My name is Vicky Loras and I am an English teacher born in Toronto, Canada. I have been teaching since 1997.
For ten years, my sisters and I owned an English School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, but in 2009 I moved to Switzerland with my eldest sister, where we had a school, The Loras Network, from 2012-2020.
I believe in teaching as an ongoing learning process, both for the benefit of the students and the teacher.
I hold a BA in English Language and Literature from the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, and a MA with Merit in Applied Linguistics and TESOL, from the University of Portsmouth, in the UK.
Seven years of blogging – sometimes often, sometimes not so often…
A few weeks ago, Doug Peterson wrote a post about Starting or Reflecting on a Blog – and I thought it was great to write on at least some of the points he mentions, and what I have learned in the process of these seven years. There is so uch more to learn – and share!
I will make that seven points – to keep to the theme of seven : )
Have a plan when to write and what: I honestly admire bloggers like Doug and Aviva Dunsiger who write very often and on so many different topics. I still do not have a plan and just post when I think I have something to write about. Let’s see if that changes : )
Make it social: I try to share my posts and other posts everywhere. Now that I am not on Facebook anymore, I use Twitter and LinkedIn.
Content is king! I think so too. In the beginning, I would only share what I did in my classes. Then I started sharing more general or more specific topics. This year, I also tried something different, which I was a bit doubtful of at first – my blog became a bit political, as last month we had a referendum here in Zug on pay cuts for teachers, people with disabilities, people in the medical profession, the elderly and lots more. I thought it was very important to make my little mark as well – we won!
Blogging is a huge learning platform. I cannot even begin to mention how many things I have learned from other people’s blogs, as well as from their comments on mine or other blogs. They have made me think, taught me things, they have inspired me!
Disagreeing is not a bad thing. I remember the first time someone disagreed with what I had written. I was crestfallen. However, after some time I thought that I am not always right of course and the person was very polite in doing so, and above all…made me think! It all depends on how the person disagrees with an opinion. As long as it is civilised, it is a great exchange of opinions and learning opportunity.
Sharing is super! I love sharing blog posts I have read or have taught me something. Think of how many people we can reach just by sharing! The community of learning keeps growing. Here I would like to share another great post on blogging, by Jennifer Aston, an educator in London, Ontario!
Writing improves! I sometimes cringe when I read some of my first blog posts and have been tempted to correct / delete them, but I have decided to leave them there. We can only improve and learn, right?
Thank you all so much for being with me on this amazing journey, for sharing, for teaching me and helping me become a better educator!
Vielen vielen Dank an Barbara Kurth-Weimer für alle Informationen und dafür, dass ich diese auf meinem Blog zu veröffentlichen, für all jene Menschen, die durch eine unfair Sparpaket betroffen sein könnten! Vielen Dank an Marco Knobel für den Text.
Liebe Unterstützerinnen und Unterstützer
Unsere Kampagne geht los. Wir stellen nicht politische Interessen in den Mittelpunkt, sondern jene, die direkt Betroffen sind. Deine Unterstützung ist enorm wichtig für den Abtimmungserfolg. Mobilisieren wir gemeinsam – für ein lebenswertes Zug! So kannst du mitmachen:
Aktionen, Stände, Materialverteilung
Jede und jeder kann etwas tun für ein lebenswertes Zug. Nimm gemeinsam mit uns die Verantwortung für die Schwächsten Glieder der Zuger Gesellschaft und unsere gemeinsame Zukunft wahr. Wir haben tolle Stände und lässiges Verteilmaterial, aber deine Unterstützung fehlt uns noch. Hilfst du uns?
-> Alle Termine und Anmeldeinfos gibt es auf http://www.sparpaket-nein.ch > aktiv werden > mitmachen
Leserbriefe prägen die Meinungsbildung stark. Damit die Leserbriefe nicht geballt, sondern etwas verteilt eintreffen, haben wir einen Koordinations-Doodle. Suche einen Tag, an dem noch keine oder wenige Leserbriefe geplant sind, trage dich ein und schreibe eine Erinnerung in deine Agenda. Für die Einhaltung der Termine bist du verantwortlich. http://doodle.com/poll/wghayw63z7533bmn
Bitte leite diese Infos weiter an die Mitglieder deiner Organisation, Bekannte, Freunde und Interessierte.
I am very happy and proud to host a blog post by I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth! Ten Canadian Olympic athletes have shared their love with Canada’s Indigenous Youth. Good luck to each and every one of our athletes – GO CANADA!
I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth is pleased to announce that ten Olympic athletes have saluted Canada’s Indigenous youth as they get ready to shine in Rio!
I Love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth is a national celebrity campaign that supports youth reeling from high suicide rates in communities across Canada. The campaign serves to educate Canadians and gives the youth a platform for positive change where their voice can be heard. Www.iloveattawapiskat.ca @iloveatt1
We take this opportunity to wish all of our athletes the very best — you make us all extremely proud!!
I am from Ontario, Canada. The place where I was born is called Mississauga and it is on the shores of Lake Ontario. There is another place in northern Ontario that I have never been to, but hope to visit some day: it is a nation in the Kenora District called Attawapiskat First Nation– it is one of 49 nations comprising the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. It came to national news a few months ago, because of the very high rate of suicides that had occurred and unfortunately keep happening, even at very young ages. I started following the news about Attawapiskat any way I could, and saw that the people there have severe lack in housing, medicare, everyday needs.
They did not stop, they have not given up. They have a wonderful Grand Chief, Alvin Fiddler, and their chief is Chief Bruce Shisheesh. Chief Shisheesh met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two days ago to discuss the actions to be taken for the community.
There is a website called I love Attawapiskat & Canada’s Aboriginal Youth, which shows their various activities and the things they do not only to help their own community, but other communities reeling from suicide and hardship across the whole country! Iain G. Speirs and JoseeLusignan are in charge of the Twitter account and much more for I Love Attawapiskat – they are the founders of this organisation and Josee is also the founder of I Love First Peoples; they work tirelessly, night and day! I am in awe of all that they do. On their website you can see different ways to help.
With this post, I hope to help raise awareness about Attawapiskat as much as possible. As an educator, aunt, godmother, Canadian and human, I hope to raise awareness for these amazing people, these brilliant children and their lives.
Attawapiskat, I have not met you yet, but I know you are amazing and I send all my love and warmest wishes.
Will you say I LOVE ATTAWAPISKAT with lots of other people who support the cause? Watch this video with Chief Shisheesh:
And here are some of the amazing young people of Attawapiskat, singing and walking for peace!
Note: Thank you so much to Josee and Iain for helping me learn so much and adding lots of details to this post.
Many are the times when with students we study literature or work on songs in English. Little did we know, that with working on the lyrics from Constant Craving we would be led to look at parts of a theatrical play – and some of the students would read the whole thing!
In my language classes, due to time restrictions or goals such as examinations or getting to a specific level by a specific time, unfortunately we do not have the luxury of looking at the whole play, which in my opinion is amazing and I cannot do it justice, I feel.
However, the parts that we do work on are interesting for the students and lead them to converse and also write in English – that is one of the things we want them to do.
So here we go!
Things we usually do with the students before we start working on the text:
I ask if they have read it in their own language.
I ask if they have ever heard of the and what it is about.
What do they think it is about?
Who do they think will be waiting and who do they think Godot is? – With this question, they can create such lovely imaginary stories, either spoken (they can even prepare them for a few minutes beforehand, or even use as an improvisation technique for more spontaneous speaking) or written, either as homework for the next lesson, or a short paragraph in class, if time and circumstances allow.
When we start working on the text:
Here comes one of my favourite excerpts from the play, with two of the main characters, Vladimir and Estragon:
ESTRAGON: Charming spot. (He turns, advances to front, halts facing auditorium.) Inspiring prospects. (He turns to Vladimir.) Let’s go.
VLADIMIR: We can’t.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Godot.
ESTRAGON: (despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You’re sure it was here?
ESTRAGON: That we were to wait.
VLADIMIR: He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Do you see any others?
ESTRAGON: What is it?
VLADIMIR: I don’t know. A willow.
ESTRAGON: Where are the leaves?
VLADIMIR: It must be dead.
ESTRAGON: No more weeping.
VLADIMIR: Or perhaps it’s not the season.
ESTRAGON: Looks to me more like a bush.
VLADIMIR: A shrub.
ESTRAGON: A bush.
VLADIMIR: A—. What are you insinuating? That we’ve come to the wrong place?
ESTRAGON: He should be here.
VLADIMIR: He didn’t say for sure he’d come.
ESTRAGON: And if he doesn’t come?
A great idea I love is have two students read it out loud to the rest of the class – or if it is a one-to-one class, like many of mine are, I can read with the student. The students can set the tone, bring the feelings out and make a nice little play for the rest!
Why do they suddenly start arguing about the tree, or whether it is a shrub or a bush?
Who is the greater realist / optimist of the two? why?
What happens when you are waiting for someone and they are not coming? How do you react, what do you do and what are your feelings?
Try to continue the dialogue. In your story, does Godot come or not? Who is he? Why has he been late?
Borrow photos of the play from the internet. What are the characters saying or doing, in your opinion?
There are so many things to do with such a play! This is only a tiny part of what we can do with it. I truly do not do it justice at all.
Here are some more resources about working with this great play:
I am delighted to present you with the first interview for 2016, with one of my favourite educators ever, James Taylor!
Today’s guest is an invaluable ELT colleague and friend: an English teacher, blogger, co-founder and former President of BELTA Belgium, TEFL Commute podcast co-producer, iTDi mentor, ELTChat moderator, conference and webinar speaker. He is very active on social media and we all learn such a great deal from him on a daily basis.
James joined me from Brasília, where he now lives.
Enjoy this amazing interview and listen to James talk about everything from ELT, life experiences and travelling around the world as a teacher, podcasts, books, music and more!
A huge thank you, James!
(And thank you, James for coming up with the brilliant post title!)
Professor Grosjean received his degrees up to the Doctorat d’État from the University of Paris, France. He started his academic career at the University of Paris 8 and then left for the United States in 1974 where he taught and did research in psycholinguistics at Northeastern University, Boston. While at Northeastern he was also a Research Affiliate at the Speech Communication Laboratory at MIT. In 1987, he was appointed professor at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland, where he founded the Language and Speech Processing Laboratory. He has lectured occasionally at the Universities of Basel, Zurich and Oxford. In 1998, he cofounded Bilingualism: Language and Cognition (Cambridge University Press).
His domains of interest are the perception, comprehension and production of speech, bilingualism and biculturalism, sign language and the bilingualism of the deaf, the evaluation of speech comprehension in aphasic patients, as well as the modeling of language processing.
Here is the interview:
Back in 1989, Eva Hoffman published her first book, Lost in Translation, a memoir about immigration, language loss, second language acquisition, and discovering a new land and a different culture. Her autobiography was to have a worldwide success – the Nobel prize winner Czeslaw Milosz called it “graceful and profound” – and it helped launch a new genre, the language memoir. To celebrate this blog’s fifth anniversary, it was only fitting that we should ask Eva Hoffman if she would answer a few questions. She very kindly accepted to do so and we wish to thank her wholeheartedly.
More than a quarter of a century has gone by since you published Lost in Translation. How do you consider it now after all these years and the success it has had?
Occasionally, I’ve had to go back to it and reread parts of it – and I find that I have a double reaction: One is to wonder who wrote it; and the other is to think, “This is pretty good.” The success of the book was initially entirely amazing to me. When I was writing it, I didn’t know if it would be published, or whether anyone would understand, or care about, the experience I was trying to describe – the internal journey involved in emigration, and the process of translating yourself into another language and culture. But since then, of course, emigration and other cross-national movements have become one of the central phenomena of our time; and it seems that I identified something about that experience which many others understand — perhaps in part, because I was writing about it innocently, so to speak; that is, by trying to capture my own perceptions as directly as possible, without thinking about previous literary models, or worrying about the book’s reception. What can I say, I was lucky.
I am in my nineteenth year of teaching and I have taught in Greece and Switzerland so far, the latter being my home for the best part of the past seven years. I teach students of all ages and levels. When people ask me why I like teaching Young Learners, I tell them that I love it because it is
I learn so much from my little ones
First of all, let us look at who these lovely little people we call Young Learners are. We have Very Young Learners (VYLs), who are 3 – 6 years old and then we have Young Learners (YLs), who are 7 – 12.
When I teach them, as do many teachers I know and have seen when visiting their classes, I love to incorporate the element of fun. Children learn in a much more pleasant environment and much more effectively, I believe. To be honest, all students and even adults like the element of fun in their classes!
Sometimes however, I have been asked the following question: “Are you playing, are you just having fun, or are you learning?” I have been asked this both by parents of students or caregivers, and also by a few teachers – rarely the latter category, but it has happened!
I understand their concerns, and especially in contexts where children need to follow a specific methodology in order later on in life to sit for a language exam. However, I still think that even in those contexts, fun can be part of the lesson – if not the whole time, even ten minutes at the end can help!
Fun ideas are loads to be found, either from colleagues, other teachers we connect to on social media, or social media themselves as resources, like Pinterest for instance.
Some fun ideas I use in my classes are:
Story Cubes! They are dice with pictures on them and I discovered a specific kind from a Canadian teacher, Aviva Dunsiger, whom I am connected to on Twitter. They are called Rory’s Story Cubes and there different categories. Kids shake them, throw them on a surface and depending on the pictures that come up on the dice, they have to put them in the order they want and then they can tell the story they have just created. They come up with some really fun and funny stories, and above all they practise their speaking skills (they can even write down their story as a small task in class) and learn and consolidate a lot of vocabulary! If you do now want to buy cubes, you can even make your own. There are so many templates online and you can draw or stick pictures on them – even better, along with the kids! They will love it and again, learn so much.
You’re the teacher today! Sometimes I let the kids know beforehand that in the next lesson they can be the teacher for a while. They can teach us something as long as they do it in English! I go and sit along with the other kids, either in the chair of the teacher-student or on the floor with the kids. Some teach us dances, some bring in things like their favourite Lego creations…and they just love teaching us! They love the responsibility that comes with it and they always take it very seriously.
Books! Some teachers and parents say that their kids do not love books…well, I think that children need to be exposed to them first of all. There are books all over my school. Not only on bookcases, but also on plastic boxes and baskets on the floor, on the window ledges. You can just see them picking them up on their own, finding the topics they like and sometimes they want to read them out loud in class! What could be better? We can also organise trips to bookstores or libraries with them. Read-alouds once a week or as often as we deem necessary. Kids just loving listening to grown-ups read to them, especially if we change our voice for every character!
These are only some ideas for Young Learners. The list is endless!
Let’s keep in touch! I would love to know what you do with your kids. Just remember to have fun with them and they are still learning no matter what.