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March 2013

E-Bulletin from IATEFL Poland keeping you informed


Peter Whiley

Welcome everyone to yet another edition of the e-bulletin, the first one of 2013. As a snow-filled, bleak winter, never comes to an end, this is really depressing. So, the big question is: can I add some cheerfulness into your lives with this particular e-bulletin? I hope so. Read on!

Conference News

Łódź 2013 Conference

If you were wondering where this year’s Conference would be held, then look no further than Łódż, a city which offers various venues with good facilities, and draws us back time and again. The Conference will be held on the last weekend in September, and we aim to provide another event full of innovation and positivity. Wrocław is a ‘hard act to follow’, but IATEFL Poland is ‘up to the challenge’, and intends to serve up many ‘goodies’ this year to match last year’s successful Conference, which won so many plaudits.

We were hoping that Tessa Woodward would be this year’s main speaker, but she will be in the USA in September, so she is unavailable. However, she is likely to figure in a tour of Poland in 2014, and it is planned that she will come to three cities. Look out for more news about Tessa’s tour in future e-bulletins and the main website.

Initial details about the Conference are in the pipeline, so keep a close eye on the main website for further news. Certainly, we will repeat the successes of last year’s event, - the Native-Speaker Advanced English lessons, and live lessons with volunteer local school learners, for instance, - and try to extend the activities in a productive way. In general, the Conference is likely to be even more interactive.

We may well hold ‘hotseating’ (Q & A) sessions whereby you ask questions, generally of a methodological nature, to the ‘star victim’ who is brave enough to participate in this way. We may well have such a session with the Executive Committee, where you can get to know a bit better what it means to be heavily involved with IATEFL, and the specific roles performed by Committee members.

We are planning to conduct a simple voting system, where you cast a score out of ten for the speaker after every workshop you attend, and an average score for the speakers will be worked out from a random sample of voting slips. This way, we will be able to announce at the Prize Draw on the Sunday, who was the best workshop speaker(s). So, if your session is not so well attended, that won’t matter – you will still have a good chance of winning the special award on offer. Star names attract big audiences, but the up-and-coming speaker deserves to be rewarded, and this scheme will offer such people a chance for glory.

If you wish us to introduce specific sessions, ideas, or interactive workshops, let me know asap... write to: newsletter@iatefl.org.pl We are very open to new concepts and ideas, and even experimentation. So, don’t delay... write today!

Elections at the Conference

We will be holding elections for several positions on the Executive Committee this year, and nomination slips will be available to you via the Newsletter (Paper version) which will be distributed within the next week. The following posts are available:

  1. Treasurer
  2. Secretary
  3. Committee Member – Website Co-ordinator
  4. Committee Member – International Liaison Officer
  5. Committee Member – SIG/Regions Co-ordinator
  6. Newsletter Editor
  7. Review Committee – (3 posts available).

So, if you are hard-working, able to commit yourself to the occasional Committee meeting at weekends, and really want to contribute to the organisation, then be prepared to stand for election. 2 nominations will be necessary.

Post-Conference Newsletter: (printed version) / Contributors

As I type up this e-bulletin, the Newsletter is being printed by a new publishing agency (Proxima), based in Łódź... where else? Despite my absence at Wrocław, I still received numerous workshop transcripts of good quality, and was faced with hard choices when selecting what articles would be included in the Newsletter. Some were so long that they would have taken up an entire Newsletter on their own! So, unfortunately, such articles need other publishing outlets, especially the ones bordering on academic papers. I will insert some of the non-selected articles into e-bulletins, including this one. Here is the list of worthy authors who produced top-class articles, and I send them my gracious thanks... Hugh Dellar, Barbara Muszyńska, Hanna Kryszewska, Patrycja Grudzień-Dubiel, Edyta Wood, Nick Michelioudakis, Annie Mc Donald, Mary Sousa, Trev Hill, Maria Heizer, Sandra Lindon, and Małgorzata Śleziak.

Górny Śląsk Regional Workshop: (2nd February, 2013) Reports from the Participants & Presenters

Here are 5 short reports which describe what took place at Górny Sląsk in February... By all accounts, it was a worthy event, and yet another Regional meeting success. Rather than leave it to me to inform you what happened, it’s great that those involved can do that... So, read the enthusiastic reports to get a flavour of some of the fine work that goes on around the country throughout the year, aided and abetted by IATEFL Poland... and also see some lovely photos which reflect the focused nature of the event.

Reflection: IATEFL Workshop

Alexandra M. Slayton
February 8, 2013

I really enjoyed taking part in the iatefl workshop, both as a spectator and as a presenter. The local teachers were very engaged and it was a pleasure to see them take part in each activity with enthusiasm and an open mind.

What surprised me about the workshop was that even teachers with years of experience mentioned that they learned something new, and planned to try an activity or method out in their classes. As teachers, there is always room to improve; there is always something new to learn and I was happy to see local teachers so open to this.

“If only you’d been there...”: A Day of English-Language Encounters

Bernadine Clark

Music, poetry, games, radio, conversation, Cuisenaire rods, and chocolate hearts played their parts during a variety of teacher exchanges at the Silesian Region meeting of IATEFL, Poland, on Saturday, 2 February 2013 in Gliwice.

An engaging hands-on presentation by IATEFL Board Member Marta Bujakowska opened the half-day workshop by inviting participants to complete the phrase, “Teaching one little thing is….” Responses ranged from “is never as easy as it sounds” to “an opportunity for creativity” to “opens the door to a bigger picture” and many interpretations in between. Teaching the how-tos of related activities that danced around “If” – one little thing! -- Ms. Bujakowska set the stage for interactive encounters with first-conditional tense and personalizing quotations about life and humour.

Following this keynote presentation, American graduate students from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont, who are working as interns in Gliwice-area schools, colleges, language institutes, workplaces, and universities introduced other hands-on techniques and ideas for motivating learners, preparing lessons, and presenting English-language encounters that energize learners to embrace and own their language experiences.

Throughout the day, the noise level – and laughter -- in the room was high during breakout-group discussions exploring how, why, what works, with whom, and when. The workshop reflected the kind of collective enthusiasm and sharing that happens when teachers find common ground and inspiration to begin with “one little thing” and, in partnership with learners, explore and test and play with it beyond their wildest dreams.

This is Bernadine Clark, reporting from the corner of Zygmunta Starego and Kosciuszki streets.

IATEFL Conference, Gliwice 2 February 2013

Kenneth Clark

The conference was a great opportunity for an exchange of ideas between 15-20 Polish English teachers from the Silesian region and seven Americans studying to be English teachers. Marta Bujakowski began the conference with an engaging keynote presentation exploring the creative teaching ideas possible in even seemingly simple teaching challenges. There were additional presentations by six American who are studying to be language teachers. In these presentations, the Americans shared ideas gathered from their studies at the School for International Training Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA. In return, the Polish teachers shared their teaching ideas and told about education issues in Poland. All participants seemed to enjoy the interaction and benefit form it.

Kenneth Clark, reporting from Gliwice, Poland

IATEFL reflection

Cassie Leoni

The conference was the first I’d ever attended but it really helped me see through my lesson planning a bit more to the end, where students are comprehending and using new material learned. Second, I will take any chance I can get to learn new activities and games in the classroom! The ideas dispensed will help me immensely in the future. Third, I appreciated when presenters asked teachers in the room what worked best in their classes or if they had any other suggestions to add—it made the conference feel less like a lecture and more of a mixing pot. Finally, the portion of the conference that will be forever ingrained in my brain is the topic discussed, “What motivates our students?” I think the input from each teacher was very beneficial, if not inspirational.

Cassie Leoni

Reflections on the teachers’ workshop

Katelyn Krygowski

I like to think of teachers as some of the greatest pirates. We flourish by sharing information with other teachers and students and in this manner gather great stockpiles of activities which we can pull out of our back pockets at a moment, tweak, make our own, and save for later. In fact, we need to do this as teachers but sometimes we are shy or reticent. This past weekend's conference was a wonderful feast of information, ideas and creativity that provided a perfect opportunity to break the ice and let the teaching ideas flow. For me, as an American student pursuing my M.A. in TESOL in the U.S. and doing my practicum in Poland, this opportunity was unique and very rewarding. I enjoyed participating in the different activities that the presenters had prepared especially because it afforded me the opportunity to converse with and exchange ideas with the Polish, Salvadoran, Brazilian, and American teachers there. As a presenter myself, I enjoyed the experience and relished the chance to practice and share my research but realized that I could have learned even more from having presented had I allowed time for more feedback after my presentation; this is something I look forward to improving as I continue sharing ideas through presentations in the future. I presented on Using Poetry in the ESL Classroom with Older Students in conjunction with Sarah Van Lanen who presented on using poetry with younger students. This idea is part of a larger body of research entitled ESL Students' Voices through Poetry and Photography that we are exploring during our internships along with a colleague in the U.S. and which we will present at the 2013 Texas TESOL Convention's Graduate Student Forum.

I hope to use all of the activities presented throughout the conference but several really stuck with me. My program director, Marta Bujakowska presented on how to teach the word 'if'. We explored using a song as a reverse cloze activity. Participants had to fix the incorrect verbs in the song with the appropriate conditional verbs. We also played a board game similar to Scruples wherein we were given a situation for example, It's raining, and then needed to make a conditional sentence using the prompt such as; if it were raining, I would go and jump in the puddles. Then, players had to guess whether the information provided was correct. I had so much fun I didn't want to stop playing! Then, a joint presentation on Stimulus and Moves presented by Ken and Bernadine Clark set my wheels spinning and reminded me of the importance of surprises and wonder in the language classroom. Their presentation showed how to engage the idea of Valentine's Day; my favorite part was a kind of puzzle where we were given images that related to the holiday subtly and had to find our image match. Then, we had to guess, as a group, what all of the images had in common. From this idea I decided to create a Valentine's Day poetry jigsaw treasure hunt in my classroom and it was a hit!

Thank you again to the organizers of this workshop for uniting us teachers from diverse parts of the world, both in person and with our ideas.

Górny Śląsk workshop 1

Górny Śląsk workshop 2

Górny Śląsk workshop 3

Górny Śląsk workshop 4

Wrocław Conference feedback from Algeria

Feedback is always welcome, but especially so when it comes from a visitor to Poland for the first time. Here is an e-mail written by Saliha S. Chaib, from Algeria, who wrote directly to our President, Anna Gębka-Suska. I hope you’ll agree that it was worth publishing, as it is both a moving and very open piece of correspondence.

Dear Anna,

This e-mail is to thank-you again for everything you did helping me to be able to get to the conference.

I’m so happy I made it! I came back with very high morale and the ambitious, initiative idea of starting up an IATEFL Algeria. I came back with good knowledge and new ideas for my school, too.

The Conference was a success: the speakers were great, the exhibition was rich, the organisers were very devoted and helpful.

I learnt a lot from you, and I’m delighted, you are a solid team.

Congratulations on your success and BRAVO POLISH TEACHERS!

You will remain my model example I dream of until I reach my objective.

Best of luck for other achievements.
Warm greetings,

Wrocław Presentation & "Olympiada"

There were many good transcripts which failed to make it into the Newsletter (Paper version), but deserve to be published, so here is one such article... by M. Latka. She writes about designing local, competitive exams, and her amazing success story with them. Significantly, IATEFL Poland is presently looking into the ‘Olympiada’ exam which has stirred more than a few concerns lately. Please let me know if you have any worries/comments about it... write to me at: newsletter@iatefl.org.pl

Where Eagles and... Kittens Dare

M. Latka

Once upon a time there was a province in the South of Poland, called Bielsko-Biała, which, similar to the other 48 provinces in the country, was responsible for its young peoples’ school leaving exams, as well as all sorts of school subject competitions. That system had happily lasted till 1999 when the big reforms, both administrative and educational, were introduced, and after which school examinations were left to the sole responsibility of the Central and Regional Examination Boards. The old system of eight-year primary education and four- year secondary education with their school-leaving exams and separate entrance examinations to university was got rid of and replaced by six-year primary schooling with exams at the end of it, three years of lower-secondary, also with its end-of-school exams, and another three years of upper-secondary education ending with school-leaving exams, the results of which can guarantee admission to college or university. School-leaving exams became standardised, which was good news, because it entailed fairness in evaluating students’ examination performance and, at the same time, provided teachers with clear guidelines for preparing their students for the exams. In the beginning, as with all new things, it was pretty chaotic. Gradually, the new system gained the acceptance of both teachers and students, although it still has its opponents.

Alongside the administrative and educational reforms, yet another change took place, the one concerning school subject competitions for primary school students organised by the respective Provincial Boards of Education. The laureates won the admission to any secondary school they fancied, without having to take the otherwise obligatory entrance examinations. The competitions ceased to exist, together with the old educational system, causing a sense of void in students and teachers alike. As a person in charge of the Matura exams in English, as well as the English Language Competition for primary school students, I also felt a sort of ‘deprivation’. However, the situation was quickly remedied. I had already noticed that the Department of Mathematics of Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń was very successful with its International Competition in Mathematics ‘Math Kangaroo’ addressed to students of all, but tertiary, educational levels, all over Poland, and it struck me as a good idea to follow their example. After getting the consent of the Department of Mathematics of Nicolaus Copernicus University, to adapt the testing system and competition rules of the ‘Math Kangaroo’ to the one I was going to do with the help of my colleagues from the In-Service Teacher Training Centre in Bielsko-Biała, in 2000, we started off with the FOX English Language Contest. We also adapted the idea of dividing students into age groups and giving them names. Hence: ‘Kittens’ for 9-10-year olds; ‘Bunnies’ for 11-12-year olds; ‘Ducks’ for 13-14-year olds; ‘Lions’ for 15-16-year olds; and ‘Eagles’ for 17-18-year olds. Although the contest covered only the area of the former Bielsko-Biała Province, the response exceeded our expectations: over six thousand students took part in the competition! From the following year on, we have gradually expanded the area range of the contest, and now we are present in 13 regions, with over 30,000 students taking part in it every year.

In 2002, we applied to the English Language Institute of the Jagiellonian University, Kraków, for their academic patronage, and it was bestowed on us. Likewise, the Honorary Patronage of the Minister of Education, which we have been granted each year since 2011.

The rules concerning participation in the contest, as well as previous tests, are available on: www.fox.wombb.edu.pl

Each test (except for the youngest school kids with only 15 tasks) consists of 30 multiple-choice tasks, where the first ten for 3 marks each, are the easiest ones, the next ten for 4 marks each are more difficult, and the last ten ones , for 5 marks each, are the most demanding. Each 10-task set contains the following components: grammar, vocabulary, everyday English, culture and, last but not least, adapted fiction (in the form of graded readers), where, according to our beliefs, all the other components meet at their truest point.

All tasks are constructed by a group of highly qualified teachers with experience in testing, who keep in mind that the foremost purpose of the contest is to introduce its participants to English language challenges in an enjoyable way, thus inspiring their further interest and advancement in English.

British Council Section

British Council

Welcome to the British Council's Section of the IATEFL Poland March E-Bulletin. In this edition, we deal with metaphors and how to use them in your teaching, which is not easy. As they are frirmly established in the English language and are often used, learners need to acquaint themselves with metaphors and be able to use them in different contexts. Gillian Lazar, a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University, provides a few ideas on how to use them in the classroom, and encourage your learners to use them. We hope you'll enjoy the article, and may we wish you all a Happy Easter in the meantime.

Peter Whiley
IATEFL Poland E-Bulletin Editor (on behalf of the BC)

Exploring metaphors in the classroom

Gillian Lazar, Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University, London

When our students listen to pop songs in English, browse web sites in English or watch movies in English they frequently meet language rich in its use of metaphors. Yet metaphors are often rather neglected in the classroom. So what kinds of metaphors should we teach, why should we teach them and how can we do so effectively?

  • Kinds of metaphors
  • Increasing student vocabulary
  • Two activities
  • Improving knowledge of 'chunks'
  • Using English creatively
  • Developing student autonomy

Kinds of metaphors

Our students may meet many different kinds of metaphors in English. We usually think of metaphor as being a comparison between two things which are not usually connected with each other, so that the characteristics of the one are carried over to the other. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, for example, Romeo famously compares Juliet to the sun, so that the qualities of the sun (radiance and warmth) are carried over to Juliet. Not only literary English, but everyday English is full of these kinds of metaphors. For example, there are many fixed expressions found in dictionaries which can only be understood metaphorically, such as:

  • 'a step in the right direction' or
  • to 'sell like hot cakes'

There are also many words which can have both literal and metaphorical meanings:

  • verbs such as to 'hammer' or 'to stream'
  • adjectives such as 'infectious' or 'lukewarm'
  • nouns such as 'ingredients' and 'foundation'.

Increasing student vocabulary

Metaphors provide a handy and memorable way of organising new vocabulary to be learned. Most teachers are familiar with the notion of a lexical set, where vocabulary is grouped according to a topic area, such as 'food' or 'transport'. This idea can be extended to create 'metaphorical sets', where we group together the words and expressions that have a metaphorical, rather than a literal, meaning. Here are some examples:

  • Body vocabulary
    • the heart of the city
    • the foot of the mountain/bed/stairs
    • to give a hand
    • to break somebody's heart
  • Weather vocabulary
    • a warm welcome
    • to freeze somebody out
    • to be snowed under
    • to storm out
    • a hail of abuse
  • Colour vocabulary
    • to see red
    • a grey area
    • a white lie
    • to give somebody the green light.

Two activities

In the classroom, there are different ways we can incorporate this idea of metaphorical sets.

One way is to ask students in groups to research and design a poster related to a particular topic. Take the body, for example.

  • Students could be asked to draw an outline of a human body on a large sheet of paper, and to include a heart, feet, hand, eye, nose, etc.
  • Using English dictionaries, they could then research any metaphorical uses of language connected with the different parts of the body and write them in the appropriate place on the poster.
  • The same activity can be done for weather vocabulary (using little sketches of different types of weather) or for colours (using sheets of paper of different colours).

Another way is to ask students to brainstorm the words in a particular lexical area, such as plants. They may come up with words such as: roots, branches, seed, to blossom, to bloom, to plant.

  • Once you have checked that students have understood the literal meaning of all the words involved, ask them to guess what the metaphorical meaning of these words might be.
  • And once you have established the metaphorical meanings for these words (such as the roots of a problem or to plant an idea in somebody's mind) ask students to write a story using as many of these words as they can.
  • I find the stories are always very inventive, and reveal the real pleasure that students take in using another language creatively!

Improving knowledge of 'chunks'

Many metaphors occur not as isolated words, but in 'chunks' of language. Some of these 'chunks' are idioms that cannot really be varied. Some examples are:

  • to be 'down in the dumps'
  • to 'fight like cats and dogs'

Other 'chunks' can be varied, but generally occur as collocations in fairly limited combinations. Some examples are:

  • a 'fatal mistake / decision'
  • to 'waste time / money'

When teaching metaphors we should encourage students to note them down and learn them as 'chunks' - this will help students to remember them better and use them appropriately.

  • We can revise students' knowledge of these chunks by writing a list of chunks on the board with important words missing, e.g. fatal in fatal decision, or cat in to fight like cat and dog. Working in teams, students should then fill in the missing words and write sentences using the chunks.

Using English creatively

As we have seen, many metaphors in English form part of the ordinary repertoire of the native speaker. We can help students to learn some of these fixed metaphors while simultaneously encouraging them to play creatively with language. One way is to ask students to write short poems with one of the following titles:

  • Weather metaphors
    • A sunny smile
    • An icy look
    • A stormy relationship
  • People metaphors
    • A chip off the old block
    • A rough diamond
    • A shoulder to cry on
    • An ugly duckling
    • A fairy godmother
  • Parts of proverbs
    • A new broom
    • Early birds
    • Birds of a feather
    • Silver linings
    • A rolling stone

Developing student autonomy

Finally, we can develop students' awareness of metaphors by encouraging students to 'collect' metaphors - by noting them down when they encounter them on the Internet, in pop songs, etc. These metaphors can then be explained and discussed in the classroom. You may even want to keep a record of these on a wall poster….and at the end of the term ask students to vote on the most useful metaphor, the most surprising metaphor, their favourite metaphor, etc.!

Further reading

  • Cameron, L. and Low, G (1999) Metaphor, Language Teaching, Volume 32, No 2. Cambridge University Press.
  • Deignan, A. (1995) English Guides 7: Metaphor. Harper Collins. Lakoff, G and Johnson, M (1980) Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press.
  • Lazar. G. (2003) Meanings and Metaphors (Activities to practise figurative language). Cambridge University Press.
  • Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2002). Macmillan.

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