I'm currently on the train home from the ITI conference in Newcastle and I thought it was probably high time I wrote my next blog.
This was my first conference and I didn't really know what to expect. Despite the early starts and late nights, it has been a refreshing few days in the north east. I've met some wonderful colleagues and listened to many thought-provoking speeches. I won't bore you with lots of detail, but here are my three highlights.
I attended two masterclasses on Thursday - The Perfect Likeness by Andrew Morris and The Sound of Music by Ros Schwarz. Both provided much food for thought, particularly Andrew's masterclass as he wanted to push us to embrace change for the better. He highlighted the school of thought that there are 7 spheres of life and we should aim to keep all spheres as equally balanced as possible. These spheres are Social, Intellectual, Vocational, Financial, Physical, Familial and Spiritual. Andrew explained that every person prioritises these seven spheres differently, and that their order is not necessarily fixed as it is dependent on the current situation. I've been thinking hard about what order my spheres are in, but I'm still undecided. I'll get back to you when I've made up my mind!
My highlight on Friday (apart from the conference dinner in the evening) was a talk by John Evans about languages taking you further. John successfully reinforced the plight of language learning in the UK, and also gave us some pretty dire facts. One stuck in my mind in particular: a recent survey found that only 9% of 14 year olds in the UK have attained B1 level in their first foreign language (B1: able to communicate in short, straight-forward sentences). The UK was not quite at the bottom of the list, but let's say we weren't much better.
As I'm sure you know, teaching languages is another passion of mine, and it was a great opportunity for me to provide other colleagues with a little food for thought of my own - if it's in your nature, why not teach at your local primary school? Pupils will learn so much more from an enthusiastic linguist than a teacher who is being forced to teach a subject that doesn't inspire them or is not one of their strengths. It certainly lead to a few interesting discussions with colleagues who hadn't realised quite how desperate the situation is in most cases.
My final highlight from Saturday was the opportunity to sing with my fellow translation and interpreting colleagues. Several months ago, I signed up to be part of the singing translators choir and have been busy learning my part for the last couple of weeks. We had a quick rehearsal at lunchtime and then took to the stage in the afternoon coffee break. We may not have been the most polished choir in the world (at least I hope nobody expected any miracles after we only practised for 40 minutes) but it was certainly great fun. Our chosen song - Circle of Life from the Lion King - aptly reflected the ITI's theme this year of renewal, rejuvenation and regeneration.
I'm sure the conference will provide the inspiration for a few more posts, but that's all for now.