2011 has been for the main part a great year for me – I would like to say thank you to all of you for making it so special! I have felt so inspired this year, be it from working with great people and students, participating in conferences, online chats on Twitter (such as ELTChatand finnedchat) with amazing educators from around the world from whom I have learnt and who have challenged my thinking, interviewing some and being interviewed as well, meeting some for the first time and seeing old friends, writing blog posts, taking part in fantastic projects like the iTDiproject!
May 2012 be great as well, full of health and happiness for all of us.
I wish everybody Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! All the best!
And after two fantastic days of learning and connecting, the third day arrived which was equally super! There was only one difference though…we were all feeling sad at the end of it, because we would have to end a great conference and say goodbye to very good friends.
The third day started off with a session by Willy Cardoso, Classroom Management – Who’s (Really) in Charge? It was the first time I had attended a talk by Willy. I am a big fan of his blog, Authentic Teaching– if you have not read his posts, I would highly recommend them!
I absolutely loved Willy’s talk. He shared his personal experiences in class with his students in London – Willy told us of how he gave his students ownership of the lessons. They felt comfortable enough to ask him to do something particular they liked in the next lesson and it worked – Willy had the greatest of lessons with them! They were still learning. He also spoke of seating arrangements that he changes all the time according to what he wants to do with students in class. I wish I could have seen one of Willy’s lessons!
After that, I had the privilege of attending the talk of a person I have admired for years for his work, and have had the good luck of meeting personally – and is a fantastic person as well – Simon Greenall! Simon talked about a subject very close to my heart, that of culture and diversity, which I have mentioned many times in the past as an integral part of my teaching. In his talk Mind the Gap: Designing Materials and Activities for Intercultural Training, Simon spoke to us about how he has integrated culture in his books and materials – the sensitivity we should have towards people of various cultures in our teaching, in order to pass this on to our students and show them that these cultural differences are important, in order to bring tolerance in our classes.
Another one of my favourite people on Twitter was up next – Arjana Blazič and her workshop Testing, testing, 1 , 2, 3! Arjana is a multi-awarded educator from Croatia with two blogs: her ownand one she has organised with her IT specialist at school to help students in their Matura exams.
Arjana, who integrates technology extensively in her classes, introduced us to a multitude of web tools in order to help our students with quizzes and online testing. The great thing was that on these websites teachers and students can be very flexible and create quizzes of their own. Arjana did a great job of pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of these web tools, which ones we could use free of charge and which we have paid versions of. You can see her presentation and all the slides including all the web tools on her blog.
The conference closed with a fantastic plenary by Geoff Tranter, called That’s a Funny way to Learn a Language! Geoff has an amazing sense of humour (which he also showed us during the Open Mic night the evening before) and demonstrated how we can use it in class effectively – he showed us funny acronyms, riddles, funny signs and newspaper headlines we can use in our classes! I liked what Geoff said at one point: If your students are making humorous remarks in a foreign language, you have come a long way with them. I really enjoyed this closing plenary, as it was full of tips and also quite different.
After the conference, the BESIG weekly workshop, with Helen Strong this time, was broadcast in the amphitheatre – some watched it, some of us had to leave Paris unfortunately, and a great conference and very good friends behind.
As a closing treat to these three posts about the respective days of the TESOL France conference, I have some photos for you! I hope you enjoy them.
And after the excitement of Day One…Day Two came along for all of us to learn, connect and have fun!
I started my day with Mike Harrison’s super session Before Words: Ideas for Using Images and Sound in the Classroom. It was the first time I had attended Mike’s session and I loved it! I got so many ideas about what you can do with pictures and sound effects in class. We even did a visual poem. I teamed up with Deniz Atesok, a great educator from Turkey in the activities that Mike showed us and we came up with some great ideas! I will definitely be using his ideas with my students – and I will definitely be attending more of his sessions in the future. You can find a plethora of ideas on his great blog! A big thank you to Mike!
Right after Mike – the drama specialist and enthusiastic presenter (and very good friend – I am so happy to know her!) Anna Musielak! Ania’s presentation was called Break the Ice with Drama. I had seen Ania last year as well and I could not wait to attend her session this year either!
Ania presented so many ideas, you definitely have to catch her at a conference – her enthusiasm is amazing and so are her ideas, which work with all ages. We took part in many activities and could see in practice how great these ideas are. I loved how Ania’s ideas made everyone so enthusiastic, lots of people volunteered to take part in the activities. Lots and lots of ideas. Ania is also star guest blogger on many blogs, including mine. Her posts are definitely worth reading! Thanks so much, Ania!
After our lunch break, it was time to see Cecilia Lemos in action in her session, Ideas for Improving Studentsʼ Writing Skills: My Experience. Ceci gave us amazing ideas of how to integrate writing actively in our classes – a skill that has been often disliked by students for the reason that (we have all heard it and Ceci pointed it out as well) they have nothing to write. She introduced us to some nice tips for writing, such as motivating the students into writing the essay paragraph by paragraph wothout even realising it, and then putting them all together to make their very own writing piece – and prove to themselves that they can write! I also like how Ceci told us how she motivates her kids to read – they all read the same book, which she has chosen carefully to be apporopriate for all tastes and for both genders. She has also done a webinar on the same topic which you can see, along with other super posts, on her blog.
Right after, it was time for the one and only Luke Meddings and his plenary Dogme and the City.
I really liked how Luke paralleled language learning and teaching and exploring the city of Paris. It was a really great pleasure to listen to Luke and talk to him afterwards – we also enjoyed his Greta Garbo impersonation!
Thanks for a great plenary, Luke! Truly enlightening and I look forward to attending more talks from Luke in the future.
Then it was time for Marisa Constantinidis – her session was The Reading Challenge: Motivation & creativity in reading lessons. Lots of educators heistate to use reading texts in their classes because they think the students may get bored. Marisa showed us so many ways to utilise texts in class successfuly, and get lots of things from them! She weaved reading texts into so many activities and extended them to speaking as well. I loved Marisa’s ways of motivating students to read – it counts to a great extent on how teachers present a reading text for the students to approach it! A great presentation form a wonderful person and educator! Read Marisa’s excellent blog for more great ideas – I am giving a link to her very imimportant challenge for people with disabilities, which she pointed out in Paris as well and I believe is a very important issue for all educators to keep in mind.
Right after Marisa, the last session of the day I attended was Ceri Jones’s, You’ve Got Mail. She gave us very interesting ideas on how to use e-mail in class, as a means of communication with our students (letting them know what has happened in case of absence, for instance, but also as an exchange of language between the teacher and students). Ceri and her students did an excellent job in extending their linguistic abiltites and improving significantly in writing – something I found very interesting, as I communicate a lot with my students via e-mail, almost on a daily basis. I am definitely taking a lot of ideas from Ceri’s session! Read her super blog Close Up – great work there!
Then we had the Open Mic Night, which was a huge success and so much fun! Lots of singing, juggling, poetry reading – you name it : )
Last year was the first time I attended TESOL France – it was a huge success from many aspects. First of all, the plenaries, workshops and talks were all fantastic and I learned so much. I met a lot of people I had only been interacting with online on Twitter and learned what the face-to-face meetings are really like: a lot of squealing, hugging and “Oh wow! It´s really you!!!!” among ourselves.
This year, I decided to do the same (well, actually, I had already decided after last year´s colloquium was finished!). I arrived in Paris last Thursday, on a rainy day…but I was so happy to be in Paris! I was positive that Beth Cagnol, the President of TESOL France and a wonderful person and educator, and her great team would prepare three great days for all of us who decided to attend. Which was exactly how things went! Beth opened the conference with a very emotional speech – I think we all had a lump in our throat just listening to her speak. Everyone at TESOL France made us feel so good there and enjoy a fantastic conference! This year I felt like I was returning to a very familiar place where I feel very welcome. Mille merci to everyone at TESOL France!
On Friday we had the chance to listen to Stephen Brewer´s plenary on It was the first time I was attending Stephen´s talk – Beth told us a lot of great things that Stephen has done in his career before he started his talk.
I especially liked what Stephen said about language being like music (as he is an amazing pianist himself) – for instance, that in language, as in music, we always have doubts as to how skilled we are, even if we are good at it.
What I also liked were the notions of human agency that Stephen mentioned – the great ability to exercise intentional influence and make choices. Then the inner game came into play – checking http://www.theinnergame.com, I found this definition:
What is The Inner Game?
“There is always an inner game being played in your mind no matter what outer game you are playing. How aware you are of this game can make the difference between success and failure.”-Tim Gallwey
After Stephen’s plenary, I decided to attend Dale Coulter‘s session and was I ever happy to attend that one! Dale’s talk was Reflective Teacher Practice for Newly Qualified Teachers – he told us so many things he does daily in his teaching and my aha! moment was when he said he keeps a journal, a normal pencil-and-paper journal. As I told hm after his talk (and I was very fortunate to discuss quite extensively with him), this is my 12th year teaching and I have never ever kept a journal! Dale reassured me it is never too late and I am going to use this idea, for the reason that I am always rather critical of myself when something goes wrong in lessons and I immediately dismiss my ideas. Dale said something amazing in his session: focus on the positive points and what went well and also on what you can improve. The best kind of reflection in my opinion! Read his blog here: http://languagemoments.wordpress.com for more ideas. Thanks so much for a great session, Dale!