Peter Whiley Newsletter & E-Bulletin Editor

Welcome, everyone, to yet another edition of IATEFL Poland’s E-Bulletin. This one will focus on our webinar programme, which is being admirably organised by Lucyna Wilinkiewicz-Górniak and Marcin Stanowski. They have put a top-quality programme together, which presents hour-long webinars on a near-weekly basis, with occasional ones at weekends. The webinars are open to IATEFL members, of course, but also to non-members. So, we hope to extend our base, with new members, after they have experienced the delights on offer. The attendances at the webinars are most encouraging, so much so, that you usually need to book in advance, to secure a place, as there is a fixed capacity. 

In this edition, I will list the forthcoming webinars already planned for the rest of this year, as well as the early part of 2021, but first of all, I will report on a recent webinar –  by the indomitable Geoff Tranter, who was at his fluent best, in a very useful talk, where he looked very relaxed, in good health, and highly energised.

Geoff Tranter:  ‘The Old and the New and the New Old? Classroom and Zoom room’.

Armed with a tantalising title, Geoff set out to present a webinar considering the issue of transformation from the (class) room to zoom’…..to what degree has the transformation changed us, and our approach to teaching? Crucially, could I keep to the approach I normally adopt? This was described by Geoff, as the key challenge. He was right by outlining that the transformation in March, 2020, was sudden (so sudden that I received the essential training after the on-line classes had started! Ed.), and we were like a new group of learners for a swimming class, thrown in the deep end.

He went on to ask 2 survey questions at the beginning of his talk: 1. how much experience did the audience have of on-line teaching? 55% said they had some experience. 2. How effective is on-line teaching in your experience?  59% found it to be effective. The answer to question 2, could, of course, be the subject of an entire webinar discussion.

In what was a very structured presentation, Geoff raised some important statements that underline the necessary ingredients for effective language learning on-line. Firstly, language learning is a collaborative activity, and secondly, the motivation to learn entails work. Four essentials for effective and successful learning were as follows:-  1. Autonomy (students being involved in the process), 2. Awareness (students feeling that they are in charge), 3. Recognition/Respect (students feel they are part of the group), and 4. Relevance (content is in line with the needs and interests of the students). Geoff underlined the point that a ‘Partnership of Learning’ was vital for the new situation, for the key statements to work.

Initially, the role of the teacher is very important to initiate and set up a formula for success. However, Geoff also showed that the role of the learners is also crucial. They are required to be actively involved in lessons, but he warned that they are not usually proactive learners, relying on the teacher too much. So, these processes were extremely challenging for both teachers and students to overcome.

The highlight of his webinar, in my opinion, came with his treatment of what has changed, and what hasn’t. Let’s look at the latter first, to see what Geoff felt had not necessarily changed much.  His main points were:

*** The teacher still has his/her own approach.

*** The teacher still teaches the 4 skills.

*** The teacher still widens the students’ repertoire of vocabulary.

*** The teacher still corrects inaccuracies in the use of language.

*** Pair and group work is still possible.

*** The teacher still gives and corrects homework.

***The teacher can still play videos and audios.

*** The teacher can still base his/her lessons on topics.

*** The teacher can also use a whiteboard.

*** The teacher can still address students by their first names. (Geoff felt this was easier via the internet, than in live teaching). One pertinent concluding statement he made was that publishers often give new activities, but rarely a new kind of lesson plan.

Well, that was a long and impressive list, but the other list is probably even longer!  12 of Geoff’s ‘what has changed?’ list – are as follows:    

*** there is no longer a group of physically present students;

***no longer informal interaction between students;

***there is the risk of students ‘hiding’ (Zoom Ghosting) – (Geoff told a story of students covering two courses at the same time!) 

***it is easier for students to lose concentration; 

***it is less easy for students to ask questions; 

***there is the risk of isolation, which could, in turn, lead to a loss of motivation;

***there is also the risk of students not following what is going on in the lesson;

***there is the risk of less out-of-class learning;

***there is a lower degree of relevance of content; 

*** there are often technical problems, of course – (Geoff stressed that more re-assurance from the teacher is, therefore, needed); 

***students may not see progress being made; 

***more risk of the lesson speed being too high or too low.

Geoff then came, like a knight to the rescue of a damsel in distress, by outlining how we can remove some of the problem areas.  Feedback is vital, even more so when teaching on-line,  and is all part of the assure and re-assure process. Providing structure and orientation is also important, so the students know their roles, what to do/how to follow the lessons, and in what direction the course is headed. The issue of preventing isolation, a major one, as Geoff suggested, is best tackled by activating and involving the students as much as possible.

In a lighter moment, Geoff briefly showed the Hamburg Grog recipe for teachers to implement in their teaching, to be successful, as it involves two key questions: a. what should I use? and b. what must I use? He also recommended offering on-line surgeries to students  (similar to duty hours).

A few more tips Geoff put forward included: dividing lessons into small steps;  summarising what has been learnt at the end of the lesson; presenting the agenda for the lesson at the start of the lesson; giving easy-to-follow instructions; and creating a bridge between lessons by re-processing language from the previous lesson.   For home-study learning, Geoff felt that we should utilise the students’ preferred learning styles. He also sets them the task of keeping a ‘Learner’s Diary’, which is part of their overall E-Portfolio.  He asks them to apply some self-evaluation to their work, and insisted that he does not look at their assessments, which would be a hindrance to their expressed opinions.

Geoff stressed the need for regular pair and group work, e.g. 3 times in a 90-minute lesson, and also urged his audience to regularly change the members of groups to maintain momentum and increase overall involvement.  For individual students, it is also important, he added, to ask questions on a random basis to ‘keep them on their toes’.

In summary, Geoff concluded that methods and content haven’t changed much. However, he was confident that teachers will become better in the classroom due to Zoom, as well as better on-line teachers. If you ever want to see a classic example of structure, and its value in a presentation, I would strongly recommend that you watch the video of Geoff’s webinar….go to www.youtube.com and type in capital letters, the title in the search box:  ‘THE OLD, THE NEW AND THE NEW OLD? Also available via:  https://www.facebook.com/iateflpoland/videos/388240645541318


What did the Click Meeting Stats say?  

Attendees:  59….  88% via the Web, and 11% via mobile phone. 

Ratings:   80% - Excellent; 13% - Good;  and 7% - Not that bad.

Origins of attendees:  76% from Poland, and 24% from other countries.

For 4 written feedback comments from the participantsClick on the link.

The Webinar programme:

Here are some confirmed names of presenters and the dates of their webinars for the coming months.  It’s an enticing programme. Put them in your calendars!

16/11  -  Willow Barnosky  (8.30-9.30) (Monday)  ’10 Activities for Incorporating Critical Thinking and Media Literacy into your classes’.

23/11  -  Marta Nowak   (8.30-9.30) (Monday)  ‘EAP z perspektywy ćwiczenia krytycznego myślenia na zajęciach języka angielskiego’.

30/11  -  Sylwie Dolakova  (8.30-9.30) (Monday) Pronunciation tips and tricks for young learners’.

7/12   -   Hugh Dellar  (8.30-9.30)  (Monday) ‘Smooth Sailing through the Sea of Words’.

****Alicja Gałązka and Patrice Baldwin plan to present in December:  ‘Process Drama and 21st Century Skills in the ELT classroom’…..but no date has yet been confirmed.

January 2021:

11/1   -  Maria-Araxi Sachpazian  (8.30-9.30)  (Monday)  ‘Maximising the potential of the coursebook’.

21/1   -  Alicja Gałązka and Ale Thorp (8.30-9.30)  (Thursday)  ‘The Centrality of Communicative Competence in English language teaching and testing’.

8/2    -   Sylwie Dolakova (8.30-9.30)  (Monday) ‘Story-based CLIL for (Very) Young learners’.

19/2  -  Peter Whiley  (8.30-9.30)  (Friday)   ‘The  Value and Uses of Quizzes’.

12/3  -  Evan Frendo  (8.30-9.30)   (Friday)   ‘Business English Materials – where are we now?’

23/3 or 30/3  (TBC)  -  Anna Soltyska  (8.30-9.30) (Tuesday)   ‘Cheating in (on-line) assessment’.

13/4  - Susan Holden  (8.30-9.30) (Tuesday)   ‘Learners, trainees, teachers, trainers, people’.

19/4  - Sylwie Dolakova  (Monday)  ‘When Grammar is Fun’.

****Emily Clark, a recent presenter, has 3 more webinars lined up with us, but dates and titles need to be confirmed.

****We hope to add some more webinars to this list, so keep checking your e-mails and the main IATEFL website for the latest news.

****If you would like to present a webinar, contact Lucyna Wilinkiewicz-Górniak at the following e-mail address: lucyna.wilinkiewicz@gmail.com

MEET-UP RECORDINGS:  Deadline – 30th of November, 2020.

All the presentations at the MEET-UP that were recorded can be accessed via this link…..but, time is running out………the deadline is the 30th of November.

Go to:  transmisjeonline.pl/iatefl18  


(access is available via the main website, too).

That’s all for now, folks, and let’s keep battling through Lockdown 2 – a vaccine is in sight now, so maybe 2021 will be a better year for all of us.

****Stand-by for a bumper Christmas edition of the E-Bulletin………..and please contribute to it:  seasonal games, songs, poems, lesson ideas, etc. All materials you send are welcome….whether a small or a big amount.

Peter Whiley (E-Bulletins Editor) -  newsletter@iatefl.org.pl 

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