"S.T.E.A.M your Inner Scientist up!"
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
To be practical, one has to relate concepts to experience, to real situations or actions, rather than ideas or imagination. My presentation, “S.T.E.A.M your Inner Scientist up!”, aims at providing attendees with tips on how to run and manage their own Science lab, as well as, how to apply the Scientific method in order to prompt their learners to hypothesise, observe, analyse and draw a universal conclusion. A CLIL environment is the ideal place to cultivate and enhance learners’ cognitive and linguistic competence. Can you imagine a better way to keep teaching practical than experimenting with language and concepts?
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
Theodore Lalos is an ELT professional who is intensely interested in getting out of his comfort zone and experimenting with different aspects of language teaching. From basic literacy skills through playful exploration to running a lab and teaching both concepts and language. His ultimate aim is to enable his learners to reach their full potential and develop both their cognitive and linguistic skills.
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
It has always been an integral part of the EFL classroom. Whether learners are young adolescents or adults, the aim of following a course is always the same – to reach a level of competence that would allow one to be an independent user and communicate fluently. However, nowadays being practical does not exclude academic work and preparation since the rate of learners that apply for studies abroad increases day by day. The term merely includes approaches and techniques that enable learners to achieve their goals in a short period of time and with low fees.
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
As with every beginning, any new implementation or experimentation involves mistakes and false starts. Perseverance, patience and intact enthusiasm are the core ingredients to success. Teachers must reflect on mistakes and make an action plan to mitigate or even eliminate their negative effects.
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
Nowadays, teachers are surrounded by a plethora of ELT materials and sites which they can access in order to download, adapt and, ultimately use those materials in their own classroom setting. Along with the broad availability of those materials, however, teachers were also given the opportunity to be part of online professional communities through PLNs. These changes in the ELT field had enabled teachers to share and broaden their knowledge and to develop professionally. It may seem that EFL teaching have become easier and more enjoyable because of these changes, but it has definitely become more demanding because the standards and the requirements of our era have profoundly changed.
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
“Try to remember that it’s too early to start playing the game…Stand up for what you believe in…Truth matters…So, tell it…No matter what!”
Never sacrifice your beliefs in the name of money. Fight for what is right, honest and educative. Fight for your own rights, your own skills, your own creativity and your very own and invaluable contributions to teaching.
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
To ensure that one’s capabilities are kept up to pace with the current standards, they need to be engaged in any CPD opportunity that arises. CPD maintains and enhances the knowledge and the skills one needs to deliver their professional services. Furthermore, it allows one to continue to make meaningful contributions. Hence, every teacher that respects himself and his learners ought to be engaged in CPD opportunities as it aids his efforts to take cognizance of the changing trends and directions in his profession.
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
Having to cope with meagre salaries and the unreasonable and, most of the times, contradictory demands of our era. Teachers devote their body, mind and soul to deliver engaging lessons that aim to equip learners with life-saving skills, all they ask for is to be appreciated and earn enough money to cover their needs.
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
The videotaped interviews of all these ELT professionals that have never been released on the channel of the TESOL Greece Association. (that was the first thing that crossed my mind!)
I cannot forget the enthusiasm and the accumulated knowledge that all TESOL Greece presenters share and express during the Convention. It is a mesmerising occasion.
IF you could one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
Always do your best, even if the circumstances are not favourable.