Wednesday, February 19, 2020

27th Tesol Macedonia Thrace Annual International Conference - An interview with Dr. Grzegorz Spiewak

Our third speaker is Dr. Grzegorz Spiewak. Dr Spiewak is a teacher, teacher trainer, EFL project manager, adviser and author. He was a former lecturer at the Institute of English Studies, University of Warsaw, and subsequently on-line tutor at MATESOL programme, The New School for Social Research, New York. He serves as the Head ELT Consultant for Macmillan Central & Eastern Europe. He's also the co-founder and President of DOS-ELTea, an independent teacher development centre. He also served as IATEFL Poland president and he's currently on its Board of Advisers. 
His plenary session entitled “The science of effectiveness – behind your classroom doors?!” will be looking at where we could – and should – be looking as modern ELT professionals. In particular, the speaker will explore how to prepare an impactful class, how to begin it, how to carry it out, and how to evaluate its impact on our learners. His plenary session will be followed by a workshop entitled “Or NOT to Test ?!”. which will offer participants useful insights into meaningful testing along with some alternative testing techniques, tricks, and life-hacks.

1. What do you hope participants will gain from your plenary talks and follow-up sessions?

We would all like our work to make sense, right? In the case of foreign language teachers, 'making sense' must surely mean 'helping our learners, big and small, learn better, more effectively and, above all, in a more satisfying manner'. But - as always - the question is how ... This is where I intend to help out, looking at and interpreting some rather stunning results of modern, solid research into what works, what doesn't, and what makes more harm than good. Come along to the plenary if you'd like to find out. And to my follow-up session to sample a number of tried-and-tested ideas for one of the areas that this modern research shows to be quite critical: testing and feedback. My take on testing will be quite unorthodox - lots of alternative-testing activity types guaranteed! 

2. The title of our Conference is "ELT-Reimagined". What are the changes that you feel will shape the future of ELT?

The recent years have witnessed a generational change of guard in our profession, wit lots of young, enthusiastic, tech-minded colleagues entering and making their voice heard. As the result, we will continue to see various applications of new technologies in years to come, some of which will ultimately have real impact while others (the majority, IMHO) will die out. And deservedly so, in my view. A welcome recent trend is critical re-examination of the likely overall impact EdTech as such, and its specific pronouncements and claims. I am also observing a rising tide of opposition - not only from the 'old ELT' front - to obsessing with the new and craving relevance by trying constantly to impress one's learners with more and more "wow" moments. I am quite sympathetic to these "anti-wow" tentencies and will definitely look fondly at all attempts to reinstate serious, language-centred learning in our profession. 

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