Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event Speakers - Interview with Dr Tassos Vogiatzis

Our second speaker for this year's New Year Event is Dr Tassos Vogiatzis whose session will be focusing on "Cognitive Linguistics and political communication in the language classroom". Dr. Anastasios Vogiatzis holds a Ph.D in Cognitive Linguistics from the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His primary research focuses on the use of metaphor in crisis management. Areas of great interest to him are the cognitive motivation for idiomatic expressions, as well the application of the cognitive framework in the foreign language classroom.

1. What is the main focus of your talk?

At first glance the focus of my talk is the use of metaphor research in the foreign language classroom, and more specifically the combination of Cognitive Linguistics and Political Communication as means to engage students with language. If, however, we take a closer look, it is all about the teacher and the student.  More specifically, I aim to show how teachers can make use of a relatively new field of study in order to deliver lessons that can attract students’ attention and at the same time improve their language proficiency and research skills.

2. What do you hope that members of the audience will remember about your talk?

The talk is multifaceted and works at various levels. First, I want the audience to learn how to use the framework (i.e. Cognitive Linguistics) so as develop their teaching skills.  Since this talk involves politics I hope that they will gain some knowledge of the role of metaphor in political speech, especially now that world is experiencing constant and unexpected change. But most importantly I want them to remember that there is a lot of research going on that they can use to everyone’s benefit, both their students’ and their own.

3.  Could you briefly explain why the study of metaphor is important to language teachers?

Language is not arbitrary, and does not come by accident. Research on metaphor at a conceptual level has shown that a large part of the way we speak is related to the way we experience the world through our body and through our interaction with the environment around us. For example, consider terms that express motion and direction, such as front/back, up/down.  Terms such as these often form the basis for commonplace metaphorical understandings that are based on our bodily experience.  Have you ever thought why “more” is expressed as “up,” in expressions like “Speak up, please.” What we experience, and our perception of it, can define how we speak. With this in mind, foreign language teachers can explain phenomena in language that do not seem to make sense: in fact, idioms, phrasal verbs, prepositions, even grammatical constructions do make sense conceptually.

Monday, January 13, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event Speakers - Interview with Dr Sophia Emmanouilidou

Our first speaker for this year's New Year Event is Dr. Sophia Emmanouilidou who will be talking about "Convivial Classrooms: Creating Contact Zones in a Multicultural School Environment". Dr. Sophia Emmanouilidou received her Ph.D. from the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, with distinction in 2003 and on a full scholarship from the Foundation of National Scholarships in Greece (IKY). She has been a Fulbright scholar at the University of Texas, Austin, and she has published several articles on Chicana/o literature and identity-focused theories. Her interests include border cultures, social studies, literary theory and ecocriticism. She has taught at the University of the Aegean, Department of Social Anthropology and History; and the University of the Peloponnese, Department of History and Culture, and the TEI of the Ionian Islands, Department of Environment Technologists. She is presently teaching at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of American Literature.

1.     What is the main focus of your talk?

This talk answers the following questions: What is a convivial classroom? What do we mean by the term ‘convivial’ tools? Drawing from Ivan Illich’s philosophy of education, I would say that an English language classroom can be a space that uses our knowledge of facts, information, and skills to enrich our life experiences. Illich claims that what we learn at school is a tool that helps us comprehend and re-vision the world, ideally in a communal mode. In this context, a classroom can become a space that promotes associations among different people, despite their varied backgrounds (cultural, familial, religious, and others), and encourages people to accept difference. Valuing diverse backgrounds can be achieved through various activities: introduction tales, when a student interviews and then introduces another student to the group, round table discussions on a ‘hot topic’, such as depletion of natural resources, creative writing based on a visual stimulus, such as a painting, food festivals, project work on festivities and celebrations around the world, and others. All these activities enhance students’ learning skills, such as critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating.

2.     What do you hope that members of the audience will remember about your talk?

In this talk, I will share examples from my own classroom experience that show how the principles of conviviality, such as interculturalism and the promotion of a democratic society, can be developed in a classroom setting.  I call these types of communication convivial interludes: they are short breaks from our programmed routines, when we can escape the mandates of curricula, syllabi and textbooks. One might consider these convivial breaks as a delay or an interruption, but they can also be happy occasions for us all to be friendly and welcoming to diversity.  One such activity is the World Café, a kind of informal conversation that examines diverse perspectives on a specific topic, such as gender roles. It is also important to remember that convivial interludes are not always planned. Sometimes they pop up unexpectedly during the students’ reactions to information presented in a textbook; for example, students might object to a definition that does not seem agreeable, or a stereotype in an illustration. Whether planned or spontaneous, convivial interludes allow students to practice their language skills, take initiative in representing their cultural backgrounds, and eventually recognize and celebrate diversity.

3.     How could the principles of conviviality be used in a monocultural classroom to encourage students to accept others whose lifestyle, beliefs, gender orientation, etc. differ from their own?

Conviviality in a learning environment means that mutual understanding among participants can be achieved despite their differences. I am not so sure if the term monocultural reflects our current social reality, especially when we consider the free flow of meanings and definitions in the ‘glocal’ world we live in. Although there are still projections of a dominant culture, many believe that they are quite old-fashioned or even obsolete. So, I wonder if we have already moved from monoculturalism to multiculturalism.  And if we have, shouldn’t a classroom setting help students make this transition to a mentality that supports inclusion? The principles of conviviality in education can certainly make this ongoing cross-cultural dialogue an enjoyable experience, especially when students use English to communicate with each other.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event

We are looking forward to cutting our Vasilopita for 2020 with all of you around us! Our New Year's event for 2020 will be held on Sunday, 19th January 2020 from 18:00 -20:30  at the CITY College (L. Sofou 3) and our speakers are Dr. Sophia Emmanouilidou  and Dr. Tassos Vogiatzis, both from the School of English of AUTH. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Warm wishes for 2020 and upcoming events!

From all of us at the TESOL MTH board, 

Along with our wishes for a successful and well-balanced 2020, please pencil in the date of our next Webinar with  Eugenia Carrión Cantón: Saturday 11th January 2020 at 17:00.    

Eugenia is a qualified EFL teacher, teacher educator and curriculum developer from University of Tierra del Fuego and IPES Paulo Freire and Member of FAAPI Executive committee.  

The speaker tells us about the session 
"Puppetry as a technique provides exciting opportunities for foreign language learners of all ages to express themselves in communicative situations. Moreover, puppet use has shown evidences of the powerful educational advantages fitting with Play theory, Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) theory, and Multiple Intelligence theory. This workshop will share some ideas regarding the importance of using of puppets in diversity of learning contexts, will provide practical situations to incorporate puppets to benefit all children´s enjoyment and learning and will foster puppetry making.''

If you are interested in attending, note that our webinar will be held on Saturday 11/1/2020 from 17:00 to 18:00The link to the Google form is  https://forms.gle/va3nHv6V1fbL8ak87

Please note that the link will be sent about 45 minutes before the beginning of the session and all participants need to mute their microphones. If you have questions, you can use the chat box. A short Q and A session will follow at the end of the session.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece English for Academic Purposes event

November is the month of our English for Academic Purposes event and it is with great pleasure that we'll be welcoming two excellent speakers, Ms Anastasia Panidou and Dr Christopher Lees this Saturday, 30th of November at New York College. Both sessions will be focusing on extremely interesting topics. Ms Panidou will be talking about "Teaching English to Thrid Culture Kids" while Dr Lees will be focusing on "Language variety in Greek state schools: The case of digital communication". We are looking forward to their inspiring sessions and to seeing all of you there!


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Welcome Back Day Conference - An interview with David Gibson

Our Welcome Back event is just around the corner and we couldn't be more excited to start the new academic year with three inspirational speakers who will take us on a magical journey in the world of storytelling. 

David Gibson began teaching in 1964 and retired in 2008. Throughout his long career, he taught 15 years in Elementary and Secondary schools in England, 8 years in Frontisteria in Xanthi and Thessaloniki, 8 years as teacher/trainer at the British Council, Thessaloniki and 13 years at Pinewood International School, Thessaloniki, teaching language and literature, coaching football, running guitar clubs and school bands. 

  • What do you hope participants will gain from your session?
It is my hope that participants will leave the session with, if not a new, then a deeper, understanding of the fact that we are ALL storytellers. We live by stories and we are made by them. Stories form the basis not just of language teaching but of the whole of human communication and interaction. We cannot live without stories. I am not talking just about stories that are put in books or on the stage or on film -- although these are also vitally important to any cultured society -- but about the stories of our everyday lives which draw us together, bind us together, and help to keep human life moving forward, progressing, developing, and improving. I would like everyone to join me in believing that stories -- whether told or read aloud or silently -- are as important to us as food and drink and physical exercise. Stories are needed for us all -- and not just our students -- to visualise, understand, and share the world and our experiences in it. Storytelling should, and must, have a central position in ALL teaching and not just in the teaching of language. We all NEED stories. Where can we live but in stories? I hope that the participants in my session will go away agreeing with me, if only in part -- though the last thing I want to do is to preach! Just remember: some days you tell the story, and some days the story tells you.

  • How has storytelling changed or influenced your approach to teaching?
All through my childhood in our village in the north of England, our family were dedicated churchgoers. (It all changed during my late teens -- but that's another story!) My beloved mother, for whom I would have done anything, was a Sunday school teacher and one day when I was 16 she asked me if I could help her out. She was overwhelmed by the number of children she had to deal with and asked if I could take half of them from her. What could I do? Tell them Bible stories! All my friends in the village laughed at me as I went to the church institute every Sunday afternoon in my tight black jeans and Beatles haircut (it was 1963) to spend a couple of hours with a bunch of "daft kids" instead of hanging around listening to the latest pop records. But I loved it. Of course, I couldn't actually read to them from the Bible as they were too young to understand the language. But I knew most of the stories anyway, so I just told them (like Jesus did!) Later, I got the idea of making models out of paper and cardboard with them; we made different types of churches, and what we called "Jesus houses", and in this way I discovered the power and potential of storytelling in all it can lead to and achieve. A year later, at the age of 17 (when I was kicked out of my Grammar School -- Beatles haircut, etc ...) I became a "real" teacher (yet another story!) and after that storytelling became an essential and integral part of everything I did for the next 44 (and more) years.

  • How do you feel about the role of technology in storytelling? 
"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.
  The world will have a generation of idiots".

       (Albert Einstein)

Technology might have a role in storytelling, but I believe that it is small and slight. Powerpoint might be used with large groups for displaying illustrations in picture-books, say, but from what I have seen of so-called "interactive whiteboards", for example, there appears to be very little actual HUMAN interaction going on in their use. The technological revolution has very definitely taken place, and while the genie cannot be put back in the lamp (or the toothpaste in the tube) there are still a few pig-headed souls like me who struggle to resist the ever-growing tsunami of devices and gadgets. Nothing can take the place of the intimacy that exists between the teller or reader of a story and the audience, as well as among those who listen and share the experience. Reading aloud to a group (or even to an individual) is a delightful activity for all concerned and one which is too precious to be overlooked, let alone abandoned. Other means of reading (and storytelling) can be dismissed as being no substitute for the real thing. Every book feels and looks different in your hands. Every Kindle download or e-reader looks and feels exactly the same. Electronic books look as if they contain information and very little else, while real books look as if they contain knowledge and wisdom. A storyteller-teacher is a communicator and transmitter of the latter two essentials of education --- and it won't happen through the use of gimmicky gadgets.
p.s. I've just decided that the title of my next TESOL presentation will be "Back to Books"!

Welcome Back Day Conference - An interview with Jeanne Perrett

Our Welcome Back event is just around the corner and we couldn't be more excited to start the new academic year with three inspirational speakers who will take us on a magical journey in the world of storytelling. 

Jeanne Perrett has been working in the language teaching sector for over thirty-five years as a teacher, school owner, publisher and writer and is the author of many acclaimed pre-primary and primary EFL series. She has trained teachers all over the world and frequently presented at professional conferences. Jeanne graduated from Sussex University with an honours degree in English Literature and, after gaining a TEFL qualification from International House, has lived in Greece since 1981. Apart from her professional experience, she draws a lot on the practical knowledge she has gained as the mother of four children and now as the grandmother of five. 

  • What do you hope participants will gain from your session?

Well, as always, it’s a two-way thing and I am looking forward to an exchange of energy, ideas and inspiration.

  • How has storytelling changed or influenced your approach to teaching?
Visualizing and then, let’s say, dramatizing language has always made sense to me. Sometimes this involves putting the language into what we traditionally think of as stories, sometimes it means creating our own stories of everyday life.

  • How do you feel about the role of technology in storytelling? 
Social media asks us to add to our own stories every time we log on. So, technology can involve us in creating, telling and following stories. Technology can enhance, entertain and inspire. But so can plain text and the human voice. Both the spoken word and our inner voices are evocative.