Jake Delatolas – Saveris Interviews Herbert Puchta ahead of the 44th TESOL Greece Convention

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Jake: Would you tell us a few things about your presentation?

Herbert: With great pleasure – and thanks for the opportunity to talk about it. I’m going to focus on the teaching of primary children this time, and I’m delighted about that. Firstly, because the topic I’m going to discuss is an important one, I believe. Secondly, because it doesn’t often happen that organizers of a major international conference ask someone to do a plenary on the topic of teaching young learners. But the teaching of young learners is important for many reasons. One of them is that the first experience in learning another language can lay the foundation for life-long learning of all kinds, and giving children a successful start in that can make an enormous contribution to the formation of positive beliefs about their learning capabilities, and at the same time help them with the development of cognitive skills and their strategies to learn languages effectively. So I’m very grateful to the Chair and the trustees of TESOL Greece for giving me this opportunity.


The topic of my presentation is social-emotional learning (SEL). It’s a topic that is becoming a bit of a buzzword in ELT, and I’m going to be talking about why I believe it’s not just another bandwagon to jump on. Instead, I feel sure that it’s here to stay. Today’s world is a difficult one – not only for adults, but for children too. Social-emotional learning is about creating a classroom culture that students want to belong to. It helps children understand their own emotions better, and it teaches them important relationship skills such as empathy and how to be kind to one another. In my plenary, I’ll look at the different areas of social-emotional learning as part of the wider concept of learning for life. I’ll discuss why social-emotional competencies are important, and how we can integrate their development into our language lessons. Research shows that when this is done successfully, it has a positive outcome not only on children’s well-being, but also on their behaviour in general and their academic success in particular.

Jake: What are you looking forward to at the 44th TESOL Greece Annual Convention?

Herbert: I’m hugely looking forward to meeting colleagues I’ve known for many years and who’ve become friends. And I’m looking forward to attending a range of different sessions, talking to other colleagues and exchanging ideas. I’ve had the pleasure of coming to TESOL Greece several times, and it has always been a great experience, from a professional viewpoint … and a social-emotional one!