Peter Whiley Newsletter & E-Bulletin Editor

Greetings everyone, and welcome to another fun-packed, interesting edition of the E-Bulletin, one that reflects the brightness of Spring, and the hope that it fosters. March showed that IATEFL was busy, despite the pandemic, and April follows in its footsteps.There’s a report from Radom, where a mini-Conference has just taken place; the latest news from the prolific webinar programme; a snippet of information about the forthcoming BESIG 2021; and a great article from Geoff Tranter, regarding the use, or should I say, misuse & over-use, of the English word, ‘like’ – you’ll like it! That’s not all, though, as things are ‘hotting up’ on the National Public Speaking Contest front, with details of the latest regional developments in Gdańsk, Warsaw, Kraków and Dolny Śląsk.

Easter has been and gone, but not COVID-19, so as Poland struggles to catch up with the rest of Europe, and especially the UK, in terms of its declining rates of infection and high rates of vaccinations, HLT magazine (Humanising Language Teaching), has just published its latest edition, and pines for a lack of a face-to-face IATEFL Conference this year! This is a big assumption on its part, as we have not yet officially declared the format of this year’s conference. Nevertheless, it is notable that our conferences are admired far-and-wide….that’s pleasing! However, it is frustrating that the UK has set dates and plans for a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, and by July, will be ‘back to normal’, if all goes well. Poland, sadly, cannot claim the same!

RADOM: 2-day On-line Conference: ‘Zaopiekuj Się’- 10th and 11th of April – a report…..

Here is a brief report about a commendable 2-day conference held in Radom, the fourth one, and the second one that was on-line. Attended by 220 people, it covered a variety of subjects, and appealed to teachers, not just of English, but also German, Art, History, and Mathematics. A very worthy event on the IATEFL Poland calendar.


1st IATEFL Poland BESIG ON-LINE EVENT: Saturday, the 15th of May – SAVE THE DATE!!!!

The IATEFL Poland Business English Special Interest Group is organising a one-day on-line event of talks and workshops, focussing on practical aspects of teaching Business English. The presentations will offer useful tips and techniques to enhance lessons, not only for on-line teaching, but also for the return to the ‘real’, face-to-face classroom situation.

Not to be missed! All detail of content, times, and speakers will be put on the IATEFL homepage, and on Facebook by the middle of this month, as soon as you get this E-Bulletin in your inbox, promises Geoff Tranter, the organiser of the event. Previous BESIG meetings have been very successful, and this one will also be full of quality.

Save the date: Saturday the 15th of May – 10.00 – 17.30 hours.


After an intensive season of useful webinars, which continues into August, and beyond, the two main organisers, Lucyna Wilinkiewicz-Górniak and Marcin Stanowski need to re-charge their batteries. Please consider, if you will, offering them some assistance. Contact Lucyna, if you would like to present a webinar, or would like to nominate a friend for one. Contact Marcin, if you can offer some  technical assistance.

If you would like to get involved and gain practical hands-on insights into how webinars are organised, and have a couple of hours a week free to do something really useful for IATEFL Poland, this is the opportunity for you. No previous experience required! It’s a case of ‘learning on the job’.

For more information, contact Lucyna at:  lucyna.wilinkiewicz@gmail.com  or Marcin at:  marcin.stanowski@iatefl.org.pl

We look forward to having you ‘on board!’

The highlight for me in March was Anna Sołtyska’s webinar on ‘Cheating in (on-line) assessment’. It provoked lengthy and lively discussions, from a large audience of 91 people. A notable feature of the webinar was when she mentioned the problem of parents helping their children to cheat; to what extent can we help our children, and should we correct their mistakes? This was an issue worthy of a separate webinar. So, is the issue of fair testing, raised by Grzegorz Śpiewak in the open discussion. It would be good if Grzegorz, or someone else, conducted a webinar on showing teachers what constitutes a fair exam, and what doesn't. A lot of credit must go to Anna for her open, comprehensive approach.

****BREAKING NEWS!!!  An up-to-date schedule of weekly webinars through to June has just been announced. Some familiar names are included:- Hugh Dellar, Willow Barnowsky, Sylwie Dolokova, Susan Holden, to name just a few.

Full list

Public Speaking Contest:  Forthcoming Eliminators

The competition is hotting-up right now, as the regions get prepared for the regional finals, to determine the winning candidates, who will then proceed to the Grand Final, during the Conference on September the 17th. This year’s theme is:  ‘Climate Change – a threat or an opportunity?’ Speakers must be persuasive in their arguments, as well as fluent, rich in vocabulary, passionate about their subject, expressive in their gestures, humorous, and above all, precise and knowledgeable about their subject. Wow! A demanding task; but rest-assured, the teenagers taking part will achieve a high standard, as they always do. You can be witness to this, as this year’s final will be on-line for the first time. Observe some magnificent performances: they will be well worth the experience.

Forthcoming regional eliminators are taking place in the following places:-

Warsaw  -   27th of May;
Gdańsk -  10th of June;
Kraków – 10th June;
Dolny Śląsk - 11th of June.

More details on the main website…………….keep checking!

The ‘Not a lot of People know that!’ column……

In this column, this month, Geoff Tranter largely raises the issues concerning the use of one word: ‘like’. Is it popular? Over-used? Got multiple meanings, nowadays? You’ll have to read on to find out. It is an important word for the younger generations, certainly. For many years, the inhabitants of Birmingham, better known as ‘Brummies’, have said “loike, not like”. A student friend of mine once said to me: “Would you loike to come to the big match on Saturday, loike, Peter? Derby, loike, are playing Forest”. It did not make him seem smart, which he was, but it helps explain why Brummies are not taken very seriously. Over to Geoff, to outline further problems with this word.

‘Like it? Or Loathe it!’

Are you one of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people who regularly watch ‘Love Island’, the famous (or infamous?) reality TV show that apparently presents good-looking (photo-finished?) singles, often less than fully clothed, flirting in an effort to find love, not to mention the not inconsiderable amount of money on offer as a prize? I say ‘apparently’, as I seem to be one of the few that can actually quite easily resist such temptations. However, it is not only awe-struck teenagers and twenty-somethings that makeup the audience. It seems that professional linguists are now starting to follow the show – purely for research purposes – in order to ascertain the changes that the English language is being subjected to, as a result of the influence of such programmes.

This research has actually led to some measure of controversy, all because of one particular four-letter word. No, not the one you are probably thinking of right now. Believe it or not, the hullabaloo is all about the simple word, ‘like’, which the linguists report to have been used 76 times, in only five minutes, in one single edition of ‘Love Island’, but not, I must add, with the meaning of “being positively inclined towards”.

Reference to any standard dictionary will reveal that the word ‘like’ is multi-functional. Quite apart from its frequent use to express ‘to have pleasure in’, there are many other uses, not only as a verb with all its various meanings, but also as a noun, a preposition, a conjunction, an adjective, an adverb, and, of course, as a suffix.

Thanks to social media, this word is being exposed to new forms and new combinations, many of which tend to produce varying degrees of negative reactions on the part of those who, like me, are not necessarily fans of certain features of the kind of informal English being used in the 21st century. I remember how horrified I was when I first heard young people say: “All the kids in my class have unliked me”, or “I got 2,000 likes for my last post on Instagram.”

The actual target for criticism in the case of ‘Love Island’ was, however, none of these. The examples referred to sentences, such as: “That was – like – the worst day of my life”, or “I was – like – really surprised by his behaviour.”

The research report caused an outburst of criticism. The actress, Emma Thompson, went on record, calling such language “sloppy”, and remarking that people who did not speak properly, made her feel “insane”. On a visit to her old school, she told pupils not to use slang words, such as ‘like’, because it “made them sound stupid.”

A primary school in the North of England, decided to stop children from repeatedly using the word ‘like’ in conversation, due to its overuse. During lessons, if a child at that school uses a sentence “peppered with likes”, they are encouraged to work with a partner for five minutes, to think of other ways in which they could phrase the sentence.

According to one of the teachers from the school: “Our job is to make our children articulate, as it will open doors in future. If they can’t articulate themselves lucidly, these doors aren’t going to open. We have a generation who perhaps feel like they have to fill every second, but we say they need to stop and think about it before they give a response.”

The word has apparently not been banned completely, but teachers are picking children up on current idiosyncrasies in the language, because language can overcome social disadvantages, and teachers have to prepare children for life after school.

The word ‘like’ seems to be used in this way so often these days, because people can easily fall into the habit of using it. It goes easily into any sentence or context. It is a kind of fashion word; once people have heard it, it starts to infiltrate their own speech, and they find themselves using it more and more without realising it.

This frequently happens to younger people whose language tends to be influenced by their peers. Professor Clive Upton from the University of Leeds, believes that using ‘like’ in this way, is also about showing that you are a member of a club. So, when one of the younger generation’s idols says: “It’s, like, I’m 19, you know”, or they hear Taylor Swift singing: “And I’m like, I just, I mean this is exhausting, you know, like”, it immediately becomes a habit, although most people apparently grow out of it in later life, when they realise that ‘like’ is in no way a meaningful word.

Suffice to say, the use of street parlance should not be transferred to more formal settings, such as the workplace, where that could prove a disadvantage. But, like, on, like, a reality show like ‘Love Island’? Like, why not? Like.

Geoff Tranter.

****(If there is a subject you would like Geoff to cover in a future edition, let me know, and I’ll pass on your request to Geoff.  Doesn’t have to be related to language quirks).

(Polish equivalent of ‘like’?  ‘Słuchaj’ comes readily to mind. Ed.).

Peter Whiley (Editor of the E-Bulletins and Post-Conference Journals) newsletter@iatefl.org.pl

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