'IATEFL YLTSIG – Supporting teachers of children and teenagers for 30 years' By David Valente & Christina Giannikas

18th February 2017

Young Learners and Teenagers SIG is one of IATEFL’s 16 Special Interest Groups and a key part of the Association’s worldwide network of English language teaching professionals. YLTSIG has developed over the past 30 years to redress the general ‘adult default’ focus in much of ELT. The SIG’s position is that children and teenagers have varied sets of needs, rights and age-related differences which need to be carefully prioritised in YLT English language teaching.

YLTSIG’s Mission

Our mission is to lead, drive change and set standards in teaching English to children and teenagers (2 – 17 years old) for training and development, classroom practice and assessment. We aim to provide practical advice regarding different models of YL ELT (e.g. EFLEMICLIL), age-appropriate pedagogy, and child-safe recruitment, as well as suitable ELT qualifications for young learner teachers. Our members include classroom practitioners, teacher trainers, researchers, academic managers and materials/content developers working in both state and private sectors worldwide.

Pearl Jubilee Events & Publications

We have provided members a variety of exciting commemorative events and publications to mark the SIG’s Pearl Jubilee (30th anniversary) during the past year. This started with the YLTSIG-Garnet Education book Children Learning English: From Research to Practice. This ambitious editorial project was led by current SIG Joint Coordinator, Christina Giannikas, and supported by former Committee members, Lou McLaughlin, Gemma Fanning and Nellie Deutsch Muller. The book is an interesting collection of 16 articles covering topics ranging from CLIL to teacher training, and materials development to classroom practice, all from a variety of contexts and YL age ranges (early years, primary and secondary).

YLTSIG Publications Editor / current Joint Coordinator, David Valente, also edited the Special Pearl Jubilee Edition of the SIG newsletter, launched alongside the SIG-Garnet book at the 50th IATEFL Conference in Birmingham in 2016. This fascinating collection charts 30 years of developments in our field. It provides both recognition and a celebration of YLT and is a must-read for members old and new.

During our SIG Day at the 2016 Birmingham Conference, we also hosted the Pearl Anniversary Symposium, Realbooks to picturebooks: 30 years of illustrated literature in ELT. This was expertly delivered by former SIG Coordinator Sandie Mourão, along with Gail Ellis, Janice Bland, Smiljana Kovac and one of the YLTSIG’s founders, Opal Dunn, famous for her pioneering work with picturebooks for the past fifty years. IATEFL members can read an article based on the symposium in IATEFL 2016, Birmingham Conference Selections.


New website and logo

In October 2016, we launched our new SIG website along with a commemorative 30th anniversary logo.

Joint Coordinator, David Valente led on the website’s development which is full of up-to-date content, including professional development ideas for YLT professionals. A particular highlight for both members and non-members is the 28 downloadable back issues of the SIG newsletter, spanning 1998 – 2012.

The new website has enabled us to start a monthly blog where we feature guest bloggers who share ideas, experiences and reflections on YLT from a range of children’s and teenagers’ contexts around the world.

Web Conference, 24 – 26 February 2017

Our Pearl Jubilee celebrations will culminate with what’s promised to be the biggest YLT online event of the year – the SIG’s inaugural web conference, ‘30 Pearls of YLT Wisdom’. Featuring 30 speakers, each giving a 30-minute talk on a different area of YL ELT, the event will include talks for teachers of all YL age ranges. The web conference has been spearheaded by Joint Coordinator, Christina Giannikas and all SIG committee members will be hosting during the 3 days. You can meet them all here.

In addition, we’re delighted to announce that we have a new SIG YouTube channel! Watch our first video with IATEFL Past President, Carol Read, then click SUBSCRIBE to follow us:


Join us at the 2017 IATEFL Glasgow Conference in the Lomond Room at the SECC on Tuesday 4 April for our SIG Day. There is also a special evening event afterwards, at 19.30 – 21.00, where you can enjoy some specially prepared Scottish nibbles, a wee nip of whisky and other drinks! You will discover how being a member of YLT SIG can really benefit you professionally. Along with the other IATEFL SIGs, we invite you to meet our committee members and hear all about planned SIG activities for the coming year.

David Valente & Christina Giannikas: IATEFL YLTSIG Joint Coordinators

David Valente has 20 years’ ELT experience which has included authoring teachers’ handbooks and courses for primary and secondary curriculum development as well as methodology training in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australasia. He is also an online tutor for Bell Delta Modules 2 and 3 courses, specialising in training candidates who teach children and teenagers. David has a MAppLing in YL Programme Management and currently works as Director – Professional and Pedagogical Development for Laureate International Universities, Thailand. He is also an online & face to face tutor for the new CELT-P and CELT-S qualifications for mainstream teachers of English.



Christina Nicole Giannikas holds a Ph.D in Applied Linguistics, specifically in the area of early language learning, and works for the Language Centre of Cyprus University of Technology. She is an Instructor for an MA in CALL and a Language Instructor for English for Specific Academic Purposes. She is also a teacher trainer, and a freelance materials writer and editor. Her research interests include Computer Assisted Language Learning, Young Learners and new technologies, interactive language learning and teaching through the use of technology, online learning and teaching, early language learning and the use of games in the language classroom in any shape or form.