If you have trouble viewing this email, view the online version at


E-Bulletin header

July 2012

E-Bulletin from IATEFL Poland keeping you informed

Wrocław: 7th-9th September. Register now, it’s not too late!

Latest News!

Wrocław 2012 Conference

This year’s Conference has started buzzing! Enrolments have really begun to pour in, and with the Euro Championships now behind us, life has got back to normal, and teachers have realized that there is a major Conference to go to, in the thriving city of Wrocław. Yes, IATEFL Poland will be hosting their 21st Annual Conference, and presenting some changes to the usual programme this year! So, let’s look at what is being offered...


Wrocław 2012 Conference

A very impressive list of speakers will be present this year: as obviously, Wrocław is a city that attracts people, especially from the West. We have quite a mixture of speakers from the international ranks, and I’ll begin by mentioning Nick Michelioudakis (IATEFL Greece), as I prompted the Executive Committee to invite him. He has contributed excellent articles to previous E-Bulletins, and I felt he would be a handsome, fresh face at our Conference, someone with a lot to say about the psychology behind teaching. Nick, who regularly posts videos and other teaching materials on our Facebook Forum, will be presenting three workshops at Wrocław, which shows how gracious and keen he is to share his ideas with you. Plenty of opportunity there for you to see Nick in action!

Who was our best speaker at Warsaw? Well, most people voted for Michael Swan, and as is our tradition, he will be returning to enthrall us again, as IATEFL Poland’s invited speaker. What’s the betting he will be covering the topic of grammar? We’ll have to wait-and-see for the programme details. Michael will also be coming under the banner of OUP, who will be providing two more speakers: Louis Rogers and Christina Latham-Koenig.

Wrocław 2012 Conference

Someone who loves coming to Poland, and why not when he is made to feel very welcome, and appreciated, is the ‘guru’ himself, - the master of methodology, Jeremy Harmer! Apparently, Jeremy was very keen to come to Wrocław, so I hope you will all make him ‘feel at home’, (more natural, usual phrase), as opposed to the Euro Championship slogan: ‘Make you feel like at home’. Jeremy is listed under the IATEFL banner, although he is normally associated with the publishers Longman Pearson, but IATEFL World’s official guest speaker will be Carol Read, who is one of the major Young Learner ELT specialists. She is also the new Vice-President of IATEFL UK, and deserves our congratulations for that achievement. I worked previously with Carol on a Publishing Sub-Cttee. for IATEFL UK, so I have had the pleasure of getting to know her and witnessing her skills at first-hand.

Who will the publishers be bringing as their appointed speakers? OUP have been mentioned already, and Longman Pearson will be providing us with Mike Mayor, and a familiar favourite, the MC maestro for Pecha Kuchu events, yes, none other than Piotr Steinbrich! Jeremy Day, a regular visitor, will be representing CUP once again, Philip Kerr, the man behind the successful coursebook ‘Inside Out’, will be one of Macmillan’s chosen speakers, Tracey Sinclair will be representing Eli Publishing, Ian Badger - Collins, and Stephen Lever – Express publishing, Egis.

Wrocław 2012 Conference

What about the ‘old favourites’, you may well be asking... will Beth be coming to Wrocław? Yes, she will! Beth Cagnol is just like Jeremy Harmer, in that she loves visiting Poland. President of TESOL France, Beth actually adores Poland, citing our conferences as her favourite ones, and has learnt much Polish, as you may have noticed previously! Beth will be coming with her sidekick, the Vice-President of TESOL France, Debbie West, who is also addicted to Poland. Hugh Dellar, coming under the new banner of National Geographic Learning, is a speaker who has visited ‘our shores’ many times, and in a workshop last year, he showed a video of himself in action which inspired a new innovation this year, (more about that later), where we see teachers in action, practice not theory.

To conclude with the list of speakers, I haven’t yet mentioned another main speaker, Professor Jan Miodek, or the well-known ELT specialist from Pilgrims, Paul Davis, or his equally well-known partner in life, Hanna Kryszewska, the editor of HLT magazine. To end a massive and impressive list, which may yet be added to, I can name four more people; Zeljko Andrijanic (ELTA Serbia), Hana Zdimalova (Czech Republic), Katrin Saks (Estonia), and Leo Selivan from Tel Aviv, (Israel). So, we have a truly international list of speakers this year, as you can see, and this makes our Conference extra-special.


Wrocław 2012 Conference

Firstly, let’s mention another familiar friend of ours, David Fisher, who will bebringing his entourage from the Czech Republic: the ‘Bear Educational Theatre Group’, to delight us once again with more dramatic, funny, and educational mastery. They will be performing on the Friday evening: 6.30- 7.30 pm. Remember, you can book them to come to your schools and perform!

***Quick footnote: I was watching a feature film on Polsat last Saturday, about jousting knights, when the hero was disqualified from the World Championships in London, and lo and behold, the man in red, announcing the disqualification, was none other than David Fisher! What an unexpected surprise! I was laughing for a long time afterwards. David ‘gave his all’ for that one line!

On the Saturday evening, at 8pm, we have a special treat in store for you: a boat cruise around the city, taking in beautiful panoramic views of Wrocław, along with some of its 300 bridges... yes, 300! Not only do you get a cruise, but an evening meal and music will also be ‘on the menu’! That should be a memorable treat, and possibly a romantic one for some people!


Wrocław 2012 Conference

Hugh Dellar rightly pointed out, last year, that at conferences, speakers usually talk about what teaching is like in the classroom, but never show it. So, we are going to conduct some lessons – with those of you who volunteer to be ‘teacher’ – helped by some local students. Feedback for experienced teachers will be provided, and collectively, it will be a chance for you to try out some innovative teaching ideas, and definitely come away from the sessions having learnt a great deal.

Wrocław 2012 Conference

Another interactive idea is to have lessons conducted by Native-Speakers, in which you can ‘Polish up on your English-speaking skills’. Here, you will be the learners. Come armed with your queries and tricky posers for the Native-Speakers, for what could well be a very valuable and fun experience!

Hopefully, all this has whetted your appetite! Even the AGM will be different this year. A special prize of a two-week English Language course in stunning Edinburgh, sponsored by IATEFL Poland, will be ‘up for grabs’ in a one-off draw.

To win/claim this great prize, you have to attend the AGM! We are hoping to find time during the AGM for some topical discussion points, to make it more interesting, so please come to it, and find out more about IATEFL Poland, and what it does.

Geoff Tranter's summer contribution to the e-bulletin

For the latest news on test developments in Europe TESTING
For the latest news on test developments in Europe




The UEFA Football Championships that took place in Poland and the Ukraine this summer have produced numerous new and innovative ideas that can be easily adapted and transferred to language testing. Equally, many of those matches have revealed a number of quality deficiencies that need to be eliminated before the next competition comes round in four years time.

In a similar vein, strengths and weaknesses are constantly being discovered in the field of both formal and informal language assessment systems within the constraints of the CEFR.

As a result, informed sources in Strasbourg have reported that for these reasons UEFA and the Council of Europe are planning to set up a joint committee to harmonize the quality procedures used in European football and European language testing.

The ideas under consideration relate to a higher degree of objectivity and standardisation in terms of playing the game (= teaching and learning) and scoring (= assessment). As the following agenda shows, it is intended to set up a joint UEFA/CEFR Manual Project to follow up and further develop these innovations.

The following proposals have been put forward to be discussed by the new committee.

A. Proposals for UEFA

  1. Realising the problems that have occurred in connection with controversial decisions regarding ‘goal or no goal’, ‘offside or not offside’, ‘over the line, not over the line’, UEFA will consider implementing high-quality standards for match officials.

    To this end it is intended to investigate the idea of adopted a similar scheme to the Council of Europe and introduce a Common European Framework of Referees (CEFR). This Framework will cover a six-scale system of definitions from A1 (Referees for club games) all the way up to C2 (Referees for international games).

    A number of categories have been established for this Framework including:

    # Spoken Interaction (= sub-skill ‘goal-oriented cooperation’)

    # Listening Comprehension (= sub-skill ‘understanding insults’)

    # Interactive Strategies such as ‘turntaking’ = ‘initiating and closing the game’ – (This will also cover multi-media features such as whistle-blowing and red and yellow cards)

    # Compensation Strategies such as compensating for one wrong penalty decision by making the same wrong decision for the other team later in the game.

    # Mediation (= “making communication possible between players who are unable, for whatever reason, to communicate with each other directly” - cf. CEFR 2.1.3 adapted)

    # Socio-linguistic Appropriateness (= subskill: understanding non-verbal communication, such as head-butting, the semantics of the middle finger or alternatively two fingers, etc.)

  2. UEFA will also consider establishing some form of reliability checks for their match officials adopting the proven CoE procedures of inter-rater and intra-rater reliability.

    In keeping with the principle of test reliability, there will also be checks to ensure that given the same type of competition/test, the same result will be achieved regardless of venue. That the UEFA have already reached a relatively high degree of reliability is demonstrated by the fact that

    # the last three international competitions - 2008 in Austria/Switzerland, 2010 in South Africa and 2012 in Poland/Ukraine - were all won by the same national team;

    # Italy has nearly always beaten Germany in the semi-finals of major competitions;

    # England almost never win in penalty shoot-outs.

  3. All qualifying games for future competitions will be known as pre-testing sessions. The results will be statistically analysed along the lines of the Classical True Score (CTS) theory’s hypothesis that an actual score consists of two components: a true score that is due to an individual’s level of ability and an error score that is random and due to factors such as visually handicapped referees.

  4. There have also been calls for a greater focussing on validity in UEFA Championship games in the sense that many supporters do not consider the methods used by some teams to listlessly move the ball around the pitch to be a valid representation of what is commonly understood by the concept of football. This is particularly controversial when it comes to the specific area of “content validity” when fans are in no way content with the performace of the teams on the pitch.

    Such assessments however tend to have a high degree of subjectivity, a good example of which was provided by the Champion’s League Final in Munich in May 2012 when the FC Bayern fans were far from content with the result and disputed the content validity of the seemingly random ball movements that Chelsea undertook on the pitch. However, here once again can be seen the goal-oriented discrepancy between content validity, content relevance and content coverage (= face validity) on the one hand and the action-based, real-world, goal- and result-oriented construct validity with which Chelsea achieved the score-sheet they had planned for.

  5. In the interest of multi- and plurilinguism across Europe, all international players will have to have a good command of at least three European languages. For this, a joint UEFA/CoE committee is reported to be developing a new syllabus containing words and phrases that are most frequently used during and after football matches, i.e. four-letter words, insults and obscenities.

  6. UEFA is said to be considering the CEFR test option of allowing teams to re-take a test as many times as possible until they win. This proposal, said to have come from the English Football Association, will probably be rejected by a large majority.

B. Proposals for CEFR-Based Language Testing

  1. To ensure that candidates are not assessed unfairly, the use of videos will be permitted in test rooms to make sure the assessors know whether the candidates really have crossed the line in terms of grammatical accuracy or are offside in terms of repertoire.

  2. In keeping with UEFA philosophy, all tests will be goal-oriented with an appropriate score-sheet. And in keeping with the student-centred and “bottom-up” approach of modern language teaching the candidate’s “own goals” will also be recognised.

    To ensure that this approach is implemented and adhered to, the CoE will establish a new committee, whose members will be known as the “goal-keepers”.

  3. Language errors and mistakes will in future be known as fouls and candidates will be awarded a yellow card should their performance be borderline and a red card if the number of fouls warrants failure in the test. B1 candidates who fail to make the grade will be relegated to A2, those producing the highest performance levels will be promoted to the next highest competence level, e.g. B2>C1.

  4. Borderline candidates in danger of failing the examination after normal time will have to accept a period of extra time in order to have another chance of passing. If after extra time there is still no clear result, a system of five shots at a difficult target question will ensue. If all five shots are successful (i.e. do not miss the goal) the candidate will be given the appropriate certification. However, this proposal is not expected to be implemented as it will probably be vetoed by the English.

  5. Candidates who suffer an attack of nerves or worse during the test will in the interest of fairness be entitled to five minutes injury time. For such cases, all exam rooms will have to be equipped with a first-aid kit for resuscitation purposes. All such incidents will be video-recorded to ensure that no candidates “take a dive” when confronted a difficult task.

  6. Oral tests will be extended to include a post-exam joint evaluation session to assess the candidate’s competence in the new “foul language, swear words, obscenities and insults” syllabus being especially designed for adult learners. This additional test phase will allow both examiners and candidates to express their opinions of each other after the test. This will be known as the EFL test (= English as a Foul Language). A number of publishers have allegedly already put in a bid to produce such EFL materials and colleges are queueing up with teacher-training courses in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foul Language).

    As was clearly shown by comments made after certain teams lost out in the European Championships, this will particularly accommodate the needs of, amongst others, the French.

  7. Official test-based terminology and procedures could be changed as follows:

    # All tests will be known as games, and all test centres will be re-named stadiums.

    # All examiners, raters and assessors will be required to wear black shirts and white shorts.

    # All test examiners will be issued with a CEFR whistle to make sure the candidates know when they have to start the tasks and when the task has been completed.

    # In paired-format test situations, a coin will be spun to decide who sits on which side of the assessors and who should first “tackle” the initial task. Halfway though each test, candidates will ”change ends” and swap seats.

    # One change that will not be accepted is the principle of reserves on the bench.

    Candidates will not be allowed to use a stand-in as a reserve candidate during the examination.

  8. In view of the increasing popularity of so-called “public viewing” of international games, it is intended to allow the video-screening of all language examinations throughout Europe. By this means it is hoped to motivate more and more people in all CoE countries to volunteer to take language tests. If accepted, test venues could be extended to include beer tests and beer gardens and cheerleaders may be hired to celebrate all correct answers.

  9. In keeping with the behaviour of most international football players and to establish the degree of emotional intelligence, male test candidates will be allowed to

    # kiss, hug and jump on top of each other on passing the test

    # shed tears of disappointment on failure.

  10. In line with the English system of inviting WaGs (wives and girl-friends) to attend competitions, a similar system will be introduced for CEFR-based language testing. In the interest of gender-mainstreaming, this will be extended to HuBs (husbands and boyfriends), although not more than one per candidate will be allowed at any one test.

Chief Editor

Best wishes for a relaxing Summer Holiday. Hope to see you in Autumn!

British Council Section

British Council

Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to another BC Section in the e-bulletin, which is full of goodies for you! We are proud to include the blog of the month for June - because it was written by a Polish teacher, one who was previously described as an 'up-and-coming ELT star'; but who has now arrived firmly on the ELT scene, and has to be viewed in this new light. Anna Musielak, who loves using drama and music in her teaching, is a regular participant on the conference circuit, and seems to prefer performing beyond Poland's borders. As a result, she is probably better known outside of Poland, than she is in her homeland. She is a prolific writer as well as a presenter, and her blog is a delightful piece of writing about how she rose to the challenge of an observed class (parents and relatives of her young learners), and covered the overall theme of the 5 senses. It is titled: 'Four Skills and Five Senses', and was first posted on the teachingvillage.org website.

From the breadth of Anna's approach to a more focused, very specific form of analysis, and how Paul Bress, who teaches mainly advanced learners, covers the topic of teaching difficult words/phrases, such as the word 'actually'. In a case study dealing with its varied usage, he tries to show us how to convey the multi-meanings of the word to his students. He provides us with a platform and some useful ideas for teaching such words and their nuances.

Do read both of these excellent articles, reflecting two keen and earnest teachers in action, who are happy to express their feelings about given teaching situations, and convey a solid core of self-confidence at the same time.

Peter Whiley
E-Bulletin Editor

Four Skills and Five Senses

Anna Musielak

Anna Musielak

Anna Musielak is a Polish teacher and teacher trainer holding a Ph.D. from Silesian University. She has worked at the military unit, at college, teaching British Literature and Culture and as methodology director in a private language school. She has also published articles on literature, culture and language teaching. At the moment she is working on workshops and teaching English to young learners and adults. Anna is interested in using drama, music and literature in ELT. She strongly believes that a lesson carried out with enthusiasm and passion is an unforgettable experience for the learners.

Two weeks ago the director of my school announced that the teachers should organize a “family” lesson. Kids could bring their parents, grandparents and relatives to accompany them on the lesson to observe how their little ones learn and interact. I have to admit – I was a bit worried and well... stressed out. I’ve organized shows and performances for parents and families and I’ve had teacher-parents meetings. But I couldn’t imagine how to have a lesson with parents and relatives observing pupils (who would definitely be stressed) and watching (and probably silently judging) me of course... I decided not to overthink it and as I didn’t have a lot of time to “prep” my pupils just do what I normally do hoping it would go well.

Anna Musielak
very stressed out me

The topic of our lesson was five senses, which is a very pleasant theme and kids like it. We started by arranging the chairs for the families – I have 8 students – this time there were about 20 people in my small classroom. After the parents and relatives settled (at the back so that kids weren’t too distracted) we started the lesson as we normally do – by distributing gold nuggets. It is a very simple but nice idea – pupils get three gold nuggets and if they work “properly”, participate actively and do the assigned tasks, they keep the gold. If they misbehave or aren’t prepared, they lose the nuggets. Those students who keep all three pieces of gold get a sticker at the end of the class – most of the time all of them are rewarded. :)

The next stage of the lesson was a ball revision – as I teach very lively 10-year olds I always ask them to stand up and form a circle and I throw the ball to them asking basic questions revising the material studied (we start with How are you? and move on to more complicated structures e.g. What smells sweet? What do we use to hear?). If a student doesn’t know the answer they throw the ball to the person who does. Those revisions usually last up to ten minutes and students really enjoy them. I encourage them to step into my shoes and ask questions as well.

After the revision I always check their homework - they are allowed to “forget” homework from time to time but I keep score. As my kids love football we use a yellow/red card system – two yellow cards and a red card – which means notifying the parents via an online diary.

We started practising the senses vocabulary by using animals - kids had to pick an animal and decide what it can hear, smell, touch, taste and see. Some answers were very funny as kids decided that mosquitoes are just like vampires – they taste blood. Or that an octopus tastes shells (the explanation was that shells are just like crisps). Others decided to use fictional characters (Gruffallo is always a big hit with them). I checked their writing and asked them to swap the texts with their friends. Some braver students wanted to share their ideas with the whole class so they read the texts aloud.

Some of the ideas
Some of the ideas

The next part of the lesson was listening and reading. We went over a short text about senses which I read aloud, and to activate my students I asked them to stand up every time they heard verbs connected with their senses (so when they heard see, hear, smell, taste and touch they had to stand up). It was a lot of fun and kids were racing to be the first one to get on their feet.

Next, it was their turn to read the text and I used an interesting idea I found in Pinterest, which I love and think is full of useful activities and teaching tips. (Pinterest basically works as a pinboard where people share and organize the things they love.) I prepared Action Reading Cards which I cut out and laminated. On each card there is a different action or manner in which my students have to read - e.g. use your most scary monster voice, do a little hula dance while you read, read as if you are chanting on a football stadium, do jumping jacks. Kids love them as they never know which card they will get. Of course I don’t make them read long pieces of text – just 2-3 short sentences and I usually join them (and let them decide how I have to read). After they read their sentences we highlighted the verbs connected with senses (expanding their vocabulary by adding items such as it looks, it feels, it sounds...) as well as adverbs and adjectives.

Reading Cards
Reading Cards

The next stage was to practice those new words. I shouted out commands – find something that looks pretty, find something that feels smooth, find something that smells fresh and asked kids to move around the classroom and stand next to the object/person. Then I asked one student to take on the role of a teacher and shout commands.

We finished the lesson by assigning homework and distributing stickers. All in all, I think I managed to show the parents that lessons do not need to be boring and that kids learn actively and are motivated to do the assigned tasks. My pupils were also able to show their parents how much they already know and that made their families proud.

Seven steps to vocabulary learning

Paul Bress

Have you ever considered why a learner (even an advanced one) can hear a difficult English word or phrase literally thousands of times and still not use that word in the way that a native speaker does? You might expect that, after having been exposed to a word in ten, twenty, or maybe at the very most thirty, contexts, a learner will gradually piece together the word's meaning and start to use it correctly, appropriately and fluently.

Classroom context

Of course we cannot expect a learner to acquire difficult words in the same way as a young child acquires their first language, but, perhaps as teacher we can somehow help learners to arouse their 'learning monitor' by, for example, providing rich contexts containing the target language and by giving our learners time to reflect on what the language item means. In this way teachers can use the EFL classroom to replicate the real world and nurture strategies to help students understand and produce difficult language items which often seem beyond their grasp.

Seven steps to vocabulary learning

Here are some practical steps that I have used to help my students. As an example I want to focus on one very tricky word ('actually') and suggest ways that a student can understand what it means, and, thereafter, be able to use it more fluently. This model (which consists of seven steps) can be used for any difficult word/phrase.

Step 1

I get my students to listen to the word or phrase in authentic-sounding dialogues. Here are the dialogues I use for 'actually':

  • Do you want a chocolate?
    No, thanks. I'm on a diet actually.
  • Do you want a coffee?
    Actually, I'm a bit pushed for time.
  • Could I just borrow your book for a moment?
    Actually, I'm just about to use it in class. Sorry.
  • How's John doing?
    Actually, he's doing all right!
  • Ready to go?
    Yeah...erm...actually I'm going to take my umbrella. It looks like it might rain.
  • I see you're still following your diet! (meant sarcastically)
    Actually, I've lost a couple of pounds since we last met.

I think the students need at least six contexts to start to understand all the different nuances of meaning of a difficult target item.

Step 2

I give my students plenty of time to study the word in these contexts, so that they can work out what the meaning / function is. I either get them to study the contexts individually and then get them to compare their thoughts in pairs or groups or I get them to discuss in pairs / groups straight away. I prefer the first option, because, this way, each student gets more time to think for him / herself.

Step 3

I discuss the meaning in plenary. I do this in two stages. First, I simply say "So what do you think?" Then, after having heard their thoughts, I ask concept questions that uncover the heart of the meaning. Examples of concept questions for actually might be:

  • Is the speaker saying something quite important?
  • Does the speaker give the other person the answer they want / expect?
  • Is the speaker asserting him/herself?

Answers: a) important; b) not; c) standing up for him/herself

After doing such concept question work, I use a summing up concept statement, like this one: "So we use 'actually' after someone asks us a question (often a request or offer), and we don't give them the answer they want or expect."

Step 4

I provide a phonological model (including pronunciation, stress, and intonation) in a surrounding sentence. Most native speakers devote three syllables to 'actually', the stress is on the first syllable, and there is a rise/fall/rise intonation pattern (which signals the conflict in the situation).

Step 5

I provide a prompt - to elicit use of the word in a natural way. Here are some prompts I use for actually:

  • "So what do you think of __________ ?" (London) I use a facial expression to show that I expect a positive response.
  • "Would you like a cigarette?"
  • "Shall we go out for a meal tonight?"
  • "How's your friend Bill?"

If I don't get the response I want, I repeat and try to get another student to help. Then, if necessary, I get individual students to repeat the response until they feel completely comfortable with it.

Step 6

I set up a simulation, providing students with the chance to say the word in a natural situation. I distribute the following scenario and get two of my stronger students to act it in front of the class and then I get all the students to act it in closed pairs (rotating roles). This is an example scenario I have used for 'actually'.

John and Mary are in a pub.

  1. John asks Mary if she'd like an alcoholic drink.
  2. Mary declines this (as she doesn't drink alcohol).
  3. John buys her some mineral water.
  4. Mary suggests sitting down.
  5. John agrees.
  6. John asks if it's OK to light a cigarette.
  7. Mary says she's got a bronchial problem. (etc.)

Step 7

I set up a review schedule, in which words are elicited and practised. It's always important to review such lessons in the future, but each time I do this, I spend less time on it, and insert bigger gaps between the inclusion of this language item in the review sessions. Ultimately, I reach the point where I just need to say to someone "Fancy a chocolate?" and I automatically get the response "Actually I'm on a diet."


Students who are living in an English-speaking country are often happy learning what difficult words and phrases mean through their everyday study or work lives, but for the majority of students, learning a language is a slow and painful process, and we must try to do something to accelerate the pace of learning. My students should, I believe, benefit from the teaching procedures I've described in this article. If they learn words and phrases in this systematic way in class, they are not only likely to achieve more communicative success in class but also to become more aware of how they learn and the knowledge they need to acquire to learn words more successfully.

Further reading

  • Giorgi and Longobardi The Syntax of Noun Phrases, Cambridge University Press
  • Miller and Weinert Spontaneous Spoken Discourse, Oxford University Press

All articles, news items, queries, etc. send to: newsletter@iatefl.org.pl
E-Bulletin Editor: Peter Whiley