Sunday, October 9, 2016

IATEFL ESP SIG Athens 2016 - Impressions

A very interesting convention relating to teaching English for Specific Purposes. In the first plenary, Dr. Anna Mauranen pointed out that English is a Lingua Franca and how important it is to have a language to communicate internationally. She also showed survey results on how people from different countries "adapt" English combining it with their own language and expressions.

The next presentation I attended was Task-Based, topic- centered learning in ESP by Vesna Kovasevic from Serbia. I had already met her last year in Athens at the TESOL convention, she is an excellent ESP teacher with wonderful ideas. She presented her students' project and described the way she helps them to create their own presentations - commercials and essays/ reports in real life situations.

I then attended Teaching academic writing, critical thinking and autonomy through one draft by Sofia Valanis, lecturer at IST college. The presentation itself was lesson on how to write academic essays with examples, but the discussion that followed was very interesting, with people teaching in China, Abu Dabi and Europe having a say on cultural awareness and the conclusion was that different cultures do not always support autonomy and expression of personal opinions and one has to be careful on how to approach the students.

The next plenary was about preparing our students for their working lives in English - what is correct and incorrect language and again cultural awareness, stereotypes and multicultural communication skills. Ian Badger is an Author and instructor of business and medical English.

The workshop that followed was about helping students perform well in interviews, which was fun and very practical and useful. There were some wonderful insights on how to react and how to prepare. Joan Macphail and Angeliki Apostolidou are owners of The Tartan Epsilon

I have also met Elis Kakoulli Constantinou from Cyprus whose talk was about Technology and ESP . She is currently working on her master's degree in this field and talked about using technology in teaching (e-learning platforms). In fact she is planning to have an e-learning course about teaching ESP in the beginning of the new year and I will keep in touch. She has definitely a lot of ideas to share.

Day 2 begun with Profesor Almut Koster of Business Communication, University of Vienna, discussing teaching of ESP as training and education. She presented her surveys and a lot of examples and videos of lessons and analysed the challenges a teacher and a student has to face.

Right after, Will Nash from University of Sheffield presented the IAT(Inform / Analyse / Transfer) Model for ESAP and divided English teaching into two categories (Academic for Studies and Academic Professional)

I then attended the second workshop of Joan Macphial and Angeliki Apostolidou on CV's - we talked about different kind of CV's and I mentioned them the Europass type and had a discussion of the use of each type.

The next plenary was by Dr. Pascahlis Chiaras , lecturer at IST College and one of the Organisers of the convention who talked about technology and ESP classroom, flipped classrooms, e-learning advantages and disadvantages.

All in all it was an interesting convention, but with few participants (maybe due to the price?). The only problem in my opinion was lack of organization (the times of the talks were constantly changing).

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Summer Adventures 2016 Part 2

End of August and Sicily time came! I was expecting this since the beginning of the summer!!
So it was early June when Chuck skyped me
We are organizing EdYouFest in Palermo and you are coming to do the yoga session!
So I did!!
And I met all those wonderful people!
People I have been communicating for the past 3 years. People who have shared their dreams and challenges with me. People I know so well although we had never really met! People I didn't know but we become best friends!
An experience that will remain unforgettable.
No it was not a vacation. People from all over the world gathered in the small hostel in Sicily to learn together, to share experiences together, to understand that although we are different, we are the same.
Lots of interesting workshops with Steve Hirschhorn, Christina Rebuffet, Philip Pound, Julie Pratten, Alexandra Chistykakova, Barbara Bujtas and my personal hero Chuck Sandy.
Until we meet again!
Barbi, Sascha and myself on my first day in Sicily

Philip and Chuck

Sascha in deep thoughts. What is my life dream ?

Chuck and me - last night in Sicily

Now what?

Steve's workshop

Anne and me working on a new project

Roberta and me in Barbi's workshop

Barbi's workshop on the beach!

Oh yes we had yoga as well! I was the instructor!

First assignement before the workshops

Sandra, Ann and myself before pizza dinner


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Summer adventures 2016 Part 1

"Summer adventure" posts have become a tradition - they have started when I had all summer to be careless and free, but felt bad about myself doing nothing. To tell you the truth, in order to need a break, you must have done something to get you tired all through the year. And although, I had my hands full teaching during the winter, I can't say that I was exhausted.
Summers were a torture since I had absolutely nothing to do except from cleaning, cooking and watching TV. A real breakdown...
Blogging and different ELT movements / institutes like #30Goals and iTDi have changed my life and gave me a purpose to go on!
That's where the "summer adventure" posts come in.
Since then, a lot of things have changed personally and professionally and in today's post I will attempt to share what I have been doing this summer.


Since it is the summer, things are a bit slow in the office, most of my colleagues are on vacation, I took some time off myself (coming later in this post.)
Mostly creating content nowadays and planning next year's training and classes.
Working in an office is something completely different than teaching. First of all when you teach, you don't sit on a chair 8 hours long. You interact with adults and not with children, your work is mostly written, you have to follow rules and follow procedures.
I can't say that I have best buddies at work, I get along with most people, I have been out for a drink with some people,  and I do have fun at the office most of the time, but still it's work. I can't say that I have made friends at the schools I used to work either in the past, so maybe I'm the strange one, who knows?

Oh yes, I have not stopped teaching, although  not full time.
My summer students wanted to gain some time in the summer, since the one is going abroad to work and the other one wanted to earn some extra time now that she doesn't have too much work during the summer.
I have not been very creative, unfortunately, lack of motivation? exhaustion? I don't really know.
I managed to work on a poem by Maya Angelou, based on Kieran Donaghy's Film English lesson, which I find wonderful:

 I would also like to recommend some links in German, especially for those people who are considering moving to a German speaking country. Practice and listening to the language all the time is everything!
Deutsche Welle 
BBC - learn German


All year long I have been translating texts about training techniques, strength enhancement and rehabilitation. I still have some texts about resisted sled sprint training, but I haven't had the courage to start working on it yet. We will see...

This year I haven't had much time to actually present or watch a webinar or finish a course.
There are some wonderful courses on Future learn I would like to finish / start when I do find the time
  • Italian for beginners (I was supposed to start this because I am going to Sicily, but being exhausted, I just couldn't do anything. But I guess it's never too late!)
  • Spanish for beginners (this one is actually for revision, since I had reached B2 level years ago, but I never get to practise)
  • Outstanding physical education lessons ( I just love learning about the body and what is the best way to keep fit! Since mu translation niche has to do with P.E. and the human body, I thought it would be great to find out more and why not get a certificate?)
  • STEM teaching ( There is a whole programme with different courses actually. This would be a great help for my teaching / job at the office and would make a big difference if I know more.)
Health / mood / fitness:
All these years I have been struggling with light depression, sudden mood swings, times of being really emotional and lately faced sudden gain weight and generally feeling bad about myself. After a lot of medical exams that should have taken place at least a couple of years ago, I discovered that I have hypothyroidism and hashimoto. This is very common actually, a lot of people have this and get treatment for it and lead a normal life. But you have to know it. And somebody who is being treated for years might say that ok it's not a big deal and I shouldn't be worried or reacting like I am dying, but still, this was something big.
It gets to me that I struggle with my weight - people who know me, can understand how important it is to me to have normal weight and being fit.
The fact that I work 60 hours a day does not help either.
Since I have changed gyms, I haven't really had real motivation to go and train. At my old gym I really had fun, my trainers were my friends, we had a lot of laughs - I really did unwind when I was there.
Now, at the new although the trainers are very professional, there is no personal interaction whatsoever. I do respect the gym's policy and I do like some of their sessions, but still, something's missing. So instead of going to the after hours session like I used to in the past, I just stay in front of the TV eating potato chips.... Something has to change soon.
The only thing I do lately is yoga, at home or with friends. And the reason why I actually practise is the EdYOU Festival in Sicily this month (a new post about this when I get back home)

When summer is over I hope to organize myself better and devote sometime on myself... Until then I really don't know!


Managed to find some time to see my family. A mini-trip to the island of Alonissos. A wonderful place to be if you like the sea and the water. Fascinating pebble beaches, clear blue water - best thing to do is get a boat and go around the small islands.
Managed to see a seal!
photo not by me!
Managed to spend quality time with my son, who I normally get to see so little during the winter!
Strolling Old Town, Alonissos
 More about our vacation over here in my personal blog

All in all, my summer has been something like that...
The big adventure in Sicily is yet to come...

So there will be a Summer adventure post part 2 and hopefully 3 ( Lots of weddings I have heard!!! <3 p="">If you have managed to read the whole post, I thank you and I'd love to hear about your summer adventures!!


<3 p="">Take care my dears!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

iTDi blog & EFL talks: There'sno failure, only feedback.

  • If we lived according to the dictionary, feedback would be “helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance…” In reality ... Continue here

iTDi Blog: Mentor? guide? friend?

In my previous post about feedback, I started off by quoting a dictionary to get an understanding of what feedback is. This time, since “mentor” is an ancient Greek word, I’m confident that I don’t need to refer us to dictionary definitions. I can do the job of explaining quite well myself.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

PARSNIPs (My script for EFLtalks)

Why are we referring to this vegetable anyway?
This is a fun way to make an acronym actually and to remember the initials, which stand for:
P: Politics, Pornography
A: Alcohol (Middle East), anarchy, abuse, AIDS
R: Religion, racism, rape
S: Sex, sexism, stereotypes
N: Narcotics, names, nudes
I: -isms, inhumanity, intolerance
P: Pork (in Muslim markets), police states, punishment (especially capital)
S: Soldiers, Science

Let’s begin with course-books first. Behind the course book you are teaching there is a whole industry with hundreds of people working on the book. There is somebody who actually writes the texts, somebody else is creating the exercises, somebody else is correcting the mistakes, checking the content and many many more doing jobs that you have never imagined. And there are rules on how a book or any kind of material should be.
Books have to be impartial, neutral. Books have to show no negative aspects whatsoever. Depending on the country and culture they are planned for, they have to include or exclude certain things.

Let’s start:

Politics: If you have noticed, no Course book in history has mentioned political situations, names of politicians or how a government in an English-speaking country is formed. In contrast with other languages (i.g. German books), you are not supposed to say anything about that. One can understand that the discussion can lead to negative aspects of politics, like scandals or uncomfortable situations, but as a teacher I do have discussions with my students about historic events and how politicians’ decisions / politics have influenced the development of a country.
Pornography: Well it is obvious that we shouldn’t teach our children / students anything about pornography, sex, rape, nudity and anything else that has to do with this subject. It is the job of the parents to talk about sensitive issues like those andcould cause uncomfortable situations.
Alcohol: This is taboo, especially in the Arabic world, since it is forbidden and we should respect religions and countries. It is not a good subject in any other country. Who would want to talk about beer with their teenage students anyway? On the other hand, attempts like talking about drinking and driving (i.g. Fabiana Casella’s project in Argentina) are worth mentioning.
Anarchy, abuse, AIDS: All negative subjects which can lead to confusion, but although we can’t find any of these in books, they do give you opportunity to talk about how things in the world work, how to react if we see or experience abuse and how to prevent AIDS (especially with young adults or older teens)
Religion is a bit taboo subject nowadays. One should respect any culture and religion and never judge what the other person believes. We are different and we should accept others the way they are. 
Stereotypes: Well this is a big discussion. What is considered a stereotype and what’s not? Should we use pictures of women in the kitchen? Should all police officers be men? Should we say police man and police woman or just police officer? Are there any male or female professions? On the other hand, in other countries, we are not supposed to show women working other than in the kitchen, boys are the ones who do sports and dad is always in the living room watching tv. (Culture and mentality, don’t forget that!)
Narcotics: Coming back to sex – drugs and rock’n’roll. Negative role models. On the other hand – talking about the effects of drug abuse with teens and young adults could be a great opportunity to prevent difficult situations. Still depends on the school and the parents.
Names: This refers to the course books only, since authors are not allowed to use real names of people without permission and companies’ names should not be mentioned since it can be considered advertisement. 
-isms: That includes all negative words like racism, anarchism, atheism, cannibalism, communism, hooliganism and everything you can think of.
Still, if you have adult students, you could mention ways to avoid all these negative things, but again, it depends on the people. One thing is certain; you will not find them in any book.
Pork: Obvious for the Muslim world. It is forbidden. Respect please.
Police states / Punishment: I believe that it is not allowed in general to take pictures of police officers or soldiers in action mostly for security reasons, or any kind of weapon. 
Science: Not science itself, but subjects like altering nature, genetic research etc. (With which I personally don’t agree, since you can have wonderful discussions and debates on that)

You can find a lot more information on this subject in the #ELTchats summaries:
in Scott Thornbury’s blog post:
in Luke Meddings’ article in the Guardian:
and if you like to give it a try with Parsnips in your classroom, Phil Wade and a bunch of very interesting and creative educators have prepared a collection with lesson ideas:

A different kind of teaching #keepmoving #paragraphblogging

I don't know why but I always feel restless...
I guess I am that kind of a person who cannot settle. I just have to do something different all the time.
I hate routines...
Don't get me wrong. I love my job. I love all my jobs actually. And they are all teaching-related.
I used to work at a language school - swapped to private tutoring -->  online teaching --> spinning instructing at a gym -->  translating --> content creating --> teacher training --> yoga instructing...
Not a surprise actually...

Back when I did not have a steady job, I spent most of my days at the gym.
It's not like I'm super fit anymore, but still I love movement.
And yoga is something that helps me relax and concentrate anyway.
And you know what? This is something we teachers could use ourselves. Teaching can be stressful.
Knowing how to breathe and meditate can help keep a balance and concentration.
Every morning before I actually go to the office I start with light stretching and breathing (hatha yoga wonderful choice).

During a stressful situation I try wherever I am, even for 30 seconds. It helps....
Trying breathing and concentration techniques with your students could also help let some steam off and feel more relaxed after a stressful day at school.

For more info on Yoga benefits for students click over here.
My Interview by Shelly Terrel : Find your Zen