Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

The Archetypes of ELT

If you’re heading to IATEFL this year, as well as the conference programme and invitations to social events, you’ll need a guide to Who’s Who.

If I’ve missed offending anyone, do let me know in the comments section and I’ll add categories.


Ed Tech Entrepreneur

The serial networker in their Emperor’s New Clothes with matching brogues, universally liked as a person even though everything they stand for is a source of forum fear. They’ll remember your Twitter handle before your name and have friended you on Facebook before you’ve exchanged more than  a couple of pleasantries.  From there, they’ll like all your posts but only skim the first lines of anything you’ve written that wasn’t for their website.

Before you’ve woken up in the morning they’ve disrupted their sleep, accelerated their shower, gamified breakfast and seen the future of lunch. Don’t expect to see them present at IATEFL more than one year, after that they’re saving it for TED. If only there was an app to attend conferences on their behalf.

Most likely to be:

Anywhere but in the actual sessions. Anything printed in the conference program is automatically out of date.

Most likely to say:

Drop me an email and I’ll zero inbox it.

The Wannabe

Wants to get out of teaching and into materials writing but has to pretend to keep a hand in teaching so as not to lose touch with the market. This presents a problem in choosing what to attend and who to network with. Teaching related sessions with the future customers of the books no one will ever commission them to write? Or sales talks by the movers and shakers of ELT in the hopes someone will throw them a pronunciation exercise sample activity to write for free?

Most likely to say:

My last post got 4 Likes and 2 comments – a platform is so important if you want to make it.

Most likely to be:

Trying to work out if they should have heard of the person they’re talking to.

Secret Er*tica Writer

I know of two of these at least so it stands to reason that there are others, getting a thrill of sudden inspiration in a seminar near you. Since both EFL teachers and materials writers are so badly paid, I expect there are secret escorts, lapdancers and Butlers in the Buff amongst the conference throngs. One of these days, ELT will throw off its conservative shackles and no-one will have to hide.

Most likely to say:

Nothing that will ever give you the slightest clue.

Most likely to be:

The best hidden of all. The more innocuous seeming this attendee is, the more likely they are to be fully engaging in the Sexical Approach in their free time.

Mrs Jangly Bangles

I never bother to look up conference venues in advance on Google maps. I just head in the general direction, look for a rise in the number of brightly coloured blouses, jangly bangles and statement necklaces and choose metro exits accordingly.

I have to admit to owning more bangles post CELTA than pre, but as I usually have to fly Ryanair to get to conferences, my luggage allowance prevents me from bringing them. Don’t follow me, unless you see a technicolour woman ahead of me.

Most likely to say:

Something you didn’t catch because her accessories were making too much noise.

Conference Cassanova

This isn’t specific to EFL, all conferences were invented solely to give married men a hunting ground away from home turf. It works out less well for professions dominated by men, like comics, physics and computer programming but EFL events are like a phrasal verb dictionary of never ending options.

Most likely to say:

My wife isn’t coming until the weekend.

Most likely to be found:

Buying drinks for (female) teachers.

The Apostle

Drawn to TEFL, not just because few other professions allow for so many opportunities to wear linen trousers, but for the apotheosis that they’ll never admit to. They’ve brought with them handwritten letters from their students to reply to during the coffee breaks, wiping away a tear at the beauty of the sentence construction and covering it with smiley faces rather than corrections which would stifle their students’ right to expression.

Most likely to say:

I’m not a teacher, I’m a guide on my students’ learning journey. They create the path and I just help them if they stumble.

Most likely to be:

In the front row of every presentation with their hand up, half an hour before the questions at the end.

Old Boy’s Club

IATEFL could wallpaper the seminar rooms with the sports jackets of the Old Boys of EFL. Lay their ties end to end and you can circumnavigate the globe twice – just like they’re doing on publisher sponsored book tours every year. At a conference, you’ll never be more than ten metres from one but you’ll never be one.

However much you think these guys have earned from writing the twelfth edition of Even Newer Cutting FileWay, triple it and then add the royalties. Throw in some first class air tickets and writing cabins on Caribbean islands and you’ve a sense of the things that clutter their ivory towers.

Most likely to say:

That’s not the champagne we had last time.

Most likely to be:

Asking people if they want their course book signed.


6 comments on “The Archetypes of ELT

  1. eflfocus
    March 31, 2014

    Are you practicing your sarcasm?

    • Nicola
      April 1, 2014

      I like to give the muscles a regular workout

  2. mikecorea
    March 31, 2014

    Things I loved about this post in no particular order:
    gamified breakfast
    The er*tica writers being so well hidden.
    the whole idea of the post
    Mrs Jangly Bangles (especially the name though Im not even sure if I know her)
    the sexical approach

    Thanks. I am not sure if you missed anyone. Two that just came to mind are The Moaner and Mr./Mrs. Positive (everything is just fab!)

    • Nicola
      April 1, 2014

      you can write those two if you like! don’t think moaners come to conferences though 🙂

  3. Andrew Leon Hudson
    March 31, 2014

    “My wife isn’t coming until the weekend.”

    How little that type knows…

  4. Pingback: Gearing up for IATEFL 2014 | Jennifer MacDonald

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2014 by in ELT and tagged , , , , .
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