Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Event 2015 - Report on Anastasia Metallinou's Talk

Short Bio
Anastasia Metallinou is a highly motivated, enthusiastic and experienced English language teacher who specialises in Specific Learning Differences (dyslexia). She studied English and History at Oxford Brookes University (BA Honours). She has also received a master’s degree in Special Education (MEd) from University of Bristol. She teamed up with Dr Anne Margaret Smith and wrote ‘English Sounds Fun’. ESF is an innovative, highly structured intervention programme designed specifically for dyslexic students of English as a foreign language.


Anastasia Metallinou is a highly motivated, enthusiastic and experienced English language teacher who specializes in Specific Learning Differences (dyslexia) and gave her presentation ‘Teaching Dyslexic Learners – Practical Ways of Building Self-Esteem’ at the joint TESOL Macedonia-Thrace and TESOL Greece Summer Event 2015 in Portaria, Pelion (21 June 2015) with a compelling title: ‘Sharing Inspiration’.


After defining self esteem and highlighting its importance, Ms Metallinou mentioned the implications of low self-esteem for students and their families in general and in particular (in the language classroom) and highlighted five ways teachers can help to build self-awareness in their students and encourage self-evaluation and self-correction as important strategies in language learning.

Starting off, Ms Metallinou acknowledged the fact that 10-12% of student population in Greece has officially been assessed with dyslexia so far which affects many areas of language learning: writing, reading, memory skills, spelling etc. The most important implication, however, is that it affects students’ self-esteem which can be more debilitating than a learning difficulty and can also affect students’ families.

Ms Metallinou defined self-esteem as the way we feel about ourselves and evaluate our capabilities depending on the degree our feelings are accepted and valued by others and she highlighted the importance of some questions every educator should ask him/herself about her students:
-         How can we recognize students with low self-esteem?
-         How can we help students with low self-esteem?
-         What kind of solutions can we recommend to help them adapt in the language classroom?

Educators should be aware of clever avoidance strategies students might use in order to avoid failure through taking risks and watch for lonely, withdrawn students with little or no participation or engagement in class. Other implications of low self-esteem can be broken relationships, over-compensation and unsustainable student burn-out.  Unrealistic expectations from parents/self, previous negative experience, misinterpreted comments/feedback from teachers or peers and superficial comparison of self to others were among the causes of student low self-confidence which were also mentioned by Ms Metallinou.
It is very important for teachers and students to realize that mistakes are very important to happen because they can take you further through constructive feedback, they promote professional and emotional growth and reinforce perseverance until goal accomplishment. Ms Metallinou recommended a few activities which can help educators create a positive environment for students, depict their special qualities, show understanding of persuasive techniques, increase student responsibility and make them work in teams and have fun (e.g. drawing a self portrait, creating a ‘me’ commercial, complete sentences about yourself, write a journal story, do a class project which includes a wall display) and highlighted the importance of extracurricular activities parents should familiarize their children with in order to raise their self esteem.

Five ways in which teachers can help their students with dyslexia are:

1.     understand how dyslexia affects students (e.g. literacy/academic performance, self image, school – family relations and behavior)
2.     understand how students learn best (e.g. through motivation, fun, experience, success, inspiration, group work, praise)
3.     understand language difficulties and use multi sensory/media activities, lots of practice and repetition, a highly structured intervention program and small steps in language teaching
4.     take advantage of students’ strengths (e.g. identify individual strengths and skills and be creative with those skills and help students with their weak points)
5.     work in cooperation with parents to maximize positive effects

Teachers could also introduce students to famous dyslexic people, find characteristics they have in common and increase determination in their students. Students should be encouraged to reflect on their own work and educators should help students raise their self awareness (how I best learn) through self correction. As a result, students will believe in their abilities, understand, think and eventually reflect.

In her conclusion, Ms Metallinou explained the importance of self-belief and self-esteem in the language learning process. Students should be encouraged to succeed in learning by teachers and parents through promotion of diversity in learning styles and creativity. Memory strategies and organizational skills should be developed and perseverance should be encouraged in a positive way to foster students’ self confidence.

Report by

Βασιλική Παπαϊωάννου

ΠΕ06, Αγγλικής Φιλολογίας (Ed.D, MA, BA)
Σχολική Σύμβουλος Β/θμιας Εκπαίδευσης Μαγνησίας (έδρα Βόλος)
Συγκρότημα Μουρτζούκου, Χείρωνος & Επτά Πλατανίων Τ.Κ. 38333, Βόλος
24210 47396 εσωτερικό 304 (3ος όροφος)
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