Saturday, June 16, 2018

Conventions... auf Deutsch

A teacher is always a teacher, no matter what they teach.  Although I teach more in the English language nowadays, my first degree is on German literature and language (or better teaching German as a foreign language - DaF)
I have to admit that when you teach English, there are various seminars, presentations, conferences all year round, while in German, this is not the case.
Especially in my hometown, which is not the capital, you can't always keep learning.
Goethe Institut, Aristoteles University and some publishers do organise seminars and book presentations and I never miss the chance to go, since using the German language is not that common (if you don't work with tourists that is)
So, today was the day of the conference held by the Aristoteles University. I love conventions and conferences. My only problem is that German methodology seminars are mostly about theory and less practice. 
As a very kinaesthetic person, I am finding it very hard to concentrate when it's all talk and no play.
To my surprise today, I saw more practice, enthusiastic professors and brad new ideas for the primary classroom.
According to Dr. Rudolf Bartsch, Children learn fast but they forget equally fast, so they have to keep learning until they reach adulthood. 
Dr. Legutke mentioned that learning is an active process and students AND teachers have to be there with their "heads, hearts, hands and feet".
So some ideas for the lesson that impressed me
  1. Bring a fairytale to life. Children mime the characters (people and animals), the things (houses, trees etc) and act the story out.
  2. Bring objects into life. Have children make an object with their bodies (for example a washing machine, a vacuum cleaner) and repeat vocabulary. Then categorise this vocabulary (for example group kitchen appliances, furniture etc)
  3. Use objects to make a presentation (for example a fashion show)
  4. Create a monster and write a story or a diary about it
  5. Act out as their favourite famous person (an have the others guess who it is)
  6. Make a poem
  7. Eat together and practise food vocabulary
  8. Interview guests

I really enjoyed today's lectures. It was definitely a pleasant change. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Impactful Professional Learning

This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

I had just graduated from University, had already found a job as a teacher of German, but still I felt that something was missing. My teaching was boring. It was the language, usually second foreign language, usually parents' choice, not much material.... me inexperienced and didn't know what to do.
One day I found an ad from the British council: course on teaching young learners.
And so I went!
My teacher trainer, Olha Madylus made the difference.
She was the first person to show me that teaching could also be fun!
She taught me how to do projects, arts and crafts, use songs, poetry and most of all have "life" in my teaching! What I have not learned at the university, studying hard for so long, I've learned that year.
I have also learned that you never stop learning and that's how I continued until now.
After that I have taken part in a lot of different courses, seminars, conventions and #keep_learning

PS. Can't wait for next week's challenge

Reflecting on the past school year, what is your biggest area for professional growth going into next school

This post is week 1 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators. 
The past school year was a real challenge for me. I was back in square one, since I had been working at a company, in an office creating material for the last 3 years, so I had stopped teaching as a full time job.
I never actually stopped teaching. I have always had some private students. But last September I HAD go back to teaching exclusively.
So, I took up everything that came to me, I didn't afford to be selective.
This meant that I taught both German and English, children and adults, exam preparation and business English and also a couple of children's classes and a group of university students. I've taught face to face and on Skype.
Lots of preparation for everything and everybody. Imagine that I had to prepare students for 9 different exams.
I learned terminology vocabulary about medicine, about recycling plants, about the law...
I researched kinaesthetic games for 5 year olds and computer games for teenagers.
One thing I've learned this year is "Never take your knowledge for granted". In Greece we have a saying: "I'm getting older while being taught all the time".
The year to come, I will keep learning.
Keep learning about:

  • social media and how to use them in order to advance my teaching
  • making short films with my students (begin a new project maybe"
  • learn more about different professions' vocabulary
  • learn a new language and be in my student's shoes
  • experiment on online platforms and expand my skills on online teaching
So that was my first post of this challenge!! Can't wait to write for the next one!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Learning German - Teaching Juniors (seminar report)

Last weekend I had the chance to attend Klett's seminar day, which was very informative.
What I liked the most was that although the event was organised by a publisher, which means that the target was how to sell books, people there at Klett Greece have done wonderful work presenting new trends in methodology and practical ways to teach all levels.

The session I attended was about teaching Juniors, held by the author of the book for Juniors, Ms Ulrike Kambitsis-Hetzel.
I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the energy of this teacher-author. She was very knowledgeable and had a variety of ideas for our lessons. Teaching Juniors requires a lot of stamina and ingenuity, in my opinion.
Judging from the fact that German materials in general had not reached the level of the relevant English ones, I was pleasantly surprised with this book.

Coming to the presentation, we first discussed the rituals teachers use in the classroom. Having things that you always do in class, gives the very young students security. These can be a specific greeting, various gestures, a quiet moment, a circle activity, etc.

Children learn through emotions, need variety, lots of repetitions, because although they learn easily, they forget really fast. And it would be better to learn in chunks and not an analysis of nouns, verbs and grammar that they still don't understand even in their mother tongue.
We were then shown some examples from the book, with suggestions how to use the materials and extra tips for games and more practice.

I would really like to thank KLETT Greece and Ms Hetsel for the enlightening session.
I wish I had more time to attend more sessions. Hopefully next time!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

IATEFL... One more year that I wasn't there...

Every April, I have a dream.... To go to IATEFL convention. Every year I cannot do it. I have been taking part in competitions, I have been applying for scholarships, I have been asking for sponsorships, I just couldn't make it so far. It's a bit of a disappointment, since I consider it to be the biggest international event for EFL teachers. I also can't understand why anyone wouldn't like to go.
So, I have been following the convention online reading tweets, blogs and watching it livestream and I thank British Council for giving us people the chance to watch some of the talks for free, from the comfort of our home.
I usually apply to be an official blogger, this year I have missed the chance, I haven't seen an add anywhere, so I just watched without taking notes. I watched just to watch. And I will watch everything there is online, now that summer is coming and I'll have less work and more time.
But being the Social Media Manager for TESOL MTh this year, gave me the chance to post pictures and quotes on the organisation's twitter account and Instagram, so let's say I was still reporting in some way.

So far I have managed to watch all the plenary talks and some sessions and today I will try to write my impressions and personal thoughts so far.
Dorothy Zemach's talk about how books are made was amazing. I had the chance to work closely in the EFL book industry, and I knew about PARSNIPS's and things that should not be written in an EFL book, I knew that pay is going lower and lower every day and I also know how difficult it is to write material in specific levels (been there, done that, nailed it :P) and how many people are behind a book creation.  I really admired the fact that she told the truth. A lot of people do not want to pay for their materials and are too lazy to create their own. And it is really a shame that sometimes we don't appreciate the trouble writers get into in order to write a book. As Dorothy said "It's time to pay for your stuff"!

I have also admired Britta Fernandez Schmidt. It is absolutely amazing the work she and her organisation have been doing to educate women in places where human rights are not considered rights, but privileges. The statistics she showed gave us the truth about what women face and how important it is to make people understand that something has to be done in order for some people to actually live a decent life. The videos with women and men in the programme gave hope.
Barry O' Sallivan looked at the history of English language testing and it was very interesting to see how back language exams go and how difficult they were back then. Nowadays, there are so many different institutions that offer language testing and I never realised how far back these exams go.

I also managed to watch a couple of sessions. One that really interest me was Phil Longwell's session about Mental health. I have been following his blog for quite some time now, since I had a talk about Mindfulness in TESOL MTh and his blog collection was very helpful indeed. It is surprising to see how many teachers suffer from anxiety and depression and other mental health problems, and that most of the times, they are being avoided and excluded from work and are not helped.

Another session I would like to mention was Ana Lucia de Mello Carrier's about drills. I was not planning to watch this, I just came across the livestream. Having actually been raised with drills, I believe that there was no other method when I learned foreign languages, I am not if favour of this kind of exercise. For me as a student, it was very boring to repeat and repeat and not have the chance for a more communicative lesson. The one I have been trying with my students nowadays. But I will not lie. I have learned English. I have learned with the drills. And it actually depends on what kind of students you have, what means you have, what situations you have to face. So, I am not excluding it as a method. Ms. Carrier has shown us some helpful ways how to use drills in the classroom.

My virtual visit to IATEFL has not finished yet. I still have a lot to watch and read and pretend I was there.
Until next year...

You can watch more over here.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Social Media Course on Future Learn

I consider myself very lucky to be able to attend courses on various subjects, especially the ones that do not have to do directly with my "job". In my opinion, though, we should be versatile, acquire new skills, because you never know when you will need them.
I have always been active on social media and have been following influencers, trying to find our more about how we can "sell" ourselves and try to use media in order to promote our work. 
Since March, I am the new Social Media Manager at TESOL Macedonia Thrace, which is  the local Teacher Association in Northern Greece, so I thought I should try and although I have been successful so far, I wanted to get to know more and enhance my abilities in both advertising the Association as well as my professional self. I am not stopping here of course. The learning continues....
#keepmoving #keeplearning

Learning outcomes

  • Explain what Social Media is
  • Describe how it can be used to build a brand
  • Explain what target groups are
  • Identify social media channels
  • Explain tips for messaging
  • Describe the role of a Social Media Manager
  • Identify Social Media Management tools


Week 1
  • What is social media?
  • Target groups
  • Social media channels
  • Managing your social media presence
  • Social media management tools
Week 2
  • Social media top tips
  • The importance of performance measurement
  • Social media listening

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mobile phones: activities in the classroom

Today was seminar day in German, held by a very popular publisher in Greece.
Most presentations were about their books and there was also a big book exhibition.
One thing that intrigued me to was a session about mobile phones and ways to use them in the classroom.
I thought they would introduce us to apps that we can use with our students, like some apps they have developed at Goethe Institute, games, words etc,
But, the session was more practical, using almost no apps.
Some suggestions were:

  • use the video to record students mime words and then show them to class or in pairs and try to guess the words
  • use video to record students introducing themselves and writing down information
  • use recording device to read words or text so that other students listen to it and write dictation.
  • take pictures of items and make collocations or compound words
  • use the calculator to practise numbers 
  • record noises to practise vocabulary
  • use the weather app to talk about weather
  • use your phone calendar to make dialogues about meeting on a specific time and date
  • use messenger/ what's up / viber to set a date instead of speaking activity

I believe that all these ideas are very practical, but I would also suggest some apps.
  • I use duolingo to practise vocabulary in different languages and the constant repetition has helped me a lot. 
  • Another game that my students absolutely LOVED is The mystery of Nebra. The language level has to be A2 or more, but it is an adventure game that you will definitely enjoy.
  • Another fun game to play is Der heisse Kartofel
  • For more beginners, there is also Deutchtrainer A1 with  basic vocabulary practice.
I also use my phone as a dictionary, there are several online dictionaries that you can use.
Last but not least, I use You Tube to watch clips, songs and everything I can find in the target language.