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ELT NEWS No 346/αν Ξ JULY/AUGUST 2019

Mike Riley

THE GREEK MONTHLY MAGAZINE FOR EFL

talks about Teaching, Managing and Leading

Teaching Junior Beginners via Skype

Is it possible to learn a foreign language online?

Are you a Boring Teacher?

Learning Strategies: The Pleasures of DIY

Human Rights: Children dream of their rights


ELT NEWS MHNIAIΟ ΠΕΡΙΟΔΙΚΟ ΓIA THN ΞENOΓΛΩΣΣH EKΠAIΔEYΣH Iδιοκτήτης: ΔHMHTPHΣ ΣΠYPOΠOYΛOΣ Aγ. Γεωργίου 74 154 51 N. Ψυχικό - Aθήνα  (210) 6712991 - 6722647 Fax: (210) 6719622 e-mail: info@eltnews.gr Εκτύπωση: Θ. Φιλιππούσης Πραξιτέλους 3, Ταύρος (210) 3450853 Oι απόψεις των ειδικών συνεργατών που φιλοξενούνται στην ELT NEWS είναι καθαρά προσωπικές και δεν απηχούν υποχρεωτικά τις θέσεις του περιοδικού.

Contents Is it possible to learn a foreign language online?

4 Mike Riley talks to ELT NEWS about Teaching, Managing and Leading

8

Teaching Junior Beginners via Skype

14 ELT NEWS is a monthly edition published TEN times a year. Ag. Georgiou 74 154 51 N. Psychico Athens - Greece Tel: (210) 6712991 - 6722647 Fax: (210) 6719622 e-mail: info@eltnews.gr Opinions expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of ELT NEWS.

Learning Strategies: The Pleasures of DIY

Summer All Year Long Back to school as smoothly as possible

20 Transforming Last Year’s Experience into New Year’s Wisdom

31 Human Rights: Children dream of their rights

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30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

INTERVIEW

Mike Riley

talks to ELT NEWS about Teaching, Managing and Leading

“Making decisions is a crucial part of being a leader” ANASTASIA SPYROPOULOU anastasia@eltnews.gr

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ow settled in the UK where he works as Global Teacher Training Manager at Macmillan Education, Mike spent over a decade at International House Milan. He worked there as teacher, Director of Studies and Director. He has been passionate about leadership ever since studying American History at university. Mike has always got lots of inspiration from the lives of great men and women throughout history. He has found that many of the lessons they have to offer can be applied to the world of teaching English.

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Many educators have worked for different language teaching schools as teaching staff, coordinators, Directors of Studies, administrators and/or managers. What are the main qualities of a virtuous school manager? In my career I’ve been lucky enough to work for and alongside many excellent managers. Every manager is different, but there are some characteristics that the best ones have in common. A clear sense of vision is crucial. The very best managers are also the ones

who embody the values and culture of the school – the way they behave on a daily basis shouts out ‘this is how we do things here.’ The best managers are authentic. Probably one of the most important qualities is to trust your team. It takes a confident person to put in his/her teachers and other staff – you will sometimes get your fingers burnt. But working for a trusting manager can be very liberating. People work with more creativity and less fear. Fundamentally,


30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FEATURE SECTION

Teaching Junior Beginners via Skype Aris D Mazarakis

M.A. in Applied Linguistics

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eaching On Line is gaining popularity at lightning speed, mainly due to the advancement of technology and applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts and FaceTime, which work miracles for people who want to remotely connect in a personal way. However, eight years ago when I took up the challenge to teach Zoe on line things were a lot more difficult, because of both variety and quality of apps and my personal ignorance and apprehension. It all started while holidaying in their little seaside village in the south of Chania; both her parents had lost their jobs due to the recession and could not afford to send her to the local Language School. I thought it was a shame and offered to teach her on Skype, without realizing what I was letting myself in.

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One of the main problems of my first online teaching adventure which is worth mentioning, is that my laptop was too old and too weak to handle Skype calls. Therefore, I had to invest a significant amount of money in buying a new one equipped with a camera that afforded better analysis. It was only later that I realized that the computer was the least serious technical problem I was to face. In her region, the internet signal was quite weak at the time and as if this was not enough, during winter months power cuts are quite common. As a result, many was the time we had to finish a lesson on the telephone. Of course, nowadays with the oncoming of optical fibers, the weak signal, which until a few years ago could completely ruin a well prepared lesson, is becoming a thing of the past. The second equally critical issue to be tackled was the


30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FEATURE SECTION FEATURE SECTION

First Lesson Planning Sofia Mouka EFL Teacher Sofia Mouka is a CEELT (Cambridge Examination in English for Language Teachers) holder. She has been an EFL teacher for more than 20 years. She also holds an M.Ed. in Educational Theory and Curriculum Studies and an M.Ed. in Special Education.

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o matter how many years you have been teaching, September is always a month for reflection. You promise yourself that this year will be different, that you will set new goals, stick to them and be successful. You start planning the first lesson for every single class you have, as in private language schools we have the privilege to teach all ages ranging from 7 year olds to teenagers and also from young adults to any-age adults. The activities we choose for our classes have to be age appropriate and level appropriate taking into account the fact that students may or may not be familiar with each other or with us. Any person’s favourite subject is themselves and their experiences, so getting students to talk about themselves in the target language can make even the most reserved person open up and participate in the conversation. We can use simple ice breaking activities that do not require much preparation. For example, for the junior classes we could use a puppet or a teddy bear which kids throw to one another. The pupil who takes it has to say his/her name and the rest of the class says “Hello” repeating the name they have just heard. This game is fun and easy to

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follow; the only rule students have to bear in mind is not to throw the puppet to a person who has already taken it, so that all the names are heard once and no one is left out. At the end of the game everyone, including the teacher, takes turn to name as many students as possible. With this activity students learn how to introduce themselves and get to know each other. Students really love that game. They all participate -even the shiest ones. For the low intermediate level young learners the same game could be enhanced by getting them to add more information about themselves, like their age, family members etc. The intermediate level students have a better command of the language so we can have them do activities which combine writing and speaking. An ice breaking activity that learners and especially teenage learners love is “The Detective”: the students write interesting and unusual facts for themselves on a piece of paper, they fold it and put it in a box. After everyone has put their paper in the box the teacher takes out one of them and reads it aloud asking the class to guess who could have written it. The information could be anything they think their classmates may not know about them like: “My second name is Ilaira”, “I have five siblings”, “Last summer I flew to Brazil” or “My cousin


30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FEATURE SECTION

Summer All Year Long

B a c k to s c h o o l as smoothly as possible Sandy Geranis Kladakis

Annette Morley

Teacher, Doukas School

Teacher, Doukas School

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o, it’s goodbye to August and hello to autumn! September blues! And yet there are no rules or regulations stating is has to be this way, so why do a certain percentage of the population write-off the summer so readily? Who are these people? Trick question? No, not really. Maybe the answer that would spring to most people’s minds is: teachers! After all, rumour has it that teachers spend most of the year on vacations. Truth is, once a teacher, always a teacher and guess what…the majority of dedicated teachers are never on a break. Their minds are constantly working overtime trying to come up with ways to make teaching more fun for their pupils, preparing materials for the coming year and planning the curriculum. They are attending seminars or workshops to enhance their professional development and juggling their demanding career with their personal life. And, actually, their salaries don’t afford them too many holidays. No, it is not the teachers who suffer from September blues. It is the pupils and their parents who say goodbye to the summer prematurely. Or more precisely, the parents of the pupils.

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Imagine, there you are, minding your own business as you construct the most impressive sandcastle the world has ever seen, the gentle lapping of the waves soothing your soul, when suddenly, the grown-ups appear and tell you to grab your bucket and spade as if you don’t hurry up you are all going to miss the ferry-boat home. One minute you were a semi-naked, free spirit exploring the rock pools and the next you are thrown into the oblivion of back to school anxiety. No sooner have you disembarked from the ferry-boat than you are in the shops being measured for your uniform, PE gear and footwear. You go to more shops and have to choose from ten thousand school bags and pencil-cases, all the time being told to ‘get a move on, we haven’t got all day’. Then come the endless hours in the bookshop and the sighs and gasps mum makes as she wonders how you are ever going to be able to carry such a weight. This whole ‘back-to-school experience’ is already becoming pretty intimidating and the most impressive sandcastle the world has ever seen a very distant memory. Should you be a first-grader, starting school should get off to a better start than the pre-mentioned. Should you be any


30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FEATURE SECTION

Are you a Boring Teacher? Time to Have More Fun We’ve all had that teacher –the one who speaks in a monotone voice and reads aloud from the textbook. And we’ve all had the opportunity to not be that teacher. We’ve even had our moments, recognising that flash of interest in our students’ eyes, smiling as the bell rings because the energy is so high and no one wants the period to end. How do we extend these moments? How do we create an environment that keeps students stimulated and craving more? How do we have more fun? Studies of student boredom suggest that almost 60% of students find at least half their lectures boring, with about 30% claiming to find most or all of their lectures boring. “Although a range of factors may contribute to these findings, they do prompt the question of what it is about the learning experience that might be deemed ‘boring,’” says Dr Sandi Mann, a senior lecturer in occupational psychology at the University of Central Lancashire.

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30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FEATURE SECTION

Teachers’ Assessment: Can students’ end of the year feedback empower the identity of back to school - teachers? Evangelia Vassilakou MA in Applied Linguistics

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ypically, there have been two main approaches to teacher evaluation, namely the practice-based assessment referring to classroom observations by experienced peer teachers and the teacher value-added assessment based on students’ test scores. Students’ evaluation of teachers also occurs during accreditation periods of higher education institutions such as colleges and universities. With this in mind, here comes the big question “Should there be a shift in teachers’ evaluation system in EFL classes so that teachers can be evaluated not only by administrators, directors of studies or other colleagues but also by their own students?” The subsequent question that arises is “Are students competent enough to provide their teachers with accurate judgments on teaching quality?”

A response to the big questions Students’ feedback can be an effective tool in improving the quality of teaching as long as certain requirements are met. In other words, the time and the manner evaluation is done are key elements for successful results. More precisely, evaluation needs to be done by students having more than 75% attendance to have a more inclusive image of the teacher’s performance and quality of delivery of

instruction. Additionally, the feedback forms should include open-ended questions (apart from a Likert scale) for students to be given the chance to express their ideas by having a voice. They should also focus on particular aspects of lessons; if teachers ask the right questions they will get the appropriate feedback. Lastly, it is essential feedback forms be completed anonymously for answers to be honest and be age-appropriate, that is students of an intermediate or advanced level should be given forms with Likert scales whereas younger students forms with simplified questions and pictorial representations known as emoticons.

The key to making students’ feedback meaningful Following an accurate feedback procedure may not be enough as making students feedback meaningful is of equal importance. In particular, before the feedback forms are distributed, the teacher is expected to explain to students that his / her improved performance depends, to a great extent, on their honest answers. That honest answers will result in more reliable and valid findings. After this initial step, the teacher can share some of the findings with the class and have a whole class discussion about his / her intention to use

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30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

FEATURE SECTION

Transforming A Last Year’s Experience into New Year’s Wisdom

n attested reality of all human-centered professions is their subjectivity to perpetual change. Therefore it is hard to attain perfection in all aspects. The areas, skills and approaches that constitute the teaching practice viable are:

Marina Siskou EFL Teacher

The ability for assessing and decision making

Reliable managerial skills

Fairness and good judgment

The ability to establish a good educational setting

The ability to sense and respond to learners’ needs

Flexibility and adaptability without causing disruptions

The ability to develop trust

The ability to communicate eloquently and comprehensively

Proactiveness and anticipation Successful teaching is dependent upon a range of circumstances, some of which are beyond the EFL/ESL teacher’s control. Yet, some of the circumstances which confer to the fulfillment of the year’s outcome can be monitored and arranged. It would be helpful to invest in some of the essential components that seem to be closely connected to the optimal intended results.

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30 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

TEACHING

Human Rights: Children dream of their rights

Raising awareness through a multi-cultural based project Dimitris Primalis Teacher at Doukas School

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inding it hard to engage your learners into the lesson? Projects can engage learners; stimulate free language production – both written and spoken- in and outside the classroom; motivate them to listen and read texts outside the coursebook; give them a sense of ownership and opportunities to express their views. This article is about a project on a topic rarely visited with primary school pupils. Student indifference in class is often attributed to rigid syllabi and exam-oriented lessons. However, there are other factors that a teacher needs to take into consideration such as ownership, communication and collaboration, learner involvement, content creation, authentic material and real life or simulated tasks. Projects that focus on humanistic issues and raise awareness can stimulate interest and help the teacher engage learners into activities that promote learning and enable learners to express themselves through the target language using a variety of media. Learning technology can play an instrumental role in facilitating project-based learning and overcoming obstacles such as limited class time,

Nancy Tasiopoulou Teacher at Doukas School

collaboration among learners, feedback and dissemination of the final outcome. Even though coursebooks cover a wide range of topics, areas such as humanities and citizenship are often left out, often deemed too difficult for students to grasp. The project described below reflects our attempt to raise awareness towards those issues; give students the opportunity to express their views and develop their critical thinking skills. Two 6th grade streams  were involved in the project and the project spanned over a period of two months. The project, which was carried out with 6th graders at Doukas Primary School, comprised the following phases:

1. Raising awareness 2. Discussions 3. Language production

JULY/AUGUST 2019 | 33


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