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, english-english.com

EFL teachers who would like to implement short films in their  lessons should visit Kieran Donaghy’s site http://film-english.com/

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Researching the Promotion of Strategic Learning in the EFL Classroom by Athina Vrettou and Angeliki Psaltou-Joycey - Report

Nowadays teachers are dealing with the challenge of “learning how to learn” and research is focused on redefining L2 strategies. The aim is to design an effective strategy instruction which will contribute to the maximization of students’ L2 performance. Athina Vrettou and Angeliki Paltou-Joycey presented the aims of a project named “Thalis” which is supported by European Union and explores the “identification of strategic profiles in primary and secondary level students around Greece as well as the promotion of strategies in EFL classroom.’

“Thalis” project was based on a pilot study which had the form of a questionnaire and lasted two months (November-December 2013). A sample of 58 teachers both of primary and secondary education from all of Greece participated in the study through an electronic method of administration.

One of the most important contributions of the study was that teachers were given the opportunity to regulate the use of L2 strategies in class and the effectiveness of strategy instruction was enhanced by the design of a teachers’ guide.

By Efi Tzouri

Friday, June 13, 2014

Let’s talk about Speaking! by Bozica Saric-Cvjetkovic - Report

Have you ever wondered why students feel so frustrated to communicate and express their opinion in the foreign language they are learning? Do you feel that we as teachers find ourselves run out of ideas of how to motivate our students to talk? Bozica Saric-Cvjetkovic prepared a very interesting presentation which aimed at charging teachers with ideas and tips of how to get students to talk and she showed how to make students become involved in the speaking process by creating activities which can increase the use of spoken language in class.

It is a fact that ,although students perform well in tests, they lack confidence in using spoken language in class. According to Bozica Saric-Cvjetkovic, the reason why this is happening is first of all due to the fact that teachers have to follow a strict curriculum which does not allow them to save time for speaking activities and, second, because most times speaking tasks are usually the  ones to be done just before the bell rings. Both reasons may explain why students feel so frustrated to express themselves orally.

Bozica suggests that the first thing to be done is to devote time in order to get prepared. If teachers increase preparation time, creativity and speaking productivity will be increased. Speaking activities should be based on topics that students would be motivated by. Also, it is important to create a secure and encouraging atmosphere in which learners would feel confident to talk. Avoiding topics that students cannot form an opinion on because of lack of information or vocabulary as well as avoidance of teacher correction and the lack of meaningful communication would enhance a positive result in speaking process.

Some of the activities that Bozica suggested in order to motivate students to talk are simple but effective:
  • Use photos of city signs. Students could be asked to guess where the signs are from;
  • Choose speaking activities based on grammar points students have been taught in class. For example, they can use modals of obligation in order to talk about things that they have to do at school;
  • Guessing games, describing things in classroom or other classmates.

To conclude, Bozica points out that the less correction and the more the interaction and the confidence, the better the chance for students to perform in class. All they need is our encouragement and support.

By Efi Tzouri

Sunday, June 8, 2014

“Godot Over the Wall” by Dave ‘n’ Luke - Report

Luke and Dave are well known for their  two-man English Teaching Theater Group “Dave’n’Luke”. They have adopted their own unique style of setting up their performances and they express themselves in their own exceptional way. “Godot over the wall” is their latest work which has been showed in ELT conferences both in Greece and abroad and has received a big success.

The play is based on Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and James Saunders’ Over the Wall. The story is set on an island where the characters lead an ordinary life. They work, they have enough to eat, they respect each other and they hope life will go on like that. No surprises, no turbulences, no happiness or unhappiness. The only awkward element is a wall which is built across the island. Although discussions have been raised now and then around the existence of the so-called “The Wall” no one can remember the date it first appeared on the island.

Despite the fact that the storyline follows the basic structure of the “theatre of the absurd” it succeeds in creating developed characters who dare to state their beliefs,to raise philosophical questions and try to explain theories which have never been proved. The wall works like a symbol. It is like a nutshell that keeps people away from the truth. Ignorance becomes characters’ rationality. Through a grotesque and surrealistic point of view characters balance between reality and illusion.They become confused and lost in thoughts. There is this character who wants to see and the other who wants to stay blind. What is going to happen to them? What is behind the wall? Will they ever succeed in getting themselves to the other side?

All these questions lead to an inspired educational process which Luke and David have so succesfully created not only for their students but also for all of us who were lucky to watch their performance.

More info about Dave‘n’Luke English Theatre Language

By Efi Tzouri

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spread Literature into the World by Georgia Psarra and George Raptopoulos - Report

The idea of this wonderful presentation is as simple as the title: to spread literature into the students’ world.
George Raptopoulos and Georgia Psarra have tried to translate and interpret Greek literature with their students and use it as a tool to teach English.
They have worked with three groups:

The C2 level group consisted of university students. They took an extract from Costas Ouranis’s “Travels to Mt Athos”, translated and evaluated  it.
They did not only translate, but also described how they felt with the images and the emotions, they negotiated the meanings, and chose the right words and phrases using English.
The teacher set the rules, was more of an observer and a guide, while the students did most of the work.
In the end, they presented their work on video. Again, students picked the roles themselves while the teacher was a proofreader of their work.

With the younger groups, they used poems.
With level A1+ (primary school pupils), they used “The Seagull” by Odysseas Elytis. The students did research on Elytis’ life and work. They listened to a song called “Ο γλάρος” by Afroditi Manou. They read the original text and talked about whether they liked it or not. They also made an attempt to translate it. Reading the English version, they tried to find the differences in structures and answer to describe the seagull’s life.

B2 level students worked on Cavafy’s “As much as you can”.
They had to answer questions aiming at deeper meaning:
  • Why can’t people have what they want?
  • What’s wrong with being part of the mass?

Students worked in pairs or in groups, whereas the teacher again had the role of the facilitator. Students practised all skills, including team work and discussion skills. We were then shown a video with the wonderful work of their students, as a well as a song surprise composed by a student and inspired by “As much as you can”.

By Theodora Papapanagiotou

“Baby” CLIL: English and Math Hand in Hand by Margarita Kosior - Report

CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning and the term was coined twenty years ago by David Marsh and Anne Maljers. Margarita explained it quite simply: It’s when you teach a subject using a foreign language. Any subject. Math, for example. Why do that? Because it does not actually matter in which language you learn the numbers as long as you learn how to count. “Baby CLIL” is practised with very young children, starting from ages 3-4. More complicated problems can be introduced later on. This method helps get children to learn by experience by doing and by making things. Shapes, numbers, positioning and movement, spelling and all sorts of concepts can be taught and learned through games and activities that are fun.

Benefits? There are, obviously. This practice really motivates kids and the use of the foreign language becomes meaningful because it’s being used in context. And when the context is fun and games, that’s even better. Actually, CLIL functions as a secret mechanism that serves a hidden purpose which aims to improve children’s overall linguistic competence. As Margarita put it: “Kids get the whole picture.” Moreover, “kids that engage in such activities learn how to become citizens of the world by being introduced to how other people think.” Margarita clearly stated that she is a huge advocate of multilingualism, not just bilingualism and yes, she quoted psycholinguist Frank Smith, who said that: “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” The video Margarita made that we got to watch at the end of her presentation is a clear proof that CLIL can work really well, even with very young children, especially when put it into practice in a fun and creative way.

Photography and the Classroom by Nathan Pratt and Emanuel Kontovas - Report

Nathan Pratt and Emanuel Kontovas gave an interesting and informative presentation on the uses of photography in the EFL classroom during the 21st Annual International Convention at the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT).

From activities such as ‘what can you see in the photo?’ which can be used at all levels to develop vocabulary, to ‘find the story behind’ the photo which plugs into students’ imagination and creativity and ‘write the caption’ for a photo of people as well as animals, both presenters delved into the world of photography.

Moving on, they gave us ideas on how students themselves can become journalists with the use of their cameras on their mobiles. Let students take a photo of something they find interesting on their way home or to school and write a blog. This simple and yet interesting activity not only taps into the learners’ own interests and gives them the opportunity to share information and knowledge, but also becomes an electronic record of advancement.

Finally, Nathan and Emanuel gave us tips on finding photos. Photographs taken from sites such as Google images might be easy for us, but when using them on a blog or site, the issue becomes one of major importance. Always ask for permission before using a photo or use a royalty free site. Lastly, why not involve the students in finding or taking the photo themselves? They are always happy to do so, and this has the additional advantage of getting them involved in the lesson. 

Royalty free sites:

By Anastasia Loukeri