Friday, February 20, 2015

Plenary Speakers: Interviews (Andrew Wright)

Please tell us a few things about yourself and your involvement in education.

What a joy it is to be constantly able to develop by trying to help other people to develop! Such a rewarding job to do! I cannot imagine wanting to retire from it in spite of being so historical! 

What attracted you to the field of education?

All my family were teachers, my grandmother, my parents, aunts and uncles and even my brother. So it seemed to be a wide road to walk on and so it has proved to be.

Which are some of the most memorable highlights of your career in education?

I was very lucky to be asked by the University of York to publish a new approach to teaching English as a foreign language to young beginners. That was in the early 1970s and I, together with my two colleagues published ‘Kaleidoscope’ with MacMillan which was the first topic based course ever written. 

Then I had years of writing resource books for teachers which, from an income point of view, is not a very clever thing to do! But I enjoyed it so much: ‘1000 Pictures for Teachers to Copy’…’Games for Language Learning’…and later ‘Five Minute Activities’ with Penny Ur. And then ‘Storytelling with Children’ and ‘Creating Stories with Children’, with Oxford University Press. There were others…most are out of print now but some are still trotting along.

I suppose nothing can be more moving than doing my work and then hearing from teachers and children that it was a good experience for them. That is really a super thing to hear!

And to be invited to contribute to the Thrace Macedonia Conference, of course!

Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the company of all the people I work with and I fundamentally don’t want language teaching to be about language teaching but about being with people, doing interesting things in which language has a central part to play and making language learning a bi-product of this.

I also love writing books and articles; I like making things and also I learn so much by having to ask myself what I really want to say. It is so easy to think you know something until you have to write concisely about it.

What are you working on now?

I am still doing an 18 lesson week and that is quite a lot at the age of 77 and given I want to do so many other things, as well. I have family duties because my wife, Julia, is a working woman and she runs our language school apart from everything else. But my key other work is constantly trying to increase my understanding of how fundamental stories and storytelling is in our daily life. Stories aren’t just for entertainment, stories or ‘descriptions of sequences of connected events’ are a fundamental way of thinking and communicating with other people. CNN said, ‘The stories we bring you today are the world you will live in tomorrow.’ As I respond to this questionnaire I am preparing to work on an EU project about the role of stories in youth education particularly related to employment. Fascinating!

I am also continuing to work on my next collection of short stories. I published my first collection, last year.

What are your professional plans for the future?

I would love to keep doing this sort of work! I am running workshops in August on the craft of making, writing and telling short stories based on one’s life. I did something similar two years ago and I had 9 or 10 teachers from different countries including 4 or 5 from Turkey. Now, that’s another nice job to do. If anybody is interested please write to me:

What should your audience expect to learn during the plenary session at the 22nd TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Convention?

I can’t say that I EXPECT people to learn anything from what I might offer! But I will be talking about stories, story making and story telling and my understandings are much more broadly based than those usually associated with the topic. I will also be talking about how fundamental stories are to everybody’s daily life, to their understanding of who they are and to their relationships with other people. Given stories are usually told with words then stories clearly are a candidate for being the main highway for language learning, in the classroom.

What are the three words that sum up your session?

Stories are us.

Technology has become a big part of our everyday lives today. In your experience, would you say that the art and craft of storytelling has changed at all or will change due to this?

The first thing to say is that there will be no change in the centrality of stories in society. The next thing to say is that the stories we tell and how we deliver them have always been affected by where we are, by the physical circumstances of the telling and by the purpose of the telling.

Did tellers just tell their stories or sing them together with playing a harp? And then: shadow theatre, puppets and masked players, sound and vision recording. Each medium offers its own range of ways of telling. So, yes, how a story is told will be constantly changing according to the social and physical setting it is told in.

Thank you very much.

Natasha Loukeri
for TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plenary Speakers: Interviews (Marjorie Rosenberg)

Please tell us a few things about yourself and your involvement in education.

My degree is actually in music (a Master of Fine Arts in music performance) and I have a teaching certificate from New York State to teach music as well. I have been in Austria since 1981 where I began in adult education and soon after arriving did a diploma in teaching to adults. I have found, however, that what I learned teaching music in the States gave me insights into aspects such as classroom management and rapport with students. I also feel that we never stop learning and have taken part regularly in professional development courses and seminars. Conferences are also a wonderful place to experience new ideas and I go to them whenever I can.

What attracted you to the field of education?

In the States I began to teach as this was what music majors did while auditioning for roles and this actually continued when I got to Austria and started auditioning for agents in order to sing in an opera house. Slowly but surely teaching became my main profession and I have now been in the field of ELT for over 30 years. What I like about it is that it is a very wide-spread field, I can be involved in teaching associations such as TEA (Teachers of English in Austria) and IATEFL, I can write, I can blog, I can train teachers, and I can continue in the classroom as well. I like the flexibility, the challenge and the fun of working with people and watching them develop in many ways, not just in their language skills.

Which are some of the most memorable highlights of your career in education?

I think being on the board of TEA and then Chair (2003-2005) and then being elected to the IATEFL BESIG committee, first as a joint events coordinator and then as coordinator (2009-2015) are memorable highlights. Others include my first plenary in Wiesbaden for ELTAF (English Language Teachers of Frankfurt) and being invited by other organizations to hold plenaries, such as here in Thessaloniki. And of course, a major highlight was be nominated as Vice President/President of IATEFL and being successful in this endeavor.

Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

As I mentioned earlier, I love the flexibility, the chance to make a difference and being able to travel and work with teachers in many different countries. I have presented or held workshops in places as diverse as Austria, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Monaco, Italy, Israel, Finland, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the USA. Next on my list is Hungary, Malta and Greece. 

What are you working on now?

I am mostly working on finding out what I need to do as Acting Vice President of IATEFL and Chair of the Publications Committee. Usually there is a full year for this position but due to the circumstances of me taking over towards the end of a term I have lots to catch up on. In addition, I am working on an ebook for teachers on how to write activities for different learner types and am in the middle of a research project for university students on learning styles and learner strategies. Several other ideas are in the pipeline but I have had to put them on hold for the moment.

What are your professional plans for the future?

I think that the major part of my professional plans will be taking on the Presidency of IATEFL for two years (from April 2015 – April 2017) and then serving again as Vice President for a year. This job has many aspects including chairing committees such as publications and the annual conference. I plan to stay at the language institute of the University of Graz teaching a few classes a week and also working with corporate clients. Epublsihing is new for me so I hope I can finish the book I mentioned and get it published as an electronic version.

What should your audience expect to learn during the plenary session at the 22nd TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Convention?

I would say that the main thing is to find out about all the options we have and begin to become aware of how we can stretch out of our comfort zones.

What are the three words that sum up your session?

Taking chances, exploring, discovering

In your biography you mentioned:"In my investigation of the concept of learning I came across an NLP course being held in Austria so I signed up for it".Could you tell us how a NLP is connected to learning and why this area of studies attracted you?

This is an interesting question. I find that in corporate training today NLP has become invaluable. I work with people in HR who coach as well as project managers dealing with change management. NLP has many tools which can be implemented here and my students are always interested in this. For years I ran courses on NLP for school teachers with a colleague who wrote a book on NLP techniques (in German) for teachers and many of the participants of our seminars told us how we helped them both professionally and privately. I also use NLP techniques myself when I feel stuck. I think the main aspects connected to learning are the following: establishing and maintaining rapport, being congruent (authentic), reframing meaning (this includes turning negative ideas into positive ones), enabling others to set realistic goals (often used in coaching), creativity strategy, classroom management and flexibility in being aware of other’s models of the world. Once I realise that someone is doing something because it helps them in some way, I can be more tolerant of behavior that might otherwise get on my nerves.

Thank you very much, 

Efi Tzouri 
for TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meet our Plenary Speakers - Ken Wilson


Ken Wilson is an ELT author and trainer. He has written about thirty titles, including a dozen series of course books. His most recent course material includes Smart Choice, a four-level American English course for OUP, and Achievers, a five-level course for teenagers, which will be published by Richmond UK in 2015. He is also editor-in-chief of English 3 and English 4, a co-production between Vietnam Educational Publishing House and Macmillan Hong Kong. 

He also writes supplementary material, including sketches and other resource material. In 2008, OUP published Drama and Improvisation, a collection of more than fifty of his drama activities for teachers. 

His first ELT publication was a collection of songs called Mister Monday, which was released when he was 23. Since then, he has written and recorded more than two hundred ELT songs, published as albums or as integral parts of course material. He has also written more than a hundred ELT radio and television programs, including fifty radio scripts for the Follow Me series, thirty Look Ahead TV scripts and a series of plays called Drama First. 

For many years, Ken was a member of the English Teaching Theatre, a company which toured the world performing stage-shows for learners of English. The ETT made more than 250 tours to 55 countries, including Greece. 

Ken lives in London with his wife and two cats, and works in a shed at the end of his garden.

Read more about Ken and his work at 

Plenary talk: Only connect - seven strategies for ensuring teacher-student communication in the classroom

Does the conventional classroom, with a teacher and students sitting at desks, have any place in modern learning? Has technology rendered the normal learning environment redundant? It would seem not, as teachers and students all over the world are still required to turn up at a particular time and place and engage with each other in some way. However, in classrooms where technology is available, has this engagement changed radically? And what about the students' own technology? Does this make a difference to the classroom experience, or are there some traditional aspects of teaching/learning that should remain the same?

This talk will show how the vital link between teacher and students can be maintained, in a hi-tech classroom or in a situation where the students themselves have sophisticated personal technology.

Workshop: Is Anybody Listening?

Students have three ways of working on their listening skills in class: listening to the teacher, to machines and to other students. Most students do the first two, but not the third. In this talk, I will show how you can encourage learners to listen to each other, for example by using the power of images and also with instrumental music. The amazing activities will have you listening intently to each other to complete the tasks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Meet our Plenary Speakers - Alec Williams


Alec Williams is a storyteller, trainer and speaker with a background in children’s books and libraries. He tells stories and runs training both in the UK and internationally; in 2014 for example he has visited schools in France, Cyprus and Turkey, along with many engagements in the UK. Now working independently, Alec gained many years’ experience in children’s books through a career in library services; he’s an Honorary Member of the Youth Libraries Group of CILIP (the UK Library Association), and one of the UK National Literacy Trust’s ‘Reading Champions’ for his work getting boys reading.

Alec has visited over thirty countries, both telling stories and training teachers, often through the British Council but sometimes at the direct invitation of schools. He was a keynote speaker at the International Storytelling Conference in Istanbul last year.

An enthusiastic advocate of both traditional tales and modern children’s fiction, Alec believes that language learning is hugely enhanced by stories and poetry. Because students enjoy this aspect of learning, it’s naturally more memorable, and it shows the sound of English ‘in performance’. Alec’s sessions for teachers are rich in humour, examples, extracts, and practical anecdotes – making them enjoyable and memorable too!

Read more about what Alec does at

Plenary: Bringing it Alive! Interactive Storytelling and the Early Years

This entertaining session looks at the role of stories in language learning, especially with children of 2-6 years. It begins with ‘Why tell stories?’, and goes on to look particularly at how stories help language learning. There’ll be advice on choosing stories to use; preparing a story; planning a story session; making stories interactive; practical tips for telling; and suggestions for follow-up. Alec will show how to make the most of picture book stories, as well as introducing you to stories for 2-6 year olds that can be told from memory. He’ll also look at using rhymes and simple poetry, which could be another part of a regular classroom ‘storytime’ in school.

Finally, there’ll be down-to-earth advice from an experienced storyteller on building your confidence; holding children’s interest; and dealing with interruptions – plus a chance for delegates to recommend a story to each other!

Throughout the session, there’ll be examples of stories to enjoy, both from books and from memory; you’re sure to go away with some new stories to try out with children, and pass on to others!

Workshop: Storytelling in ELT - Hints and Tips to Make it Work

This workshop* is a hands-on session for teachers who’d like to learn how to tell stories; for those who’d like to increase their confidence; and for those who are regular storytellers but would like to refresh or improve their technique.

It will look at storytelling both from books and from memory, and there’ll be examples of each type of story. Delegates will look at stories in groups, and discuss how to introduce them, how to deal with unusual language, scope for interaction, and follow-up – but no-one will be forced to read a story, or be videoed!

The session will focus especially on stories for younger children, but Alec will highlight some approaches for older children too.

Meet our Plenary Speakers - Andrew Wright


Andrew Wright is an author, illustrator, teacher trainer and storyteller. As an author he has published many books including, ‘Creating Stories with Children’ and ‘Storytelling with Children’, Oxford University Press, ‘Games for Language Learning’ and ‘Five Minute Activities’, Cambridge University Press, ‘1000 Pictures for Teachers to Copy’, Longman Pearson; ‘Writing Stories’, Helbling Languages. 

He has recently published his first collection of very short stories, ‘Beggar in Bogota’, and also recently published, ‘Creativity in the Classroom: 176 practical ideas’. Both books are published by: ILI International Languages Institute, Hungary. Write to him for more information:

As a teacher trainer he has worked in 48 countries during the last 50 years, as a storyteller and storymaker he estimates that he has worked with over 50,000 students in the last 20 years

Andrew lives in Hungary where he is managing director together with his wife, Julia Dudas of the International Languages Institute in Godollo. Andrew and Julia have two young daughters, Timea and Alexandra.

More about Andrew and his work at

Plenary: Storying is central in our daily life. What about the classroom?

It has recently been estimated that about 9 million bits of information assail our senses every second!

To cope with this onslaught of infinite complexity we humans are driven to select, name and narrate. Our narrations contain the values, perceptions and behaviours which guide our daily lives. The food we eat makes our bodies and the stories we hear and tell make our minds.

Stories are often told through words. Surely stories which are so central to our daily lives should be a highroad in the language classroom?

In this plenary and in the accompanying workshop my plan is to demonstrate the ubiquity and influence of stories in our daily lives. Then, I want to make practical suggestions for how we can use stories in the classroom, much more than is normally the case. 

Workshop: Your stories for them

Stories are based on fact and on fiction and are constantly manifested on the stage of our daily life. ‘All the world’s a stage and men and women merely players.’ 

You and the students are the first source of stories always available in the language class.

In this workshop I will focus on ways of recognizing stories in your daily life. A piece of grit in an oyster may lead to a pearl. A single difficulty in your life can lead to a story. 

Then, I will focus on the craft of you telling your stories more effectively.

In passing, I will refer to the various roles that your storying can have in language teaching: fluency in the four skills, introduction and re-cycling of grammatical items, spring-board activities.

Meet our Plenary Speakers - Marjorie Rosenberg


Marjorie Rosenberg teaches general and business English at the University of Graz. She has published widely in the business English field and has authored two of the workbooks for the Cambridge University Press flagship series, Business Advantage. Marjorie has also written two books with photocopiable materials for business English instruction and wrote activities and ‘jargon busters’ for Professional English Online, the CUP website for a number of years. Her methodology book, ‘Spotlight on Learning Styles’ was published in 2013 by Delta Publishing. After serving as the Coordinator of the IATEFL Business English Special Interest Group (BESIG) and being on the IATEFL Membership Committee, she is currently the IATEFL Acting Vice President and Chair of Publications Committee and will be taking on the Presidency at the Annual IATEFL Conference in April, 2015.
More about Marjorie and her work at 

Marjorie is coming to our conference with the help of sponsorship from Delta Publishing.

Plenary: Getting unstuck - stretching out of our comfort zones

As our daily teaching schedule and all that involves takes up so much of our time and energy, we don’t often have the chance to thing about ‘what else’ we could be doing. We tend to stick to certain routines and sometimes don’t take advantage of possibilities to stretch ourselves or take on challenges in other areas. This talk will explore the implications of this regarding our teaching styles, methods we are accustomed to using, the types of classes we usually teach, the technology we are comfortable with and a variety of choices available to us as ELT professionals outside the classroom. Some of the reasons we keep doing what we have always done will be discussed providing a basis for us to work together and come up with ways for us to ‘get unstuck’.

Workshop 1: Spotlight on Learning Styles

Have you ever wondered what makes your students tick? Part of the secret may well be their individual learning styles. This interactive workshop will give you the chance to try out a variety of language activities from Spotlight on Learning Styles (Delta Publishing) designed for different learner types as well as discuss their adaptation to individual teaching situations.

Workshop 2: Getting Business English Learners to Speak

Most business people would agree that communication is essential in today’s business world. Therefore speaking skills are often at the top of the list for business English learners. In this interactive workshop we will explore ways to build self-confidence in learners by helping them to express themselves and get their message across.

Our 22nd Annual International Convention

TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece 
proudly invites you to the 22nd Annual International Convention

Plenary speakers: 
Marjorie Rosenberg, Andrew Wright, Alec Williams, and Ken Wilson

Date: 28-29 March 2015

Venue: American College of Thessaloniki (ACT)

Pie Cutting Event - Report

“It’s all your fault!“  said Little Mind. “You with all your imagination, your images, your colours, your creativity……”
“Actually”, said Big Mind, “it’s your fault, Little Mind! With you and your numbers and your rules and your do’s and don’ts and your musts and your grammar, trying to control me, to restrain me, to suffocate me, to stop me playing!!!”
And our Don Schofield, our excellent speaker, took us on a trip to explore our Big Mind, to help us and, through us, our learners go past the obstacle of Little Mind and enjoy our teaching and learning.
After briefly explaining to us that through creative writing learners can play with language, realize that language is not only used for academic purposes , that  it doesn’t need to make sense (especially in the early stages of writing a poem or story) and, of course, that one can use the language just to play, just to have fun . What our learners don’t realize- and they do not need to- is that they are learning how to use associative thinking- essential to all forms of creativity and the most natural form of thinking for us humans. In this way, language becomes personally relevant, motivation to use it becomes stronger, memory and imagination turn into an integral part of expression and, ultimately, we learn by genuinely enjoying ourselves using language.
Don presented two techniques in his workshop:

a)     10 Xs
Using any publication that is not too technical, bore ten holes  on a sheet of paper on which you have previously marked 10 Xs  at random points, peer through them at any page of the publication and read the words underneath (they can be nouns, verbs, etc). Then write a poem or story where the first word is in the first sentence, the second word in the second sentence and so on. Then go over what you wrote and add, subtract or change to make it more interesting. And then share!!!

b)      I am / I am not
Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, creating two columns, Then name the two columns: The first should be positive personality traits (generous, kind, etc. The second one should be negative personality traits (stingy, cruel, etc). Then imagine, for each list, a character that fits these traits. Give your character a name, an appearance, colour of hair, body type, age, ethnicity, food, likes/dislikes, etc. Give them a personal history (where they grew up, parents, other family). Give them beliefs and opinions (political, religious, etc). What you write does not have to be logical or factual but should fit all the traits of the character you’ve created. Then imagine those two characters meeting somewhere, a restaurant, the street, as well as the time. The place can also be virtual, e.g. a social network chat. Then write a dialogue between them.
And then, naturally, share and discuss.

All we participants at Don’s workshop enjoyed it and produced some very original and interesting poems and stories. Certainly our learners will enjoy their meeting with the Big Mind and have fun using their creativity and learning through play with language.

By Georgia Psarra

A short video available at