and its mission Linking, developing and supporting English Language Teaching professionals worldwide, both of which are still in use today. We also started to take a stand to our associates’ conference in the hope of raising membership. Jill Stajduhar, the Executive Officer at the time, asked for some publicity material for the back of the stand. We negotiated and developed a map of the world, not the usual Mercator Atlantic-centred one, but a Peters projection, Pacific-centred one, with the strapline: Join IATEFL and look at the world in a different way. I thought it was great, but we could only afford to print a hundred, which got sent to our associates, and then the whole idea got forgotten.

Why would you recommend joining IATEFL?

Friendly, efficient, committed, professional, highly organized – these are both the qualities of IATEFL’s teachers and volunteers and of the association itself. Long may it continue to perform its essential function in ELT!

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Q & A from Anne Margaret Smith’s webinar on including all students

On 10th September 2016, Anne Margaret Smith presented the following IATEFL webinar:

Including dyslexic language learners

In this session we will explore the main effects that dyslexia can have on language learning, and how we can support the dyslexic learners in our classes. Some of the principles that underpin inclusive teaching will be outlined and examples will be shown of how to put them into practice.

Thank you to the 200+ people who attended, and those listed below who asked questions. If you would like to watch the recording, you need to be a member of IATEFL (find out how to join), but you can read Anne’s answers to the questions below.


Dr Anne Margaret Smith has taught English for over 25 years in Kenya, Germany, Sweden and the UK. For the last 15 years she has combined this with working as a dyslexia specialist tutor and assessor. She founded ELT well with the intention of bringing together best practice from the two fields of English Language Teaching and Specific Learning Difference support. She now offers resources and training to teachers, as well as specialist 1:1 teaching to dyslexic learners.

Anne Margaret Smith

Is there a type of dyslexia that particularly affects listening and pronunciation?

As mentioned in the webinar, there is a large overlap between dyslexia and other SpLDs [Specific Learning Difficulties], which means that every individual who has dyslexia experiences it in a different way – in effect there are as many types of dyslexia as there are dyslexic people. Some people may well experience greater difficulty with processing auditory information and articulating sounds than with working with text, and it may be more helpful to think of this as their individual cognitive profile, rather than wondering which ‘type’ of SpLD it may be.

Is it more a reading disorder?

In some countries (notably the USA) the term ‘reading disability’ is commonly used as a synonym for dyslexia, but in my opinion this is a rather narrow view of a very complex phenomenon. The difficulties that some dyslexic people experience with reading are usually just the surface features caused by underlying issues with visual and phonological processing and memory, which will at some point also affect other aspects of life.

How can we test students with learning differences on standardized tests?

We need to be clear about two things here. First: exactly what it is we are hoping to assess, and second: on which population the tests have been standardized. Many exam boards will offer access arrangements to make it possible for students with dyslexia (and other disabilities) to demonstrate more accurately what they can do. These arrangements, such as extra time or a separate room, or rest breaks, should allow the proficiency in the target skill to be measured without being affected by other issues, but they must not change the skill being assessed (e.g. we cannot provide a reader for a reading test – otherwise it becomes a listening test instead). However, even with these arrangements in place we need to be aware that the way that tests are standardised may be skewed such that they favour a subsection of the population – which our students may or may not belong to.

Is it possible to persuade publishers to write English teaching books friendlier to students with SpLD’s and consider there are also teenagers and adults with undiagnosed SpLD’s who are learning or want to learn English and find most coursebooks very challenging and teachers difficult to adapt?

Certainly many of the coursebooks widely available at present are not very accessible for neurodiverse students, among others. The best way to persuade publishers that things need to change is to show them that there is an increasing demand for a different type of coursebook. We all have a role to play in this, such as requesting alternative formats for learners, offering feedback on new publications and making it clear what we – their customers – really want from them. Jude Slater in Vietnam correctly pointed out during the webinar that in the UK (and the USA and some other countries) there is an obligation for publishers to provide more accessible formats for disabled learners, usually visually impaired students. These are materials that could be helpful to other students, too, including some dyslexic learners, but more of us need to ask for access to them so that they become more widely available.

Can you further elaborate on ‘metacognitive strategies’?

These are ways of developing awareness of how a person is thinking (thinking about thinking). It’s about drawing attention to the thought processes that we go through when we are learning to use a language, and making them explicit. In time, the processes become automatic, but it is useful for learners to know what they are, so that they can apply them in new situations that arise.

Do you have a list of sites with lots of materials so Ts don’t have to start from scratch?

On my website, ELTwell, there are links to resources for teachers, as well as information about new materials as they come out.

How can we find out the learning styles of the child?

As suggested in the webinar, the idea that we all have one preferred learning style has largely been refuted by the research evidence. However, it is important for learners to be encouraged to reflect on how they learn best – what is helpful for them, what is more difficult – so that they begin to develop self-awareness of which kinds of learning techniques to use in different situations. The use of multisensory activities can be useful here, but reflection on any activity will contribute to this knowledge.

Where can I find out more about Cuisenaire questions?

There is a full explanation of this on the ELT well website.

Which comes first: motivation or self-esteem?

Bit of a chicken-and-egg question here – interesting to discuss but probably we will never find a definitive answer that applies to all learners. The two are not the same thing, although they support each other; where there is one it is usually possible to develop the other.

What’s the best and most economic way to have a consultation/diagnosis for adult dyslexia in the UK?

Assessments for adults in the UK usually have to be funded privately, either by the student or the school/college they are studying at; the average cost is around £300.00. In the case of adults who are learning English as an additional language there are not many assessors who would be willing to undertake a full diagnostic assessment, as the standardised tests are not suitable for them. For this reason I designed the Cognitive Assessments for Multilingual Learners tool (both the adult version and a young learners’ version – see the ELTwell site for more information). This is something that teachers can use to get to know the needs of their learners in more depth, and that qualified assessors could use to produce a formal identification of an SpLD. It is probably the most economical and time-efficient way of assessing students, as some of it can be done with a group as well as individuals.

At times parents will not be ready to accept the fact about these issues. How can we help and support such students even at home?

This is a big issue, that some parents are still unwilling to accept that their children are learning differently from their classmates. Some students may also be reluctant to seek support or explore different ways of working. One strategy is to develop an inclusive culture in the classroom, so that all learners are empowered to make choices to suit their ways of learning. At the heart of this is the need for teachers to know their learners as well as possible, and help them to understand what their strengths are and where their weaker areas might be that need more development. It is not necessary to use terminology such as ‘dyslexia’ or ‘learning difference’; it is possible to encourage learners to develop additional skills, such as memory strategies, which they will soon see are useful across all their school subjects.

Do dyslexic people face the same challenges learning their first language as they do learning an additional language?

Here it may be useful to think of dyslexia as a development difference, such that as the brain forms, it makes connections in a different way from the majority of the population. That means that the challenges that a dyslexic person experiences will probably always be there until s/he finds a strategy to get round or over them. Dyslexic learners may well find developing their first spoken language and literacy an issue (as well as time management, memory and all the other things we discussed in the webinar), but because they are immersed in the language environment and have a lot of opportunities for genuinely communicative practice, they can become proficient users of their own language. How easily they develop L1 literacy depends on the structure of the orthography, the way it is taught and how closely that fits with their particular cognitive profile. English-speaking dyslexic learners usually find it more challenging than Italian-speaking students, for example. But there is some evidence of students finding a second language literacy easier than their first (even cases of Swedish and Japanese students who found English easier than Swedish or Japanese!).

Thank you to Anne for agreeing to answer these questions for the IATEFL blog.

If you’d like to write a blog post or present a webinar for us, please contact blog (at) iatefl (dot) org.

The next IATEFL webinar is on ‘Language resilience’. It will take place at 3pm BST on Saturday 15th October 2016 and is open to everyone. You can find out more about this webinar and our other upcoming webinars on the IATEFL website. If you are an IATEFL member, you can access the recordings and slides from all of our webinars in the members’ area. If not, you can join here.

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ANELTA workshops in Angola

From March 2015 to April 2016, the Angolan English Language Teachers´ Association (ANELTA), in partnership with the American Embassy in Angola, with the support of the Ministry of Education of Angola, implemented seventeen workshops around the country. These workshops were about developing English language teaching issues, such as lesson planning, testing, classroom management, teaching vocabulary, teaching skills, techniques to develop writing, speaking, reading and listening, just to mention some.

ANELTA workshops

Angola is a very challenging environment for ELT, since it is a non-English language speaking country, with Portuguese as the main language spoken. This means the number of teachers of English qualified for this job is very small, compared to the demand which is huge. The majority of teachers do not have any qualification to teach, but are more qualified in areas related to engineering, law, civil construction, IT, etc., non-related to English. Moreover there is a shortage of teacher training centers where English is taught as a major or specialty. This means the demand for higher-standard teacher training centers for high school, undergraduate and post-graduate courses is also huge and the opportunities for developing courses are ample.

ANELTA workshopsThis series of workshops had the participation of around 1000 teachers of different levels. Reading material about methodology in different topics for English language teaching was distributed.

ANELTA workshops - working with materials

Through the project ANELTA expanded its activity to the regions, and as a result managed to open 15 offices with effective provincial coordination, so we can consider the project to have been a success. One of the major benefits taken from this is that by having a local team, ANELTA can immediately support and reach those teachers in need of expertise to improve their day-to-day work.

ANELTA workshops - a presenterIf you’d like to find out more about the work of ANELTA, you can follow us on facebook.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in ready. We look forward to hearing from you!

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