7th Annual Cambridge ESOL Spring Seminar 2011 – Word Perfect – Teaching, Practising and Testing Vocabulary

Everything about teaching vocabulary! (Picture taken by Vicky Loras)

About a month ago, maybe even more, I registered online for the 7th Annual Cambridge Seminar, a two-day conference with workshops which was to be held in Horgen, near Zurich. This year’s conference was all about words – Word Perfect – Teaching, Practising and Testing Vocabulary.

I thought it was going to be a good conference…I was wrong – it was super!

The beautiful location in Horgen (photo by Vicky Loras)

Where can I start? The atmosphere started warming up on Saturday morning, when we all arrived at Bocken, the Credit Suisse Conference Centre. The facilities and location were absolutely beautiful. I met a teacher – friend of mine there and we soon started talking to other teachers and getting excited!


Lori Kaithan, Exams Centres Manager for Cambridge (Photo by Cambridge)

The person to open the conference was none other than Lori Kaithan, Centre Exams Manager for Cambridge. (Lori is a wonderful person who impressed me very much when I first met her in January at a workshop in Chur. She made time to speak to absolutely everybody and was constantly smiling.) She made such a moving speech, presenting all the speakers and her associates at Cambridge – we were all moved by her wonderful words. Thank you so much, Lori!

Dr. Mike Milanovic, Cambridge CEO (Photo by Cambridge)

The first plenary speaker was Dr. Mike Milanovic, Chief Executive for Cambridge ESOL, who gave us a lot of useful information regarding the exams, materials and developments in his talk, Cambridge ESOL: Present and Future. It was my first time to listen to him. His talk was very informative and many thanks to him.

John Potts (Photo by Vicky Loras)

Next up as plenary speaker was one of my favourites – John Potts! For those who have not attended one of John’s talks, he is absolutely fantastic. We always learn from his talks and workshops and he has a unique way of teaching us – I try to never miss one of the events he has, and I know a lot of others who also do the same! John’s talk was called From the word go: knowing, teaching and learning vocabulary. John spoke about everything concerning words – combinations of words, types of words and with his teaching style and great sense of humour had us all laughing and participating. Thank you so much, John! (You can see John’s fantastic work and talks on his website www.johnpotts.info.One can literally spend hours on his website!)

Paul Kelly - thank you so much Paul! (Photo by Cambridge)

And then the workshops began…we had registered for the Cambridge exam level we had chosen. I had chosen the Cambridge Advanced Level workshop with Paul Kelly, a teacher trainer who works and lives in Switzerland. Paul has 27 years working experience in Ireland, Germany and now Switzerland, where he teaches at Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur (ZHAW) and also is a CELTA and DELTA trainer. It was my first time to attend one of Paul’s workshops – he was absolutely amazing!

He showed us so many great activities to do with our students to enhance their vocabulary and also have them understand how each exam part works, in all parts of the test. Paul had us try out all the activities, to see what is needed by the students, which was great! We were all working hard and enjoying it – we even got to get up and do a lot of moving around, pair work, group work, it as great! During the workshop the enthusiasm was high, as Paul was also enthusiastic and it was contagious. We all enjoyed every minute, both days that we were attending his workshops. Thank you so much Paul! I will surely be attending more of his talks and workshops in the future.

The teacher trainers in the other sessions were also great – makes you wish there were more of you to attend all of them! Apart from Paul Kelly and John Potts, they were Jane Allemano, Judy Copage, Sue Ireland and Zoltan Rezmuves.

 The book exhibitions were very well organized and everyone there made sure we had all the information about books and teaching materials.

In addition, what I really liked was that I got the chance to meet wonderful educators from all over the world, who teach all over Switzerland. We have promised to keep in touch with each other!

Many thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and a great weekend conference! (Photo by Vicky Loras)

My warmest thanks to everyone at Cambridge for a wonderful and inspiring weekend and I am already looking forward to attending next year’s conference!

10 thoughts on “7th Annual Cambridge ESOL Spring Seminar 2011 – Word Perfect – Teaching, Practising and Testing Vocabulary

    1. Hi Naomi!

      Thank you very much – I am glad you liked the post. It was a great first experience for me since I came to Switzerland and I am definitely going next year…and the year after that!
      You will find a lot of material on John’s website, on a multitude of topics!

      Kindest regards, Vicky

  1. Hello Vicky!

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It´s great to be able to attend such an enriching event and learn a lot so as to improve one’s classes.

    1. Hi Marisa!

      It was great to attend. This kind of events leaves you so motivated afterwards, full of ideas for your classroom! It is great that educators can always learn and improve.

      Thank you so much,

  2. From your descriptions, it sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed yourself – a very important feeling to come away from a conference you attend (and paid for). Was there any information about teaching vocabulary that surprised you?

    1. Hi Tyson!

      I liked a lot of things at the conference.

      In John’s plenary, I really liked learning (and remembering) some types of words and phrases that either I did not know (such as weasel words, retronyms and so on) or I had not encountered for a long time (like portmanteau words).

      In Paul’s workshops, he gave us so many ideas to use in class, which I have already started using, like a website to find the meaning and history of names (to name just one of the tons of ideas!) http://www.behindthename.com – I already used it with some of my groups and they loved it! I wish I could have recorded those lessons.

      I am definitely attending the conference next year!

      Thanks for your comment.

      Talk soon,

      1. That’s the meat I was looking for! Hope to hear more of it!

        From your friend,
        “…a quarrelsome person, [or] from Old French tison meaning “firebrand”.”

      2. Hi Tyson!

        You, “quarrelsome”? “Firebrand”? My whole Greek name (which I really don’t like) is Vassiliki, which means “royal” – bleh! Ha ha!

        Isn’t it a great website? I love using it and can’t wait to use it with all my students – have used it in only three groups so far.

        Thank you again Tyson, Vicky

      3. Thanks! (To tell you the truth, I grew up not being very fond of my name and was glad nobody in Canada could say it…so my parents shortened it to Vicky. Yay! Ha ha.)

        Talk soon, Vicky

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