blogging, Connections, learning, life, social media, special moments, writing

Seven – Επτά – Sieben

7-years-of-blogging

Seven.

Επτά.

Sieben.

It is that time of the year again!

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 : )

  1. 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 : )
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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. Ad long as it is civilised, it is a great exchange of opinions and learning opportunity.
  6. 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 commuinty of learning keeps growing. Here I would like to share another great post on blogging, by Jennifer Aston, an educator in London, Ontario!
  7. 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!

blogging
(Image taken from askablogger.com)

 

 

BELTA Belgium, blogging, books, Conferences, Connections, culture, edtech, education, ELT in Brazil, ELTChat, inspiration, interviews, iTDi, life, mentoring, professional development, social media, Workshops, writing

Podcasts, Prince and UnPlugged – An Interview with James Taylor

I am delighted to present you with the first interview for 2016, with one of my favourite educators ever, James Taylor!

2012-07-19 15.56.00-1

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!)

blog challenges, blogging, education, life, professional development, special moments, Storytelling, teaching, The Human Touch, writing

“What’s Your Story” Is Up and Running Again! – A Blog Challenge With a Human Touch

(Image taken from http://www.g-codemagazine.com
(Image taken from http://www.g-codemagazine.com)

The “What’s Your Story?” Blog Challenge is running again, thanks to all of you and your support! Some educators have offered to add their stories. If you want to as well, post your story (professional, personal, anything you think represents you) and:

1. Post on your blog and send me the link to add
2. If you do not have your own blog, I can post on mine.

I look forward to reading your stories!

Feel free to use #blogging #blogchallenge #education as your hashtags, or any other ones you prefer, when posting on social media!

A HUGE THANK YOU!

I have started adding the new posts here:

Academia, ELT in Hungary, interviews, teaching, writing

Interview with Péter Medgyes

Péter Medgyes
Péter Medgyes

Péter Medgyes is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest. Previously, he was a school teacher, teacher trainer, vice rector of his university, deputy state secretary at the Hungarian Ministry of Education and the ambassador of Hungary posted in Damascus. Professor Medgyes is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Non-Native Teacher (1994, winner of the Duke of Edinburgh Book Competition), Changing Perspectives in Teacher Education (1996, co-edited with Angi Malderez), The Language Teacher (1997), Laughing Matters (2002), and Golden Age: Twenty Years of Foreign Language Education in Hungary (2011). His main professional interests lie in curriculum studies, language policy, and teacher education.

A huge thank you to Péter for this honour!

Vicky: Professor Medgyes, first of all I would like to thank you for this interview – I have admired your work since I was in university!

Professor Medgyes: Thank you very much, Vicky. But frankly I’d much prefer if you called me Péter. It’s far more informal. My students call me Péter too.

Vicky: Thank you so much, Péter! Let us start from the beginning of your career. You started your career as a school teacher. How did you enter the field of education?

Péter: My mother was dismayed when she learnt that I’d decided to become a teacher. “Oh no! You don’t want to become a slave, do you?” she cried. What she hinted at was the low status of teachers in Hungary at that time. Trouble is that teachers are still not given the credit they deserve. Teachers of English were a little better off though, because English was considered a trendy language. The Beatles, jeans, American movies – you know what I mean.

Vicky: What has changed since then? What challenges, if any, remain?

Péter: Well, if English was trendy 30 years ago, it’s since become the unparallelled lingua franca. We can’t breathe without English in our wired-up world. It’s no longer a foreign language, but some kind of a second mother tongue for billions of people. It should become part of basic education all over the world. Kids start to learn English at an ever younger age. CLIL is introduced in more and more schools.

Vicky: How did you move on to the field of academia?

Péter: I taught in a comprehensive school for some 15 years before I became a teacher trainer at university in Budapest. Truth be told, vanity played a part in my decision to move on. But then I’ve never lost touch with school-life. My research has always been rooted in the classroom. In the early 2000s I went back to teach in the same school where I’d started out. I thought, well, with all the experience that I’d accumulated over the years, I’d be a much better school teacher than I was. Sadly I didn’t – I forgot how to teach teenagers, so I quit after a couple of years.

Vicky: You have been very much involved in the topic of native and non-native teachers. Do you believe the distinction is still necessary today?

Péter: The native/non-native issue is a tricky one. Dividing English teachers into natives and non-native is pretty arbitrary. Yet the fact remains that I’m a native speaker of Hungarian and a non-native speaker of English. Having said that, it’s true that the demarcation line is getting more and more elusive these days, due to the fact that the English language competence of non-native teachers is rapidly improving. Thanks to a number of things in the contemporary world.

Vicky: I agree. Now let us move on to your writing and other activities. Have you got any projects in the works? Could you tell us a bit more about them?

Péter: Together with Marianne Nikolov I’ve just finished a longish report on language pedagogy research done in Hungary in recent years. It’s due to be published in ‘Language Teaching’ in the autumn. At present I’m busy working on compiling an anthology of papers and conference presentations I’ve produced in the past 30 years. Each essay is introduced with an imaginary interview between me and a reporter in which I speak about how those pieces came about and lots of other things. Some kind of retrospection.

Vicky: Very interesting projects! I am looking forward to reading more of your work. Now what would you like to advise new teachers, who are reading this interview?

Péter: Huh, this is a difficult question! As a teacher trainer all I can teach my students are visible and tangible things. However, whatever really matters in education is hidden and intangible and so it can’t be taught.

Vicky: What exactly is hidden and intangible?

Péter:  The spark in the students’ eyes. Once I notice that spark I know that I’ve done a good job. I’ve managed to pass on the ultimate secret of teaching – love. Love of your job. Love of your students. No more – no less.

Vicky: This has been a great interview. Thank you ever so much for this, Péter! I wish you the very best.

blogging, learning, life, special moments, writing

4 Years of Blogging!

4 years of blogging! (Image taken from http://blog.young-germany.de)
4 years of blogging! (Image taken from http://blog.young-germany.de)

I started this blog four years ago, after being motivated by the one and only Ken Wilson – these four years bring so many thoughts to my mind:

  • How reluctant I was to start it: back then I was thinking, who will read it – will anyone be interested?
    I don’t even have a job – what is this going to offer me? But I did start it, and I am happy I did so!
  • How much it helps me reflect. I read another educator’s post that inspires me and gives me insight into my own teaching, so I go ahead and write about it. Or when a class goes well, or even not so well, here is always where I turn to, so as to get my thoughts in order. I can see what went well or wrong, and then come up with ways of  what I could do better or what I could do again.
  • I should write only when I feel I have something to say. In the beginning, I felt that I was obliged to write often, or felt bad if it took me up to three months to write. Nothing comes out of it, if I write just to say that  have written something – instead, now that I write when I feel like it, it feels much more natural.
  • I love the fact that there are not only my own posts on the blog. I had seen it on Ken’s blog, and later on many others, that guest bloggers were invited to write – I did it too and it is great! I have read some amazing posts. So thanks to all my guest bloggers!
  • I love interviewing other educators. I see their stories, their experiences, and I learn from them. Thank you so much to them all!

Thank you to all of you who read the posts, share them on social media, comment and teach me!

Academia, ELT in Turkey, learning, teaching, writing, Yeditepe University

Reflections by Student Tutors Voluntarily Working for Yeditepe University Writing Center

A session at the Writing Center office
A session at the Writing Center office

About two months ago, I had a guest post on my blog from two student tutors from Yeditepe University. Here is a part two from a whole group of lovely student tutors, reflecting on the Writing Center they take part in, under the guidance of their professor, Ece Sevgi. A huge thank you – Çok teşekkürler to: Ece Sevgi, Şafak Ezgi Özel, Seçil Uygungil, Eda Demirci, Merve Karaca, Deniz Aryay and Ş. Ceren Cessur!

Here they are:

“Actually, being a part of the Writing Center was not a “decision”; it was just one of the most important coincidences of my life.  I was taking a course from Ece Sevgi, and she announced that she needed about ten students to hang posters for the announcements of the workshops prepared by the Writing Center. Later, she made another announcement saying she was looking for student tutors to do peer-tutoring. After a training period, I started working as a student tutor, and I think it is a great experience for me to develop my skills in teaching. I learned a lot about the ELT world during this process because I was introduced to many big names at ELT conferences, practiced teaching how to write essays through one-on-one sessions with my peers,  prepared workshops, and  learned how to write better articles. Now I feel ready to become an English teacher even though I haven’t graduated yet because I have learned that experience and self-confidence are the most important parts of this job.”

Şafak Ezgi Özel

“I started working at the Writing Center in Spring 2012, and then Ece Sevgi wanted us to participate in IATEFL 2012 to assist the conference organizers. I really enjoyed being a part of that organization, but when she said that they were also looking for tutors to help students in their academic essays, I was not sure about whether I could manage it or not. However, I realized that I could really like being a tutor after working with my first students from the psychology department. Apart from our students, we also found an opportunity to improve ourselves in our fields. I think, my turning point in my career is probably the Writing Center. I always had wonderful teachers showing my way, but I guess Ece Sevgi is one of the most important ones.”

Seçil Uygungil

“… The moment I entered there, I felt that I could be helpful to others even though I was still a student. Thanks to this program, other students who are also our friends, learned from us, and in return we’ve learned from them since we gained experience in teaching. This program proved us that textbooks, lectures, and teachers were not the only sources to receive information, and we realized that we could learn from each other as well. With the help of this program, we understood the importance of team work once again. The Writing Center opened many doors to all of us. It was not only about the student tutor program; it went beyond that point and improved all of us. I believe with this experience and good memories, these moments will be one of the best moments of my university experience.”

Eda Demirci

When I first heard of the Writing Center and the Student Tutor program, I was in the first year of my university life, just trying to get used to being a university student, and I did not know which path I should follow to become a good teacher. Ece Sevgi told us about tutoring as a student and learning from each other with this program. I think the most important and valuable contribution of this program for me is gaining experience in the ELT field by working with our peers and learning from all the mistakes through the tutoring process. I have also learnt a lot by giving sessions about academic writing in the workshop weeks of the Writing Center, which has changed my perspective and personality from a shy and stressful person when in front of people to the one who is more confident and open to improvement as a life-long learner.

Merve Karaca

“I was getting feedback on my essay when I first learned about the student tutor program, and the first thing that occurred to me was “Oh my God!”.  Being very straightforward indeed, I assume it can briefly summarize the importance of this opportunity in our lives. The Writing Center allowed me to feel like a teacher after only a semester spent on this field, which made me realize how accurate my choice was. We were not only helping our friends, but also learning to teach. I believe, this is a chance which won’t happen often, and I’m more than glad to be a part of this family. I have enhanced my writing, my English in general, and obviously obtained new skills such as being more attentive and patient. The Writing Center has opened a new path ahead of me, and I’m tremendously thankful to everyone who made this possible.”

Deniz Aryay

“… Ece Sevgi, who was my instructor for the Academic Writing course at Yeditepe University, changed my perception about making mistakes. I was visiting the Writing Center to get one-on-one feedback. Then, I learned that we, as students, also have the right to work at the Writing Center as student tutors to help our fellow friends to improve their writing skills. When I became a member of the Writing Center, I learned how to conduct a conversation on a professional basis and I realized that the instructors were far more interested in our development than we thought. I can voluntarily help in the establishment of a Writing Center for the school that I will be working at in the future. If you ask whether or not I would want my students to work there, my answer is “yes”.

Ş. Ceren Cessur

30 Goals, BELTA Belgium, blogging, learning, life, special moments, teaching, writing

Blogging – PD in Focus 8

(Image taken from: www.networkedresearcher.co.uk)
(Image taken from: http://www.networkedresearcher.co.uk)

And the last post in the PD in Focus series is here. All about blogging!

I started blogging almost four years ago, during a not very nice time in my life, which you can read here. I connected with Ken Wilson on Twitter (creating a Twitter account was something I was also wary of doing) and while we were exchanging emails about my situation, he motivated me to start a blog. I wasn’t particularly warm about the idea at first, not because I didn’t trust Ken, but I was thinking:

– Who is going to be interested in what I write?

– What if I write something silly?

– I don’t have a job, how can this help me feel better? (Unemployment really threw me down and my feeling of self-worth had never been so down before.)

So I started and I love it! I don’t always have the right answers – but I try to share as much as possible, good moments and bad, I try to intearct with others and I absolutely love the exachange of opinions. There is agreement, there is disagreement that makes you think, as long as it is constructive criticism. There are so many ideas you get from other educators and so much inspiration! Many are the times when I think what a great idea someone has had, how much I would like to apply someone’s ideas for the classroom and appaud them on that as well.

There are so many things that can be done through blogging:

– Writing and sharing. Something you think is a simple idea for you and you have been doing it for many years in the classroom, could be a revelation for someone else. Just go ahead and share! Your experiences, troubles, happy moments, lesson plans, anything you can express yourself through! There is a welcoming and supportive community of teachers out there waiting to read.

What's Your Story? (A screenshot of my blog challenge)
What’s Your Story? (A screenshot of my blog challenge)

– Blog challenges. An educator invites others to contribute to a common theme – for instance, it can be about vocabulary teaching, or Business English, or teaching idea at all. Some call it a blog carnival, which sounds fun! I held one on my blog a couple of years ago, called What’s Your Story? and 27 educators shared their stories on it: some very personal moments, teaching experiences, anything that they wanted to share. And I really appreciated it. And a lot of people did and we saw ourselves in those stories, and we felt better. We are not alone! There are others out there who share the same experiences as we do.

– Pages. Blogs can become treasure troves of ideas and different kinds of posts: you can organise your blog into pages and have different topics there. Lesson plans, different areas of ESOL, photos, whatever you think expresses you.

– Reflection. A blog can be a journal. There are educators out there who blog every single day about their teaching, education in general or various educational issues that interest them. That doesn’t serve everyone, though. It can be once a week, once  a month, or whenever you have inspiration – you will find your own pace: as long as you use it as a reflective tool, a journal that you can revisit and see what has changed, what has improved or not. It has helped me tremendously as an educator and I feel I am constantly changing and evolving. Still making mistakes but learning from them!

– Guest posts. You can invite other educators whose work you admire to write for you! The reflection coming from these posts are amazing. Plus, you get to network with these educators and exchange ideas. My first ever guest blogger was George Couros, all the way from Alberta, Canada.

It is a firm belief of mine that blogging is a great way for educators to develop professionally, as you can reflect and learn from your teaching – it is also good to write these thoughts down, as you can revisit them. Yesterday, I got to read an amazing post by Dean Shareski, who is an educator from Saskatchewan. (The post was actually tweeted by George – which led me to Dean’s article…the beauty of social media! A whole different post though.) He sums it all up perfectly in How to Make Better Teachers and is honestly one of the best posts I have come across on blogging and professional development. The post is from 2010 and as current as ever.

I truly thanks Ken for motivating me to start my own blog – it has helped me in so many ways! No matter if you are a new teacher or an experienced one, a blog is one of the best things you can do for your own learning.

Here is a great list of ELT blogs, by Chiew Pang: http://chiewpang.blogspot.com/