Dr. Zakia Ahmad, Associate Professor and Head, Department of English, UAP participates at the International IATEFL Conference 2024 at Brighton, U.K.

I had the privilege and good opportunity to participate at the International IATEFL Conference 2024 which took place at Brighton, UK from 16 to 19 April 2024. The venue of the Conference was the Brighton Centre and the Grand Hotel adjacent to the Centre. I was fortunate enough to be nominated as the representative of BELTA (Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association) to participate in the IATEFL Conference as an Associate Member.

IATEFL celebrated the Associates’ Day on 15 May 2024. This event like the whole conference was a huge success. Almost a hundred associate members from all over the world were present here. The Associates' Day event was a special affair where the gathering, the sessions, the food and everything was excellent. There were talks by some members, some of the members had poster presentations which were displayed in the hall. I presented a poster on BELTA Activities (2023-2024) which attracted the interest of other associates. They found a keen interest in the varied activities presented in the poster. Highlighted in the poster were the BELTA activities which are carried out in alignment with the UN SDG goals of inclusivity and sustainability in education, such as: webinars, teacher development programmes and workshops, reaching out to marginalized communities for enhancement of education, and activities conducted by Chapters all over the country.

One important event emphasized in the poster was the THT (Teachers Helping Teachers) Conference hosted by the University of Asia Pacific, Dhaka in 2023. This is a regular teacher development event conducted by BELTA annually in collaboration with the Japanese Association for Language Teaching (JALT). The University of Asia Pacific extended overall logistic support to make this conference a success. All faculty members of the Department of English took part in this conference along with many teachers from other institutions. UAP’s convenient location, infrastructure, logistics and management made the conference a remarkable success. We hope and look forward to such collaborations with other institutions for the progress of English language teaching and improvement of English teachers all over the country. After the Associates' Day the posters were kept on display at the Associates stall throughout the conference. The poster at the IATEFL Conference provided an excellent opportunity to internationally showcase UAP’s support to the community of English Language teachers in Bangladesh.

The mornings at the conference began with sessions on Mindfulness, followed by the plenaries held in the auditorium, parallel session in the rooms, presentations on the Pop-up Stage and exhibitions on two floors - with tea, coffee, juice and water flowing freely all day long. Penny Ur’s session on ELT-related controversies, Jeremy Harmer’s session on the importance of empathy, sessions on Teacher Wellbeing, emergence of the AI factor, creating a greener classroom environment and Harry Kuchah Kuchah’s story telling were all extremely educational, enriching and inspirational sessions. The only drawback being that one could not be at all the places at the same time. Participating at the Conference provided me with the opportunity to meet an array of ELT celebrities like Jeremy Harmer, Penny Ur, George Pickering, Sarah Mercer, Sue Garton and Jan Blake, the storyteller to mention a few. Some of them have been to Bangladesh and expressed wishes of visiting again. When I introduced myself they greeted me very happily and welcomed me with a lot of warmth. Those who have not been to Bangladesh also seemed to have a very high opinion of our education system. I was fortunate enough to meet Simon Borg whose seminal work on teacher cognition initiated my doctoral study. I have been able to establish a new network of teachers and colleagues through my first-time participation at an IATEFL conference. My participation at the conference gave me a wholly satisfying, enriching experience and a sense of wellbeing. I have benefitted from it not only professionally but also personally and emotionally. I am grateful to UAP and BELTA for giving me this opportunity.