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This year’s IATFEL goes big in Belfast for its return to a face-to-face event

Come with educationalist Pete Sharma to take a sneak peek at some of the edtech exhibitors who will be showing their wares

As all eyes turn to the 55th IATEFL conference in Belfast, nearly 40 of the conference sponsors are lined up to exhibit at the event. These range from publishers, universities and language schools to companies involved in assessment, training and materials development. Here we look at those sponsors who run consultancy services and take a peek at some of the latest software designed to help language learners.

Consultancies

We know that consultants offer expert professional advice, but the actual process of consultancy is often far from transparent. Fortunately, company websites offer detailed descriptions of past projects which help us gain insights into their services. Let us look at three such organisations.

TCE

TCE is an education consultancy specialising in online education, web design and course design. Their website includes a database with information on recent major projects, such as a strategic plan for a blended learning roll-out in the Basque Country of Spain. A company well-known for training teachers to integrate evidence-based learning technologies into their teaching, TCE draws on an impressive team of experts. Its training courses are quality assured by AQUEDUTO, the Association for Quality Education and Training Online. This combination of pedagogical experience with knowledge of technology makes it well worth consideration.

TransformELT

The name of the organisation is well-chosen and the website spells out what they do: “We support change initiatives at every level of the education process.” It too draws on an impressive team of experts, as well as listing an extensive list of projects on the website. Unsurprisingly, some of these are dedicated to online, blended and hybrid learning. Several projects are outlined, in such areas as continuing professional development and mentoring. One key feature is the need for analysis, so Transform ELT offers a detailed exploration of a client’s context which aims to ensure that interventions are practical, sustainable and, especially, specifically appropriate.

NILE

NILE is a well-established provider of training and development for English language teaching. It works on global, national and

local consultancy projects in such areas as teacher education, assessment reform, curriculum development and academic management. Under its consultancy arm, it has been involved in many projects. These include the development of an online test for a major Brazilian language school chain, and the planning and delivery of English medium instruction programmes delivered at a number of universities.

All three consultancies have worked on projects with the British Council, which is also exhibiting at IATEFL and whose extensive work in ELT over the years needs little or no introduction.

Language learning software

Browsing through the latest publications has always been a personal conference highlight. The pandemic has ensured that digital offerings are no longer an optional alternative to print delivery, but have now taken centre stage as blended and hybrid teaching form part of the new norm. The range of content housed in Learning Management Systems is broader than ever. Well-known ELT publishers Oxford

University Press, Cambridge University and Macmillan are joined by a raft of other publishers. Here are a few stands to keep an eye out for.

Black Cat

This publisher offers a wide range of digital titles for their eReader app, both original stories and adapted classics. Students can listen to the story being read aloud and follow as the spoken words are highlighted on screen, which can certainly benefit their learning. A new platform now allows teachers to incorporate these graded readers into their teaching by creating a virtual classroom, which is an exciting development.

 

Delta Publishing

Delta has released the Delta Augmented app which allows you to scan and play all media data directly from a textbook. If you hold your smartphone or tablet over a page, the app automatically detects the stored audio file or videos and plays them directly. Users can bookmark frequently visited content.

GEL (Guided e-learning)

GEL offers customisable mobile-friendly platforms for English language learning that combines digital ELT content with data analysis tools. One typical case study describes how GEL converted a classroom-based school to an online school using this content.

Its IELTS preparation course is a fascinating combination of teacher and technology. An ‘Ask your teacher’ messaging service is available to candidates and feedback on writing, reading and listening is provided by AI (artificial intelligence).

Eli Publishing

With ELiDigiBook, texts are accompanied by videos, images, audio materials and exercises. Of real interest is the feature which allows teachers to enrich and personalise the book with their own material. The course content is available on any device and can even be used offline.

ELiVirtualClassroom is another educational environment where you can share material and assign activities to the whole class, while ELi Test Room provides interactive tests. Visit the website to try out ‘It’s your turn’, an online card game which allows students to memorise basic words.

Hamilton House

I love this publisher’s interactive talking pen. This works in conjunction with their Pre- Primary and Primary courses, connecting via Bluetooth to a pupil’s tablet or mobile phone. Users simply tap the pen on any page in the book, listen to stories and songs, and repeat. A fun way to practise English.

Macmillan

Navio is a digital platform that accompanies Macmillan Education’s English language courses for young learners. The content is designed to engage students through fun, game-based language activities that are meant to feel like play rather than work. There’s also lots of teacher support to help them use the software to best effect in the classroom.

National Geographic Learning

National Geographic uses MyELT to house activities for independent online practice. It includes a grade book for tracking student progress. Teachers can create assignments and message learners. The use of speech recognition in the pronunciation exercises is worth investigation.

Classroom Presentation Tools include the student’s book, video, audio and an answer key. They can be used in any classroom environment to present new language and create opportunities for practice through typical interactive activities.

This article can only provide a mere taste of what’s on show. The sheer variety of the conference exhibitors is impressive. When it comes to educational solutions, clearly there is no one size fits all, making consultancy work essential. The over-arching trend towards remote delivery makes digital more important than ever. Enjoy the exhibition – whether your visit is in person or online.

Pete Sharma is a teacher and teacher trainer with a background in business English teaching. Every summer he loves going back to work as a pre-sessional lecturer in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) at Warwick University, UK.

Images courtesy of PHOTO BY KAELI HEARN ON UNSPLASH and Library
Pete Sharma
Pete Sharma
Pete is a teacher and teacher trainer with a Masters in Educational Technology and ELT from Manchester University, and a background in business English teaching. He is a lecturer in EAP at Warwick University, and an active consultant with many organisations. Pete's book reviews are provided courtesy of BEBC: www.bebc.co.uk.
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