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September 2013

E-Bulletin from IATEFL Poland keeping you informed


Conference Venue: ul. Bohdana Stefanowskiego 18/22, Politechnika Łódzka, Wydział Elektrotechniki, Elektroniki, Informatyki i Automatyki

Peter Whiley

Time is running out now as the 22nd IATEFL Poland Conference at Łódź approaches. A bit later than usual, it is being held at the end of September, so there is still some to register, though it will cost you the highest rate. However, for those of you who like to await developments before booking, you will not be disappointed. There has been an enthusiastic response as ever from potential speakers, and we have a packed programme (with an especially impressive Sunday schedule), and great entertainment lined up for you. Our star-studded line-up of ELT stars includes Luke Prodromou, (IATEFL Poland’s special guest), Jeremy Harmer, Hugh Dellar, Simon Greenall, Pete Sharma, Beth Cagnol, Geoff Tranter, and Jamie Keddie, to name but a few. In this e-bulletin edition, I will give you my own personal version of what events/workshops I think are worth attending, - a flavour of what you can enjoy from this year’s Conference.

The Opening

Łódź 2013 Conference

If I arrive in Łódź on time, I will be able to attend the opening ceremony, and this year, we have a very special guest. Sean O’Riain, who was formerly the Irish Ambassador to Poland for a spell of 5 years, and his brief was to increase Irish business investment here. He managed to increase this five-fold, so he was undoubtedly successful. Sean, now in charge of translations at the European Commission, in Brussels, is an excellent presenter, who knows Poland very well, and the language, too! In fact, apart from Polish, Irish, and English, he can speak five other languages fluently! When he speaks at Łódź, what language(s) will he use? We shall have to wait-and-see. His opening address will get proceedings off to an excellent start, that’s for sure.

Friday afternoon

Łódź 2013 Conference

Following on from the opening session, we get straight into action with the choice of two plenaries at 13.45, a very tough choice between Jeremy Harmer and Luke Prodromou. In such cases, it’s the content of their plenaries that matters, so I would plump for Jeremy’s presentation which looks at the question of how necessary are teachers. The advance of technology has still not replaced the teacher, so, unless Jeremy has some surprises in store for us, I presume that he will argue that teachers are still an essential item in the learning process, (and will remain under-valued) (ed.). At 15.00 hours, there is absolutely no choice... it has to be the ‘Hotseating IATEFL’ session in room E2, where a chap called Peter Whiley (sounds familiar) will be hosting a panel of IATEFL Committee members, and helping delegates to get to know more about the organisation. It doesn’t exist simply to organise conferences, and would like to know what services it can further provide for its members, so do come to the interactive workshop, and find out more about what IATEFL Poland does, and what it represents. You may want to get involved! For those of you, who think you know all about IATEFL Poland, and don’t want to come to the hotseating session :(, then I would recommend Lucyna Wilinkiewicz-Górniak’s workshop on Project methods in teaching Business English (room: E106).

At 16.10, I might be tempted, being a BE teacher myself, to attend Timothy Phillips’ session telling us how to ‘develop a career in teaching BE in companies’, (room: E2). Is this the same Timothy Phillips, from the BC, who I met in Bratislava many years ago? I’m curious, so I will go to this session, but ‘Movement Accompanied Language Learning’ by Beatrix Price (IATEFL Hungary) in room (E102), which uses the MALL method, sounds intriguing. For those of you who are IT fans, Dr. Elżbieta Gajek’s ‘ClipFlair’ workshop is a must!

If you missed Jeremy Harmer earlier, then you can attend his language lesson for teachers, ‘Be a ghostwriter... writing and speaking’, at 17.15, (room E5). Jeremy is only present on the Friday of the Conference, but is certainly giving us 100%+, as he is giving us a plenary, language lesson, and evening entertainment... all on the one day! Jeremy is in competition at this time with Jamie Keddie (E1) and Roy Norris (E2), the latter presenting the idea of paraphrasing for FCE, whilst the former will be very creative putting a ‘Video camera in the hands of learners’. I’m tempted to actually see Jeremy teach a lesson, but Jamie is always inventive and fun. For those of you who teach Cambridge exams, then Roy will probably be first choice! Of course, you may be attracted to the other workshops on offer – there’s a wide range every hour!

The 18.30 slot on the schedule really throws up some difficult choices for me: Beth Cagnol’s ‘Incorporating life skills in the classroom’ (E5) will be invaluable for all teachers, whilst Sandra Lindon’s ‘Pitfalls of one-to-one tuition’ (E6) is an unusual topic, though I’m not sure why! Iwona Galacka’s ‘Crosswords? Why not?’ (E103), is even more unusual, but as a ‘crossword-doer’ (Polish ones), I am strongly tempted to attend this workshop! Sorry, Beth!

That brings the learning part of the day to a close, - but wait a minute - Jeremy, along with his friend, Steve Bingham, may teach us a few things with his ‘Untouchable Dreams’, a mixture of poetry and music, with a couple of songs thrown in for good measure, all based on the theme of love. That sounds relaxing and romantic, to say the least, so the perfect choice for winding down a hectic day. Once again, we at IATEFL Poland thank Jeremy and his sponsors (Pearson), for helping provide us with a memorable first day of the conference.

Saturday morning

Łódź 2013 Conference

Having had a fulfilling Friday, the Saturday schedule offers further delights. Roy Norris (Macmillan) will consider ‘Speaking at Advanced levels - what can be done?’ in the plenary slot at 9am, (Aud. A. Sołtana). In my personal experience, getting advanced learners to write is a bigger problem, as they are usually happy to speak. So, maybe Roy will enlighten us, and could well be referring to their performances at the (much-maligned by Geoff Tranter) Cambridge speaking exams. We shall see!

The alternative option to Roy’s talk is Luke Prodromou, (E1), who will be offering a ‘Dickensian take on the price and value of education’. Dickens was strongly interested in the whole process of education at the time he lived, and in teaching itself, so Luke is presenting a workshop which will include readings by school children of some relevant texts by Dickens, and will inform us of the writer’s ideas. This workshop is the highlight of the weekend, in my opinion, and further proof why Luke was invited by IATEFL Poland this year, to be our main conference speaker.

If Luke’s workshop is based on the power of the word, then at 10.15, I will probably go to ‘The power of the image’ presented by Paul Dunnett (Nowa Era/Nat. Geographic Learning), (room E2). Jamie Keddie’s fans will flock to his ‘Storytelling’ plenary, but I’ve already seen Jamie present this subject in Radom, so I will give it a miss, but it’s well worth seeing!

The last session before lunch (11.45) offers a range of speakers who are very talented. Piotr Steinbrich will bravely teach a group of teenagers in a ’Live lesson’, (E7), Pete Sharma will show us how to exploit M-learning in the classroom, (E5), Weronika Sałandyk, (OUP), will widen our knowledge of vocabulary activities, (E104), and Dr. Anna Musielak, in (room E103) will answer the question: ‘Can Drama be all about... grammar?’ My answer to that is: “Yes, it can be arranged like that, but it’s sad if it is!” I will go and find out Anna’s answer for myself. If you want a mind-blowing session, then I would recommend Dr. Alicja Gałązka’s workshop, (E105), which aims to ‘Bridge the learning barriers between ELT and Psychology’. She is an excellent speaker, and I still fondly remember her workshop in Warsaw.

Saturday afternoon

Łódź 2013 Conference

Lunch is at 12.45, but IATEFL Poland’s AGM will commence at 13.00, in E1. A lunch pack is the option to take here, that’s for sure. The AGM is too important to miss, what with elections and a Prize Draw (2-week teacher-training course).

At 14.00, there is the now traditional ‘Happy Hour’ whereby conference participants are given the opportunity to scour the stands of the exhibitors to purchase or order resources for their classes, or for themselves – to improve their language or methodological skills. It is good to do this, and not be in the position where you miss a workshop. The publishers, as sponsors of our conferences, deserve our support.

One hour later, at 15.00, there will be a choice of four sessions. One of these - ‘In the (methodological) hotseat with Hugh Dellar, not in the originally distributed programme, will take place in room (E7), and offers you the chance to ask Hugh open questions on any methodological issue. I will be chairing the event, and I’m sure Hugh will provide those attending with a wealth of ideas for the classroom, as well as re-assuring some of your methodological beliefs. If our interactive session is not to your taste, then I would recommend a visit to Simon Greenall, OBE, who may well be dealing with digital materials in room (E2). A good speaker, Simon has not been to Poland for many years, so I hope you all make him feel very welcome.

A new, up-and-coming speaker from the UK, Mike Harrison, will be visiting Poland for the first time, so he’ll also be hoping for a good welcome, and, on his Polish debut, will be presenting, in the same room as Simon, (E2), but an hour later, an appealing topic: ‘Sound activities: finding, making and using SFX in the classroom’. I urged Mike to come here, so his performance is of special interest to me, and I’ll be at his workshop to show my support for him. Good alternatives: David Fisher on ‘How Drama helps ELT in your classroom’ (E5), and Luke Prodromou giving a live lesson for teachers in (E7).

Teaching pronunciation is never easy, but to young learners it can be rewarding, and Urszula Kropaczewska will be teaching a ‘Live lesson’ to such a group at 17.45 in room (E6), showing her techniques. For those teachers who want a ‘live lesson’ for themselves, then go to Beth Cagnol’s ‘An American Zoo Scandal’ in room (E7). That sounds very tempting, but I may go to Katarzyna Budzińska’s workshop on ‘Games’ in room (E104), as I am fond of using games in the classroom, and may learn a few new ones.

The last slot on the schedule for Saturday (18.45) is given entirely to the Bear Educational Theatre Group, who will present ‘A History of England’ Part 2. Part One was very entertaining, indeed, and one wonders if they will reach 2013 in this edition of their ‘dramatised’ history. Their performances are full of humour, grammar points, vocabulary items, and basic historical facts, and they are open to bookings as they tour Polish schools every year. If you have seen them before, you will come to part two, and if you haven’t seen them before – don’t miss out!

You will be very hungry by 20.00, so a good meal awaits at the Conference canteen, along with local band, ‘Fabrykanci’, who will play their successful brand of music. Following their performance, they will be conducting a Karaoke, so bring your song sheets along with you!


Łódź 2013 Conference

There’s no let-up in the list of goodies for the last day of the Conference. Fresh from ‘hotseating’ with me, Hugh Dellar (Nowa Era/Nat. Geographic Learning) will conduct a Plenary, (Aud. A Sołtana), on ‘Teaching Grammar Lexically’, at 9.00. Knowing Hugh, he will present lots of examples, and deal with potential problems. In competition with Hugh, at that time, will be Pete Sharma (Macmillan), the ‘master of the IT ELT world’, who will be talking about ‘Managing New Technology in Education’. Hugh’s topic is more ‘my cup of tea’, but IT fans will love and benefit from Pete’s session.

At 10.15, you can attend a session titled: ‘Why won’t you talk to me?’ Is this a tale of broken romance? A form of address to your ‘Dyrektor’? Or a teacher appealing to his/her teenage class? Robert Adams in room (E103) will reveal the answer. Meanwhile, Piotr Steinbrich (Pearson) will be talking about the usefulness of professional scales, in room (E1), which also sounds mystifying, but will, I’m sure, be made clear by the speaker.

Later in the morning, at 11.30, Geoff Tranter will definitely attract my presence, as he delivers yet another humour workshop - his fifth? Go to E5 to see Geoff in action. Beth Cagnol, trying to outdo Jeremy Harmer with her levels of activity, will be offering opposition to Geoff with her advisory workshop (E6): ‘Strike out on your own! Go Freelance!’ Has she heard about the ZUS factor in Poland? Not so easy.

Finally, we come to the Closing Plenary, (13.15) with Luke Prodromou in (E1) possibly presenting a Tessa Woodward-type speech, when he talks about ‘Self-esteem: techniques for building competence and confidence’. That could be a brilliant choice of topic, especially as we get so many fresh, young teachers attending our conferences, but also helpful to older teachers, too.

By this stage, you will hopefully have collected a massive amount of new ideas and activities to use in your classrooms in the following days, and even weeks. You will be delighted with the weekend.

However, there is still time for the Closing Ceremony... and Prize Draw, also in (E1). Many people win prizes, sometimes up to 40% of those who attend the Prize Draw, but your presence is essential. If you go home early, you will not be awarded a prize. Whether you win a prize or not, we hope you will take something precious away with you, as mentioned above, and you will already be waiting for the countdown to next year’s conference.

Enjoy the conference, and make lots of new friends, and apologies to those who have not been mentioned in my review. I’m sure I’ll probably miss some brilliant workshops, but “c’est la vie!” as Beth might say.

Peter Whiley
(Newsletter Editor)


A quick reminder to all speakers to send me their workshop/plenary transcripts before the conference. These will be duly considered for the Post-Conference Newsletter, which will be distributed to all IATEFL members. It is a conference requirement, and if you wish to be a future speaker at our conferences, you need to comply with this rule... My e-mail address is: newsletter@iatefl.org.pl. Many thanks go to those speakers who have already sent me their transcripts. Please remember that your profiles (max. 70 words), and passport-sized photos are also a necessary accompaniment to the transcripts.


Still to be confirmed, but very likely to be in a big city which has not yet hosted an IATEFL Poland Conference, and in the meantime, you can e-mail me and check the answer! Clue: “Makes life easy for Piotr Steinbrich!”


Confirmation has been received that in 2014, she will be touring Poland in March with her workshops. Poznań and Wrocław are the lucky cities to benefit from her visit. Watch out for more details on the main IATEFL Poland website: www.iatefl.org.pl

All the best, enjoy the rest of your holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in Łódź!

**** For those of you who haven’t registered yet, it’s too late to be a speaker, but you can still register for the conference and see some great workshops/plenaries. Bring a friend, too. The conference weekend will be both a wonderful social occasion, as well as an educational event to remember! What more can I say?!

Peter Whiley
(Newsletter Editor)

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