Reports from the conference

The joint IATEFL SIG event took place over the weekend of 26th-27th May, 2012.

Here is a list of the reports from the event.


Interview with Erika Osváth

I met Erika on twitter and EU_educators on faceboook. It was a great pleasure for me to meet her in person and had an opportunity to chat. I am also very glad that she accepted to be interviewed so my heartfelt thanks go to her and Adam Simpson who offered to help and videoed the interview.

Erika Osváth is a  teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer based in Budapest, Hungary, living with her husband and two daughters. While doing her maths studies at university in Romania, she started learning English on her own and later at International House Timisoara. And two years later she became a teacher of EFL. 
Erika loves experimenting, learning about new ways of doing things to be able to cater for both her students and trainees best, and believes in the power of sharing. 
She has done several talks, presentations and workshops at local and international ELT conferences since 1995 and she thoroughly enjoys the inspirational atmosphere of these events.

Eva Buyuksimkesyan for the roving reporter team

Interview with Workshop Presenters; Evridiki Dakos on “The Magic Circles and the Light”

Q: What were the key words in your workshop?

Knowledge and the power of sharing
Light = Knowledge = power=freedom
Sharing= PLN (Personal Learning Network)
Slogan: By sharing, the power touches me and touches you!
Q: Can you summarise the main idea of your workshop?
The main focus of my workshop was to emphasize the importance of knowledge; of learning and sharing and show the way how knowledge can be obtained or spread with a click on our keyboard having a global effect through sharing on social netwoks. With that purpose I explained them what PLN is and I guided them to various circles of PLN! I encouraged them to be a part of PLN, to built their own PLN and invited them to my PLNs.
To emphasize my message, in the mystic atmosphere we created with scented candles and incenses I invited them to perform two medieval rituals related to knowledge and PLN, which were a kind of activities of role play to make us feel the importance of knowledge and being a part of a group who is willing to learn and share!
We all left the workshop with a great enthusiasm, many of my participants entered my PLN on several social networks and the slogan of the workshop is still shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Especially on Facebook it has become a kind of greeting for three days. “By sharing, the power touches me and touches you!”
Q: Do you have any suggested links to the readers of the conference blog about your focus in your workshop?
For more information and help, I would like to suggest  aPLaNet Ning which is The European aPLaNet project which shows language teachers how to use social networks professionally where I am planning to help as a mentor.

Some other links are:

Heartfelt thanks for answering my questions Evridiki 🙂

Interview with Hakan Şentürk

For this conference Hakan was presenting a workshop entitled ‘Dogme 2.1: Using Springpad to Create an Online Coursebook for the Dogme Classroom

Dogme ELT, Hakan notes, is considered to be an approach to language teaching that encourages teaching without coursebooks and focuses instead on conversational communication between the teacher and the learner. The place of technology in the Dogme movement has been a long debated topic. However, with the help of online technology, it is possible to create meaningful Dogme techniques in the classroom. In his presentation, he showed how an online notebook can become a perfect tool for the Dogme classroom. In this way, Hakan bravely attempted to bring together the two themes of the event in one session. You can view Hakan’s presentation here.

He was kind enough to speak to me about his presentation the day before:

Adam Simpson for the roving reporter team

Interview with Workshop Presenters; Valentina Dodge on “Tech NO overload”

Q: What were the key words in your workshop?

Irrigate – Manage – Control , Stream and Regulate the flow.

Make it work for you (for your learners) i.e. Personalise

Create online environments that help you / your learners grow.

 Q: Can you summarise the main idea of your workshop?

(Picture taken from Valentina’s Presentation)

  •  Irrigate your professional development by joining the online discussions that are going on but remember to be selective. “Follow” other like-minded educators on twitter, diigo or linkedin – this two-way “virtual” interaction can help exchange ideas with a wider group. However, “manage” this flow of online “liquid energy” so it energises rather than swamps. Choose which tweets, what interaction and how information is shared. Be in control!
  •  Learn to filter the flow e.g with hashtags such as #istconf , #iatefl, #eltchat. Less is often more.
  • From tsunami to ripple. If each drop of information or communication online is to have value we need to ensure it has a ripple effect (for both teachers or learners) rather than feels like tsunami of information.
  • Set up personalised online environments that can extend the lesson solearners can engage in relevant discussions (between one face to face lesson and the next).
  •  Use online environments e.g. English360 which allow you to co-construct courses for blended delivery in a bottom-up organic way rather than overloading learners with “more” online homework and mechanical tasks. The online environment needs to be about them, an area where they can reflect, share and grow. Create personalised online areas where “messy” tech can support learning together.

Q: What did you learn while getting ready for your talk (during reading, researching, putting ideas together…etc.)?

That not all teachers apply the same levels of logic to their online accounts as they do the way they organise their desk, bags or fridges. Often we let the software lead us. Educators need to invest time in getting a feel for a tool , checking settings and making it work for them.

It’s amazing how many teachers are doing brilliant things with technology – from Glogsters to Pbworks, from Vocaroo to Jing but often in our enthusiasm we start too many accounts, sharing multiple links or having too many areas and different tools. This can lead to password fatigue, confusion and overload. Keeping things simple is key.

Q: Do you have any suggested links to the readers of the conference blog about your focus in your workshop?

The tools I showcased and discussed were:

For more send me a tweet @vale360

Valentina was also kind enough to speak with Adam Simpson immediately after here presentation.

Thank you so much Valentina….

Roving, roving, roving, Don’t hide…

Breaks are the times when we, conference addicts, come together over a cup of coffee and reflect on the sessions we attend or on our own  teaching. This time, being one of theroving reporters, I interviewed some participants and the people I spoke were very eager to share and very happy to be at the conference.

Alis Dadıroglu

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

  • As a teacher I have limited time to develop myself but I’m trying to develop and improve my teaching skills.

Why do you attend conferences?

  • As I mention before, time is limited and these conferences are great chances to keep up with what’s going on, especially in the world of technology.

What else do you do for professional development, apart from attending conferences?

  • I read blogs, I follow some blogs, attend online seminars, conversations and chats

Do you think social media affected your teaching?

  • Absolutely yes. It changed a lot.

 Are you for or against technology?

  • I’m for but sometimes it makes me crazy. It takes a lot of time and we have to deal with lots of things at the same time but I’m happy.

Didem Yeşil

   How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

  • I‘d describe myself as an innovative teacher. I’m open to new things. I do a lot of research, I read a lot of things, and I try new things.

Why do you attend conferences?

  • Conferences are a good way to learn. It is a good way to keep up with the developments in ELT world.

What else do you do for professional development, apart from attending conferences?

  • I believe that social network is a great tool, to learn for my professional development, I follow many great educators on twitter, I read blogs; attend seminars and conferences and lots of other things.

Do you think social media affected your teaching?

  • As I said before it affects me in a very positive way. I see it as an opportunity to learn because there are a lot of great people in the education world and I think there’s a lot to learn from them and having a network on the internet is a great opportunity for teachers.

Rukiye Uçar

   How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

  • As a new teacher I’m very enthusiastic teacher. I want to improve myself. I follow blogs, ELT conferences, read articles.

Why do you attend conferences?

  • Because it is a very different atmosphere, being with all the English teachers feel good.

What else do you do for professional development, apart from attending conferences?

  • I’m planning to take CELTA, then DELTA

Do you think social media affected your teaching?

  • I’m not a twitter user but I use facebook.  Do you know Evridiki Dakos? I follow her news and posts. I believe social media will affect my teaching as all the students are internet users we as well should be good internet users we have to keep up with all the technological developments and should update ourselves.

 Culya Yapıcı

   How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

  • As a teacher I’m eager to learn. I want to build connections with my students. And I want to improve myself all the time, that’s all.

Why do you attend conferences?

  • To learn new ideas, to get new ideas, to refresh myself, to be always in education.

What else do you do for professional development, apart from attending conferences?

  • I attend to conferences; I read blogs and follow the books. I don’t tweet but I just follow people on twitter and facebook.

Why do you use technology in your lessons?

Students feel more eager if you’re using technology in your lessons. To get students’ attention more it’s useful and makes your lessons livelier.

PS  I caught my inner voice singing ‘Rawhide’ while roving, roving, roving.

Eva Buyuksimkesyan for the roving reporter team.

Ken Wilson teaches us how to get learners to really listen to each other

Students listen to the teacher and to a machine… but do they listen to each other? Why are we under using this valuable resource when trying to develop listening skills? Ken’s session showcased seven activities for stimulating this kind of listening in classes.

Activity 1

5 people each looked at one picture described to others and tried to find connections – each person had to really listen to others for the connection. The listening kicked in when we had to carefully work out the details of each others’ pictures and come up with the ‘theme’.

This is a simple activity that could easily be used to get learners talking and listening to each other around the contents of a given unit of work.

Activity 2

Ken got us to really use the map that we see at the front of the student’s course book. He projected a list and then asked us if anyone knew anything about these topics. He promised that no one will have to talk then got us to respond – we then wrote a fact about one of the topics on a paper – only then did we show our written fact to those around us.

My example…

New Zealand: It is in the southern hemisphere

We would then write the fact on a post-it note and post it on the first page of that unit. When the class eventually make it to that unit, the post-it acts as a springboard for discussion.

This is a great way to get learners to interact with a coursebook and to have some personal input into discussing it as a whole.

Activity 3

For Ken’s ‘music brainstorming’ we divided a page into three rows. In 1 we wrote down the first words that came to mind for us while listening to the piece of music. We repeated this for the second and then third pieces of music.

We then mingled and compared our notes with what others had written. Our goal was to talk, listen and find someone with the same ideas.

As with each of these activities, this promoted the idea of the individual have a personal perspective to share, rather than there being any right or wrong answer.

Activity 4

My apologies if activities four and five are a bit fuzzy, but Ken spotted me taking notes rather than participating and got me to join in (I’m happy he did).

For the fourth activity, we started with the phrase ‘I want to…’ followed by the following

-I’m afraid you can’t
-Why not?
-Because + reason why not

We would then mingle and tell people what we wanted to do, get the rejection and reason why. As we moved on, we would not accept any repeated reason as to why we couldn’t, creating a need for the other to listen and respond.

This is a great activity which again would give the learners a real need to listen to each other and adapt their responses accordingly.

Activity 5

Ken organized us into groups of five and then showed us a list of facts. Each member of the group had a set time limit in which to memorize one of the facts and then recite it to the others.

The key to this was supplying us with interesting facts that we could use to engage each other. This activity could easily be applied to any particular subject.

Activity 6

In ‘Meet Jane and Alex’ we had to predict the conversation. This was a pretty straightforward course book standard…

Jane: Hi Alex!
Alex: Hi Jane!
J: How are you?
A: I’m fine, and you?
J: I’m fine, too.
A: What did you do last night?
J: I went to the cinema.
A: What did you see?
J: The new Harry Potter movie.
A: Did you enjoy it?
J: Yes, it was great.

Ken asked us to predict each line before uncovering it. Then we practiced it, then we changed the ‘Wh-‘ question/answer to something more personal to us.

Activity 7

In his final activity we had to write the three words Where / When / How underneath each other. He then played a piece of music. We closed our eyes and listened. First, we had to think ‘where’ came to mind, then when in the year, and finally how we would travel to the place.

For example:


We then imagined that we went to that place at that time of the year by that means of transport, and then tried to find others who had chosen the same as us.

Each of Ken’s easy-to-use activities promoted a genuine need for one learner to listen to another and interact with the information they had heard.

Adam Simpson for the roving reporter team