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Monday, 13 March 2017 23:18

Joanna Malefaki

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"No Need to be Picasso: Using Drawings in the ELT Class"

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

I will be talking about using drawings as a way to present/ teach grammar, writing, and language in general. The focus of my talk is on how beneficial teacher drawings can be. In fact, drawings can be used to simplify difficult concepts, like the connection between the topic sentence and an argument in writing or a drawing that will effectively present the future perfect tense for example, so as to make these teaching points more comprehensible for the learners. Drawings can be an effective teaching tool not only when teaching young learners, but also EAP and Business English students. Teachers do not have to be artists in order to draw in the classroom!!

My presentation is very practical as I will be showing you the drawings I have been using in my classroom. You will be taking part in the whole drawing process as well, so make sure you have a pencil on you!


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

I studied English language and Philology at the University of Athens. I also hold a M.ed in TESOL and the Cambridge Delta. I have been teaching in various context for about 20 years now. I teach mostly exam classes, Business English online, and EAP. In a few weeks I will be working at the University of Sheffield where I will be teaching English for academic purposes. I am also an educational blogger www.myeltrambles.com


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

Of course it is. As far as classroom practice is concerned, I think we need to be able to make learning as practical as possible. What we teach needs to resonate with our learners. They need to know that what they are learning will be helpful for them in the future. As far as teacher education is concerned, I really enjoy keeping up to date with learning theories, but realising what I learn in the classroom is one of the best parts of teaching!


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

I think that whatever you learn can be helpful. If a teacher feels uncomfortable trying out something new, maybe they should leave it for a bit later on when they are more informed. By that time any new practices will have been tried out, and the teacher can learn from the feedback his/ her colleagues give. New practices give life to the class. They help teachers not feel like they are in a rut.


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

I think that it is very easy to be overwhelmed nowadays, so, in my view, teaching is not easy or complicated these days. There is so much out there, so many voices regarding what works and what does not work in the classroom. Do all practices make teaching easy? I cannot really say because I like to take my time before I try something new. I am not the first to jump on the band wagon of a ‘cutting edge’ teaching practice. I do like to explore though and see what will work for me and then try it out


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

Listen to your learners. Yes, you have your lesson plan ready, your handouts in your hands, but if the learner is not ‘in it’, then listen and do what the learner needs. It’s that simple.


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

It is very important. Teachers need to keep learning. There are also so many opportunities nowadays for CPD and I think that it can only be beneficial for teachers to educate themselves.


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

I think that as teachers, we give heart and soul and sometimes that is not recognized. I really wish society showed more appreciation towards teachers.


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

I love the atmosphere. Everyone is so friendly and eager to connect and build bonds. You learn a lot during conventions. I love sharing what I know and learning from others. TESOL Greece events are very welcoming and everyone feels like friends! I cannot wait to be there and see everyone again!


IF you could one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?

It’s OK to make a mistake, it’s OK to not know everything! Take your time and learn. Rome was not built in a day!

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