Teaching & Learning Foreign Languages

The CELT Athens Blog

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March is a busy month – Online and Offline Presentations

Online  14-16 March

      Spring Blog Festival

      (online on WiziQ)

            Showcasing Blogs (March 14-16, 2014)

Programme Highlights – you can access the programme here 

  • Blogging to enhance reflective practice and your teaching
  • Tips, ideas, and online projects to engage students with blogs
  • Connecting students with blogging classes around the world
  • Expert advice on how to set-up and maintain a blog for education
  • Current technologies and trends in blogging and the future of blogging

My talk – Why do I blog? at 16:00 P.M. GMT


Watch the recording of my talk on You Tube

Here is the abstract to help you decide if it’s of interest to you:

In this presentation, I would like to outline some of the benefits of blogging which I have experienced as a blogger and the reasons why I believe blogging is a great push forward for professional development and reflection on one’s practices as well as on larger issues related to education and teaching & learning foreign languages. It goes without saying that blogging as part of trainee teachers’ development is also highly desirable. And yet, getting trainee teachers to start blogging tends to be quite hard, an experience which many other colleagues in the same situation share with me. Some of the reasons why this happens will be discussed and as I have recently been preparing to start a blogging initiative, I would like to share some of my ideas with colleagues and invite suggestions from more successful teacher educator colleagues of ways to motivate and kick start reluctant trainee teachers into their own blogging experience.

This conference in free – anyone can follow the talks as long as they half a fast internet connection 

In Athens 15-16 March

Home   http   www.tesolgreece.org

   TESOL Greece

       35th Annual Convention         15-16 March 2014 in Athens You can find more information on the convention website  where you can download a pre-programme. You can also read the speaker interviews to get some idea of their talk content as the pre-programme does not include details – all this on the TESOL Greece Blog 

My Talk: The Teacher as Scaffold Builder at 12:00 local time 


An interview on the TESOL Greece Blog to give some ideas about my talk

Following this conference is not free- an annual membership of 50 euros is the charge

Unfortunately, like other conferences, the speakers, who provide the content for these conferences and without who they would not exist, also have to pay a membership fee.

Kudos to TESOL France for never charging speakers !!

In Thessaloniki 15-16 March

International Publishers Exhibitions   I.P.E.   Home

     International Publishers’ Spring Exhibition

     15-16 March

A major Book Exhibition, primarily, where teachers and directors of studies can find out all about new books and educational products but they also have a great programme of talks, many of which are not commercial but free professional development

Nik Peachey’s Talk

Sunday March 16 10:00-10:50

elton winnerEXPLOITING ONLINE VIDEO INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE LANGUAGE CLASSROOM Video is one of the strongest mediums to support the learning of language. Besides providing models of a wide range of accents and language examples it also communicates a wealth of cultural information in a way that no other medium can. This presentation will look at materials, resources, tips and advice for getting the best out of online video. You should leave the presentation with a toolkit of ideas useful websites and web-based tools to create your own video-based lessons for students or find ready made activities to set for homework.

My Talk -Sunday March 16 15:00-15:50

aplanettalkARE YOU A CONNECTED TEACHER? YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ONLY A CLICK AWAY? Recently, there’s been an amazing growth in professional development opportunities available via social networking. It’s never been easier for teachers to personalize their own PD, while simply sitting at home. In this talk we’ll explore the wealth of opportunities available to teachers, discussing how best they can get involved, get connected and how to evaluate what’s out there.

Entrance to the exhibition and all commercial and professional talks is free of charge

Nik Peachey’s Workshop on Sunday

DevelopingMaterialsfortheScreenAgeGeneration A great opportunity to follow an extended 3-hour workshop with Nik Peachey – one of the world’s best known instructional technology in ELT experts. Nik is the course creator and tutor on our ICT for ELT course  leading to a Certificate of Attendance or to a DELTA Module 3 Certificate (part of the overall Diploma) Participation in this workshop is 30 euros … to be continued with events later in March

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Tagged for the last time, I hope

This is the Tag-a-Blogger Challenge going around the blogosphere! A fun chain of posts which include 11 random facts about yourself, answers to 11 questions posed by another blogger who tagged you and your 11 questions to other 11 bloggers you tag in your post.

Looks like a chain letter?! Yes, but why not? It’s a fun challenge and being tagged doesn’t mean you must respond, or else!!!

What are the rules? They are simple:

  1. Introduce the person who tagged you.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions posed by the blogger who tagged you.
  4.  List/tag another 11 bloggers.
  5. Put your 11 questions to the bloggers you nominated.

Since I responded on my TEFL Matters Blog twice already,  I thought I would write a double-barrel response to two special ladies, colleagues from Greece  but not in my home town, two bloggers who tagged me after that, before that…. who knows… it doesn’t matter really .

They are Aphro Giouris and Theodora Papanagiotou, so my 11 random facts will be for both of them but I shall answer their 11 questions separately below.

Theodora Papanagiotou


Meet Theodora Papanagiotou, a paussionate Greek teacher from up north (to me), from the beautiful city of Thessaloniki. I first met Dora on Facebook and Twitter and we soon connected and started conversations about teaching and the current state of the ELT education industry in Greece. Dora is forthright and outspoken and I was impressed by her bravado and courage to speak her mind, so much so that I asked her to write a guest post for my Greek blog – which she did and you can read it here. It’s in Greek of course but you can use the Google translator widget to get at least the gist of what she’s talking about in that post. SInce we met, she has gone from strength to strength, has a great blog, presents at conferences and is an all around connected teacher!. Read Theodora’s Blog to find out more about her.

Theodora’s Questions  & my Answers

  1. How important is music to your life?  Music has played a major role in my life both as a listener, as a student of music, as a performer (for a short while) and as a hobby (I dabble into song writing, occasionally) – my brother is a musician who was a member of a really popular pop band in the 70’s , Greek colleagues may have heard of the Idols (or so I hope), and now his son, Andrew, is building a musical career as Drew Melody – so a musical family has framed the backdrop of my life for many years :-)
  2. How much time do you devote in your job24/7!!!
  3. Share a funny thing that happened in class. I can’t think of anything in particular at the moment although there are many times when things can go wrong in any class and we always end up giggling uncontrollably. We need more laughter in classrooms, don’t we?
  4. What does the word “educator” mean in your opinion? To me, an educator is an agent of change with the sole aim of helping learners stop needing an educator!
  5. If you could learn anything, what would that be? I would love to be able to fly an airplane and to learn to compose music on my laptop, something which I always say I will find time to learn and then I never do!!! I would also love to learn advanced web design – am really only a dabbler but need to learn more.
  6. What is your favourite movie? I have several, but I always end up mentioning The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover as well as The Green Mile, two movies which I consider memorable and I never tire of watching again and again.
  7. Fears...What do you fear the most? I wish I could claim I was entirely fearless of anything but have the usual human fears – mostly I am afraid of heights. I had a terrible accident/fall when I was 13 which nearly cost me my life and since then, I have been really edgy when anywhere high up.
  8. If you could live anywhere, where would that be?  I dream of a house on a beach where I wake up in the morning and from bed, I dive straight into crystal blue waters! I used to live in one in the summers when I was a child – and want that feeling back again.
  9. What is your favourite word? I don’t think I have one but I love the sounds of some words – like ‘absolutely’ and ‘Philadelphia’, possibly the consonant combinations please my ear!
  10. What is your favourite digital app? I use quite a few on my iPhone and iPad and I particularly love Evernote, which I use a lot for taking field notes during teacher observations (a blog post on this is cooking as we speak) and all the apps that are accessible from all my devices, like Dropbox, Skybox, Flipboard and many more. For teaching, I am really fond of Educreations, a wonderful app for recording errors, corrections, showing images and sending all those goodies to your learners
  11. Do you have any lucky items, objects or traditions?  No particular objects come to mind. I don’t believe in things like that but i believe that luck comes to those who not only take but give back to others, who pay it forward. In that sense, my good luck charm is my community of peers and my PLN.

my musical family 

Aphro Giouris


Meet Aphro Giouris, another passionate Greek teacher from central Greece, from the city of Larissa and, like Theodora, I met her through Facebook and Twitter and have watched her blossom as a connected teacher and blogger. Aphro teaches primary school and has ‘caring is sharing’ as her personal motto!!! I was thrilled to meet her in Thessaloniki recently and she is always sunny and positive – I suspect her primary school kids must simply adore her!!!!

Visit her blog, ELT Inspired to find out her ideas and adventures in ELT and new technologies. It’s an absolute delight and writing this post gave me the opportunity to read the many great posts she has written.

Aphro’s Questions  & my Answers:

  1.  What are you most proud of?   If I am proud of anything it’s the fact that I have managed to create and maintain a teacher training centre in Greece and that we do better every year . I feel proud when I hear teachers say I have inspired them with a drive for excellence and a passion for continuous development. I am also quite proud to be part of a truly great international PLN and to have daily contact with so many great teachers.  
  2. How will you know if you have lived a full life?  I am not sure quite how to answer this question – I believe I have lived a life that’s full of learning and to me that’s quite important – it may not be for someone else but for me it is. 
  3. What is your biggest fear?  I have many different fears, small sized and medium sized, like most people, I talked about the fear of heights in answer to Theodora’s question. 
  4. Who has had the greatest impact on your life?  I guess people who in one way or another pushed me to go out of my comfort zone even when I didn’t have very much confidence in myself and thought that there were people far better suited for this or that job than me. There was always a gentle hand there pushing me to go forward. I would like to be the same kind of hand for as many of my own student teachers as I can because I have truly been blessed with great people in my life myself.
  5.  If Hollywood made a movie about your life what would it be rated and who would be the star? I doubt that my life story is Hollywood material ! 
  6. Who is the most important person in your life? Any learner or student teacher I am focusing on at any point – I feel a weight of responsibility and always worry about the impact I have on my trainees’ learning, their development and their career. 
  7.  If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? I would try to go everywhere! And if I could afford to travel anywhere, I fear I would not come back at all!
  8.  If you could do anything in the world without fear of failure what would you do ? Publish my music!!! And perform it!!! Also publish my own coursebook :-) 
  9. If I asked your best friends your 3 best qualities what would they say? I asked them myself, to be quite honest, but I don’t believe them because they are my best friends – isn’t that what friends are for? 
  10. If you only had six months to live what would be the top 10 things you would do? I feel a list coming on!!!!!  
    1. I would visit Australia to see it and reconnect with family – I would also go to Japan and may be even do JALT!!!
    2. I would hire a chauffer to drive me everywhere – I hate to drive!
    3. I would also buy a scooter. :-D I used to have one and I love the sensation of tearing around on that thing!!!!
    4. I would eat at the best restaurants and blow money which I save for a rainy day :-)
    5. I would travel to see as many faces of my PLN as possible – Brazil is definitely on the cards here!
    6. I would eat whatever I wanted,. stop worrying about my weight and drink loads of margharitas and caipirinhas!!
    7. I would write a book about Greek ELT – some little known facts :-)  All shall be revealed! :-D
    8. I would start a competition for excellence in ELT in my country where teachers are not appreciated as much as they should – I would pay the media to promote it properly and make it into a big thing
    9. I would stop doing ANY kind of housework which I also don’t enjoy doing
    10. I would use time off housework to read some of the books I have not had time to read and listen to music I always put off listening to again
  11.  What is your biggest regret?  I used to think I made a mistake when I didn’t stay in the UK to work for a university there – I came back because my father needed me. But, in retrospect, I have had so much more fun making my own mistakes with my own training centre I don’t know if I should feel sorry! I will never be rich but I will never be sorry either! 
I would travel andnever come back!!!

I would travel  and travel and never come back!!!

And now 11 more Random Facts about me 

Phew! Difficult to fish out more random facts that I didn’t share in my previous posts but here goes – the ultimate ego trip, talking about ourselves!  Ok this time, I will talk mostly about my career and especially my beginnings.

  1. I spent a year as a language teacher without training – a time I recall with abject embarrassment. The following summer, I enrolled on a course and that was the proper start of my TEFL career.
  2. I was in fact fired from my next job for having participated in a 6-month sit-in,. Details on request. I don’t want lawsuits from the Hellenic American Union though they won’t have a leg to stand on.
  3. During those 6 months  I was a also employed as  in-house teacher trainer for a staff of 60 teachers and my employer did not fire me when she heard about the sit-in, though I offered to resign. Very characteristically, she asked “Have a set a wolf to guard the sheep?”, then I said, well, I am ready to go but she wanted to know why – when I told her she said “If I worked there, I would be in the sit-in too. You are not leaving.’ For this I will always have tremendous respect for Gina Pagoulatou-Vlachou.
  4. I have worked as a free-lance teacher trainer for Longman (now Pearson), OUP and Heinemman (now Macmillan) which is where I met hundreds of teachers – very useful connections when I did set up my own centre.
  5. Before setting up CELT Athens, I was involved in quite a few summer courses which I was asked to design and teach on organised by PALSO Federation. In those good old days, they paid for school owners from all over Greece to follow proper training courses at different locations in Greece !!! I ran courses in various places in Greece, the first one near Heraklion, Crete, then Kalamata, Kammena Vourla and the last two years in Athens. I met and trained so may school owners it was amazing!
  6. I was involved in partnerships twice before CELT Athens – both bombed for different reasons: the first one because I had different ideas about training, the second, because I had worn off my use, which was to set up CELT and the courses for two very nice people who then got rid of me and continued on their own :-)
  7. I started CELT entirely penniless, no money and no trainees, and set up on a shoestring. The second day of opening, a school called me up and asked me if I would organize and host a 30-hour course for their teachers! I am always grateful to that school owner, Elpida Papadantonaki. She later became my trainee on the Diploma and sent all her teachers old and new hires to follow our CertTEFL course. This was mega-major support for a new training centre and it went on for years.
  8. I have taught the whole gamut of the Diplomas, since they were RSA Dip. DTEFLA and DOTE, then taken over by Cambridge and witnessed the sluggish pace of turning these into DELTA and now the Modular DELTA.
  9. I have acres and acres of seminar input material which cover the shelves of a whole room – one day I am hopeful that some of them will find their way into a trainer book.
  10. I still take ages to write blog posts – which is why this one is so late; this is because I have to do so many other things at the same time and, well, you know what we’ve learnt, our poor brain can’t mutlitask all that well!
  11. Famous last random fact: These days, I spend so many hours looking at a screen and believing I am with friends that it must be a whole new concept of what reality is. I live a virtual life in webinar rooms, chat rooms and Second Life but I think I am now a much more connected teacher and teacher educator than in the days BSM (before social media) – so meet me on Facebook and Twitter (where I hang out every Wednesday on #ELTchat) and connect with me on this marvellous new learning adventure.

My Nominees – I am tagging you!

And now my own nominees – I have chosen to nominate some of my own recent trainees just to encourage them to start blogging and I think this challenge is a wonderful opportunity to start them off blogging either on our/their own blogs for their  CELTA or DELTA courses where they are free to blog, or to get their own blog started!

I am not mentioning everyone because Joanna Malefaki beat me to it so if any of you pick pick up the challenge, pay it forward and nominate some of the other trainees in your group please.

I also believe that since I have been tagged by TWO bloggers, I have the right to nominate TWO lots of people so here is my list of 22!!!

  1. Rena Zagkla
  2. Michelle Politis
  3. Periklis Chatzikyriakidis
  4. Nualla Hayes
  5. Theodore Lalos
  6. Pedro Gomez
  7. Carmen Ignat
  8. Lina Sapounadeli
  9. Tina Kyriakou
  10. Danilo Tiutiun
  11. Victoria Zurakowski
  12. Lia Kallianos
  13. Vassiliki Matzaris
  14. Christopher Pappas
  15. Lida Lambropoulou
  16. John Vournous
  17. Eric Benson
  18. Julie Raikou
  19. Lorna Gilbert
  20. Manos Koutsoukos
  21.  Georgia Georgogiannis
  22. Peggy Lee

I will make sure I email them, notify them on Facebook and, in fact hound them until they get out there in the blogosphere :-)

My 11 Questions 

  1. What are the top three qualities as a teacher that you aspire to?
  2. Describe your dream teaching situation, classroom, school, the works!
  3. Name three classroom activities which have always got your students talking like there is no tomorrow!
  4. What is your favourite technique or app for error correction?
  5. Which approach to teaching grammar do you favour the most?
  6. Name your top three websites or pages where you get great ideas for teaching – please provide links
  7. Do you play any games online? Which ones?
  8. Are you a Twitter user? If so, how do you benefit from Twitter? If not, what is stopping you?
  9. What are your greatest ambitions in your TEFL career?
  10. If you were asked to present a paper at a conference, which topic would you choose?
  11. If you don’t have a blog today, what would be your chosen name for your future blog? If you do, tell us its name, link and what you write about

No more tags please!

And that concludes my ‘tagged’ posts. No more challenges will be taken up – I have written three already – thank you very much for tagging me if you have, but I have revealed enough, the rest is for the birds!!!!!

My other two ‘tagged; posts

Photo Credits:

yuan2003 via Compfight cc & Screenshot from same for travel images and some family snaps

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10 things you need to know about the Cambridge CELTA course


And why it’s the best step forward in your TEFL career



Image1 “CELTA” originally stood for ‘Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults’ but was recently changed to Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is now a Level 5 Qualification and some Universities even offer credits in their TESOL courses for having done it!


2The CELTA is an initial credential/qualification for teachers of English as a foreign language. This means that you do not have to be a practising teacher in order to do it.   Having said that, the CELTA also accepts experienced teachers who have never received any formal training or who have been teaching young pupils and would like to change their career focus.


3It is internationally recognized and highly respected. The CELTA is the most frequent requirement for those entering the field of English language teaching. Many international language schools consider the CELTA as an absolute prerequisite for employment.


4You do not have to be a native speaker of English to follow a CELTA course. Your English doesn’t even have to be perfect – official requirement is C1 or C2 level in the CEFR – but it sure helps to have a sound knowledge of the language as you are expected to be able to teach even higher levels.


5The course is highly practical: everything you discuss in the input sessions is translated into action straight away in your teaching practices during the course, so you get a chance to try out new ideas and new way of teaching in every single one of your lessons!


6 During the course you teach actual classes of students, after you have first observed experienced teachers or your tutors teaching these classes. You get immediate feedback on your teaching and you are also asked to develop your awareness and critical thinking skills by observing and giving feedback to your colleagues.



After every lesson you teach, you are encouraged to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Your self-reflections are written down and are part of your learning record for future reference. Then you can compare notes with your tutor and colleagues, and form a clearer picture of your strengths and weaknesses. This is a great feature of the course and helps you continue your development for long after the course is over!



There is no final written exam in order to pass the course. In fact, you are not   assessed at the end of the course only, but throughout the whole process, in other words, assessment is continuous and integrated with focus on your development from lesson to lesson, rather than on grade averages.


Yo9ur assessment is based on a portfolio of lesson plans, reports and written assignments, which you  compile yourself.  This is what the external assessor, who visits your CELTA centre at the end of each course, looks at to decide – jointly with your course tutors – on your final grade.


10You do not have to do the full-time course option, although it may be your first choice for various practical reasons. There is a part-time option, which does not include daily attendance and may be more suited to those with a busy work schedule.





We are sure you have more than 10 questions about the CELTA course, so please feel free to contact us at  CELT Athens  for more information.


About the Author 


Alexandra Koukoumialou, or Alexandra Kouk (as many have come to know her on Facebook and Twitter) has been a teacher of English for more than 15 years. She obtained her Cambridge Diploma for Overseas Teachers at CELT in 1993 and ran her own private language school for 10 years in Athens. She now teaches general and Business English and Modern Greek courses at CELT Athens for which she is responsible. Alexandra also recently completed her Avalon Certification Course for Teaching Languages in Second Life.  She is one of the online tutors supporting our Distance Diploma in Translation Courses from and into Greek.

Alexandra has just completed her trainer training induction programme and is now an Approved CELTA tutor.

She is @AlexandraKouk on Twitter

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2013 in review

Thanks to Word press for reminding me about this blog – somewhat neglected in 2013 because of new blogging projects for my CELTA and DELTA trainees – do have a look at these new blogs please



And Happy New Year to All!!!!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Are you Ready to be an Online Teacher?

The future of teaching may well be online, despite the fact that face-to-face teaching has so many benefits.

Advantages of online teaching

Online teaching poses many challenges to the teacher who is comfortable and used to teaching ‘live’ but these are challenges which can be easily surmounted, as there are multiple advantages to being an online teacher.

  • Flexibility of schedules – early bird or night owl is not an issue!
  • Economy of time and money – no need for you or students to travel
  • Independence and freedom to teach the way you believe is best
  • Increae of your ‘catchment’ area to other markets in other countries
  • Learning about other cultures by teaching students from other countries
  • Parents may appreciate the freedom this allows them – by not having to taking kids to school
  • Adults/professionals appreciate saving time by learning online
  • A wider range or tools for learning  available to the online teacher

These are just a few of the advantages but there are also many challenges and possible pitfalls, which make it all the more important to be well prepared to take this important step into the 21st century!

Challenges and Pitfalls

Working online assumes a very high level of comfort with educational technology as well as a sound grounding on the principles of teaching and learning. You can be just as good or as bad online and technology is not a solution, it’s just a tool that needs to be used wisely.

  • Payments may not be made on time
  • You may not be able to market yourself properly
  • Students’ attention cannot always be guaranteed but must be fought for every minute!
  • Online teaching can be quite stressful
  • Lack of security as well as health insurance and care
  • You need to keep up with your professional development
  • Lack of confidence with using online learning tools
  • Lack of knowledge of methods and materials for online learning

The greatest pitfall is to believe that online teaching is the same as face-to-face teaching and that you can use exactly the same materials and techniques as with chalk and board. A drastic change in thinking is necessary as well as some training to be an online teacher.

The answer?

There are no perfect recipes or answers to everyone’s problems or challenges. A teacher who is paid 4 euros per hour but can get 12, 15 or 20 euros for an hour teaching from home will be at a great advantage, but in order to have a steady and healthy flow of income, teachers must learn to act as edupreneurs, not an easy step for everyone.

Are you Ready to Face the Challenge?

Here is a good way to find out.

Review this survey questionnaire and complete it. especially if you plan to follow our workshops at the International Publishers’ Exhibition in Thessaloniki on the last Saturday of August or in Athens on the first Saturday of September.

All fields are required to help make this survey comprehensive – stay tuned for the results here and on my blog.

About the Author

Marisa Constantinides – Teacher Educator – Author – Conference Speaker

Marisa Constantinides picture

I am a TEFL Teacher Educator and run CELT Athens, a Teacher Development centre based in Athens, Greece. I train teachers face-to-face online; my courses include the Cambridge CELTA and DELTA (which we also offer online) and a new range of Moodle courses on ICT for ELTELT Management and Young Learners. You can read more about me on my website here.  I have written materials for young learners and for using literature in ELT and published my articles in a variety of print and online journals – some can be viewed here and I also maintain the following blogs:  TEFL MattersTeaching & Learning Foreign Languages & the ELTchat Blog

I am a frequent conference presenter and keynote speaker – some recent presentations can be viewed here I have presented at IATEFL International, TESOL France, Brazil TESOL, TESOL Greece as well as on numerous online Conferences and Events.  In 2012 I was on the shortlist of nominations for an ELTons Award in Innovation in Teacher Resources along with my fellow moderators on #ELTchat, a weekly discussion on Twitter.

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Presentation for BELTA – Belgian Engish Language Teachers’ Association


June Webinar with Marisa Constantinides and Shaun Wilden

Next in BELTA’s webinar series is a presentation by two of ELT’s professional development gurus, which will take place on 23rd of June at 1600 CET. No one knows more about how to develop as an ELT professional than Marisa Constantinides and Shaun Wilden. As moderators of the highly popular Twitter discussion forum #ELTchat, they are responsible for one of the most popular forms of online professional development, often referred to as the staffroom you always wished you could have.

In their webinar for BELTA, they will expand upon their talk at the IATEFL conference in Liverpool this year. The proliferation of online professional development opportunities means that there are an almost overwhelming variety of options available to teachers, and Marisa and Shaun will give you a guided tour, helping you to choose what works for you.

To join this event:

1) Click here – http://lancelot.adobeconnect.com/belta
2) Make sure “Enter as a guest” is selected (it should be automatically) and enter your name and the country where you are based.
3) Click “Enter room”.


Autonomous Professional Development Begins at Home
Recently there has been an amazing growth in professional development opportunities available via social networking. It’s never been easier for teachers to personalise their own PD, while simply sitting at home. In this talk we’ll explore the wealth of opportunities available to teachers, discussing how best they can get involved, get connected and how to evaluate what’s out there.

About Marisa
Marisa Constantinides is a teacher educator & Director of CELT, a Cambridge CELTA & DELTA centre in Athens and online. She is a frequent conference presenter with publications including materials for children, literature and numerous articles on TEFL, Language, Linguistics and Education. A member of IATEFL International, she an active ELT blogger and Twitter user. You can follow her at @marisa_c on Twitter and read her blog at http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org/.
About Shaun
Shaun Wilden has been involved in English language teaching for over twenty years. He is currently the International House World Organisation Teacher Training Coordinator but also works as a freelance teacher trainer and materials writer– contributing materials to a number of coursebooks.  Apart from that he maintains several online teaching sites including ihonlinetraining.net and is interested in the application of technology to teaching.
He is an events coordinator for the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG and you can follow him @shaunwilden or read his blogs shaunwilden.com and appedelt.posthaven.com. When not sitting at a computer, Shaun enjoys growing food in his garden and the cooking it.
Along with BELTA President James Taylor, they are both moderators of #ELTchat, a weekly discussion of ELT teachers on Twitter which was shortlisted in the 2012 ELTon Awards for Innovation in Teacher Resources.
This post was reblogged from the BELTA website 


Defragmenting Foreign Language Learning

Presenting language in small fragments hoping that they will one day automatically transform into fluent near-native talk may not be enough. My talk at TESOL Greece highlighted some ways in which skilled performers achieve excellence and focused on practical activities promoting holistic language learning using a variety of free online tools.

Photo by Mike Harrison

Photo by Mike Harrison

Fragments of knowledge

The standard practice of the Foreign Language classroom is to present language in fragments, smaller chunks, or grammar McNuggets. Scott Thornbury has invented the wonderful term Grammar MacNuggets, in the linked post on his A-Z blog.

Teachers do so in the hope that these partial views of language will one day be successfully synthesized to form a coherent whole in the learner’s mind, hopefully resulting in fluent output.

Research and experience have proved this inadequate.

Like a computer’s hard drive, all this fragmentation leads to slow processing. None of the applications we use on our PC’s really work well when the hard drive is fragmented.

In the same way, the ‘MacNuggeting’ of language knowledge bytes leads to fragmentation and lack of ability to access language and be able to use it in a natural and fluent way.

Holistic Activities as defragmenters :-)

In this talk, I looked at the profiles of skilled performers, drawing analogies between what they do to achieve a polished and skillful performance and what this implies that foreign language learners ought to do in order to improve their productive skills – their performance skills, in other words, in the target language.

Suggestions for practical classroom activities focused on holistic language practices involving

  • Sustained talk / long turns
  • Connected writing
  • Engaging learners in higher order thinking processes
  • involving technology which promotes holistic learning rather than iterative practice
  • motivating learners to acquire language through collaborative and meaningful projects using a variety of Web 2.0 tools.

Skilled performers are both knowledgeable as well as skillful at what they do, so this talk aims to redress the balance in favour of increasing the frequency and focus of productive skills activities to promote more skilled/fluent and accurate language users.


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