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ELT Freelancers Awayday 2022

On Friday 16th September, it was the welcome return of the ELT Freelancers Awayday, organised by ELT Publishing Professionals. This was my second foray to the Awayday, after a positive experience in 2020. See my blog post about it here. This time was a little different, in the fact that I had agreed to be part of the speakers, taking one of the Buzzwords slots. I think those who I met in 2020 would agree that I’m quite different from the shy and anxiety-ridden person who went that year. Although anxiety was still high (especially for speaking), it was so pleasing to see that accommodations had been made for those who needed time away – a quiet room was available and of course, there was lots of room outside.

The day started off with an introduction and then we were into OUP’s talk. I didn’t attend the barbecue the day before, so looking forward to a write-up of that. The OUP talk was as informative as ever, and the interactions in the room demonstrated that many of the freelancers present had already worked, or are working, with OUP. It was also good to hear from a freelancer’s perspective on what working with OUP is like.

Next came the Buzzwords sessions, with 7 speakers (2 remotely) to present one or two words and explain them. The superb Lottie Galpin was first up with neurodiversity. Having worked with Lottie on numerous projects, I knew that this would be informative and well-thought out, and I wasn’t wrong. She brought a wealth of knowledge in just 5 minutes. For those who didn’t completely understand neurodiversity, I hope that understanding is a little better after the talk.

After Lottie came the great Yordanka Kavalova speaking on the subject of mediation. For me, mediation is a complex issue and I think Yordanka did extremely well in the brief time she had. I think I still need to research a bit more.

Next came the dynamic duo of Billie Jago and Laura Broadbent (Otterelt) on digitization. A fascinating presentation, well-thought out. It’s clear that both presenters know a lot about the topic – and the digital voice saying ‘Digitization’ was an added bonus!

The wonderful Emily Bryson on graphic facilitation was next and as usual, it was extremely well done and clear. Emily really has carved a niche and she fills it well. I can completely see the value of graphic communication.

After was someone talking about usualisation and disruption. It was alright 🙂

The fantastic Dr Amina Douidi came next on intercultural communicative competence. After working with Amina, I knew that this would be an excellent session, and I wasn’t disappointed. I look forward to continue working with Amina.

The final Buzzword was translanguaging given by the awesome Mike Sayer. In a similar way to mediation, I feel I need to do a bit more research on this. However, the talk was engaging and I really enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, due to overrunning time, Helen Holwill had to cut short her ninja networking techniques, which was a shame. I felt that it was going to be an invaluable talk, and it really was. I just wish there had been enough time. What was mentioned such as checking people’s name badges, for example, was useful for the fairly novice networker.

Daniel Barber, speaking remotely from Spain, on ecolinguistics was fascinating. It was so refreshing to see such a focus on environmental issues, and I felt that we could’ve listened to much more. It’s such an important topic that I think I’ll be working more on this.

Rachael Roberts, speaking on the 3 deadly Fs of freelancing was again, an important and engaging talk. Feast, famine and firefighting are things that many freelancers encounter and so it was good for us all to think about our goals and what we want to achieve.

Tom, Dick and Debbie productions gave an informative talk on animation in ELT. As expected, it was full of animation and it goes to show what talents there are in the ELT industry. For a company I didn’t know too much about, it was interesting to know exactly what they did, and how well they do it.

Finally, Sue Kay gave us an account of updating the Reward series of resource books. I remember using these books early in my career, and so to see that they are being updated for the current market is great. (I wish some other books were updated in a similar way – see here.) We are so fortunate to have such experience and talent in the room.

What struck me most was the number of people who came up to me after the talk on usualisation and disruption. It was really heartening, with many people saying my words on the family (It’s not a gay family, it’s not a lesbian family, it’s a family) really resonated. It’s clear that the will is there to represent not just LGBTQIA+ identities, but all marginalised identities. I think showing the examples from my own materials helped to demonstrate how representation can be done. And this is what I think needs to happen – examples of representation done well and realistically. We can all talk about representing marginalised communities, but until we take the step of creating something that actually represents, then it’s almost meaningless talking about it. Action, not words. In answer to those who may not know where to start, find someone who can tell or show you. Policies and guidance is great, but unless it brings about inclusive materials (and teams), then I have to question, what are they for? In two years, for example, after a policy is implemented, where will the evidence be that the policy has had the desired effect? It’s a shame that there even needs to be policies and guidance on inclusion – this tells me that the teams themselves are not diverse themselves, because marginalised voices are not being heard.

The people I spoke to were all wonderful, friendly and supportive and I thank you all – you know who you are. For more of an idea of how I choose material for my resources, look here. And if you want to look at my resources, my shop is here – some for free, some are paid.

Apologies if I haven’t linked to all websites – I couldn’t find them all.

Thank you for reading!

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