Open 52 2017

Page 1

ISSN 2228-0847

EATE Estonian Association of Teachers of English





ON THE YEAR 12 REPORT Erika Puusemp












Experienced Educator OUR NEW COMMITTEE MEMBER An interview with Irina Matviitšuk




Anna Zakharchuk, Sales Rep of Allecto Ltd recommends


Come and Share E-KOOLIKOTT FOR TEACHERS Meeri Sild, Kristi Vahenurm



Photos by Reet Noorlaid

PĂ„RNU 22-23 AUGUST 2017

Kristi Jalukse and Tiina Tuuling preparing materials for the Seminar

Erika Puusemp conducting elections

Evi Saluveer spoke about what makes Britain great

Guest speakers Jesse Davey and Jennifer MacArthur

Gregg Sotiropoulus made presentations on several topics

Allison Pickering introduced activities for developing oral fluency

Estonian Association of Teachers of English Chair Erika Puusemp

Editor of OPEN! Ilmar Anvelt

Current account EE331010152001597007 in SEB


British Council

My name is Michael Connolly and I am Head of British Council English for Education Systems work in the European Union. English for Education Systems focusses on teacher education and development, alongside our work in Higher Education, English skills for employability, and language for resilience, our work with refugees, migrants and marginalised communities. At the moment, we are working with partners in Estonia on a professional development programme for teachers focussed on 21st century skills, digital literacy, ICT skills in the classroom, and other aspects of pedagogy and methodology identified of importance to English language teachers in Estonia. I have been lucky enough in my career with the British Council to work on a variety of such programmes: from working with refugees in Jordan and the Palestinian Territories to programmes promoting language and digital literacy for out-of-school girls in India, to English teacher development programmes with state school teachers in Europe. A consistent theme has been that English skills are often a vital factor in access to higher education and for employment opportunities, and that good teacher education, which leads to good teaching and learning, is an efficient means in improving learner English proficiency and for achieving better learning outcomes in general. This may seem obvious, but professional development for teachers is frequently neglected or limited to isolated events, whilst the ever changing nature of educational and societal needs in the digital age requires a sustained and continuous approach to teacher development. The British Council asked Dr Simon Borg of the University of Leeds to review current research into the field and he argues that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is ‘a critical element in successful educational systems, enhancing teacher quality, organisational effectiveness and student outcomes’ (Borg, 2015). So what is ‘good’ CPD and does it differ from our own experiences? Borg states that ‘CPD can achieve positive and sustained impacts on teachers, learners and organisations when: • it is seen by teachers to be relevant to their needs and those of their students • teachers are centrally involved in decisions about the content and process of CPD • collaboration and the sharing of expertise among teachers is fostered • CPD is a collective enterprise supported by schools and educational systems more broadly • expert internal and/or external support for teachers is available • CPD is situated in schools and classrooms • CPD is recognised as an integral part of teachers’ work • inquiry and reflection are valued as central professional learning processes • teachers are engaged in the examination and review of their beliefs • student learning provides the motivation for professional learning • CPD is seen as an ongoing process rather than a periodic event • there is strategic leadership within schools.’

Looking at this list helped me reflect upon my own experience of good, and less good, professional development experiences. In my early career as a teacher, I noticed that training courses were often very repetitive, examining the same areas year after year with little sense of progression and not closely enough linked to the issues I was facing in the classroom. This relates to the first two points: the training was ‘provided’ rather than linked to my needs and I wasn’t involved in what and how it would be delivered. Sometimes I felt the training, even when of high quality, was ‘going in one ear, and out the other’: the one-off nature of many workshops and training programmes with limited follow-up meant it was difficult to sustain and build upon learning. In contrast, working with other more senior teachers – in retrospect, I might think of them as ‘mentors’ – was hugely beneficial. We’d discuss specific problems and solutions, not abstract or general topics. On occasion they would observe my lessons, or I would observe theirs, and focus on a particular area of concern in feedback. In my more recent work in education systems, I have noticed the importance of working with a variety of stakeholders in order for professional development to work. It’s not just about teachers – head teachers and other school leaders, administrators and policy makers all have a role to play. It is important for teachers to take control of their own professional development, but equally very difficult for them to do so without working within an enabling environment, which might include provision of opportunity, time, funding or other incentives to pursue their CPD goals. At the British Council, it is our aim to work with local partners to help teachers be high-performing, motivated, committed, and innovative, to take responsibility for their own professional development, and ensure the best outcomes for their learners. We have developed an approach to teacher education and development, Teaching for Success, which seeks to bring together the concepts outlined by Borg with experience from the field in the UK and globally. A central feature of our approach is CPD frameworks for teachers, teacher educators and school leaders. These frameworks help individuals and school systems identify specific development needs, map available courses and resources to particular professional practices, plan professional development activity and monitor the impact of that development in the classroom. Please visit our website for more information on our approach as well as a huge range of resources and research for English language teachers.



Evanter, Sindi

Speaking is something that every human being, unless impaired in one way or another, is able to do. Our brains are naturally hard-wired for speaking, claim some researchers. With language capacity evolution having taken place over the last 100,000 years, the human brain is fully adapted for processing language. Reading and writing in this sense are not natural but evolved and learned over a much shorter period of civilisation. Needless to say, though, that illiteracy may be quite common in today’s world, even in developed countries. What is speaking? What speaking is can be defined in different ways, for example: speaking is being capable of speech, expressing or exchanging thoughts through using language. Speaking is also an interactive process of constructing meaning that involves producing and receiving and processing information. The form and meaning of speech are dependent on the context in which it occurs, including the participants in the situation, their collective experiences, the physical environment, and the purposes for speaking. Speaking is often spontaneous, open-ended, and evolving. Nunan (2003) has posited that “speaking is a productive aural/oral skill and it consists of producing systematic verbal utterances to convey meaning”. Harmer (2001) notes that from the communicative point of view, speaking has many different aspects including two major categories – accuracy, involving the correct use of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation practised through controlled and guided activities, and fluency, considered to be “the ability to keep going when speaking spontaneously”. Considering Harmer´s view, we should pay attention to two key words in his text and these are accuracy and fluency. Whether one or the other is more important, is open to debate, if such a deliberation should be made at all. When the question “If you had to choose, which is more important to you – accuracy or fluency?” was posed to participants in a workshop at the EATE Summer School in 2017, both had supporters for a number of reasons. Some people prefer accuracy as this helps to safeguard that the intended message gets across to the recipient in the way the sender constructed and intended it. Some people would not speak before they were absolutely sure they can get everything correct in their utterance and feel vulnerable if any mistakes were made. Having meaningful messages/texts, that is utterances which feature clarity in meaning, free from verbosity or excessive eloquence are their preference. On the other hand, some prefer fluency, a “going-on” factor and an undisrupted, continuous flow of speech, also seen as an ability to respond and pick up cues in a conversation to hold it for longer or until the situation is finalised. One can confer that both have their advantages as long as they facilitate a conversation and conveying a message. However, drawing from experience in language teaching in higher education, I could suggest that fluency (in speaking or writing) in terms of uninterrupted flow, air of confidence and so on, does not necessarily signal a high level of speaking skills or construing a clear message or idea. Frequently enough, a good, steady, unhesitant flow of speech may actually disguise poorly built messages, explanations or a thread of argument. Similarly, a well-flowing paragraph of written text may be grammatically fine, yet in content, lack a message or, in fact, even miss the purpose of the text or a task given for writing. This is in the context of longer texts, yet when it comes to writing short texts, for example for tourism leaflets or business catalogues, being clear and concise requires a more enhanced level of understanding of the language and message. It also requires considering the reader’s needs, expectations and perhaps even prior knowledge. 3

Language skills To return to speaking as a skill in the context of language learning, the entire skills set should be revisited. First, have a look at the chart in Figure 1. Receptive skills are those used in understanding: reading or listening. Productive skills involve producing language, these are speaking or writing. Figure 1. Language skills. Source: The latter are also known as active skills whereas receptive skills are considered passive skills. The four language skills are all interconnected and intertwined. Proficiency in each skill is necessary to become a well-rounded communicator and proficiency in all skills may be the aim in some language learning settings. Yet there may exist different aims, such as to learn a foreign language for reading instructions for a job but not necessarily for oral communication. When it comes to speaking, it being an oral or communicative skill, the ability to speak skilfully provides the speaker with some distinct benefits. The capacity to put words together in a considered, meaningful way to reflect thoughts, opinions and feelings secures the speaker with such advantages. In other words, the context is accuracy. Teaching speaking According to Nunan (2003), “teaching speaking” means to teach ESL learners to: − produce the English speech sounds and sound patterns − use word and sentence stress, intonation patterns and the rhythm of the second language. − select appropriate words and sentences according to the proper social setting, audience, situation and subject matter. − organise their thoughts in a meaningful and logical sequence. − use language as a means of expressing values and judgments. − use the language quickly and confidently with few unnatural pauses, which is fluency. It is a widely held view nowadays among linguists and ESL teachers that students learn to speak by “interacting”. Communicative language teaching and collaborative learning serve best for interaction to be achieved. Communicative language teaching is based on real-life situations that require communication. Now, let us review some ways of teaching speaking in the English language teaching context. Language experts have organised activities in teaching oral skills into four distinctive types: − drills or linguistically structured activities − performance activities − participation activities − observation activities Interestingly, a participant in the Summer School noted that all speaking activities fall into only the following three categories: monologues, dialogues and group discussions. Nevertheless, I further describe some of the common activities used in language teaching. Drills or linguistically structured activities The teacher provides a particular structure and students practise it by repeating it, e.g. My name is 4

... What’s your name? – students ask each other questions and answer them, a common activity for beginners acquiring their initial vocabulary and first structures. Performance activities Students prepare in advance for a class and, for example, give a speech or a presentation. Another very common activity, especially in higher education, can be an individual, pair or group presentation. Participation activities Students participate in some kind of communicative activity in a “natural setting”. This might be a discussion on a topic agreed among students or prepared by the teacher. It would involve some preparation on behalf of the teacher, e.g. to have a clear context, rules, roles, etc. Observation activities This might be a written report (and an oral presentation) on a topic prepared for outside the classroom, for example during a study trip, or the task is to observe certain aspects in town, e.g. visit a supermarket, a busy junction, or a skate park. Overall, the activities to promote speaking may include but are not limited to: − discussions

− story completion

− role play

− reporting

− simulations

− picture narrating

− information gap

− picture describing

− brainstorming

− find the difference

− storytelling

− find someone who

− interviews In the Summer School workshop participants were invited to try picture narrating, which appeared to be a novel task. For this task, I used a short cartoon with a well-known character, Garfield. It should be pointed out that the sequence of pictures needs to be such that allows both discussion, and getting the order right at the end, so there is a sense of achievement rather than frustration at failure. This cartoon could involve seven players, with one picture each. Players have to describe their pictures in turns and also say what is written in the speech bubbles. Finally, in the given workshop example, they were able to re-create the correct sequence of the cartoon in their discussion. Speaking for business Of the many realms of life activities, business is an area where speaking (along with the other language skills), and doing it well, is extremely important. No form of education or academic achievement can be perceived without

Figure 2. Garfield. Source: Internet.


the inclusion of speaking. In the business context, two activities will now be dealt with in more detail and with examples. Elevator pitch To start with definitions, the elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement is a short sales pitch. That means it is a summary or outline used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organisation, or event and its potential value. The name “elevator pitch” presents the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. According to Wikipedia, the term is widely credited to Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso (while he was editor for Vanity Fair) for its origin. The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride, or end in an exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting. In the financial world, it refers to an entrepreneur’s attempt to convince a venture capitalist that a business idea is worth investing in. A variety of people, including project managers, salespeople, evangelists, jobseekers and policy-makers, rehearse and use elevator pitches to get their points across quickly, to market their ideas or themselves. An elevator pitch should include why one’s product, idea or project is worth investing in by explaining such things as the features, benefits and cost savings. Put simply, it should answer the listener’s question – what does it do for me? Also, the term is sometimes considered slang. Making sales pitches can be used and learned in training workshops for marketing and other business aspects, in classwork in ESL or other subject courses. I witnessed such a situation when attending a tourism lecture in a German university. The professor asked the class to prepare a tour package in groups, and then present the ideas as a sales pitch to potential investors – short, neat, clear, coherent. Out of the four groups doing pitching, one did not quite understand what they were supposed to do, one spoke for too long, and the rest did a good job. One lesson they hopefully learned was being clear and concise in the message, and to also consider their body language at all times, plus the voice, all of which combined might make or break the deal. Regarding classwork in ESL, as previously mentioned, giving presentations or talks are quite common activities, but there often is a time limit. What is required, perhaps, is to learn to condense the message into a sales pitch format to focus on accuracy, vocabulary and grammatical structures allowing more concise expression of ideas. It frequently occurs in learning situations that someone is talking, the time is running, but the message remains unclear, there is a lot of repetition of the content or frequent fillers, conjunctions might be inappropriate or too long, and so forth. Consequently, the time is up, but the message is still undelivered, partial or incomplete. To put it in a prosaic language – one speaks a lot yet says a little. Something similar occurs in written assignments as well – there is lots of text but little in terms of a message, repetition and little progress in getting the message across may well weary the reader (even if the grammatical aspect is acceptable) and genuinely inhibit communication. Wordiness is an archenemy of conciseness and may feature redundancy (e.g. in the immediate vicinity vs near), excess verbiage (e.g. wordy phrases such as What I did was ..., The reason is because ...), and filler words and phrases (especially in speech, e.g. Erm, so, well, you know, like ...). A sample task proposed now is based on an idea borrowed from improvised theatre sketches. First ask students to speak on a given topic for four minutes, then ask them to repeat the talk but in two minutes, and finally, allow only fifteen seconds for delivery. Getting all finesses of grammar absolutely right is not essential in the situation, but what students would eventually learn from performing and also observing and giving feedback, is how to condense and hone verbalising a message. The time allocations may be changed, of course, according to class time limits and students’ skills. If the topic is rather familiar already, or you use the activity to revise a topic, only do it twice, for example, in two minutes and then in thirty seconds. Cold calls Cold calling is defined in Wikipedia as “the solicitation of business from potential customers who have 6

had no prior contact with the salesperson conducting the call. Cold calling is used to attempt to convince potential customers to purchase either the salesperson’s product or service.” Cold calling began as a form of giving a sales pitch from a script or following specific guidelines, and if you have ever received such a call, you may have noticed how some callers stubbornly keep to their lines and any distraction would throw them off the track. The following is a task prepared for the Summer School mentioned above: Read an example of a cold call and then discuss the following issues with your partner. Before you read: Have you ever received cold calls? If yes, which products or services were sold? How do you normally respond to such calls? Why? After reading: What do you think of each of the parties involved in the situation? Why was the call abruptly finished by the customer? What may have been the reason? Customer (C) and cold caller (CC) CC: Good morning! How are you doing today? My name is Mary and I am calling from Food4U. Have you heard of our latest product range of food additives which are particularly good for your skin and hair? Could I have three minutes of your time to present some fabulous products to you? C: Hi, well, I’m actually rather busy at the moment ... CC: I do hope you can afford three minutes for some really valuable information. I’ll be as quick as I can. C: Okay, alright.... What is it then? CC: (starts describing products) .... … 3 minutes later C: Thank you, but your three minutes is up and you have not got to the point yet. Good bye now! (finishes the call) CC: But but ... In the teaching context, various scenarios may be created by teachers or students to practise such calls. The aim is certainly not to advocate cold calls as a marketing tool but a focus on conveying the message, the use of suitable structures, including conjunctions, and e.g. how to politely accept or decline offers, or even how to begin a phone call with an appropriate introduction. Such activities would enhance both fluency and accuracy of language learners. In conclusion, speaking is one of the four language skills which are developed in language learning, yet different people may need different skill sets with a different focus to match their needs and circumstances. Speaking is a productive and active skill where two main aspects are accuracy and fluency. Both of these are important, but what may need more attention in teaching ESL is the focus on constructing coherent, concise and clear messages, where their intention reaches the recipient as intended by the sender. To illustrate the teaching process, two examples from the business context – sales pitching and cold calling – were presented as ideas for activities to practise coherence and clarity. REFERENCES Harmer, J. 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Pearson Education. Nunan, D. 2003. Practical English Language Teaching. Boston: McGraw Hill. 7

ON THE YEAR 12 REPORT Erika Puusemp

Miina Härma Gymnasium, Tartu

Since the time a couple of years ago when the system of school-leaving exams changed in Estonia and only three state exams remained, with a foreign language exam (which in the case of most students means the exam in English) becoming compulsory for all, teachers have been worried about the results of the exam being so low that, depending on the region, 10-40% of students do not even acquire level B1 in English, although they have been learning this language since Form 3 at least (see Innove statistics for 2016 at UserFiles/Riigieksamid/2016/Statistika%20veebilehele/inglise_keele_ riigieksam_2016_veebi(2).html). When the members of EATE who had turned up for the committee elections in Pärnu during the summer seminar were asked to discuss the reasons for this, and suggest possible solutions, not many put their opinions in writing, but the following ideas emerged: • Some schools have no competition for Form 10, everybody is accepted and the level is really very low. • Some students come to secondary school with no level of English at all. The knowledge of English is not a criterion and the mark “3” does not show anything. • Some years ago the score was very important for university entrance, not so any more. • The new way looking at learning: everything has to be fun all the time (muutunud õpikäsitlus), no facts, words, rules, exceptions should be learnt. What would help? Study groups based on students’ actual knowledge? Ingraining the idea that learning only happens when there is considerable effort? But, in addition to the previous, one reason brought out was the language level of teachers themselves. Unfortunately, all the pressures, demands and prohibitions at the workplace do not always allow us to spend as much time learning as we would like to, and go to all the courses we would like to, so we should use every opportunity to improve ourselves in any field we deem necessary. Reading OPEN! is also a possibility as both materials of general interest and tips for teaching can be found here. The writing parts of the National Exam in English in 2016 and 2017 were very similar, as both required the students to write a formal letter and a report. These text types are such that are present in most exams in English (both national and international), and many will have to write them in their later lives as well. Although the tasks were obviously similar but not identical, the general comments provided last year about formal letters still stand, and the following will concern reports only. So, the report-writing task this year read as follows: The European Youth Forum is gathering information about what students in different countries did after they finished school in 2016. Look at the table below showing data about the plans of school-leavers in Estonia in 2016 and their actual choices. 8




University in Estonia










Gap year



Vocational school in Estonia Study abroad

Write a report to Jenny Smith, representative of the Forum, describing the situation in Estonia in 2016, and giving reasons fo the two biggest differences between plans and reality. You should write 200 words. Use the pen name Mari/Mart Mets for yourself if necessary. Although it is not very probable that each and every student will reach a level in a foreign language where they can write freely on any theme, in addition to helping them widen their vocabulary and their repertoire of grammar patterns, special attention should be paid to practising skills that are transferable to numerous different real-life contexts, e.g. functional reading, and writing exactly about what they have been asked to write about while at the same time following the conventions of the text type at hand. This has been made easier at the exam by having the key points in the task underlined. Both with the aim of scoring higher at the exam and writing a report that is easy to follow for whoever the addressee is in real life, it should be remembered that a report has to • be clear, concise, and to the point; • include all relevant data. The suggestion (in the exam paper) to use a pen name does NOT mean that instead of a report a letter has to be written (if it looks like a letter, automatically two points will be lost), but that one of the more favoured layouts for reports begins with mentioning both the addressee’s name and role. The example here is a suitable beginning for this year’s report. To: Jenny Smith, representative of the European Youth Forum From: Mari Mets, student from Estonia Subject: School-leavers’ plans after finishing school (2016, Estonia) Date: 2 May 2017 If such an approach is used, it should be considerably easier to write a suitable introduction, as many relevant points have already been included in these lines. Here is a report compiled of fragments of what students wrote at the exam this spring, and some possible examiner comments. Although the concentration of mistakes was usually not this high, I have not invented any mistakes that did not appear in students’ papers. Hello Jenny Smith! A report to the EYF table was carried out and info were gathered by a student three surveys. Analysedata carried out in 2016. Table made by students’ answers shows what school finishers were planning and what they choosed in real. The situation is rather satisfied factory. Main body Body 1. It is glad to mention, at the table we can see that Estonian youngs really like to study. 9

There is force from the environment to go to university. Our plan was that most of the students went to university. In reality is percentagely a little bit lower. Almost all students graduated to the University. This fact awarens our hopes. Body 2. In reality, may be they do exams bad, so work was gone 9% students. It’s good joice. Maby you kneed to support your family. Some man students went to take the military course. What is priority to become year gaper. Cap year took 5% of students of 5% planned. To conclude it all, we are working on the reasons but sometimes the reasens are unfear. Doing nothing does not take effort. Gapers do exactly what they plan ed. Furder more, less student got acksepted at an University. Leftovers need to study in vocautional school. Students overpriced their possibilities and got disquisting marks. They irresponded to reality. Dear Mister or Missis, sizeing problem – they can not entry because abroad studying need a mach moore money than vocalist school in homeland country and student needs to concurate with other’s. Conclusion: I hope I managed you with all necessary details. Any questions? Best faithfully, Mari Mets On the bright side, there is evidence of an attempt to write on the topic and whoever wrote this has managed to produce 267 words. (In my handwriting, it would also fit the page. If your students have a considerably bigger handwriting, beware that they are not supposed to get any extra paper, but if they write the last paragraph on a different page and indicate clearly that the assessor should read it there, they will.) So, what is wrong with this report? If I put on my imaginary assessor’s hat and look at the marking scale, this is what I see: Task completion: Data discussed only partly, at least one appropriate reason for one of the biggest differences given (but the biggest differences have not been explicitly brought out). Includes irrelevant information. Organisation: Formatted like a letter. Vocabulary: Vocabulary limited. Frequent incorrect use. Vocabulary and spelling mistakes make comprehension problematic. Grammar: Limited range of grammar. Frequent incorrect use. Grammar mistakes make comprehension problematic. Do you agree or would you be stricter, or more lenient? Those who were present at Kristel Kriisa’s presentation in Pärnu got some sample letters and reports to assess, and the points that experts gave those texts. Use them with your students to practise marking so they will more easily be able to right their own wrongs as well. Good luck with the next class of school-leavers!


BYLEC – BALTIC YOUNG LEARNERS OF ENGLISH CORPUS: AN INTERNATIONAL PROJECT EXPERIENCE Merit Harju Juta Hennoste Tartu Karlova School Tartu Karlova School During the school years 2015/16 and 2016/17, three Estonian schools participated in a multidisciplinary study on young learners’ current use and learning of the English language in the Baltic region, guided by Uppsala University lecturers. Jumping into the unknown It all started in 2015 at the Pärnu Summer Seminar when Evi Saluveer approached us and asked if we were interested in an international project. Of course, we were very eager to find out more about the project and agreed to participate in the first meeting. We met in September in Tartu where Stellan Sundh from Uppsala University and Fia Andersson from Stockholm University introduced us to the plan for the project. The purpose of the project was to collect data from 12-year-olds in the Baltic Region in order to investigate their English language usage in written texts and compile comparable sub-corpora produced by learners with a range of different mother-tongue backgrounds. The researchers aimed for investigating students’ English to identify differences in their interlanguage which are of significance for their written proficiency in English and successful lingua franca communication. The focus was on the interlanguage of Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian and Swedish learners of English. Activities 476 students from five countries participated in the project and wrote altogether around 2,800 texts. Year 6 students from Tartu Karlova School, Tartu Tamme School and Narva Pähklimäe Gymnasium represented Estonia. Before the students started producing texts, they had to fill in a student profile questionnaire about their experiences with English and other languages. Every student got a personal code to guarantee that the work was anonymous. Throughout the school year, every student had to produce six texts on different topics, as long as they could, either using a computer or writing by hand. Three texts were written in the autumn semester and three in the spring semester. The project did not imply an emphasis on teaching the written skill in the classroom and the texts were not produced for assessment purposes. The teacher had to ensure that the spell and grammar checkers were switched off and the students were not allowed to use dictionaries and ask their peers or teachers for words they did not know. If they could not rephrase their ideas, they could write the missing word in their mother tongue. The students of our school worked in the computer

Busy year 6 students 11

lab during an English class, which also helped them to refresh their computer skills. Writing a text with the help of the computer did not cause any difficulties to students, and after writing two texts they knew quite well how to open and save a document. The texts were posted to the project leader by e-mail. The project leaders sent us the following topics: My best friend, My pet, A place that I like, The adventure/ journey of your life, Computer games, Future. They also provided the students with a sheet with questions, a mind map or pictures in order to help gather ideas for writing. In the previous English class, the teachers could discuss the topics with students in general but not give them vocabulary or language structures to use. After finishing a text, the teachers also sent their reflections about the theme and students’ feelings and comments to Sweden. The most complicated topics for our students were Future (what they would do in the year 2040) and Computer games, as several students, especially girls, do not play them very often. Conclusions and new plans In August 2016, there was teachers’ and project leaders’ seminar meeting in Visby where the results of the first project year were discussed. Most of the students’ texts had been transcribed by that time. The teachers could share their experience and feelings about the process. In order to collect more data, the project would continue in the next school year. In the 2016/17 school year there were more participants, for example from our school all the six-formers participated, at the beginning there were only two active groups. In other countries, the number of students in a school also increased or new schools joined the project. Some themes were slightly changed according to the teachers’ suggestions, e.g. the topic Computer games was now named My e-life, so that students could write about using smartphones, apps and websites they use.

Visby meeting 2016 Benefits The benefit of the project for us was that the participating students could express their ideas in English without limits and practice their computer skills. They can proudly say now that they have participated in an international language project. The teachers could get an idea how well their students can write freely, without any given word banks, grammar constructions or other help. The teachers can also use these themes in other classes as writing tasks. Merit Harju is contemplating about writing her MA thesis about the students’ English language problems using the Estonian data. For the researchers, the result will be a learner corpus of 100,000 words per country, which scientists or university students can use in their research, e.g. about what features of spoken English and digital communication emerge in students’ written production, such as discourse markers, emoticons, traits from texting messages, multiple causal coordination and informal vocabulary. There is an idea to publish the case studies in a book. Thus, the benefit from the project is mutual. 12


EATE Committee member

We collect your feedback during our events, and in this issue, we decided to provide an overview of your opinions. Your feedback is valuable for us; we are grateful for your compliments and carefully read your critical remarks. Thanks were expressed to many presenters, particularly to Meeri Sild, Evi Saluveer, Rob Dean, Ülle Türk, Gregg Sotiropoulus. Some of you complained that it was not possible to attend all the interesting and valuable sessions. We usually know which presentations attract more listeners and try to distribute presentations evenly, although sometimes this is not possible considering the rooms available for us, the times one or another speaker can come, etc. We try to repeat the most popular sessions if possible, either during the same seminar or at our next event. However, the repetition of presentations has also been criticised by some people. It is a pity that some speakers whose presentations run in parallel with the most popular ones receive too little attention. Some interesting and useful presentations have been attended by very few listeners. We cannot agree with the opinion of one of the participants that elections should not be compulsory – all our members are responsible for the welfare of the association. We admit that the organisation of elections should be improved. Some of you expressed dissatisfaction with the advertising materials, considering them a waste. Although we agree with the idea of saving paper, distribution of catalogues is the requirement of the publishers through which we get native speaker presenters. Perhaps we should explain why we have chosen Pärnu as the venue of our Summer Seminar, although in the initial years of EATE seminars were also held at some other places, and now too, proposals are made that we might meet somewhere else. Pärnu with its numerous hotels and guesthouses is a place where it is easy to accommodate a large number of people. It also has a lot of cafés and restaurants where people can mingle in the evenings. Although the weather was not hot during this year’s Summer Seminar, there were several complaints about the lack of air conditioning in the rooms of Pärnu College. We are well aware of the deficiencies of the College building and have considered other variants in Pärnu but have not found anything better. For example, Pärnumaa Vocational Education Centre, which was recommended by one of the participants, is located too far from the town centre. Hotel Strand was also mentioned – that would most probably be too expensive for us. What we can recommend is that you take along a bottle of water to help you survive the heat. There was substantial criticism about catering. This year, we had a different caterer than in previous years. Tastes may differ (both positive and negative opinions were expressed about the food), but they had definitely miscalculated the amount of food needed, particularly for the lunch on the second day. We consider it when choosing the next year’s caterer. We hope that these remarks helped you to understand why we have been doing some things as we have done them. All your recommendations for better arrangement of our future events are always most 13

welcome. We would like to get more suggestions about the themes to be covered by future presenters. If any of you would like to make a presentation or write an article for OPEN!, don’t be too modest – let us know.

New EATE Committee: (front) Katrin Saks, Irina Matviitšuk, Merit Harju, Ilmar Anvelt, (back) Kati Bakradze, Erika Puusemp, Kristi Jalukse


Teacher at Northcote High School, assessor of VCE EAL final examinations, Melbourne, Australia

September is upon us, and while in Estonia your students have just started their schoolyear, here in Melbourne, on the other side of the world, we are approaching the end of Term 3, which brings us closer to the conclusion of the 2017 schoolyear. Since I came to Australia almost thirty years ago, I have always found it a bit confusing that seasons, and in particular schoolyear, are out of sync with the rest of the world. Our students start school in late January when it is still very hot and summery making it hard to focus on learning. Come September, however, I am ready to double my efforts in teaching as it seems at last the “right” time to do so. It may be fortunate, because by now our students feel tired and overwhelmed with final exams approaching fast, and I need all the energy I can muster to keep them going. This year presents additional challenges, as my youngest son is one of the students who is going to sit his VCE (Victorian Certificate of 14

Education) exams in November among 50,000 fellow students. Teaching at school and teaching at home. As universities offer places to prospective students based on a score that is derived from VCE final examination and course work results, a lot is at stake for those who hope to continue their studies at tertiary institutions. At times I do not know who to pity most – the students who feel under pressure and struggle to get through their set work as they lurch from one School Assessed Task to another, or teachers who give up their nights and weekends to read the less than inspirational essays riddled with grammatical errors and poor vocabulary while trying to find something positive that students can build on with the hope that come exams, everything will work out. And in most cases it does, but it is an emotionally exhausting roller-coaster as we not only teach our subject based knowledge but also have to Flowering gums in the author's garden constantly evaluate the mental state of our students to make sure that they do not get too stressed and can absorb the material we are teaching. Putting on a happy face when going gets tough and supporting students who do not believe in their abilities can be hard. It is lucky that there are always students who surprise you and perform better than expected. Another challenge for this year is our new curriculum. Minor changes are made regularly almost every year, however, this year’s changes include whole new sections in the Final Examination in English. For the first time, our EAL (English as an Additional Language) students have to complete a Listening Task as part of their final exam. This is not new to you, but here we have always assumed that once students come to an Australian school, they can understand spoken language well enough to attend all classes in English, so the focus has been on writing and speaking skills. For years, universities have complained about the inadequate comprehension skills of our international students because many of them struggle once they leave secondary school where they have more language support and cannot cope with the high expectations at university level. International students bring a lot of money to this country and there is a push to provide a more balanced teaching and testing framework to improve their general language skills. The new focus on listening comprehension opens up new opportunities in the English class while raising questions about what kind of tasks we should set. I am a great believer in offering authentic texts, such as radio and TV programmes, TED talks etc., which as long they are accompanied by transcripts, are the best, although not the easiest, way to hone one’s listening skills that could be used in everyday life. The response from students has been mixed so far: the confident ones think that it is something they do not need to prepare for, while others worry about not being able to prepare for an unknown task. It is definitely going to change the distribution of marks in the final exam and, as an assessor, I am curious to find out what the new trends are. As you start your new school year, you set your goals, you assure your students that they can achieve their dreams, you engage and you encourage, and you make incomprehensible concepts comprehensible. It is exhausting work that is often misunderstood by the rest of the community that chooses to focus on the “holidays” we get, however, we know the truth. Despite different curriculums, teaching is the same in Estonia and Australia, as it is in our hands to give better opportunities to our students. They will eventually recognise that, and that is all that matters in the end.

The Yarra River in Melbourne



Miina Härma Gymnasium, Tartu

I have been an International Baccalaureate diploma teacher in Miina Härma Gymnasium since 2011. I have to teach physics in English, so I need a higher language level not only because of the requirements of the International Baccalaureate Organisation, but also because it is important for myself – my school enables pupils to reach C1 or C2 levels, so I think the teachers can’t be worse. Additionally, English has opened up the world of books in the English language and given higher quality connections with people I have met during my trips abroad. Why did I choose Galway? There are lot of reasons, for example, I enjoy Irish music, I hadn’t been to Ireland before, and I knew there are beautiful Irish islands and coastline, and my friends told me Irish people are relaxed and good-humoured. And most importantly, there is a language school for adults, too! I chose accommodation with a host family, so I could speak English everywhere – at school, with the host family and in the town during school activities or other social events. Actually, the host mother Kitty Joyce was a 65-year-old woman whose four daughters are adults, two of whom are married. Kitty enjoyed hosting and cooked well. The house was clean and comfortable and my room bright and light. I had two house mates who studied in the same language school, and during every dinner we chatted together for one or two hours. Briefly about the lessons: in my group there were thirteen people from seven countries: Italy, Spain, Ecuador, Austria, Germany, Mexico, and Estonia. They said I was the first Estonian in the Atlantic Language School. The level was B1 and for me it was little bit simple, especially vocabulary and speaking exercises. My weakest sides are English grammar and writing (this text has been thoroughly edited), so B1 level was exactly for me. We revised the tenses of the passive and conditionals and played a lot of games and did exercises for remembering the rules. The students from South Europe and A street view of Galway North America had a good grammar base, but their pronunciation was horrible, so they helped me with grammar and I helped them to pronounce English words. An example of a pronunciation issue – we had to speak about our favourite movies and one that was mentioned was Pirates of the Caribbean, but we pronounced it like in Estonian or German or Italian “pirates” and all our students understood what we talked about, but not our teacher. We explained à la Jack Sparrow, etc., but she still stared at us with big eyes. Finally somebody pronounced it the English way, and it was a laughing point for all of us – what a weird language English is! 16

After the lessons the activities started. At the end of every working day there were one or two activities like a talk on Irish culture, some Irish dancing, a book club, or some grammar practice games. I participated in all the activities because there were students from other groups with different language levels. I enjoyed the book club the most. The day before the teacher gave us a short story by Roald Dahl and we had to read it. The first story was “Poison”. It was very interesting how we interpreted the story in extremely different ways. The discussions were vivid and we argued a lot. A week later we got another story to read, and the process was repeated. The teachers I met during the lessons or activities were professional and very friendly; only one male teacher was too talkative and didn’t let us talk at all. For me it was a good lesson, because sometimes I like to speak too much during my lessons, too, so I saw how annoying it was. Galway is a small historical town. A lot of writers have used Galway as the setting for their stories. You can find a literature trail there that takes you to places described in novels or short stories. Galway City Museum (a history museum) is free for everyone. The town is in the predominantly Irish-speaking area of Ireland, and English-speaking people tend to have a lovely Irish accent, where all the thsounds sound like sh’s. Galway is located by the Atlantic Ocean, and the river Corrib with its numerous channels gives the town a fresh and salty air and a lot of places for walks. Not less important are nicely decorated pubs full of people and Irish music. I visited seven or eight pubs during two weeks and it was only approximately 5% of all of them. My favourite food was Irish fish chowder – a creamy fish soup made from different seafood and herbs with heavy cream. They served chowder with homemade bread and butter – delicious! Do you know how Galway is connected to Estonia and my home town Tartu? In Shop Street in the very centre of town in Galway there is the sculpture of Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde, a true copy of the sculpture in Tartu made by Tiiu Kirsipuu, which was a present from Estonia to Ireland in 2004. I think the sculpture in Galway has been displayed in a slightly better way than in Tartu, and lot of tourist photos were taken with the two Wildes in Galway.

Folk music and dance festival in Ennis

A replica of the statue of two Wildes

Aran Islands are the stronghold of the Irish language and culture 17

I made two trips outside Galway, one to the biggest of the Aran Islands, where I cycled a total of 90 kilometres on my rental bike. The second trip was to the famous Irish folk music and dance festival in Ennis 70 km from Galway. Inishmore, the biggest of the Aran Islands, is 12 km long and only a couple of kilometres wide. The island is a meaningful place for Irish culture because of the Irish language, historical monuments and handicraft. Pupils from the mainland visit the island every year with the aim of practising the Irish language. Aran sweaters seem to be made of the sweetest wool I have ever touched. And the landscape: blue-greenish ocean beating up the cliffs or sweet white sand beaches, and in the middle of the island white houses are surrounded by stone walls, and lots of lambs roaming about. In some places you can find seals resting and starring at you with small dark eyes. Really, it is a place you have to go! The day before I left Ireland I took a bus to Ennis, a beautiful small town with streets and pubs full of musicians. On the main stage in the town centre, Irish music and dance schools showed 40-minute-long programmes of music, dances and songs. There were more than 40 groups from Ireland and some from England, the US, and Europe, too. This day in Ennis was a great finale to my trip to Ireland.


Editor of OPEN!

Now when the Brexit negotiations are under way, it might be interesting to have a look at the linguistic influences of Brexit, as it has given rise to numerous word derivations and puns. The dictionary publisher Collins named Brexit the word of the year in 2016, ahead of “Trumpism” and “hygge”. Brexit has been seen as the most notable contribution of politics to the English language in the past 40 years, having proved “even more useful and adaptable” than Watergate (impeachment of US President Richard Nixon, after which the suffix -gate has been used for various scandals) (Flood, 2016). Tunku Varadarajan, in his article in Politico (2017), calls Brexit the “Mother of all Rifts” and presents a tongue-in-cheek alphabetic list of words related to Brexit. The list starts with A for Article 50, B for Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, C for David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, who is called “the gambler who lost it all”. The letter Q stands for the Queen, “Britain’s top Brexiteer”. As elderly people and those with lower educational levels were more likely to vote for “leave”, the author calls her “a grandmother who didn’t go to university” and adds that “her demographic is almost 100 percent pro-Brexit”. We know that the Queen is supposed to be politically neutral, but on 9 March 2016, The Sun published an article headlined “Queen Backs Brexit”, upon which Buckingham Palace complained that The Sun had breached the Editors’ Code of Practice (Newton Dunn, 2016). On the contrary, the hat that the Queen wore when she opened the Parliament and laid out the government’s intention to deliver the eight bills necessary for Brexit (on 21 June 2017) was seen to express a pro-European attitude, as the hat “bore a strong resemblance to the European flag” (Ferrier, 2017). As the British tabloids (like the aforementioned Sun) were strongly anti-European, the paragraph under 18

The Queen wearing a hat resembling the EU flag letter T describes them as “those Europhobic dogs of war that snarled and bit their way to victory”. As an important issue at Brexit negotiations is the sum of money Britain must pay to the European Union, Z stands for “zero”, as this is the amount that the “most vociferous Brexiteers” think Britain owes the EU. On the website of the London School of Economics and Political Science and in his blog, Tim Oliver presents a large collection of Brexit terms or a ‘Brexicon’. He describes the types of Brexit (‘hard Brexit’ versus ‘soft Brexit’, or a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’ – that is what Theresa May wants) and the people of Brexit (its opponents or ‘Bremainers’, ‘Bremoaners’ or ‘Remoaners’ and its supporters or ‘Brexiteers’). If other countries opted to leave the EU, what would their secession process be called, or what would their names be after breaking away from the union? Often the beginning of the name of the country plus -xit is used, e.g. ‘Frexit’ for France, ‘Dexit’ for Denmark, etc. Sometimes, more imaginative names are suggested, e.g. ‘Leavia’ or ‘Lat-me-out’ for Latvia, ‘Departugal’ or ‘Abortugal’ for Portugal, and ‘Czechout’ or ‘Czech-off’ for the Czech Republic. The names proposed for a post-EU Estonia are ‘Egresstonia’, ‘Eschewia’ and ‘Extonia’. While ‘Extonia’ is easy to understand, the other two may need some explanation. ‘Egress’ is the act of leaving a building or place or the right to do this; ‘eschew’ means to deliberately avoid doing or using something. Should Scotland leave the UK and remain in the EU, we might speak about ‘Brexsplit’. Oliver concludes that “the ‘Brexplosion’ of Brexit words shows no signs of ending” and wishes his readers “Merry Brexmas!”. John Kelly (2016) explains the linguistic reasons for the unexpectedly broad spread of neologisms derived from Brexit. The consonant cluster [br] and vowel [e] are very common sounds in English. They can be easily attached to existing words. Brexit can be used with prefixes and suffixes: ‘post-Brexit’ and ‘Brexit-esque’. Brexit has been formed by blending, or it can be called a portmanteau word, which is a common means of word formation in present-day English (e.g. smog – smoke + fog, brunch – breakfast + lunch). Kelly calls Brexit an “unusual, playful, but still very English-y and topical coinage” but does not predict longevity for it. One of the reasons for its massive spread can be that the victory of the “leave” side was a great surprise.


Not everyone is happy with the word. The article by Sam Lewis-Hargreave (2017) in Huffington Post is entitled “Is ‘Brexit’ the Worst Political Portmanteau in History?” Expressing his general dislike for political portmanteaus (like ‘Billary’ for Bill and Hillary Clinton), the author states that “The phrase ‘Leaving the European Union’ has an appropriate gravity, but the word ‘Brexit’ sounds almost trivial.” In his opinion, the word “sounds more like the position you would sit in whilst eating cereal” (most probably ’breakfast’ + ’sit’ – my comment). He also states that it is the UK that is leaving the EU, but ‘Brexit’ does not include Northern Ireland. His conclusion is that “‘United Kingdom’ and ‘leave’ may not merge into a catchy nickname, but that’s fine. Not everything has to be a portmanteau.” Whether we like it or not, the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the EU on English vocabulary has been substantial. REFERENCES Ferrier, Morwenna. 2017. Hat’s that: Did the Queen’s headgear allude to Brexit? The Guardian, 21 June. Accessed 19 September 2017. Flood, Alison. 2016. Brexit named word of the year, ahead of Trumpism and hygge. The Guardian, 3 November. Accessed 19 September 2017. Kelly, John. 2016. Branger. Debression. Oexit. Zumxit. Why Did Brexit Trigger a Brexplosion of Wordplay? Lexicon Valley: A blog about language. why_has_brexit_sparked_an_explosion_of_wordplay.html Accessed 19 September 2017. Lewis-Hargreave, Sam. 2017. Is ‘Brexit’ the Worst Political Portmanteau in History? Huffpost United Kingdom, 23 June. Accessed 20 September 2017. Newton Dunn, Tom. 2016. Revealed: Queen backs Brexit as alleged EU bust-up with ex-Deputy PM emerges. The Sun, 28 July. Accessed 19 September 2017. Oliver, Tim. 2016. Now! That’s what I call Brexit. Delving into the Brexicon. The London School of Political Science. Accessed 19 September 2017. Varadarajan, Tunku. 2017. A Brexit lexicon: A mighty messy departure – from A to Z. Politico, 23 March. Accessed 19 September 2017.

How well do you know Glasgow? (photos p. 28) 1 Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art. Built in 1778 as the townhouse of a wealthy tobacco merchant, it later housed the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Royal Exchange. It has been a gallery since 1996. 2 Glasgow City Chambers, the headquarters of Glasgow City Council. Designed by the Scottish architect William Young, inaugurated by Queen Victoria in 1888. 3 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, opened in 1901. Its collections include exhibits on natural history, arms and armour, art from many movements and periods of history. 4 The Armadillo, designed by Sir Norman Foster, is a 2000-seat auditorium in the Scottish Event Campus. 5 Glasgow Cathedral, built from the 12th century onwards allegedly on the site where St Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, built his church. 6 The University of Glasgow, founded in 1451, is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. 7 The River Clyde with the Clyde Arc, locally known as the Squinty Bridge, in the background (squint – to look obliquely or sidewise).



What led you to teaching English? It’s unbelievable! When I was a little girl, I had a friend who was older than me. She already had English lessons, and after school she used to share her strong emotions about the lessons, the teacher and the language itself. The next year when I started to learn English, I had already been in love with it and the teacher didn’t need to do anything, it had already been my favourite subject. Once I came home and told my Mum that I wanted to be an English language teacher. By the way, my friend got this profession too. How do you motivate yourself? My students motivate me. I am a person who needs to see the results of my work. If my students reach their aims, get good results, what is more “fall in love with English”, like reading English books, watching movies in English, take the language not like a school subject but realise that it’s a way of communication which broadens their mind, I want to work more and better. How have your students surprised you? They always want to see me. We meet up during all holidays, they share their new emotions, new lifestyle with me. What do you think needs improvement in our educational life? I believe that we, teachers, should see a personality in every student. They are different, everyone with their own vision on life. Nowadays, psychology plays a crucial role. Some bad marks can motivate one student to work harder, however, for others it might be a disaster, which can have a bad effect on their attitude to the subject. I can predict the reply, there are many students but only one teacher – but that’s how our profession will change. We will not be able to accept the class as a unit as it used to be, we should spot everyone in this unit. How do you see the future of teaching? It’s a very difficult question. I am sure it must change, as the world has already been changing. I believe that the teacher-student relationship will be different. As smart gadgets have occupied our life, face-toface communication is losing its strength, as a result of which students won’t be able to express their ideas clearly. Thus, teachers should adapt to modern life, but communication must be a priority, as this makes us different from other biodiversity.


What is the most exotic place you have visited? It is Siberia. I spent five years studying at the University there. It’s a controversial place. On the one hand, it has awesome nature, kind people, on the other hand, the huge distance frightened me. I could get to some cities only by river in summer or by helicopter in winter. However, on the whole, I remember this time as something special and important in my life. What keeps you in Ida-Virumaa? I answer with the question: Why not Ida-Virumaa? I live in a beautiful place with a picturesque location. Narva stands on the bank of the river, at the same time there is a sandy beach which everyone can envy. The people are open, hospitable, creative. Look, how many people from Narva are on TV and radio, which shows the potential of the city. Welcome to us and you might want to stay there as well. What makes you happy? Actually, the answer to this question shows lack of originality. First and foremost, it’s my family, their success, health and ability to find their own way in this life. Second, it’s my work. I am a lucky person because I enjoy what I am doing, which makes me happy. Last but not least, it’s weather. The sun and the blue sky inspire me, unfortunately, the amount of this inspiration leaves much to be desired. How do you spend your free time? I like reading an English book, I am hooked with it. I even have my favourite authors whose book collection I have already read. I have a summer cottage, I like gardening, especially in spring. Recently I’ve taken up travelling to warmer countries to gain more positive emotions from the sun. In the end, I would like to point out that, unfortunately, nowadays, there is a distance between teachers. It’s explicable, schools compete for a better rating, teachers struggle not to be made redundant, but we should stop taking part in this competition, it’s time to share everything that bothers us, help each other, be more open, visit each region to see how people live in every part of Estonia. Welcome to Ida-Virumaa! Irina Matviitšuk works for MTÜ Interlink in Narva. She was interviewed by EATE Committee members.

Summer Seminar listeners




When I went to school a long time ago, choosing English course books was not a problem, there was just one book for each year that everybody used. Now the situation is completely different, there is a wide variety of different courses to choose from and making the best choice can be incredibly difficult. The whole world we live in has completely changed in a very short time because of the fast-developing technology. Nowadays children and teenagers perceive the world very differently from their parents; for this reason, the course books should also reflect that changed reality. All general English course books teach the four skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening. However, in order to be successful, it is just not enough if a student has mastered all of them – the fast-changing world sets completely new requirements. It very often seems that the main if not the only aim of learning a foreign language is to get a good result at the exam, so students get a lot of drilling, practising exceptions to rules and become exceptionally good at different examination tasks. Yet, when they need to use the foreign language outside the classroom, they can suddenly face unforeseen difficulties. Therefore, when choosing a course book for your students, it would be a good idea to check if it also teaches important life skills, encourages independent learning and prepares them for coping with the fast-changing world. As we use language for communication, a good course book should provide ample opportunity to develop such important life skills as critical thinking, reasoning, working independently, analysing and solving problems. In their future lives students need presentation and negotiation skills, the ability to express their ideas clearly and understandably, be persuasive, assertive, or compromising if necessary. In order to be part of the society, students have to learn to co-operate, recognise diversity, be flexible and possess good team-working skills. They also need to be able to assess their own strengths and weaknesses and decide on the best strategies for self-development.


Another very important aspect when choosing a course book is online resources, what is available and how it can be accessed. A very interesting idea is the use of flipped classroom, where students prepare for class and study new material on their own, using online resources. The biggest advantage of this approach is that students can work through the new material at their own speed, in class the tempo can be too slow for the best and too fast for the slowest. In class, the teacher can help students by clarifying any problematic issues and practising and recycling the language learnt. Online resources should definitely include videos, interesting extra materials, exercises and, most importantly for the teacher, both ready-made tests and also test-building facilities. The most commonly used online platforms enable the teacher to monitor the students’ progress, see the results and scores of their online activities. In the case of groups with mixed ability, the teacher can assign different tasks to different students, thus making it more relevant to their needs. An interesting approach to motivating students and turning tests from something feared and hated into fun is gamififacion. With this approach students can take online tests as many times as they wish, scoring extra points for each new attempt. They can also practise teamworking and compete with other teams, participate in projects – the opportunities are endless. In conclusion, when choosing a new course book, it is important to check how it helps prepare students for life outside the classroom, how motivating it is and what kind of online resources it has. Students see the world very differently from older generations and in order to be successful, teachers have to accept that new reality and adapt to it.


Anna Zakharchuk, Sales Rep of Allecto Ltd recommends

Saxon Stories or Last Kingdom is a series of historical novels by Bernard Cornwell, which takes place in times of Vikings’ invasion when the British kingdoms were under the threat of extinction. The story begins when Danes invade Northumbria, and, as a result, the main pratoganist, Uhtred, loses not only his father and elder brother, but his own home, Bebbanburg castle, which was taken away by his traitorous uncle. After his father’s death, Uhtred falls into slavery to the Danes where he is raised by jarl Ragnar as his own son. Soon Uhtred adapts to pagan culture and traditions and fully considers himself as one of them. But deep inside he knows the truth – one day he will return to his land and take his home back, as he is the true lord of Bebbanburg, and when the time comes, which side he will choose? After Uhtred was forced to offer his loyalty to the king of Wessex, accused in murder of jarl Ragnar and then no longer welcomed by the Danes, his long journey to Bebbanburg begins. The journey is full of battles and adventures, friendship and betrayal, love and grief, confrontations with Christian religion and magical, almost fairy-tale events. Through the eyes of Uhtred, we can see the real historical events. He witnesses the raise of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, who not only conquers the invaded territories but pursues his greatest dream – unification of all British kingdoms under the rule of a single monarch. His great plan was then continued by his son Edward and daughter Æthelflæd. At the end of each novel, the reader is provided with the author’s notes about each event with a reference to the historical source. This helps to understand which part of the story is a work of fiction and which could be considered as historical fact. Apart from the historical context, Bernard Cornwell introduces us to a fascinating world of Norse mythology, describing traditions and beliefs of pagans. Saxon Stories offers great entertainment not only for history lovers but for adventure admirers as well, as it contains all the “ingredients” of a proper page-turner. The novels of Bernard Cornwell are full of battle scenes which are described so realistically that you feel like standing side by side with Uhtred in the shield wall. Here the loyalty is bounded with intrigues and treason, brutal scenes are softened by romance, and everyday life is brightened with magic, which leaves us to decide whether it was real or not.

You’re welcome to browse the largest selection of fiction in English in Estonia at Allecto bookshop Juhkentali 8, Tallinn 10132 (Open Mon–Fri 9.00–18.00, Sat 11-16.00).


Come and Share E-KOOLIKOTT FOR TEACHERS Meeri Sild Tallinn Lilleküla Gymnasium

Kristi Vahenurm Tallinn Secondary School of Science 1. The phenomenon of e-Koolikott (e-Schoolbag) Imagine if you had hundreds of exciting digital lesson plans arranged by the topics of the national curriculum. Wouldn’t it be a dream come true? Today it’s all possible and only dependent on the participation of active and creative teachers – you, dear reader, included. The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research started developing the new electronic learning materials portal e-Koolikott in 2016 with the aim to promote the use of digital learning content by students and teachers alike. The development is still in progress and the future plans encompass the integration of different learning content platforms, but a lot of functionality is there ready to be used today. The aim of the platform is indeed to provide electronic content for all the subjects on all topics across the national curriculum. Right now some of the topics still need to be covered and that is where every teacher can contribute by adding a great online source or creating something new on their own. 2. Benefit for teachers We are all very busy people and sometimes we urgently need teaching materials. E-koolikott is of a great help here – just go to the site and search for materials. In the future the whole curriculum will be covered with supplementary materials. Moreover, these materials have been checked by experts, so you don’t have to worry about the quality. It will save your time as you don’t have to google and open endless links to find appropriate materials. Collections created in e-Koolikott even offer you materials for a whole topic including methodological advice and tips. E-koolikott is also a place to promote yourself professionally by adding your materials into the platform. It might be a great addition to your personal portfolio. 3. How it works E-koolikott is free for everybody. In order to use the materials one doesn’t even need to log in. Materials 26

can be viewed on by browsing the Learning materials menu on the right or using the advanced search field at the top of the page. The latter enables you to search for materials by keywords or other criteria – age of the target group, language level or the newest materials only. Right now the database lists 5090 materials for basic and 2452 for secondary school. In order to add materials and create collections which could serve as alternatives to course book chapters, the user needs to register. It’s possible to create one’s own collections, clone the existing ones and tailor these to the users’ own needs by adding or removing suitable materials. Not all the materials a teacher adds to or compiles on e-Koolikott need to be made public. Everything the users do on e-Koolikott is displayed on their personal desktop and it’s possible for teachers to create content for private use only. On the other hand, when something excellent has been created, it is possible to publish it and let the whole world know, for the contents of the e-Koolikott can be shared on Twitter and Facebook and you can like good materials created by your colleagues within the limits of e-Koolikott as well.

This QR code opens a collection created for teaching English.


How well do you know Glasgow? (answers on p. 20) 4







Photos by Erika and Hanna Jeret


Jakub Bak introduced the idea of flipped classroom

Laura Suur represented the EducationUSA Advising Center

Vasily Nosov shared experience on teaching advanced learners in Ida-Virumaa

Dialoog team of booksellers

A view of the lecture-room

A lucky lottery winner

Lunch hour

Photos by Reet Noorlaid

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