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. 





Welcome Back Day Conference - An interview with Angeliki Voreopoulou

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. 

Angeliki Voreopoulou has been an ELT practitioner since 1998. She is currently working at a State primary School in Pella prefecture. She believes that students and especially the  very young ones can learn so much better when introduced to colour, games and storytelling. She stimulates her students by engaging them in projects fostering creativity, collaboration and communication. She adapts all-time classic games like Jenga, Monopoly etc for teaching purposes and she is an avid Etwinner and storyteller. She shares her practices in seminars, talks and workshops.

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

For all of us involved in the teaching profession, September defines the beginning of a new school year.  We all look for fresh ideas on how to organize our lessons and welcome back our students. ‘Engaging storytelling activities for a creative new school year’ is a session aiming at providing ideas on how to make our students’ transit from holiday to learning mode smoother and easier.  Participants will familiarize themselves with short stories focusing on sharpening students’ retelling skills while boosting their creativity. I hope that by the end of the session participants will be convinced that there is nothing better than a few funny stories to welcome back their students plus they will have a readymade lesson plan for the first day of the school year!


  • How has storytelling changed or influenced your approach to teaching?
We all love stories! Ever since we were children we cherished the moments when our parents or teachers told us a story because our minds could escape from reality and immerse into fantasy worlds. As an EFL teacher storytelling has always been my favourite teaching tool as it provides learners with a lot of exposure to language and it develops all four skills.  It allows recycling of vocabulary and structures in a memorable context and it gives opportunities for practice in a natural and enjoyable way.  Above all storytelling is motivating and fun! I just love the way students focus on the story with eyes wide open listening to every single details and asking for more when it’s over!

  • How do you feel about the role of technology in storytelling?
Technology has brought a new dimension to storytelling.  Nowadays there are so many free digital tools, like ACMI GeneratorBubblrStorybirdPuppet Pals to name but a few, that  can turn a simple idea or a few pictures into a great story!  If we give our students the opportunity to use any of them in the classroom, I am sure that they will work wonders. Their motivation along with their creativity will be immediately increased. 


Friday, August 30, 2019

TESOL MTH CALENDAR OF EVENTS 2019-2020



We are ready to welcome the new academic year with a series of inspirational sessions, our Annual International Conference as well as a series of engaging digital events.






Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Join TESOL MTH at the August exhibitions

The TESOL MTh board will be happy to see old and new members, colleagues and friends of TESOL MTh at the 15th Foreign Language Forum (28/8 at Capsis Hotel) and at the 32nd Palso Northern Greece two-day Conference and Exhibition. Please visit our stand

to get a copy of our programme of events

to renew your membershing at a special discounted rate ONLY for the three days of the exhibitions.

to take part in our lucky draw for one free annual membership per exhibition. The lucky draw will be held at the end of the Forum on Wednesday and for PALSO we will have one lucky draw on Friday round 16:00. To win your membership you don't have to be there when we do the actual draw as long as you have given us your accurate contact details.

Warm wishes to all for a smashing school year!





Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Wine with TESOL MTH!

Join TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece board for a glass of wine and a meal on Sunday, 23rd June at 19:00. The price (all inclusive with wine or beer) is 15 euro ατ ΑΚΡΟΝ Νεοταβέρνα in Ladadika. The menu includes grilled vegetables, a selection of dips and salad for the first course and a choice of three dishes (burgers, chicken and pork stake for the main course.) To book your place and let us know you're coming, make sure you visit our event page by clicking on the link below or the image at the end of this post!

 Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/632824810527908/


https://www.facebook.com/events/632824810527908/

Saturday, March 30, 2019

IATEFL Conference 2019

We're only a few days ago from the the 53rd IATEFL Conference and we couldn't be more excited that TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece will be represented by our Chair, Maria Araxi Sachpazian. Not only will Ms Sachpazian be representing our Association on the Associates Day, we're also immensely honoured that she will be delivering a presentation on the Associates Day event the theme of which is "Working Together".

This year's Conference will be held at the ACC and Jurys Inn Hotel in Liverpool, United Kingdom from 2 - 5 April 2019 with the Pre-Conference Events taking place on 1 April 2019 and the Conference Exhibition being on from 2 - 4 April 2019.


As usual the Conference which is considered one of the main events in English Language Teaching boasts a wide range of speakers who will be ensuring along with this year's plenary speakers , Paula Rebolledo, John Gray, Aleksandra Zaparucha and Lindsay Clandfield that the Conference will be a unique educational experience for all attendants.
This year's Conference also features a brand new interactive plenary closing event on Friday 5 April entitled Future directions in ELT: where are we headed? with Katherine Bilsborough, Evan Frendo, Amol Padwad and Mercedes Viola.


Every IATEFL Conference is a memorable experience for attendants and IATEFL affiliates as well as we get to share the vision of our Association and enjoy at the same time the educational and networking opportunities it has to offer. 53rd IATEFL Conference, here we come!



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

26th TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Conference - An interview with Dr Anne Margaret Smith

Our fourth plenary speaker is a lady who has inspired many of us with her pioneering work in the field of learning difficulties. Dr Anne Margaret Smith has been teaching English for 30 years, and is also a dyslexia specialist tutor and assessor. She founded ELT well (www.ELTwell.com) to bring together best practice from the two fields of ELT and SpLD support, and offers materials and training to teachers. She helped found the new IATEFL SIG: Inclusive Practices and SEN in 2016. 



1.     Your plenary session will focus on differentiation and inclusive learning. Which areas of classroom practice will the session mainly touch upon?


In my plenary talk I will be looking at the physical classroom environment, learning materials, and especially classroom management. I want to make the point that we don’t have to rewrite course books or totally change what we are already doing, but just slightly tweak current practice to make it a bit more inclusive.

2.    Your follow-up session will be on the use of multisensory activities. What are some of the benefits of using such activities in the classroom setting?


When we use multisensory activities, we make it more likely that more of our learners will remember more of what we want them to learn. We give students the opportunity to try out different ways of learning, and help them to find ways that suit them best in different situations. Also, it makes for a more varied and enjoyable experience for students and teachers.

3. Based on your long experience as a teacher and dyslexia specialist tutor and assessor, which principles do you feel are the most important when addressing different learning needs and styles in our classrooms?

The most important thing is getting to know our learners as individuals, as well as possible, and helping them to get to know themselves, and their classmates. When we build supportive and respectful relationships, we put in the foundations for inclusive practice in our classrooms, and throughout the whole school.

4.     Our 26th Convention focuses on practical suggestions to solving classroom issues . Which areas of ELT do you feel could benefit the most of a more hands-on approach?

I think perhaps we could look at the way we assess our learners’ progress, and be more creative in the way we evaluate what they can do and what they still need to work on. More practical formative assessment could be done, as opposed to summative assessment. 
 

26th TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Conference - An interview with Dr Thomai Alexiou

Our third plenary speaker, Dr Thomai Alexiou, is a familiar name to Greek and Thessalonikians in particular for her outstanding work in Aristotle University's School of English. Thomaï Alexiou is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Her expertise is on early foreign language learning, methodology of teaching languages, vocabulary and material development for young learners. She has also authored and edited textbooks for children learning English as a foreign language. One of these books, Magic Book 2 has been shortlisted for the MacMillan Education Award for New Talent in Writing (ELTons 2014).




1.        Your plenary session will focus on re-evaluating vocabulary in the TEYL context. Which areas of vocabulary presentation and acquisition will the session mainly address?



The session will address issues on vocabulary development and vocabulary assessment for very young learners. A number of possible vocabulary assessment tools will be presented while I will also present Pic-lex, a new vocabulary measurement tool for young learners.



2.        In your opinion, what is one aspect of the TEYL environment which needs to be explored further?



The use of cartoon series as educational tools in the TEYL classroom.



3.        Based on your long experience as a University professor, what do you feel should be the priority of English Language students who aim at becoming EFL/ESL teachers?



The first thing they need to have is enthousiasm to teach. The first thing they should get from University is inspiration and knowledge of Pedagogy.



4.        Our 26th Convention focuses on practical suggestions to solving classroom issues. Which areas of ELT do you feel could benefit the most of a more hands-on approach?



This can be a very long list really…Monitoring progress through alternative assessment, classroom management issues, technological tools and applications in ELT etc
           

 

26th TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Conference - An interview with Dr Nicos Sifakis

Our second plenary speaker, Dr Nicos Sifakis, is an academic whose research has put Greece on the global academic map. Dr Sifakis is an associate professor at the Hellenic Open University and director of its M.Ed. in TESOL programme. He has published extensively in various international refereed journals and is co-editor of ELF for EFL Contexts (Multilingual Matters, 2019), Using English as a Lingua Franca in Education in Europe (de Gruyter, 2018) and English Language Education Policies and Practices in the Mediterranean Countries (Peter Lang, 2017).



1. Your plenary session will focus on ELF-awareness as a framework for integrating research in EFL. What are the key areas that the suggested framework places emphasis on?
As a term, "ELF-awareness" is a lot more than simply an awareness of ELF (or English as a Lingua Franca). It certainly incorporates this awareness, in the sense that we, as teachers, learners, policy makers and courseware designers, need to be aware of what happens when we use English to communicate with people for whom English is not their "mother" tongue, in what ways the discourse and the interactional strategies are unique or different to those typically employed in interactions with the so-called "native speakers" of English. ELF-awareness incorporates three distinct, but also interlinked, areas: awareness of the language (which refers to the aspects that I just mentioned), awareness of instruction (which refers to teachers' becoming fully aware of their teaching context and also their own perspectives and deeper convictions about how English should be taught, (whether and to what extent they correct learner errors, and so on), and awareness of learning (which refers to the understanding and acceptance of the fact that out-of-class use of ELF should inform, to a lesser or greater extent, what goes on inside the EFL classroom). In this sense, EFL teachers who are "ELF-aware" understand the ramifications of the complex nexus of English language communication in the 21st century for their class and are able to hone their teaching skills and syllabus (to the extent that they are allowed to do so) so that their learners become confident and successful users of English.

2. In your follow-up session, you will be presenting ENRICH, a project aiming at providing teachers with the competencies required to meet the needs of multilingual classes. Which are the main competencies teachers should be equipped with?

UNESCO has defined the so-called "transversal skills", i.e. the skills considered not related to a specific job, task, academic discipline or area of knowledge but can be used in a wide variety of situations and work settings. These are skills that help learners adapt to changes and to lead meaningful and productive lives, and are exactly what we aim for in the case of multilingual classes, namely:
- Critical and innovative thinking
- Inter-personal skills (e.g. presentation and communication skills, organizational skills, teamwork, etc.)
- Intra-personal skills (e.g. self-discipline, enthusiasm, perseverance, self-motivation, etc.)
- Global citizenship (e.g. tolerance, openness, respect for diversity, intercultural understanding, etc.)
- Media and information literacy such as the ability to locate and access information, as well as to analyse and evaluate media content.
Interestingly, these skills can be, and should be, part of every English language teaching curriculum, and I'm going to be explaining why and how this can be done in my workshop.
3. Based on your extensive experience as a University professor, which do you feel should be the key priorities of an EFL/ESL teacher?

First, reflectivity, looking outward and trying to find out as much as possible about our teaching context, our learners, the courseware, the target situation; finding out what works and what needs to be changed or adapted. Then, reflexivity, looking inward and critically thinking about our own perceptions and convictions about our decisions and actions inside and outside the language classroom. There are many more and more subtle priorities, but one I always point at is the need to learn about not just the subject matter (English) and pedagogy (teaching English), but also managing classrooms, leading people (our learners) and helping them be their best selves as learners -- this is the remit of educational psychology.

4. Our 26th Convention focuses on practical suggestions to solving classroom issues . Which areas of ELT do you feel could benefit the most of a more hands-on approach?

Definitely, handling groupwork. Also, focusing on the underlying, hidden agenda that always lies behind every single activity we carry out. Understanding that tasks and activities always have an openly known and stated agenda, e.g. to practise speaking or carry out a drill, but also train our learners to do other things as well, e.g., work (or not work) with their fellow learners, think (or not think) about the content of a particular text during a multiple matching exercise. In this sense, we have to answer the following question every time we ask our learners to carry out any task: What is the real learning potential of this task? What will these particular learners learn from carrying it out?