Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event Speakers - Interview with Dr Tassos Vogiatzis

Our second speaker for this year's New Year Event is Dr Tassos Vogiatzis whose session will be focusing on "Cognitive Linguistics and political communication in the language classroom". Dr. Anastasios Vogiatzis holds a Ph.D in Cognitive Linguistics from the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His primary research focuses on the use of metaphor in crisis management. Areas of great interest to him are the cognitive motivation for idiomatic expressions, as well the application of the cognitive framework in the foreign language classroom.

1. What is the main focus of your talk?

At first glance the focus of my talk is the use of metaphor research in the foreign language classroom, and more specifically the combination of Cognitive Linguistics and Political Communication as means to engage students with language. If, however, we take a closer look, it is all about the teacher and the student.  More specifically, I aim to show how teachers can make use of a relatively new field of study in order to deliver lessons that can attract students’ attention and at the same time improve their language proficiency and research skills.

2. What do you hope that members of the audience will remember about your talk?

The talk is multifaceted and works at various levels. First, I want the audience to learn how to use the framework (i.e. Cognitive Linguistics) so as develop their teaching skills.  Since this talk involves politics I hope that they will gain some knowledge of the role of metaphor in political speech, especially now that world is experiencing constant and unexpected change. But most importantly I want them to remember that there is a lot of research going on that they can use to everyone’s benefit, both their students’ and their own.

3.  Could you briefly explain why the study of metaphor is important to language teachers?

Language is not arbitrary, and does not come by accident. Research on metaphor at a conceptual level has shown that a large part of the way we speak is related to the way we experience the world through our body and through our interaction with the environment around us. For example, consider terms that express motion and direction, such as front/back, up/down.  Terms such as these often form the basis for commonplace metaphorical understandings that are based on our bodily experience.  Have you ever thought why “more” is expressed as “up,” in expressions like “Speak up, please.” What we experience, and our perception of it, can define how we speak. With this in mind, foreign language teachers can explain phenomena in language that do not seem to make sense: in fact, idioms, phrasal verbs, prepositions, even grammatical constructions do make sense conceptually.

Monday, January 13, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event Speakers - Interview with Dr Sophia Emmanouilidou

Our first speaker for this year's New Year Event is Dr. Sophia Emmanouilidou who will be talking about "Convivial Classrooms: Creating Contact Zones in a Multicultural School Environment". Dr. Sophia Emmanouilidou received her Ph.D. from the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, with distinction in 2003 and on a full scholarship from the Foundation of National Scholarships in Greece (IKY). She has been a Fulbright scholar at the University of Texas, Austin, and she has published several articles on Chicana/o literature and identity-focused theories. Her interests include border cultures, social studies, literary theory and ecocriticism. She has taught at the University of the Aegean, Department of Social Anthropology and History; and the University of the Peloponnese, Department of History and Culture, and the TEI of the Ionian Islands, Department of Environment Technologists. She is presently teaching at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of American Literature.

1.     What is the main focus of your talk?

This talk answers the following questions: What is a convivial classroom? What do we mean by the term ‘convivial’ tools? Drawing from Ivan Illich’s philosophy of education, I would say that an English language classroom can be a space that uses our knowledge of facts, information, and skills to enrich our life experiences. Illich claims that what we learn at school is a tool that helps us comprehend and re-vision the world, ideally in a communal mode. In this context, a classroom can become a space that promotes associations among different people, despite their varied backgrounds (cultural, familial, religious, and others), and encourages people to accept difference. Valuing diverse backgrounds can be achieved through various activities: introduction tales, when a student interviews and then introduces another student to the group, round table discussions on a ‘hot topic’, such as depletion of natural resources, creative writing based on a visual stimulus, such as a painting, food festivals, project work on festivities and celebrations around the world, and others. All these activities enhance students’ learning skills, such as critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating.

2.     What do you hope that members of the audience will remember about your talk?

In this talk, I will share examples from my own classroom experience that show how the principles of conviviality, such as interculturalism and the promotion of a democratic society, can be developed in a classroom setting.  I call these types of communication convivial interludes: they are short breaks from our programmed routines, when we can escape the mandates of curricula, syllabi and textbooks. One might consider these convivial breaks as a delay or an interruption, but they can also be happy occasions for us all to be friendly and welcoming to diversity.  One such activity is the World Café, a kind of informal conversation that examines diverse perspectives on a specific topic, such as gender roles. It is also important to remember that convivial interludes are not always planned. Sometimes they pop up unexpectedly during the students’ reactions to information presented in a textbook; for example, students might object to a definition that does not seem agreeable, or a stereotype in an illustration. Whether planned or spontaneous, convivial interludes allow students to practice their language skills, take initiative in representing their cultural backgrounds, and eventually recognize and celebrate diversity.

3.     How could the principles of conviviality be used in a monocultural classroom to encourage students to accept others whose lifestyle, beliefs, gender orientation, etc. differ from their own?

Conviviality in a learning environment means that mutual understanding among participants can be achieved despite their differences. I am not so sure if the term monocultural reflects our current social reality, especially when we consider the free flow of meanings and definitions in the ‘glocal’ world we live in. Although there are still projections of a dominant culture, many believe that they are quite old-fashioned or even obsolete. So, I wonder if we have already moved from monoculturalism to multiculturalism.  And if we have, shouldn’t a classroom setting help students make this transition to a mentality that supports inclusion? The principles of conviviality in education can certainly make this ongoing cross-cultural dialogue an enjoyable experience, especially when students use English to communicate with each other.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

TESOL MTH New Year's Event

We are looking forward to cutting our Vasilopita for 2020 with all of you around us! Our New Year's event for 2020 will be held on Sunday, 19th January 2020 from 18:00 -20:30  at the CITY College (L. Sofou 3) and our speakers are Dr. Sophia Emmanouilidou  and Dr. Tassos Vogiatzis, both from the School of English of AUTH. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Warm wishes for 2020 and upcoming events!

From all of us at the TESOL MTH board, 

Along with our wishes for a successful and well-balanced 2020, please pencil in the date of our next Webinar with  Eugenia Carrión Cantón: Saturday 11th January 2020 at 17:00.    

Eugenia is a qualified EFL teacher, teacher educator and curriculum developer from University of Tierra del Fuego and IPES Paulo Freire and Member of FAAPI Executive committee.  

The speaker tells us about the session 
"Puppetry as a technique provides exciting opportunities for foreign language learners of all ages to express themselves in communicative situations. Moreover, puppet use has shown evidences of the powerful educational advantages fitting with Play theory, Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) theory, and Multiple Intelligence theory. This workshop will share some ideas regarding the importance of using of puppets in diversity of learning contexts, will provide practical situations to incorporate puppets to benefit all children´s enjoyment and learning and will foster puppetry making.''

If you are interested in attending, note that our webinar will be held on Saturday 11/1/2020 from 17:00 to 18:00The link to the Google form is  https://forms.gle/va3nHv6V1fbL8ak87

Please note that the link will be sent about 45 minutes before the beginning of the session and all participants need to mute their microphones. If you have questions, you can use the chat box. A short Q and A session will follow at the end of the session.