Thursday, May 10, 2018

Learning German - Teaching Juniors (seminar report)

Last weekend I had the chance to attend Klett's seminar day, which was very informative.
What I liked the most was that although the event was organised by a publisher, which means that the target was how to sell books, people there at Klett Greece have done wonderful work presenting new trends in methodology and practical ways to teach all levels.

The session I attended was about teaching Juniors, held by the author of the book for Juniors, Ms Ulrike Kambitsis-Hetzel.
I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the energy of this teacher-author. She was very knowledgeable and had a variety of ideas for our lessons. Teaching Juniors requires a lot of stamina and ingenuity, in my opinion.
Judging from the fact that German materials in general had not reached the level of the relevant English ones, I was pleasantly surprised with this book.

Coming to the presentation, we first discussed the rituals teachers use in the classroom. Having things that you always do in class, gives the very young students security. These can be a specific greeting, various gestures, a quiet moment, a circle activity, etc.

Children learn through emotions, need variety, lots of repetitions, because although they learn easily, they forget really fast. And it would be better to learn in chunks and not an analysis of nouns, verbs and grammar that they still don't understand even in their mother tongue.
We were then shown some examples from the book, with suggestions how to use the materials and extra tips for games and more practice.

I would really like to thank KLETT Greece and Ms Hetsel for the enlightening session.
I wish I had more time to attend more sessions. Hopefully next time!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

IATEFL... One more year that I wasn't there...

Every April, I have a dream.... To go to IATEFL convention. Every year I cannot do it. I have been taking part in competitions, I have been applying for scholarships, I have been asking for sponsorships, I just couldn't make it so far. It's a bit of a disappointment, since I consider it to be the biggest international event for EFL teachers. I also can't understand why anyone wouldn't like to go.
So, I have been following the convention online reading tweets, blogs and watching it livestream and I thank British Council for giving us people the chance to watch some of the talks for free, from the comfort of our home.
I usually apply to be an official blogger, this year I have missed the chance, I haven't seen an add anywhere, so I just watched without taking notes. I watched just to watch. And I will watch everything there is online, now that summer is coming and I'll have less work and more time.
But being the Social Media Manager for TESOL MTh this year, gave me the chance to post pictures and quotes on the organisation's twitter account and Instagram, so let's say I was still reporting in some way.

So far I have managed to watch all the plenary talks and some sessions and today I will try to write my impressions and personal thoughts so far.
Dorothy Zemach's talk about how books are made was amazing. I had the chance to work closely in the EFL book industry, and I knew about PARSNIPS's and things that should not be written in an EFL book, I knew that pay is going lower and lower every day and I also know how difficult it is to write material in specific levels (been there, done that, nailed it :P) and how many people are behind a book creation.  I really admired the fact that she told the truth. A lot of people do not want to pay for their materials and are too lazy to create their own. And it is really a shame that sometimes we don't appreciate the trouble writers get into in order to write a book. As Dorothy said "It's time to pay for your stuff"!

I have also admired Britta Fernandez Schmidt. It is absolutely amazing the work she and her organisation have been doing to educate women in places where human rights are not considered rights, but privileges. The statistics she showed gave us the truth about what women face and how important it is to make people understand that something has to be done in order for some people to actually live a decent life. The videos with women and men in the programme gave hope.
Barry O' Sallivan looked at the history of English language testing and it was very interesting to see how back language exams go and how difficult they were back then. Nowadays, there are so many different institutions that offer language testing and I never realised how far back these exams go.

I also managed to watch a couple of sessions. One that really interest me was Phil Longwell's session about Mental health. I have been following his blog for quite some time now, since I had a talk about Mindfulness in TESOL MTh and his blog collection was very helpful indeed. It is surprising to see how many teachers suffer from anxiety and depression and other mental health problems, and that most of the times, they are being avoided and excluded from work and are not helped.

Another session I would like to mention was Ana Lucia de Mello Carrier's about drills. I was not planning to watch this, I just came across the livestream. Having actually been raised with drills, I believe that there was no other method when I learned foreign languages, I am not if favour of this kind of exercise. For me as a student, it was very boring to repeat and repeat and not have the chance for a more communicative lesson. The one I have been trying with my students nowadays. But I will not lie. I have learned English. I have learned with the drills. And it actually depends on what kind of students you have, what means you have, what situations you have to face. So, I am not excluding it as a method. Ms. Carrier has shown us some helpful ways how to use drills in the classroom.

My virtual visit to IATEFL has not finished yet. I still have a lot to watch and read and pretend I was there.
Until next year...

You can watch more over here.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Social Media Course on Future Learn

I consider myself very lucky to be able to attend courses on various subjects, especially the ones that do not have to do directly with my "job". In my opinion, though, we should be versatile, acquire new skills, because you never know when you will need them.
I have always been active on social media and have been following influencers, trying to find our more about how we can "sell" ourselves and try to use media in order to promote our work. 
Since March, I am the new Social Media Manager at TESOL Macedonia Thrace, which is  the local Teacher Association in Northern Greece, so I thought I should try and although I have been successful so far, I wanted to get to know more and enhance my abilities in both advertising the Association as well as my professional self. I am not stopping here of course. The learning continues....
#keepmoving #keeplearning

Learning outcomes

  • Explain what Social Media is
  • Describe how it can be used to build a brand
  • Explain what target groups are
  • Identify social media channels
  • Explain tips for messaging
  • Describe the role of a Social Media Manager
  • Identify Social Media Management tools


Week 1
  • What is social media?
  • Target groups
  • Social media channels
  • Managing your social media presence
  • Social media management tools
Week 2
  • Social media top tips
  • The importance of performance measurement
  • Social media listening

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Mobile phones: activities in the classroom

Today was seminar day in German, held by a very popular publisher in Greece.
Most presentations were about their books and there was also a big book exhibition.
One thing that intrigued me to was a session about mobile phones and ways to use them in the classroom.
I thought they would introduce us to apps that we can use with our students, like some apps they have developed at Goethe Institute, games, words etc,
But, the session was more practical, using almost no apps.
Some suggestions were:

  • use the video to record students mime words and then show them to class or in pairs and try to guess the words
  • use video to record students introducing themselves and writing down information
  • use recording device to read words or text so that other students listen to it and write dictation.
  • take pictures of items and make collocations or compound words
  • use the calculator to practise numbers 
  • record noises to practise vocabulary
  • use the weather app to talk about weather
  • use your phone calendar to make dialogues about meeting on a specific time and date
  • use messenger/ what's up / viber to set a date instead of speaking activity

I believe that all these ideas are very practical, but I would also suggest some apps.
  • I use duolingo to practise vocabulary in different languages and the constant repetition has helped me a lot. 
  • Another game that my students absolutely LOVED is The mystery of Nebra. The language level has to be A2 or more, but it is an adventure game that you will definitely enjoy.
  • Another fun game to play is Der heisse Kartofel
  • For more beginners, there is also Deutchtrainer A1 with  basic vocabulary practice.
I also use my phone as a dictionary, there are several online dictionaries that you can use.
Last but not least, I use You Tube to watch clips, songs and everything I can find in the target language.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Guest teaching day 2

Another wonderful opportunity to work with children!
This week I used material from the British Council site Learn English Kids.
The older ones watched Shakespeare's Midsummer's dream, did the activities that followed online and talked about the play.

The younger ones watched Ali and the magic carpet. The specific story is about weather conditions. We explained vocabulary and there were some wonderful online and worksheet activities.

To make it a bit more interesting, I printed some phrases from the video,  cut the words and created a running game for the kids. They were separated in 3 teams, one of them had to run, find the suitable words to make a sentence, go back to their team and create the sentence. When the sentences were ready, they had to connect them to a topic word. For example: This place is hot and dry - desert.

The youngest ones played running dictation with a text from their books.

 It is really interesting that young children want to be up all day, so instead of reading the exercises from their book, I told them to run around and tell me in turns the correct answers, which were shown in the interactive board.

In the end, we practised colours. First we used a soft ball to revise (a ball is always a good way to revise vocabulary) and then we played colour dictation. I used a sample of the Starters booklet of the Cambridge British Council exams, but any colouring worksheet will do.

It's always a pleasure creating new games for the kids! I get even more enthusiastic than them!!!
Thank's again Ms Psarra for giving me the chance to explore more opportunities of learning!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When my students are in a roll...

Ich bin ein großer Bär 🐻 
Eine gescheitere Person 
Ein freundlicher Hund 🐕 
Ein großer Bruder für alle 
Ein Motorrad 🏍 und ic sehe die Welt 🌎
Eine Blume 💐
Ein Meer 🌊
Ein offenes Buch 

von Stergios Gouras

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Journey out of burnout: Links

  • The iTDi blog with articles about mental health, burnout and mindfulness:

  • A blog and online lessons about self love, mindfulness and gratitude:

  • Monash University courses about mindfulness and well being:

  • Future Learn courses on Mindfulness and well being:

  • A collection of teachers' articles on Mental Health and ELT:

  • Benefits of meditation:

  • Video with the 'jar of life' story:

  • Buddhist Monk on how to meditate:

  • How to stop overthinking:

  • Teachers talking about their everyday lives: