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Presenters

Presenters (39)

Sunday, 26 February 2017 22:09

Stefania Kordia

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"Classroom-based Assessment in Greece: Insights from the TALE Project" 

 

Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
Our presentation will focus on assessment, which is one of the most crucial aspects of language teaching. We will present an EU-funded research project (TALE) that our team at the Hellenic Open University is participating in and we will have an interactive discussion with the audience. How do we assess our learners? Why? How can we improve our assessment practices? These are just a few of the crucial questions we are going to address.  
 
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I’ve been teaching English for approximately 10 years and I’m currently pursuing a PhD on teacher education. Two principles have been guiding my teaching all these years: “Always keep developing yourself” and “Where there is a will, there is a way!”
 
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
Although it could be interpreted in multiple ways, ‘keeping it practical’ is definitely essential. To my mind, it involves doing everything you can to ensure that your teaching is indeed effective and that your learners’ needs are actually met. This is yet another reason why using appropriate assessment methods is so important.  
 
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
Problems might always arise, even when it is “tried and tested” practices we are talking about. With “new” practices in particular, things might be even harder… I guess it depends on why and how exactly these practices are introduced in teaching and learning.
 
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
Well, it has never been an easy task, I think. The more demanding the learners’ needs become, though, the more challenging this ‘job’ gets!      
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
That critical reflection on my practices is the key to everything – it may be a difficult (and, at times, painful) process but there is no other way, is there?
 
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
Professional development is absolutely necessary in my opinion. The world we live in changes all the time, meaning that our learners’ needs change as well. We need to keep up, otherwise we will be left behind.
 
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
Quite a few things actually! Lack of resources, lack of time, lack of support… The list could go on but, as I wrote earlier, “Where there is a will, there is a way”!
 
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
What has made TG Conventions stand out as “must attend” events is, I think, the fact that they promote a culture of sharing, collaborating and networking!  
IF you could offer one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
To stay alert and keep their eyes, ears and mind open to what each of their learners’ needs each time… Sometimes, we think we know what they need but, in reality, we don’t 
Sunday, 26 February 2017 21:51

Kyriaki Koukouraki

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"A Task-based Approach to English for Academic Purposes"

Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
“A task based approach to EAP” will present, apart from the theoretical background, some practical ideas on how to use this teaching methodology in the very special field of English for Academic Purposes.
 
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
It definitely is, because very often theoretical frameworks need some adjustment to work under real-life EFL classroom conditions.
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
Never give up and do your best to inspire your students.
 
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
It has the same paramount importance as in any other profession. Teachers should keep up with the latest teaching trends and technologies used in language teaching.
 
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
Meeting great, inspirational people!
 
IF you could give one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
In difficult times, remember what made you become an educator in the first place. 
Sunday, 26 February 2017 21:42

Hanaa Khamis

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"Flip your Classroom with Voice­ Apps"

 

Could you tell ­us a few things about­ your presentation an­d how it relates to this year’­s Convention theme?

My workshop demonstrates some handy mobile apps that help teachers reach out to their learners and vice versa through audio, video, text and/or images combined together. They’re simply user-friendly, time-saving and interactive. In a nutshell, they help teachers keep it practical.


Briefly tell us­ a few things about y­ourself as a professi­onal.

I'm an Egyptian ELT practitioner and teacher trainer. My training interests include instructional technology, pedagogy and assessment.


Is “keeping it ­practical” an importa­nt part of present da­y EFL classrooms? Why, do y­ou think, this is?

As an ELT practitioner for the past twenty years, I believe I’ve had enough theory. Surely, it’s important to base our practices on sound theoretical background. However, it’s what actually works in action that really matters. I’ve never taught the very same thing twice. My classroom experiences are always different. Practicality means I’m able to adapt my practices to different student types in various contexts. Even if it doesn’t always work for me, I learn by trial and error.


Are there probl­ems when new practice­s are applied in the ­classrooms?

Resistance to anything out of the ordinary; it takes some time to adapt and accept a new tool/technique other than what’s already known. Dragging teachers and learners out of their familiar comfort zones is always a challenge. Technical issues can also get in the way and be inhibiting. Many could easily give up a new way at the first stumbling block. It takes diligence and patience to go on scavenger hunts exploring new methods and seeing their worth.


Has it become e­asier or more complic­ated to teach English­ these past decades?­

It’s a lot easier in many ways. With the advent of the internet, learning resources are accessible for free. It’s no longer a challenge to get audio, video and other material for classroom use. On the other hand, it’s become real challenging to capture the good stuff out of loads of unworthy materials. Training teachers and students to critically evaluate what’s out there is a big deal nowadays.


What is one pie­ce of advice that has­ been a beacon for yo­ur teaching over the years?­

Never be afraid to try out something new. Be daring and trust your instincts. Teach your students to take risks with you. This is what real learning is all about.

 

How important i­s CPD (Continuous Pro­fessional Development­) in the teaching of languages­?

It’s indispensable. Without CPD, I experience periods of burnout. Every once in a while, I grab a learning opportunity out there to break the monotony. Otherwise my professional life becomes unbearable.

 
What do you fin­d demotivating as far­ as teaching is conce­rned?

Monotony, students’ lack of motivation, lack of support to teachers from authority figures and/or parents.


What is one of ­the things you will n­ot forget from past T­G Conventions?­

I haven’t been fortunate enough to attend TG before; this is my first time. But any conference experience is value added. It’s always an exciting learning opportunity.


IF you could give o­ne piece of advice to­ new Educators in the­ field of ELT what would it be?
Enjoy what you do in and out of class. If you can’t get yourself to like it, better change careers. It’s needless to torture yourself and your students over something you’re not passionate about.



Thursday, 23 February 2017 17:01

Stefania Balloto

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"The Profile of the 21st Century Teacher"
 
Could you tell ­us a few things about­ your presentation an­d how it relates to this year’­s Convention theme?
“Keeping it practical” is what we teachers really need to do. My talk/workshop is focussed mainly on “shaping up” in learning processes so that evaluation generates knowledge, embraces change and allows students to teach others. How can we prepare students to meet the challenges of our century if our school remains virtually unchanged?  “The profile of the 21st. Century Teacher” introduces a framework that maps our skills needed to survive and thrive in a complex and connected world. 
 
Briefly tell us­ a few things about y­ourself as a professi­onal.
My first degree, BA in English, is from Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, S.A, and my MA degree is in Applied Linguistics, from the University of Cambridge, UK. I have trained EFL, ESOL, CLIL and subject teachers and trainers in state and private sectors, in Italy, UK, Spain, Turkey, China and in my native South Africa.  For the past 15 years I have been a university lecturer, in the  Department of Teacher Training and Languages, University of Udine, Italy and a PILGRIMS teacher trainer. I have worked with Howard Gardner and with the Harvard Graduate School of Education on the project, “Making Thinking Visible”.
 
Is “keeping it ­practical” an importa­nt part of present da­y EFL classrooms? Why, do y­ou think, this is?
Nowadays we are exposed to so many learning and innovation skills, digital literacy skills, career and life skills that it is essential to keep it practical in class. As much as possible of the 21st. century skills are to be included only practically without taking away too much time and energy from both teachers and learners. We need to show ourselves and our learners how it works.
 
Are there probl­ems when new practice­s are applied in the ­classrooms?
A lot of problems arise from our personal belief system. If we keep on doing it the same way, we’ll always get the same results. If we are not ready to take a few risks then change will never take place. There are also socio-cultural factors which might cause problems. Novelty at first can be daunting. Time, belief and perseverance are some key words. A good rapport with our learners is a core factor. 
 
Has it become e­asier or more complic­ated to teach English­ these past decades?­
Over the decades teaching EFL has become both easier and more challenging. A growing number of students speak English better than their class teachers; expats children, immigrants who have been exposed to the language and the awareness of the importance of a second or third language and the growing awareness of learning for life in our times. There is a quantity of resources which can be found that does facilitate our work. Basically, just about everything can be found for teaching the language. The question remains. ARE WE TEACHERS ready to face this?
 
What is one pie­ce of advice that has­ been a beacon for yo­ur teaching over the years?­
FLEXIBILTY is one of my key words. Over my 36 years of teaching I have attended as many conferences as possible, I have learnt and shared with colleagues, I have taken risks and all the responsibility of my practise. I have never stopped LOVING what I do, overcoming dark, difficult times as well, thanks to my NLP background I have reframed all my mistakes into learning opportunities. The advice is to choose to develop and improve one’s profession.
 
How important i­s CPD (Continuous Pro­fessional Development­) in the teaching of languages­?
CPD is vital. In a changing, globalised world where we are to apply our learners’ knowledge to understanding and solving real-world challenges using their 21stcentury skills we are the first ones to be their mentors and facilitators, not only their teachers of English. Therefore, welcome to conferences and sharing our knowledge worldwide.
 
What do you fin­d demotivating as far­ as teaching is conce­rned?
It is difficult for me to answer this! I personally find that sharing my knowledge of what I do VERY motivating. My self-esteem and my experience help in this. I think that as a “young” teacher it was demotivating to follow the curriculum of those sitting in their ivory towers. Now we still do, because of institutions and ministries only we can do it in a way thinking about all our students, diversifying and having fun. The outcome is important.
 
What is one of ­the things you will n­ot forget from past T­G Conventions?­
One important aspect I take home from all the conventions is the positive atmosphere and the learning. I believe in “use it or lose it”. I feel so enriched by new ways of doing my job. New activities and new research and the HUMAN exchange is what makes the difference. Laughing and grumbling adds to the spice of us teachers.
 
If you could o­ne piece of advice to­ new Educators in the­ field of ELT what would it be?
Take into consideration the cross-cultural, socio-economic factors. We do not teach the lesson plan, we teach HUMANS. Never quit and believe in yourself. Inspire your learners and do not teach them, help them think.  
Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:25

Maria Araxi-Sachpazian

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"Teacher-developed Teaching Materials: Challenges & Opportunities" 
 
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
As a teacher, long before I had some of my work published, I loved creating my own worksheets and my own material in general. Lately, I have come to notice that teachers are a bit apprehensive when it comes to them venturing out and creating their own material, which can be both practical and time-saving. The idea behind this presentation is to discuss why teacher-generated materials are still useful and needed even at a time when there is a plethora of published material.

Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I started teaching English when I was still a student at university. I have been very lucky to teach at very good FLS. I have served as level co-ordinator, head of exam classes and Director of studies.  At some point in my career I started training teachers and for the past seven years I have been working in my own company Input on Education which offers academic and business support services to FLS in Greece.  I have been fortunate to have some of my material published and I am also a regular columnist.

Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
It is key, especially when training novice teachers, to stress the value of a ‘’less is more’’ attitude. We are bombarded by so much material, in so many forms that we feel that we have to do everything in every single lesson, which is impractical. This unfortunately leads to a kind of stress that causes teachers to remove focus from the learners and put it on the material.  Therefore, for me keeping it practical means that we do the best we can with what we have in order to maximize learning for the learners that we are currently teaching and this is extremely important.

Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
Of course there are. Applying new practices means that professionals need to exit their comfort zone. This is never easy and it seldom happens that both the institution and the teachers are ready to exit their comfort zone together. What usually happens is that either teachers are told to try out new things but they resist, either because they have not been supported or because they do not see the usefulness in it, or the teachers want to try out something new and the school resists for fear that this new thing will alienate its core clientele.
 
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
I would say that it is different. These days, we can have everything at the touch of a button. It is also a great time for teacher to pursue their CPD from the comfort of their home, usually for free. On the other hand, this plethora of ideas and materials makes it more difficult for individual teachers to realise that apart from ‘’getting material’’ and ‘’getting ideas from here and there’’ some quiet time is needed for them to find themselves as teachers and to realise what works for them and their learners.
 
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
CPD is key if we really want to keep to the idea of Lifelong learning. Teaching evolves and changes as learners and their needs change. Theories are disproved or others are re-examined and new light is cast on them. These are developments teachers need to follow if they do not want to be left behind. Personally, I feel that CPD and professional networking is a kind of vaccination against professional stagnation and burnout, both of which are only too easy to happen when one lives and works in a country that has been facing a severe financial crisis for so many years.
 
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
Very hard criticism and impossibly high expectations are the two things that can stop me from trying harder.
 
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
What always stands out is that friendly and warm atmosphere of reconnecting with our field and its people. It is like reconnecting with the womb and recharging our batteries.
 
IF you could one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
Teaching is all about your learners. Get to know them. Get to know yourself. Find the balance. 
Thursday, 23 February 2017 16:18

Michael Tourabelis

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"Practical Suggestions for Integrating Art into the ELT Classroom" 
 
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this years Convention theme?
This workshop aims to familiarize ELT practitioners with the use of Art as a means to perform a series of linguistic and communicative tasks.  Employing different models of Visual Arts observation, participants observe, interpret and elaborate on famous works by purposefully-selected artists. These practices aim to promote the unbiased production of spontaneous language, taking the emphasis off of accuracy and placing it onto fluency and the ability to clearly express thoughts and feelings. Alongside with aesthetic and critical thinking development, they encourage an investigative initiative through visual scaffolding.

Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I’m a restless State School Teacher of English, currently teaching at Peiramatiko Gymnasio of Heraklion Crete.  I have also worked as a certified teacher-trainer for newly appointed state school teachers and in-service training courses since 2004. My research interests involve Practical Approaches to Language Teaching Methodology - Implementation of innovative techniques - Educational Technology for ELT and recently with Experiential and Transformative learning through the Integration of Arts into the foreign language classroom.
 
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
I think that this motto should be endorsed by every language practitioner or even teacher who wishes to offer his students a perspective for their future.  Language learners need to graduate from any form of education equipped not only with linguistic competence but also with communicative ability in order to be able to become involved in meaningful interactive processes.
 
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
Problems are created when these practices regard the class as a whole, thus neglecting the needs of the individual learner. Problems also occur when these practices remain focused on the development of linguistic ability and ignore an inherent goal of education which is to develop creative ability. Finally problems may occur when teachers attempt to apply new practices before they are properly trained to do so.

Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
With the advent of technology new paths have been paved into language teaching. A   variety of interactive tools have been made available to the practitioner who wishes to update his teaching approaches and learning aims. Relying on a set coursebook, concentrated on reciting grammar rules or merely preparing for an exam, is by itself unable to cater for the actual needs or the interests of the individual learner.
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
I strongly remember the words of Sir Ken Robinson in one of his TED talks back in 2006. He said that “Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status”

How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
Teaching languages is a dynamic process which constantly evolves, follows trends or adopts different approaches, interacts with science and technology and is always available for reform and improvement. Therefore, it becomes imperative that every ELT practitioner should embrace CPD , if he wishes to keep up with current trends.
 
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
The fact that after all these years there are still teachers, regardless of their age who still resort to traditional structural teacher-centered approaches in their teaching thus turning their back or ignoring the progress which has been made in the field of ELT

What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
Actually, this is the first time I’m participating in a TESOL Greece convention as a presenter.  I’ve attended some TESOL Greece events. What impressed me most was the quality of the professional presentations and the debates which followed.

IF you could one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
I would advise them to pave their own paths in education, looking ahead into the future, never relying on preconceived standards and traditional teacher-centered styles. They must always bear in mind that every child in the class is an individual learner with his own aptitudes, skills and talents, learning pace and ability and he or she must always be treated as such. Teaching is pointless if it doesn’t lead to actual learning.
Thursday, 23 February 2017 15:58

Aphrodite Gkiouri

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"10 Creative Ways to Teach English"
 
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
Creativity is a natural ability that is found in every young learner.
Unfortunately, traditional classrooms don’t always value creativity,
and sometimes even hold it back. Our role as teachers is to nurture
creativity, at every opportunity.
Creative activities are fun, engaging and take learning far beyond the
tasks of understanding and memorizing.
In my presentation, I share several practical teaching ideas which have
been tested in my class and have really worked! Hoping to work in other
classes, too.
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I am an English teacher in a State Primary School in Larissa, teaching
all levels and classes. My current interests, lie in blogging about ELT
and serving as an active member on our local "English Language Teachers
Association " board.
I am a passionate English teacher, a life lover, and a positive thinker:
My motto is, "when there is a will, there is a way”. I want to serve as
my students' role model! But, I am also a perfectionist - extremely
demanding of myself as well as of my students.
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day
EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
It is indeed!
It takes lots of time to understand, to test, to adjust and to adapt
each new teaching strategy until it fits comfortably into daily ELT
classroom practice.
It is not enough to read about a new routine or see it demonstrated in a
workshop. The teacher must adapt it, practice it, adapt it some more and
manage to fit it into the life of the classroom in a way that is
comfortable and consistent with other routines.
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the
classrooms?
I have experienced such problems, several times, in my career!
Therefore, I believe that it is crucial to teach both students and
parents about new teaching practices and trends! Other colleagues,
too. We need partners in teaching using innovative methods. Growth and
change are more likely to thrive in more collaborative cultures. Teaching
is demanding and exhausting. Fellowship can play a major role in
validating our worth as a teacher during the toughest moments and can
give us the lift we need to reach optimal levels of performance.
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these
past decades?
English has become the gateway to a world of knowledge, commerce, and
culture, a lingua franca that gives a student access to the world in a
way that other languages do not, which is a good thing.
On the other hand, today’s English language learners are a diverse
collection of immigrants, business people, students, in a Globalized
World, which makes our job more challenging!
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your
teaching over the years?
Seek your passion!
It's the real reason we wanted to be teachers in the first place. I
recommend that we consistently keep in mind what our passion is as
teachers.
 
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in
the teaching of languages?
CPD is basically an issue of teacher motivation which is an ignored
area in ELT. Motivation is essential for CPD, and motivation comes from
within. We cannot be developed; development is something we do to
ourselves (as Adrian Underhill and many others have said). It is the
teacher who will feel the need and will make whatever arrangements they
can to ensure they have it.
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
It’s incredibly counter-intuitive to degrade the profession, when
education is one of the best tools we have as a society. We need to
discuss education as a nation, and to value it.
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG
Conventions?
Something I personally value tremendously about the TESOL community is
its generous, collaborative nature. We are more interested in serving
our students’ needs than our own, so we don't hesitate to share ideas
and resources with each other. What better way to share than at the
convention, where the love of the work drives educators from around the
world.
If you could one piece of advice to new Educators in the field
of ELT what would it be?
I can't say enough about the power of blogging in your life as a
teacher. It will help you reflect, get feedback, and collaborate. I,
myself, was a novice blogger three years ago. I'm happy to share that I
feel like my blogging experience will always be a journey of
discovery. There are some awesome blogging platforms available on the
web. Pick one that speaks to you and then... jump in! Let us know when
you've finally got it up and running!
Thursday, 23 February 2017 15:44

Susana Gómez Martínez

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"Multilingual Schools:  Enhancing Cultural and Linguistic Treasure of Europe through Teachers"
 
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
The goal of this poster is to present a very interesting EU project called Multicultural Schools- Enhancing Cultural and Linguistic Treasure of Europe through Teachers (www.multicultural-schools.eu, Project n. 2015-1-PL01-KA201-016963) with a special focus on its goals, methodology, rationale and materials.
 
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I am a lecturer of undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Valladolid and head of the English Department in the Campus of Soria. I am a regular speaker at ESL conferences, participate in several national and international research and innovation projects, work as a reviewer for several international journals on ELT and I am a frequent contributor to newsletters, books and specialised journals on SLA and EFL methodology.
 
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL
classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
Definitely. Students need to learn things they find useful and they can use in real life
 
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
May be teachers are reluctant to changes, as changes imply extra effort, but students embrace new methodologies and activities
 
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
Definitely easier due to the internet where you can find authentic material for free with a click of a mouse. Both teachers and students greatly benefit from this
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years? Motivation and needs analysis. Ask your students what they need in their classes and find motivating activities which are of interest for them. Learning will flow automatically and teaching will be plain sailing
 
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
Crucial. Teachers need to know about innovation, new teaching methodologies, etc. and don’t get stuck
 
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
Lack of recognition from the public institutions
 
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
This will be my first TG convention and I´m very excited about it
 
IF you could offer one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
Talk to people, share your experiences and learn from each other
Thursday, 23 February 2017 15:39

Joan Macphail

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"The Interview"

 

Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
Our presentation is about ‘The Interview’ with practical suggestions for this speech-event which almost all of our students need preparation for.
 
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I have been a teacher of mother-tongue users as well as EFL learners, a teacher trainer, Director of Studies for the British Council in the Yemen and Kuwait, College Counsellor in the Greek private sector, assisting students in their US  university applications . Now retired, I still assist students in SAT exam preparation, assess for Cambridge DELTA 2 exams, and am Director of The Tartan Epsilon, our company producing educational applications.
 
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
Of course, because essentially we are involved in the practical application of professional skills and linguistic knowledge.
 
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
I guess that would be an issue as to how these new practices are introduced.
 
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
More complicated: more is expected of teachers nowadays.
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
Be yourself and be prepared. (That’s two, I know, but both equally important!)
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
Very important in all aspects of teaching; sadly, in times of economic downturn funding for this is invariably cut.
 
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
That our profession is afforded such a low status. Would you believe I was once offered supermarket vouchers as part-payment for professional services? I refused to accept them!
 
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
Having our proposal rejected last year!
 
IF you could one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
Initially forge a climate in your teaching context that you feel comfortable in. Make it clear from the outset what you expect of your learners in terms of effort, behaviour, responsibility, etc. and keep these lines clearly drawn.
Sunday, 19 February 2017 14:15

Zafi Mandali

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"The Cultured Daughter of a a Plain Grocer"

 
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it
relates to this year’s Convention theme?
Actually it is not a presentation as such. It is an oral interpretation piece, half told  half acted,
touching  on misconceived educational  standards  with the purpose of amusing the participants while implicitly
reminding them of the art of storytelling in education.
 
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
I run the department of English at a private school in Athens and we are never at rest professionally.  
We constantly enrich our practices and this reflects on the materials and methods we use.
If my antennas are not busy picking the rising needs of today’s students, I devote time to writing material for the school
and to articles for ELT and to involving students in story telling
 
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL
classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
There are many interpretations of “practical”. I am sure this will arise at the Convention and at the Interactive Plenary Panel.  
One thing is certain. Time and undivided attention are at a premium. I guess very few dare not “keep it practical”. 
After all, the need for “practical”  has spawned so much technological  innovation.
 
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
Certainly. A few years ago, interactive whiteboards were the rave and along came project based learning and personalized learning.
CLIL also arrived  and  we hear of S.T.E.A.M  coming our way too and there is this trend of “mindfulness” in education too. 
I guess it is easy to apply new trends that make sense to you to a couple of students but with large  numbers, one needs to weigh carefully the pros and cons and  never forget “tested” practices.
 
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
One would say that with so many apps and sources of information things are much easier. And in a sense they are.
We also have the wisdom of hindsight of     educational shifts (behaviorism, the communicative approach, total physical response, the lexical approach).
On the other hand, with online communities, the constant flow of ideas is too much to take in. Very often I think I am “lost in choices”.
 
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
Always see the positive trait in the student.  Teachers who have acquired the skill of “seeing” the bright side despite all,
possess a huge defense mechanism. Also keep what works for you but make sure you give ideas and
other practices a chance. Oups!  That was two pieces of advice.
 
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
Those who have contracted the TESOL virus will tell you that work is not possible without  CPD.  
CPD  has enabled me to meet interesting people, to renew my work and to feel more useful.

What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
Quite a few things. Still, I can  not complain too much as I have managed to create a “niche” which   incorporates technology and  favourite practices
(drama, project work , story  telling)  in the overall educational pattern. What demotivates me is losing one’s  students at points;
I blame the omni present  stimuli, but unfortunately  the omni potent treatment to the problem escapes me.

What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
One? There are many.
 
IF you could give one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
Go for the ideas that make sense to you. I mean one comes across many approaches of teaching but not all  fit like a glove.
Always look at things from the students’ point of view too and reflect on what and how you do things in class.

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