An interview with the new IATEFL Chair of the Membership Committee, Gerhard Erasmus, by IATEFL Ambassador Syke Annamma Kumaran:
You are the new Chair of the Membership Committee. Could you tell us about yourself and your area of work?
I am quite excited about being the Chair of the Membership Committee and I hope we can do good things for our members over the next 3 years. I am also looking forward to working with some of the amazing people we have on the Board of Trustees, in our Head Office, as well as on our committee and the other IATEFL committees.
I am currently the Academic and Course Director for Inspired CPD and Inspired Kids. Inspired CPD is a training and consulting company that delivers Trinity-validated and bespoke teacher training, corporate training, management consulting, Chinese lessons and English courses for business professionals. Inspired Kids has English classes, after school classes, and we are also a chess academy. My main duties involve overseeing the day to day running of the companies, the overall strategy, and I teach chess. I am quite enjoying teaching chess and I am hoping I can get a few good chess players together here in Taiwan.
Can you tell us about the overall responsibilities of the IATEFL Membership Committee?
In my opinion, the main responsibilities of the Membership committee are monthly and strategically. Monthly, we run a Facebook group, the IATEFL webinars, and work towards ensuring members have access to their member benefits while also preparing our webinars, available to non-members, in order to meet our charitable objectives as an organisation.
In terms of strategy, we are looking at ways of increasing the member benefits, making sure members are actually aware of what the benefits are, and working towards increasing an overall uptake on member benefits to ensure people really experience the value of being a member of IATEFL.
Can you speak about the IATEFL membership benefits?
I personally think the greatest benefit of IATEFL is the networking opportunities. When I joined IATEFL many years ago I was doing an MA and read an article that I found in the Voices magazine. The author’s email address was in the article, and I emailed them. We still speak to this day and have actually co-authored a few things. Being able to serve on a committee is also a great way to network, meet people in the industry, and become friends with people who can offer advice and insight from a range of different perspectives.
A second important benefit is discounts. There are discounts on events, publications, and sometimes even on courses. Over the years I have built up a substantial library of magazines and books through IATEFL which has come in very handy at times. Publications are another big benefit. Members receive Voices every second month, Conferences Selections once a year, and publications and blogs from SIGs. And actually, being able to join a Special Interest Group (SIG) of your choice is another benefit. You can also join more than one (I have for many years) and for 23GBP extra get access to additional publications, more networking opportunities and a large archive of publications.
Further benefits include a searchable archive of webinars and articles, being able to submit articles to IATEFL Voices and SIG publications, the opportunity to submit proposals to speak at IATEFL events or present webinars and making yourself more visible in the industry.
I feel that members who enjoy being part of IATEFL the most are those that make use of as many of the benefits of being a member as they can. So, the more you use your member benefits, the more you will feel a part of IATEFL!
Tell us about your experience as the coordinator of LAMSIG?
My biggest disappointment as LAMSIG Coordinator (Leadership and Management Special Interest Group Coordinator) is that I only actually got to attend one conference as Coordinator. The first year as Coordinator, we had the conference online. The following year, in Belfast, I was unable to attend due to Covid restrictions in Taiwan, and Harrogate was my last conference as LAMSIG Coordinator.
However, I think the positives far outweigh the negatives (or single negative). We had numerous panel discussions during Covid and beyond, and these were often very well attended. Our scholarship winner in Harrogate delivered a fantastic talk and it was great having Anju Moses there as we didn’t have a scholarship winner the year before in Belfast. This was simply because we couldn’t find an applicant that met all the criteria. So, if you are reading this and you think you can apply for a scholarship, PLEASE DO!
I think being on a committee of a SIG gives you the opportunity to bring new ideas, learn from others, and contribute to the SIG and IATEFL. Currently, the LAMSIG committee is 90% different from what it was when I joined the committee, and by Brighton next year, it will be 100% different. Being on a committee is one of the best networking opportunities available.
What are the challenges you face in your new role?
I think that is a little early to say. I am still coming to grips with all the systems and procedures before deciding what to change, what to keep and how to move forward. There will be a few changes and I feel the most important will be to streamline what Membership Committee members do and how to either share the workload or find ways to generate expertise within the committee. I am leaning towards the latter and as soon as we have a full committee, we will be able to put this in place. A further challenge will be to ensure we improve both member benefits and how members access and take advantage of the benefits, and hopefully that will result in a growth in membership. I have a personal membership target that I would rather not share here, just in case I fail horribly, but it would be great if we can break the 5000 member barrier.
About Gerhard Erasmus
Gerhard is currently the Academic and Course Director of Inspired Kids, a language and after school centre for children, and Inspired CPD, a teacher training, corporate training, and consulting organisation. He is also an Educational Doctorate student focusing on Organizational Leadership. Gerhard has been living in Taiwan for more than two decades. He is married, has three kids, and is a hobby magician.
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