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?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

26th Tesol Macedonia Thrace Annual International Conference - An interview with Marjorie Rosenberg

We're just 5 days away from our Annual International Conference and we are bubbling with excitement! We couldn't be prouder to be welcoming this year's plenary speakers, four professionals who have inspired others with their work in the field of ELT. Our first plenary speaker, Ms Marjorie Rosenberg, needs no introduction. A teacher, teacher trainer and author Ms Rosenberg has been teaching adults and university students in Austria for close to 40 years as well as holding teacher training sessions around the globe. She has written extensively in the field of business English and on learning styles.  Marjorie is an active conference presenter and was IATEFL President from 2015-2017.

 1.      Your plenary session will focus on making lessons memorable. Which skills will the session mainly touch upon?
The plenary is divided into eight areas which I will address by discussing why I think considering these factors will make lessons memorable.  Each of the concepts will also be backed up with practical examples of what can be done in the classroom and touch on the use of the four skills. There will be caveats as well as not all learners will embrace the same ideas in the same way.

2.      Your follow-up session will present fun activities for adult learners. What do you hope participants will gain from this session? 

As many adult learners need English for the workplace, this interactive session will show participants how to use activities which encourage their learners to communicate with each other in a variety of situations. Activities have always been popular in general English classes and adult learners enjoy the chance to relax and have fun when learning a new language.  These activities are designed to get them communicating by enouraging team work, active listening and speaking freely.

3.      Based on your long experience as a teacher and an author in the field of Business English, what are the greatest challenges teachers might have to face nowadays?

I think the main challenges are the incorporating of soft skills as many teachers only have the chance to read about them but not practice them themselves.  Many of us teaching business English are not experts in the fields we teach but we learn from our learners.  Soft skills, such as time management, establishing and maintaining rapport, running meetings, dealing with difficult people, setting achievable goals, etc. are areas we ourselves learn when we are in positions to do this.  I learned a great deal as the IATEFL BESIG coordinator and then as IATEFL president and discuss these aspects of work with my students.

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 believe very strongly in accepting the fact that we all learn and teach differently.  The research I have done is in the field of learning styles and feel this is vital to both our success as educators and that of our students.  We do not teach individually to each student (except possibly in a one-to-one situation) but we do need to understand the different styles and realize why students react as they do in stress situations. As we usually teach in the way we learn ourselves, we may need to stretch out of our own comfort zones and incorporate ideas that other learner types need to be able to learn. Providing a real mix of activities is vital as is tolerance for the different learners in our classroom.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

26th Annual International TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece

It is with great pleasure that the Board of TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece welcomes Speakers, International Delegates and Members to our 26th Annual International Conference, which will take place in Thessalonik (ACT- The American College of Thessaloniki, Pylea) on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th February 2019. 

Our Conference title is ''Hands-on: Solving Classroom Issues'' and it reflects exactly what we aim to do through this conference. We simply love it when colleagues leave the conference with their batteries charged, inspired and full of inspiration for their lessons during the following week. 

Our plenary speakers, as always, need no introduction: 
  • Ms. Marjorie Rosenberg, Tertiary Level Teacher, Teacher Educator & Materials' Writer and Conference Presenter. 
  • Dr Nico Sifakis, Associate Professor Hellenic Open University 
  • Dr Thomai Alexiou, Assistant Professor School of English Aristotle University of Thessaloniki 
  • Dr Anne-Margaret Smith, Inclusive English Teacher, trainer and author at ELT Well. 
Our 26th Annual International Conference will feature many concurrent sessions (workshops and talks) on both days, with presenters who have honoured TESOL MTh with their presence and some who are joining us for the first time. 

We are also very happy to be welcoming speakers and Official Representatives of our Affiliate Teacher Associations: 
  • Bridget Schvartz from ETAI (English Teachers Association Israel) 
  • Dragana Andrić   from ELTA Serbia 
  • Marta Bujakowska from IATEFL Poland
  • Theodore Lalos     from TESOL Greece 

Keep following our website posts and our posts on social media  Facebook Event Page to find out more information. 

If you are interested or you would like to attend and you have quesitons, please email us at tesolmth@gmail.com