Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Xmas Event 2014 - Report

On December 14th, at the beautiful location of Les Lazaristes, we gathered for the traditional TESOL Macedonia Thrace Christmas event, with talks, storytelling, games, songs and lots of presents.

Our first speaker, Dr. Ziaka gave a very interesting talk on the ins and outs of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). Dr. Ziaka’s talk was definitely a crash course in CLIL, covering from the most basic questions- what is CLIL? - to the most specific ones – how do we teach it?

Probably the most important points raised were that CLIL leads to purposeful communication as it is not focused on language learning for its own sake but for that of content. Another important point noted by Dr. Ziaka was how the learners do more language without having more homework, how it raises the learners’ self-confidence and motivation. This became obvious to those attending when Dr. Ziaka showed us a video of a 9 year old learner giving a presentation, in English on solar energy, based on his own research and using his own notes. What more could a teacher want?
This was definitely a most interesting talk and hopefully a practice which will become nationwide in the near future? Fingers crossed!

After CLIL, it was time for some fun with Despoina Vardaki, Kathy Kyriakidou and Elpiniki Psomataki. 

The ladies put us in the festive spirit with a dramatized Christmas story, with games where participants could join in, songs with kinesthetic elements to get us moving and poetry. But the most beautiful part of all was seeing the children who came along, having fun with all these activities.
I’m sure those who attended left with a smile on their faces, and a little more festive than before they came!

By Natasha Loukeri

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Xmas Event 2014

Xmas Event not to miss!
Dr Ioanna Ziaka
And Despina Vardaki, Kathy Kyriakidou and Elpiniki Psomataki

Dr Ioanna Ziaka has been teaching English for 30 years. She has worked for private language schools, primary and tertiary education. She is currently vice-principal of the 3rd Experimental Primary School of Evosmos where she teaches English through literature and Environmental Studies through CLIL. The school is supervised by the School of English Language and Literature of the Aristotle University.

CLIL: something new, something old or something borrowed?
New arrival in the field from the EU and its name is CLIL. What is it? Why should we bring it in our classrooms? How do we go about implementing it? Does it work? The session will provide some answers to the above, as the programme has been running for four years in the 3rd Model Experimental Primary School of Evosmos and will provide practitioners with techniques and ICT tools used by the speaker in her effort to implement CLIL with nine-year-olds in Environmental Studies.


Despina Vardaki holds a BA in English Language and Literature (1992) and an MA in Language Didactics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2004). She has been teaching at Arsakeio Primary School of Thessaloniki for twenty years. She is an assessor in the State Certificate of Language Proficiency (KPG).

Kathy Kyriakidou holds a BA Honours Degree in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1998). She has been teaching English for the past 16 years at foreign language centers, private schools and state schools and has taught all ages and levels. She is currently working as a private school teacher. She is an experienced English language examiner and has worked as an exam supervisor and as an oral examiner for various examination bodies.

Elpiniki Psomataki holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (1990) and an M.A. in Translation from the University of Mons-Hainaut, Belgium (1993). She has been working as an English teacher at Arsakeio Primary School for 18 years.

ELFing around the Christmas tree!
Come and share some Christmas spirit and elf cheer with us! We’ll tell an Irish elf story and we’ll go elf crazy with fun activities, chants and music! All ages are welcome, as we hope to appeal to your inner elf! Ho! Ho! Ho!
A workshop for teachers of young and more advanced learners by Despina Vardaki, Kathy Kyriakidou and Elpiniki Psomataki

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Welcome Back Event - report

TESOL Macedonia- Thrace, Northern Greece held its annual “Welcome Back” event at the War Museum of Thessaloniki this year. The guest speaker was Professor Desmond Thomas from the University of Essex, who gave a talk with the title “Becoming a Researcher: Is it Worth the Effort?”, a project which is going to take place on SEETA and in which all members are welcome to take part. The auditorium was full with people who were enthusiastic about the beginning of the new school year. Everyone attended the talk with great interest since it is an online project of great importance.

The event began with Roger House’s report on the past events organized by TESOL Macedonia- Thrace throughout the year and their great success as a “result of the effort of all the board members”, as he said. He also made an important announcement: that he steps down as Chair due to his moving to Athens for professional reasons, and he welcomed on the board, as a replacement, Georgia Psarra. Then the new Chair, George Topalis, took over. Mr Topalis gave the annual financial report and presented this year’s Convention entitled “Back to Basics”, which is going to be held on the 28th-29th March 2015 at the American College of Thessaloniki.

Afterwards it was the turn of Professor Thomas, who started his talk by providing some background information about himself. He is a Professor at the University of Essex and a researcher or, as he prefers to be called, a teacher- researcher, a term that caused a surprise to the audience and which he clarified in his talk. He explained that a teacher-researcher is someone who does research in their own classrooms. He then asked why people do research and he gave some possible answers. Some, he said, want to add to existing knowledge, to explain existing knowledge or to question and why not, challenge existing knowledge. But there might also be some personal reasons for conducting research. For example, someone may want to do research to find answers to personal questions they have or others expect that their research will lead them to a promotion or to fame. He went on to talk about the different types of research, stressing that the most important thing is to find the right question that is going to be the subject of your research. He also referred to the difference between teaching and research and he posed the question if there really is such a difference. His answer was a definitive “NO”. He said that we should ensure that research and teaching are fully integrated and that teachers should become researchers. A brief account of the situation in the U.K was provided, especially of the difficulties both teachers and researchers face by the effort to connect Universities with the job market. Mr Thomas quoted parts of some books by David Nunan, where he stresses the necessity of the existence of teachers-researchers and of Miller, according to whom “all teachers are already researchers although their findings are not published”.

Professor Thomas went on to explain the two distinct approaches existing in research. The one is the Positivist/ scientific approach that states that the world exists independently of our knowledge of it and uses quantitative data collection and analysis. The second one is the interpretivist approach, which states that the world is defined by our knowledge of it and uses qualitative data collection and analysis. In education the one used is the positivist/ scientific one because it is the only one that leads to objective and measurable results. He also talked about the research cycle that starts from hypothesis and ends with the data and their analysis, about how to develop a research project ,and he gave some examples of research topics. Furthermore, he said that research benefits the teachers in two ways. First of all, it is a reflective practice where the teacher has to think about what they do and why and secondly it boosts the teacher’s confidence.  Mr Thomas went on to explain the stages of the project organized by SEETA. The first stage will be the collaborative stage which is a small scale research, set after consensus and carried out by individuals at their respective institutions. The second stage will be the individual stage where EFL teachers choose and develop their own research projects to be carried out in their institutions with the continuous support of SEETA. This support will be in the form of training and webinars carried out during the first stage – and will be necessary for both stages. He concluded his talk with some questions for discussion and the introduction of the research topic, suggested by the majority of teachers on SEETA, entitled: “The Changing Uses of Technology in the EFL Classroom”.

Next, it was the turn of Anna Parisi, as SEETA coordinator, to explain the project and what the teachers who will decide to participate will have to do and will gain from this experience. Anna and Desmond stressed time and again the support and the training that all teachers will have by SEETA. She said that it is going to be a two-year long project. The first year will be a training year where teachers will be able to attend webinars and learn how to carry out research and they will be asked to complete certain tasks. Certificates will be provided to those who successfully complete the tasks. The second year will be the year when teachers will have to do their research and write reports on their findings. The results of both years will be published in IATEFL and the names of the people who participated will be included. All information is available on SEETA for the teachers who are going to be interested in becoming researchers.

The event finished with a guided tour of the museum where all attendees had the chance to admire the different exhibits and learn useful historical data. It was a great pleasure seeing everybody at our “Welcome Back” event and we are expecting you to our next events as well. As TESOL Macedonia-Thrace board members we would like to wish you a happy and productive new school year.

By Emmanuel Kontovas

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Run with TESOL MTh

Run with TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece
in a 5000m street race on 18 October 2014, 9:15 p.m.

Register and pay the marathon participation fee of 10€ at the Welcome Back Event on 28th September 2014, or contact Margarita Kosior at (email subject: Street Race)
More information about the event at

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Welcome Back Event

So what is the Welcome Back event going to be all about? Natasha Loukeri, a TESOL MTh board member and a SEETA representative, explains:

In the EFL world there tends to be a distinction between those carrying out research (specialist academics) and those who are active in the classroom (teachers). Why should this be when most of the observation and research is already done by the active EFL teacher through monitoring, surveys, note taking and so on? How come the findings from these are seldom, if ever, published?
This year at the Welcome Back Event we will be launching the international Small-Scale Research project carried out by SEETA in collaboration with Desmond Thomas (University of Essex). This project aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to build on the knowledge that has been accumulated by the practicing teacher.
For more information on this project visit the SEETA site ( or watch the webinar with Desmond Thomas at

10:00-11:00 Registration & Welcoming Speech
11:00-11:50 Desmond Thomas (University of Essex)
11:50-12:00 Break
12:00-13:00 Project Launch: Anna Parisi (SEETA administrator) & Desmond Thomas (University of Essex)
13:00-14:00 AGM
14:00-15:00 Tour of the Museum

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Apply now!

Preparations for the 22nd TESOL Macedonia Thrace, Northern Greece Annual International Convention are in full swing. If you want to deliver a presentation or a workshop, or try out the Pecha Kucha style of presentation, APPLY NOW! You can find the online application form here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Event 2014 In Retrospect

On June 22nd, TESOL MTh, Northern Greece closed the academic year with an interesting, educational and fun event at one of the most beautiful venues- the Macedonia-Thrace Folklore and Ethnological Museum.  The event began- after a very long delay due to technical issues- with a presentation by Dr Mattheoudakis and Ms Elena Sofroniadou and was followed by a tour of the Museum by its curator, Mr. Zisis Skambalis.

TesolMTh was honored to have Dr. Marina Mattheoudakis and Ms Elena Sofroniadou presenting “Training the Early Bird to Catch the Worm: Wishful Thinking or Reality?”  Through this most interesting presentation, we delved into the new policies surrounding English Language Learning at the experimental school as well as the ‘why’s and the how’s’ of early language learning. Dr. Mattheoudakis took the stand first and explained how language learning serves not only as a purpose in itself but also as a medium for raising intercultural awareness and tolerance to linguistic and cultural diversity.  She then gave us a breakdown of the eclectic approach which the teachers of the experimental school chose to follow, i.e. choosing those fun and engaging activities from a range of approaches (Lexical, Suggestopeadia, Task based, Multisensory, Discovery etc.). The reason being that young learners learn through senses, experientially, they’re imaginative and brave and good at guessing; they need to move and they learn through movement; grammar is meaningless to them, so there is no need for explicit teaching. On the other hand, young learners have very short attention spans; they have good memories but also tend to forget quickly. As Dr. Mattheoudakis pointed out, young learners are alleged to be better language learners and this is true as far as pronunciation and listening is concerned. Hence, her advice is to use L2 in the classroom even if learners don’t understand.

Ms Elena Sofroniadou then took over and showed the attendees via video how this eclectic approach is implemented at grade 1. Ms Sofroniadou introduced the thematic areas which were covered, such as colours, animals, Halloween, etc. and how these were built and extended through various stories. For example, the story "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?"  was used to introduce animals, extended with more animal vocabulary and then extended even further to include adjectives. A personal favourite was the fruit party, where young learners were actually having a fruit party in class! Choral work, songs and choreography were also shown as well as arts and crafts, all bringing together the eclectic approach as was explained by Dr. Mattheoudakis at the beginning.

Our event continued with an interesting and informative tour of the Folklore and Ethnological Museum for all participants. What struck most of us was the passion and fervor with which our guide and Manager of the museum, Mr. Zisis Skambalis, spoke of the exhibits, his own personal involvement in recovering these but also, the necessity of such museums which preserve a country’s history.  And for those English teachers who might have designers, mechanics, architects and engineers, this museum would be definitely worth a tripfew drinks.

To finish off the event the board and members took their time in enjoying the beautiful garden, with a cold drink and a few delicious snacks.  And what better way could we find to end the year?

By Natasha Loukeri

Video credits: Margarita Kosior

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Event 2014


Training the early bird to catch the worm: wishful thinking or reality? 

Elena Sofroniadou1 and Marina Mattheoudakis2
3rd Model Experimental Primary School of Evosmos, Thessaloniki1 
School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki2

The recent introduction of foreign language instruction to the early grades of primary school in Greece is in tune with the widespread tendency in Europe for an earlier start in L2 learning (PEAP, 2010). The 3rd Model Experimental Primary School of Evosmos, Thessaloniki, was the first state school in Greece which introduced English language teaching to first graders in 2008. Following the latest research in early foreign language education (Edelenbos, Johnstone & Kubanek, 2006), the syllabus and methodology adopted at school take into consideration and build upon young learners’ needs, skills and abilities. In particular, the L2 instruction at school (a) places emphasis on the development of oracy, (b) takes into consideration young learners’ learning styles and kinaesthetic characteristics, and (c) provides them with rich L2 input both in class but also in extra-curricular activities. In this experimental school, language classes are held 5 hours a week but further L2 input is provided through the CLIL method in Physical Education and Arts classes. The particular school has adopted and implemented a different L2 curriculum from that promoted in the rest of the Greek state schools and our presentation aims to analyse the rationale of our choices and their practical implementations in class.


Elena Sofroniadou teaches English at primary schools but she has been working as an English teacher ever since she was an undergraduate. She holds an M.A. in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Cambridge RSA Diploma for Overseas Teachers of English (DOTE). From very early, she became a TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece member and later she was elected on the Board as a PR officer (1999-2001) and as a Chair in the years 2001-2003. She participated as a teacher trainer in several seminars in Northern Greece. She is very keen on doing research for the teaching of English in the primary schools in Greece. Her main interests lie in teaching young learners, in using literature and drama in the EFL classroom and in doing project work. She’s been an English teacher at the 3rd Experimental School of Evosmos for 6 years.

Marina Mattheoudakis is an Associate Professor at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She holds an M.A. in TEFL from the University of Birmingham, U.K. and a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She teaches courses in second language acquisition and language teaching methodology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She participated for two years in a European project aiming at the social and educational inclusion of immigrants in Europe (2001-2003) and she was also the coordinator of a European Research Project for teachers of modern languages (2003-2007). She is currently participating in four European projects on issues related to foreign language learning and teaching. She is one of the designers and compilers of the Greek International Corpus of Learner English (GRICLE, University of Louvain, Belgium). Her main research interests lie in the areas of second language learning and teaching, corpora and their applications. She has presented her research work at several national and international conferences and has published in international journals, books and conference proceedings.

Contact details:
Marina Mattheoudakis,
Associate Professor
Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics
School of English
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
tel. no.: +302310997455
fax no: +302310997432

Elena Sofroniadou
3rd Model Experimental Primary School of Evosmos
26, Karaoli & Dimitriou Str.
tel. no.: +306976177374
fax. no.: +302310703980

TESOL MTh - Be A Part Of It

Save the Date

The 21st TESOL MTh Annual International Convention: Closing Ceremony

TESOL MTh 2014 Pecha Kucha Evening

TESOL MTh 2014 Plenary Speaker Vicky Loras - Interview

TESOL MTh 2014 Plenary Speaker Kieran Donaghy - Interview

TESOL MTh 2014 Plenary Speaker Dr Terry Lamb - Interview

TESOL MTh 2014 Plenary Speaker Carol Griffiths - Interview

The 21st TESOL MTh Annual International Convention: Opening Ceremony

Enhancing Learning through Assessment for Learning; a Workshop by Prof. Terry Lamb - Report

After a very successful plenary talk, Prof. Terry Lamb held a workshop.
In the beginning he summarized the key principles of learner autonomy, for example critical thinking, self-regulation, curiosity and imagination, and then the participants were given a questionnaire with the key characteristics for assessment for learning and their connection to learner autonomy. The participants were divided into groups and had to discuss these points and find examples from their own practice in their teaching environment.

The key characteristics were:
1. Sharing learning objectives with learners e.g. Teacher asks Students “Why do you think we are doing this activity?” at the beginning or the end of the lesson
2. Helping Learners to know and recognize the standards they are aiming for e.g. Teacher gives Students models / criteria how to do the activity.
3. Involving Learners in peer- and self-assessment e.g. Students exchanging views, taking notice of errors or self-assessment questions in the end of the lesson, portfolios, and teachers underlining errors in written work without actually correcting it.
4. Providing feedback which leads to learners recognizing their next steps and how to take them e.g. brainstorm ideas, set an outline, ask questions “what do we need to do next?”
5. Promoting confidence that every learner can improve e.g. not focus on the mistakes, praise students, give them a chance to improve
6. Involving both teacher and learners in reviewing and reflecting on assessment information e.g. write correct phrases at the end of the lesson, give students more time to reflect or a second chance to do the activity again.

The participants were then shown a video from a music class in England and were told to discuss the teacher’s methods and compare the key characteristics to their own previous answers. Finally the teacher’s methods were assessed by the participants, talking about what positive and negative aspects they found in the video

All in all a very enlightening session.

By Theodora Papapanagiotou

Short and Sweet: Using short films to promote Creativity and Communication; a Workshop by Kieran Donaghy – Report

In Kieran’s workshop we explored how short films can be used in the classroom. The advantages of short films are that they are almost free, varied and not time-consuming. Teachers can use them to promote creativity, practice communicative skills – both written and oral – with their students, and boost critical thinking.

Kieran started by quoting that researches and studies have shown that creativity is lost while people are growing up. As one gets older, this ability declines to ¼ of what we are born with.  Then he asked us to find ways to use a paper-clip or a cardboard box. The ideas we came up with were quite innovative, creative and funny. Then we watched a short film with the adventures of a Cardboard box. The ways a child perceives the use of a box are limitless.

The second film was about creativity and the 29 ways to be creative. Language teaching can be creative if educators take risks, do not give up and collaborate. The next short film was about a manifesto. What is a manifesto? What type of manifesto could a short film promote? The video is a call for action to live a life passionately and with integrity. It urges viewers to see their lives from another perspective, change what does not satisfy them, change their way of thinking and enjoy life. Kieran suggested that students could create their own manifesto and express what radical changes they would like to have in their lives.

The last video was about secrets and thoughts that people can share without revealing them. It encourages us to think about something positive, exhilarating, something that could make us happy.
The workshop ended with Kieran suggesting to us websites from which we could use short films in the classroom, i.e. futureshorts, vimeo, staff picks,

EFL teachers who would like to implement short films in their  lessons should visit Kieran Donaghy’s site

By Georgia Psarra

Professional Development for Now and the Future: A Guide for Educators; a Workshop by Vicky Loras - Report

First of all I have to say that it is always such a joy to have Vicky Loras with us in Thessaloniki.
Ms Loras talked about why teachers should continue their professional development and how to do it.
Why should a teacher get involved in this?
The answers are many.
First of all, it is about personal learning. We, teachers, learn new things to improve ourselves both personally and professionally.
We can learn new methods, we keep ourselves motivated, we can further our career and there is a chance that we can find better working positions.
How can we develop professionally?
  • Conferences, workshops, swapshops
There are plenty of local and international events.
You can listen to great talks, you can get ideas, you can suggest ideas, you can talk with other educators

(Swapshops are sessions where teachers each bring their own ideas and present them for about seven minutes, they all present and swap ideas)
  • Discussion groups

You can get together with colleagues, or friend-teachers who work at other schools, choose a topic, discuss, find new ways to implement what you have learned, find solutions to problems. You can even take notes and write a newsletter, which all the participants can keep.
  • Mentoring

You can mentor a new colleague, or a colleague with a problem or a fellow educator in need of new ideas, or you can be mentored.
  • Observe and be observed

This can be really intimidating, when it comes from the school management. Peer observation, on the other hand, is less frightening.
  • Journals

There are so many journals out there.  You can read about new ideas, think critically, share your ideas.
  • Isolation

A teacher can be isolated, maybe there are no supportive colleagues or the distances are great or the schedules are different, maybe you are a freelancer and have nobody to talk to, or maybe you are unemployed or underemployed.
There is always someone for you ONLINE

“It’s not about plugging into devices, it’s about being plugged to each other”

So… there is Twitter, Facebook, blogs and so much more for you to build your own PLN (Personal Learning Network)

By Theodora Papapanagiotou

Creating Lessons using Narratives: a Workshop by Carol Griffiths & Jiydegul Alymidin Kyzy - Report

Following the plenary presentation by Carol Griffiths, this was a very interesting workshop, during which we were encouraged to put into practice what was discussed in the plenary talk.

“Stories are universal and enjoyed across all ages and cultures”. Therefore stories can be an invaluable motivation to engage attention across a range of learning styles. The subject of this wonderful presentation was how to use narratives, stories to develop both receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) skills. Ms. Griffiths discussed issues such as motivation, attention, learning style, input and output and illustrated how an original story, written by students can be sequenced as a prompt to teach.

In the actual workshop, Jiydegul Alymidin Kyzy summarized what was presented in the plenary and we then moved on to a very stimulating activity.
The participants were given an authentic text and had to work in groups in order to find activities that would cover all five sections of an ELT lesson (Speaking & Writing, Listening, Reading, Vocabulary & Pronunciation and Grammar).

We were divided into groups of five and each one had to work on one particular skill and then presented our “work”. Each group generated a list of some very interesting suggestions including:
  • Using synonyms to practice vocabulary;
  • Replacing words from the text and having students find them;
  • Correcting grammar mistakes;
  • Students talking about an experience similar to the one described in the text and, as a follow-up, writing an essay about it;
  • Rearranging jumbled paragraphs to practice Reading Comprehension; or
  • Identifying topic sentences in paragraphs.

These were only a few of the ideas presented.

All in all, it was a really motivational workshop which provided us with lots of material and ideas for our lessons.

 By Theodora Papapanagiotou