The IATEFL 2019 Conference: Some questions to ask

To any IATEFL Official:

  • If IATEFL supports women and NNS teachers in their fights for justice, why doesn’t it support teachers who are fighting for decent pay and working conditions?
  • In the Jobs Fair, employers pay nearly £2,000 for a small space, a rickety table and 3 naff chairs, plastic badges, and access to a Help Line which plays “All you need is love” on a loop. Is this fair?
  • There’s something a bit commercial about all this, don’t you think?

To any of the many men who write best selling books on ELT, tour the world spouting on about things they know shamefully little about and are generally regarded as leading figures in ELT:

  • Is there anything you’d like to say about the way you treated women in the past?

To anybody on the CUP stand:

  • How much does CUP pay Scott Thornbury per hour (to the nearest £100,000) ?
  • Regarding your recent publications on the teaching of lexical chunks, is it the FCE or the CAE exam which expects students to know the idiomatic expression “He/she doesn’t know his/her arse from his/her elbow”?
  • Why is access to the St. John’s choir practice sessions restricted to those with a double-barrelled surname?

To anybody working for the British Council:

  • How do you justfy the fact that the British Council is a charity, yet it makes huge profits on its global English language teaching and teacher training activities?
  • Does the fact that the BC holds a one-third share in the International English Language Testing System not conflict with the Council’s charter?
  • The British Council’s not-for-profit status means it is exempt from corporation tax in many countries. This gives it an unfair edge on its competitors, doesn’t it?
  • Why is there no pension plan for ordinary teachers, only for the upper echelons of British Council staff?
  • Why are you all so stuffy?

To anybody on the OUP stand:

  • Which do you think does a better job of presenting and practising third conditionals: English File Lower Intermediate Additional Materials Pack 12, or Headway Advanced Brexit Video Pack?
  • Why does Henry Widdowson look down on suggestions for a third way?
  • Why is access to the Kings College badminton practice sessions restricted to those with a double-barrelled surname?
  • Why don’t you just concentrate on selling the best book you’ve ever done: the Oxford Concise Dictionary?

To anybody working for Pearsons:

  • What theory of language learning informs the Global Scale of English (GSE)?
  • The nearly 2,000 “can do” statements that form the backbone of the GSE are based entirely on the intuitions of teachers: no empirical data have been gathered from learners’ experiences. How do you justify this?
  • How do you respond to the criticism that the GSE is an example of what Glenn Fulcher calls “Frankenstein scales”, which don’t relate to any specific communicative context, or give a good description of any particular communicative language ability?
  • Do you think global warming will affect the company’s ambitions for global domination?

To anybody in the Teacher Development SIG Committee

  • When was the last time you matched your advice to teachers against the findings of SLA research?
  • That’s a nice bow tie. Did you buy it on Amazon?

To anybody working for National Geographic

  • What brings you here?
  • Does the sophisticated communication system that elephants use to warn each other about the approach of ill informed, myopic preditors support the view that language is grammaticalised lexis?
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5 thoughts on “The IATEFL 2019 Conference: Some questions to ask

  1. I’m an ordinary teacher at the British Council. Worked here four years. There is a pension scheme here for ordinary teachers, matching contributions offered. We can also opt to have matching contributions for a local provident fund instead if we want.

    • To be fair, I don’t know if that is the case in every centre around the world though.
      I’m not sure I’d be much use answering your other points, just be my own views rather than those of the organisation I’m afraid.

  2. “How much does CUP pay Scott Thornbury per hour (to the nearest £100,000)?”

    Fyi, Geoff, since I am an (unsalaried) series editor for Cambridge, they cover my expenses (flight, hotel) to attend the IATEFL Conference, but I receive no other benefits, whether salary, fee, per diem, stipend, hand-out, tip, emolument, or whatever. As a writer of books published by Cambridge I also, of course, receive royalties. Thanks to piracy, these are a small fraction of the £100,000 you clearly think I deserve.

  3. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for this. The point of my suggested question was, of course, to draw attention to the shamefully cynical way that CUP robs you of your dues.

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