Monday, May 30, 2016

We take exams personally once more!




Sweet memories from the 2016  TESOL Greece convention.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

#30Goals: Teach digital citizenship


I have been wanting to write about the internet and teaching for a long time, and this year I had the chance to share my thoughts about this with wonderful educators around Greece and Cyprus. 
Going on "tour" as a teacher trainer, has taught me very interesting things, I got to know really good teachers with a lot of potential.
What is a bit frustrating, though, is that a lot of teachers are still afraid of "exposing" themselves and their students online. And this is really a pity because the internet is not only a dangerous place.
Of course, it can be, if we don't use it correctly, but, there are tons of possibilities for us, as educators and for our students, as well.
Some people also say that it is a waste of time. It's not. You can find wonderful materials for your teaching and your students can get informed about the world.
What you should be able to do, though is know where to look.
Before my teacher training job, I was really not a Twitter fan, but I decided to give it a try and see if is something worth mentioning in the sessions with the teachers.
Yes, it can be really confusing and you need to devote some time to organize yourself in there, but you can come across really useful links, quotes, videos, articles, blogs.
  • All you have to do is use hashtags (#) with the subject you are interested in and there you are! You have a wonderful material for your classes.
  • You can also use it with your students in #classchats , students can communicate with each other about their projects and simultaneously create a thread for students around the world. 
  • You can organize various projects and find students from other schools and communicate 
Another "tool" that you can use online is Facebook. Although it's a bit more "friendly", you can create your own PLN (personal learning network), find groups about teaching and learning (and anything else you want), get to know other educators, talk about problems and projects, share your ideas.

So, you have all these ideas and you don't know how to organize them? Share them maybe? Blogging is the answer to that. Keep your archive, help other teachers with your ideas, read ideas from others!

Yes, you need to devote some time into it and somebody to show you how to get started, but remember how much you will gain by this!
 #keeplearning #keepmoving




Saturday, April 16, 2016

Interview with Burcu Akyol and Marek Kiczkowiak #iatefl2016

Following Silvana Richardson's plenary, a panel with Burcu Akyol (who I happened to meet last year in TESOL Athens), Marek Kiczkowiak, Christopher Graham and Josh Round about "nativespeakerness", discrimination and prejudice.
Nik Peachey interviewed the two, asking them how they feel about this issue and how it is in their part of the world.
Burcu shared her personal experiences in Turkey, saying that back in 2009, she applied with the same presentation bon in Turkey and IATEFL and in her home country she wasn't accepted because she was non-native, but in England, not only was she accepted, but she had a lot of people in the audience as well.
Not being accepted made her have a negative self perception, although she feels that she didn't deserve this.
She adds that the policy makers' attitudes in Turkey have to change and also they have to increase teacher education, not only methodology, but also language skills.
Nik added that when he was in Turkey he met excellent teachers and Burch continued to say that things are slowly changing to the better.
Marek mentioned his site TEFL equity advocates , saying that he too faced discrimination when he moved to Belgium and that he still can't find a job. The first year he was in Belgium, he presented along with his DELTA trainer in a conference in Belgium about this crucial issue and that's how the idea for the site was born. There you can find stories of teachers, books, resources, lesson plans and a lot of teachers who share the same problems and feelings.
He also mentions that he also does some research in academic journals and shares it which is difficult to find publicly.
Nik asked if it is actually the customers' expectation to find a native teacher, but both interviewees referred to  Silvana Richardson's plenary again and said that this is not exactly an issue.
Burcu stressed the need for balance and that different teachers have different strengths and weaknesses and in some cases they complement each other.
Nik mentioned that in his school 75% of the teachers is billingual and that the term "non-native" sounds negative.
Marek also said something about stereotypes, for example in Japan they actually separate the teachers to "conversation" teachers and "exam" teachers.
The whole situation can be very frustrating, because most teachers are highly qualified.
Nik mentioned that 80% of English teachers are NNESTs.
In the end Burcu said that she hopes for a change to the better with the power of social media.

PS. My personal thoughts:  So I guess this was this year's big issue and everybody is talking about equity. They should. It is really unfair actually to have studied 4 and 6 years and continue to study and lose a job by somebody who has only done 1 month of training and is native. I am not saying that there are no qualified NESTs, but there are A LOT who aren't. Food for thought for the employers. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Interview with Herbert Puchta: How teens learn #IATEFL2016

Reporting on my favourite Herbert Puchta's interview today, talking on how we should teach teenagers.
According to H.Puchta, teens should develop response-ability as well as responsibility in the classroom and he reflects on the two roles that the teacher has:

  • we have to develop the students' language
  • we also have to be educators and support students in developing themselves, their personality, their responsibility. we have to prepare them as citizens of tomorrow's world.
But how do we make teenagers talk?
Although current materials focus on personalization, we have to understand that sometimes the questions do not make sense, if they are for example: "Do you like bananas?".
We need to find ways to challenge teens, to develop their critical thinking.
Herbert Puchta explained that his research is based on neuro-biology and the development of the teenage brain.
In teenagers, there seems to not to be a connection between the limpic system of the brain, which is responsible for our emotions and the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for logical thinking.
As a result, teens are very emotional, they take risks more easily and they are not mature enough to foresee possible consequences of their behavior.
This can be dangerous with the temptations of the modern world.
So they have to develop their basic skills as well as go beyond superficiality,
Learning should be fun, but should not always be about entertainment. Teenagers have to face real issues in the real world. They have to learn values. Sometimes they look "cool", but they are very insecure. So they have to learn the difference between right and wrong.
Self-esteem is very important.
If their self-esteem is very high, they can be foolish, and it it is to low, they are very defensive, this can also lead to provocative behavior, they don't take teachers or other students seriously, sometimes it leads to bullying or some kind of aggressive behavior.
As teachers we have to help them to develop their own self, their self worth.
It is critical for teachers to take decisions of what they are going to teach, and this should bot only be about celebrities, but also about real world issues and problem solutions. 

Interview with Julie Pratten: Heart ELT #IATEFL2016


Julie Pratten is responsible for the creation of Heart ELT, which is basically a school created in a refugee camp in Iraq, helping refugee children learn English.
It started, when they tried to cover the basic needs of a school, trying to find space, teachers, paper and pens, so Julie tried to raise some money crowdfunding, asking in Facebook. The problem is that people are usually hesitant to give money, so Julie asked her PLN to help in a different way. She asked them to donate simple lesson plans for the creation of a photocopiable book with activities for all levels, young learners and teens, which will be sold to raise money for the refugee schools. The activities should be simple and sensitive for all cultures. The first book should be out by the end of April - beginning of May.
The children at the refugee camp don't have the chance to play, so when they go to school, they can hang out, draw, dance and sing.
The project aspires to have translations of teacher's notes in both Arabic and Kurdish and also create webinars for teachers who are going to teach there and later send teacher trainers to train local teachers and also mothers on how to teach the children.
I personally wish Julie and all the participants good luck in this wonderful project.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

IATEFL 2016 is on the air!


One more IATEFL conference is beginning and since I am not going to be there again, all I can do is follow the online events, live-streaming whenever I can, although it is not the same as being there in person.
Just watched Marjory Rosenberg's interview with the recent IATEFL news.


  • TELC Riders are on the move again coming to Birmingham on their bikes with lots of new adventures, gathering money for new projects!
  • IATEFL organises ongoing teacher training for teachers who will consequently train teachers in their own countries.
  • Creation of SIGs in many different associate countries and organising special interest days with trainings and seminars.
  • The 2nd IATEFL web-conference took place with a lot of participants all over the world and great success.
  • A joined web-conference with TESOL is planned for November. It is going to last 3 days with special themes each day.

  • This year's conference is being held in the historical city of Birmingham for the first time and participants will have the chance to explore the city a bit more. Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace is around the corner and due to Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, a lot of relevant events are planned. 
  • A variety of events like a Pecha Kucha, Ouiz events, awards and a lot more of surprises are in store in this year's conference.
  • This year, IATEFL has received the TESOL Presidency award as a result of the continuing support and development of teachers worldwide.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

TESOL Macedonia Thrace 23rd Convention: Bits and Pieces

March has ended and both TESOL Conventions in Greece left us with great memories...
This time I actually found the time to join the pre-convention dinner and meet (again) all these wonderful educators. It's so funny because we all know each other from our work and we do have an "internet" kind of connection / relation, so when we have the chance to get together, it's like we know each other for years, even if it's the first time we actually meet!

Some of the highlights:

Jamie Keddie with his stories kept our interest and gave us wonderful tips for our lessons.

Charles Goodger with his songs and wonderful workshop gave us lots of ideas on how to teach young children.
Penny Ur and her thoughts on teaching with or without coursebook. A real opportunity to meet her (I had the luck to take part on an iTDi course about course material and design earlier this year, so I just loved meeting her in person!)

Luke Prodromou and his team acting Shakespeare!
Talent night preparation with Margarita Kosior - although we didn't have the chance to dance that night!! Next time I guess...
Really unexpected appearances, I might add...


And us presenting... Thank you all for coming!!!
All in all it was a wonderful, colorful, exhausting experience that I would never change for the world!
Until we meet again!