Our Roving Reporters, Penny Masoura and Valia Gkotsi interview Yuliya Speroff, one of the speakers of the 37th TESOL Greece International Annual Conference.
1) Who is Yuliya Speroff? What was a high and a low point you identified in you? How has this helped you evolve personally?
Yuliya Speroff is an English teacher and a passionate material developer. If I ever forget who Ms Speroff is, I have a daily reminder – my students often call me Teacher, as is customary here in Turkey. My high points usually occur in the classroom when I do things in class that make my students’ eyes sparkle with the joy of learning English. My low point comes from wondering if I am being a good teacher and whether I am doing everything I should be doing to help my students learn. I find that questioning whether I am doing things the right way is one thing that consistently drives me to strive for excellence.
2) What is the core message of your poster presentation?
Mobile phones are everywhere, including the classroom, and they are here to stay. Instead of viewing them as a source of distraction, mobile phones can be used for meaningful speaking and listening practice to students’ and teachers’ advantage. In addition, having students do things with instant messaging apps like Whatsapp outside the classroom fosters learner autonomy and peer learning.
3)What motivated you to submit a proposal to the Tesol Greece Convention?
I presented with my colleague CeAnn Myers at the TESOL Greece annual convention last year and it was the first time I ever presented at an international conference. My first presenting experience with TESOL Greece could not have been more pleasant: from the way everything was organized so well to the inspiring talks given by keynote speakers and participants. Having heard so many interesting ideas, I promised myself I’d come back next year with more ideas of my own to share. I think this is the main purpose of any conference – getting inspired by your peers to try out new ideas and realizing that you too have something to offer.
4) How is your presentation connected to the Convention’s theme “Join the Education R-Evolution”?
Mobile-assisted learning (MALL) is gaining prominence in the TESOL world as more and more mobile learning/teaching platforms and apps become available. My presentation gives practical ideas on joining this ‘r-evolutionary’ trend by using instant messaging apps inside and outside of the classroom.
5) Why is it so important to evolve as educators?
The world around us is constantly evolving. New generations of students emerge who expect their educators to be aware of the advances in technology and education and to use them in the classroom. Vocabulary apps like Quizlet, LMS platforms like Moodle or Schoology, Skype-based lessons are no longer a novelty but realities of teaching. If an educator wishes to remain relevant, they have to embrace the evolution.
6) In which ways have you evolved or revolutionized your teaching over the last years?
Finding practical and meaningful ways to utilize mobile technology in the classroom has become an important part of my teaching practice. I am very happy to have developed activities that use mobile phones to practice English in a very organic way.
7) To what extent has the reality of the EFL classroom changed recently?
While learning tools available to the learners and teachers become more and more advanced, the principles of learning and teaching largely remain the same. We are still looking for ways to motivate our students and to provide comprehensible input – but now we are using smartboards and Youtube videos instead of cassette players and transparencies.
8) Briefly describe a situation in which your teaching/actions in the classroom had an effect on a student/students. How did this person/these people evolve because of that?
When I was teaching in Russia, I had a group of teenage students. The only type of English learning they experienced up until that point came from the old-fashioned education system prevalent in Russia at the time: lots of grammar/translation activities, very little meaningful communication. As a result, their motivation was pretty low and they saw their extra English classes as just another way to swot for the exams.
For the 2 years that I had that group I tried to show them the fun side of learning English and the opportunities they will get by mastering a foreign language. Fast forward several years later, and one of the students contacted me and told me that she herself was on the way to becoming an English teacher because of how much she enjoyed and learned from her English classes with me when she was a teenager. We still keep in touch and I enjoy hearing about how her career is progressing.
9) Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Five years from now I am still an English teacher and a material developer but I am also a teacher trainer with CELTA.
10) What should the motto of an “Education R-Evolution” be?
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