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June 2014

E-Bulletin from IATEFL Poland keeping you informed


Peter Whiley

Welcome everyone to another edition of the e-bulletin as June comes upon us with unpredictable weather, not unlike May. What has IATEFL Poland got to offer you this time? Reports, reports, reports... yes, well, they can be interesting, and these will be! Get a flavour of the Harrogate Conference, thanks to Magda Zawadzka, and why it was so special, along with a taste of the location itself, which is a romantic spot in England, in the heart of "Bronte territory" - the type of English town you imagine, in the most positive of ways. I've been there, and therefore, I'm happy to say "I was so lucky!" Magda would doubtless say the same thing. It's a place you must visit one day, even if not for an IATEFL Conference.

Magda also reports on this year's enthralling "Culture Lane" Mini-Conference (one day), which was held in Radom. "I was there, too! I was so lucky!" A lovely group of teachers attended, and presenting a workshop to such a group is one of the ultimate joys in teaching. Magda likes photographs, so we have a good sample to show you what took place at this happy event.

Marta Bujakowska, our International Liaison Officer, matches Magda’s efforts with two reports of her own! She has a report from her eventful visit to Kiev, and one outlining IATEFL Poland’s international activities during the past year, including our latest links with new associates. Her reports are always interesting, and not just for their content, but also for her writing skills. Her narrative skills are particularly impressive, I think, - natural and fluent.

We have the latest Lublin Conference news... as the deadline for speaker proposals has passed, and the countdown to the booking of hotels and concrete preparation of plans begins. This year's Conference has a truly international flavour... with visitors lined up from many countries. Read on to see who is on the list of this year's ELT stars, and which city will host our 2015 Conference! It may be a very pleasant surprise!

Lublin Conference up-date

Lublin 2014

So far, we have 86 speakers who have registered, with 15 more yet to complete their registrations. The topics listed seem more varied than usual, and the Conference should provide something for everyone! If you want to do a workshop or talk, you can try to be put on a reserve list... we hate saying: "You're too late!" We'd rather accommodate participants, if at all possible.

Who are some of the speakers coming?

Well, some familiar faces will be present, - dare I say "old faithfuls", - who always attend and are "good value for money" (though we don’t pay them!). David Fisher is one such person, and despite recently becoming a proud father - for the first time - he just cannot stay away! Beth Cagnol, by the way, is about to become a proud mother for the first time, after years of trying, and so, she won't be present at this year's Conference, but we all wish her well. She is so happy at present as she awaits her dream.

Geoff Tranter is another seemingly ever-present speaker at our Conferences, and one who is particularly well-known and familiar to "Lublinites", if I can call the local populace that. He will be presenting two sessions – one on the CEF (Common European Framework), and the other on humour, what else? Geoff’s jokes are part of the folklore of IATEFL Poland Conferences.

Hugh Dellar is also "part of the furniture" it seems, and fresh from his memorable interview last year, he will have something substantial to say, as usual. Another regular speaker at our Conferences is Jeremy Day (CUP), and he usually likes to speak about ESP topics. Another notable presenter who comes to Poland, often, but not every year, is Catherine Walter (OUP). She will be presenting two sessions, I gather. Not to be missed!

What about the Polish presenters?

I am pleased to say that Anna Musielak-Kubecka (OUP) will be revealing some of her immense Drama expertise this year. She seems to present in other countries more than Poland, but I think this will be her second visit to an IATEFL Poland Conference, so her "track record" is getting better! Other regulars will be there: Maria Heizer, Alicja Gałązka, Sylwia Filipczuk, and Joanna Wrzesińska, to name a few. One major female talent: Marta Rosińska, will sadly be absent, which means that her ELT partner, Grzegorz Śpiewak (Macmillan) will be performing a solo act at Lublin. Meanwhile, Ania Kozicka, will be making a return appearance, talking about Delta courses, so that adds to the vibrant wealth of female Polish presenters on view at Lublin. For Piotr Steinbrich (Pearson), it will be a delight to present in his hometown (homecity, I should say), and he boosts the group of male presenters attending.

Is it really true there will be a presentation from Oliver Twist?

Yes, indeed. He calls himself, Olly, and that’s hardly surprising. I can truthfully say that we have ‘great expectations’ of him, and we hope he’s as magical a presenter as "David Copperfield!"

Who are the main plenary speakers?

We have three important ELT figures from the world of ELT: Peter Medgyes, the present President of IATEFL UK, will be making a long-awaited return to an IATEFL Poland Conference, after several years' absence. Formerly, if you recall, the Education Minister in Hungary, Peter will be presenting a Plenary talk based on humour. This is no surprise really, as he has previously written a wonderful book, titled: "Laughing Matters" - I have a copy! So, watch out Geoff Tranter – you have competition!

Deena Boraie, is a Past President of TESOL – a large US-based international professional development association for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Currently, she is Dean of the School of Continuing Education at the American University in Cairo. Her Plenary talk has the impressive title: "Envisioning the Future of TEFL by Teachers all over the World". So, Deena is an exciting addition to our list of major plenary speakers, or in more usual terms – "a real scoop for IATEFL Poland!"

Ken Lackman, is a rapidly-rising ELT figure, and comes highly recommended, all the way from Canada. He impressed all who saw him at Harrogate this year, and this led to our invitation for Ken to come and shine at Lublin. I have no more details about him at this juncture, so we shall have to wait-and-see for further news about his presentations.

Three major names in the ELT world, and two have never been to an IATEFL Poland Conference before. This shows our willingness to always look for fresh, rising talent and reward it, one of IATEFL Poland’s best features, in my opinion.

Other Conference news

Sadly, there will be no Pre-Conference event (PCE) at Lublin. Planning for this event did not run as smoothly as we hoped, and as a new conference innovation, we want to get everything right. Therefore, we have put the event back a year, and aim to have everything set up really well for the Kraków Conference, and on a bigger scale. We apologise, in the meantime, to those who helped us so much to prepare for this year’s event, but would add that we have learnt a great deal from the experience, and we will be all the better for that.

As for entertainments this year, I am pleased to announce that Pecha Kucha is making a big comeback! It’s had a break the last two years, so it’s time to prime those PK skills once again. If you wish to be a PK presenter, please apply, asap, to Anna Rogalewicz-Gałucka, one of our Conference organisers, at: office@iatefl.org.pl. The PK theme we want you to adhere to this year, is: ‘To test or not to test - that is the question: is testing detestable or can we testify to its value?’ So, if you have never done a PK before, test yourself!

The Pecha Kucha will take place on the Friday evening, and on the Saturday evening we will be having a disco. Negotiations are ongoing at present, regarding a notable rock band, so wait for more news about that.


48th IATEFL Conference in Harrogate (April, 2014)

by Magda Zawadzka

The opening paragraph of "Small World" by David Lodge, takes us back to Chaucer's vision of April as a time when "people long to go on pilgrimages", and then adds that "these days, professional people call them conferences, which resemble the pilgrimage of medieval Christendom, in that they allow the participants to indulge themselves in all the pleasures and diversions of travel, while appearing to be austerely bent on self-improvement". There is some truth in that - a good conference is a combination of pleasures, diversions, and self-improvement, and these three words sum up my first IATEFL World conference. Still, this experience would not have been complete without one more element, possibly the most crucial, which is people. There were around 2 ,500 participants and almost 500 sessions to choose from. Whilst it felt a bit overwhelming at times, it was so refreshing to listen to so many voices, and to see how many different teaching approaches people adopt.

Among the many conference sessions, I really enjoyed Michael Hoey's plenary "Old approaches, new perspectives: the implications of a corpus linguistic theory for learning the English language" in which he showed that Krashen’s and Lewis's theories do not deserve the criticism levelled at them. Kathleen Graves gave an inspiring talk on the "Efficiency of inefficiency", in which she talked about education becoming increasingly focused on efficiency, standardisation of outcomes, and tests that concentrate on short-term rather than long-term results. This approach leads to a situation in which emphasis is put on tests rather than learning, as if we have forgotten that learning a language is a process that takes time.

If you have ever seen Sugata Mitra’s TED talk, you will probably be familiar with the concept of SOLE (self-organised learning environments) and his "hole in the wall" experiment, in which he installed a computer with an Internet connection in one of the slums in India, and left it at that; meanwhile, the local children figured out how the computer worked on their own. He repeated the experiment in other places and countries, and came to interesting conclusions about the role of the teacher. Some of the participants found them inspiring, others thought that Sugata Mitra went too far in undervaluing the contribution the teacher can make. The plenary and Q&A session are available online and well worth watching. (BTW – it was the first-ever session, at the end of which, I saw at least three people wipe away a tear or two).

The other sessions I attended were devoted to the areas I am particularly interested in – creativity, culture, and helping learners to learn, so I saw presentations by Barry Tomalin (What do you say after "Hello"? Successful networking techniques) - Alan Pulverness (Remembrance and memorials: Constructing cultural memory), Ken Wilson (Can global issues provide authenticity and context in English teaching?) Sebastian Leśniewski (Teaching learners how to learn). I especially enjoyed the Creativity Symposium, featuring short talks by Alan Maley, Chaz Pugliese, Hanna Kryszewska, Mark Almond, Chris Lima, and Brian Tomlinson. Each speaker addressed creativity from a different angle, but the conclusion of the whole symposium seemed to be that creativity is contagious. I will definitely try to pass that on. During the final plenary on Saturday, the stage belonged to Jackie Kay, whose wonderful reading added a great finishing touch to a great conference.

There is one more aspect worth mentioning: the new innovative features of the conference, which included an opportunity to talk to Professor David Crystal during the "Meet the Patron" event and an "Open Space" event facilitated by Adrian Underhill. There was also an exciting new session format called ELT Conversation, involving discussion between two leading ELT professionals, Jeremy Harmer and Scott Thornbury, followed by questions from the floor.

Attending all the sessions can definitely count as self-improvement, while the evening programme provided pleasures and diversions (including a salsa lesson) and a chance to talk to other participants and presenters (and ask them to come to Poland). I also treated myself to a trip to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. It greeted us with mist and cold, which made looking for inspiration for a modern version of "Wuthering Heights" particularly difficult. Cold but happy, I returned to the Old Swan Hotel, where Agatha Christie once stayed, and I watched an episode of Poirot (what else?). My happiness was complete!

Here are some visual memories from the beautiful Harrogate:

Harrogate 1

...and Haworth

Harrogate 2

Harrogate 3

... and some lovely people who made the conference truly special.

Culture and Language Lane Conference Radom, 12 April, 2014

by Magda Zawadzka

Radom Culture Lane 1

In this year’s sessions we focused on:

  • Cultural experiences and cultural identity
  • Activities to practice pronunciation, spelling and grammar
  • Voice projection
  • Professional burn-out

There was also a drama workshop with a Bollywood dance lesson and a prize draw.

Here is a visual guide to our sessions attended by 22 people, including teachers from Ireland, Mexico and Turkey.

Radom Culture Lane 2

Peter Whiley talked about entrance tests on prospective immigrants and we wondered if "upping the stakes" and making language demands on the newcomers are morally justifiable? The workshop examined this "welcoming aspect" to immigration, and explored the experiences and problems confronted by Polish migrants to the UK in 2005. There were some testing questions, two enthusiastically competing teams, and lots of humour.

Radom Culture Lane 3

Marlena Apanowicz's workshop on kinesthetic activities to get students to speak, learn pronunciation, and produce accurate spellings and grammar was lively and energetic with plenty of activities which you just could not do sitting down: and the next session kept us going too, with Małgorzata Gumińska showing us how to look after our precious voice. At the end of the session, we sang together and we were a pleasure to listen to – seriously!

Radom Culture Lane 4

Małgorzata Zdybiewska took us down the "culture lane" again, exploring the activities which can help our students understand the surrounding world and construct their own cultural identity.

Radom Culture Lane 5

The final session was devoted to a "darker" aspect of our profession – teacher burnout. We learnt how to identify factors most likely to lead to it and discussed if there is any institutional support which teachers can get. We ended though on a more optimistic note, by taking part in a drama workshop based on an Indian myth, and dancing away to music straight from Bollywood films.

Radom Culture Lane 6

IATEFL Ukraine Conference in Kiev 25th-26th April 2014

by Marta Bujakowska
(International Liaison Officer, IATEFL Poland)

I received an invitation from the President of IATEFL Ukraine to come to their Conference with a presentation. I didn’t think twice and decided to submit a proposal and register. Last autumn, I was closely observing the situation at EuroMaidan, and had been in touch with some people in Ukraine. I thought it would be a good idea to see some of them.

I bought a ticket, literally a day before the riots started at EuroMaidan. In the meantime, I was travelling, and thought to myself: "if it’s more or less safe I will definitely go there." It was a decision emanating from my heart rather than my head :). As is usual in my life, the decisions taken that way normally work very well. This time was not any different.

The airline changed my booking, and this way, I gained a couple of days in Kiev, but couldn’t stay to the very end of the event. My first steps, after I had arrived, took me to the Independence Square, which is commonly called "EuroMaidan". It was both a heartbreaking and a heart-lifting experience. I saw many exhausted people there living in makeshift tents, which was a sad view, indeed. On the other hand, the same people still had a spark of hope in their eyes, and this lifted my spirits.

The Conference took place at KROK University in Kiev. It was not a big gathering, with only about 150 participants, but under the circumstances, that was a great success. There were four plenaries given - the first one by Tim Phillips: "Becoming a Better Teacher", full of reflection on our profession, embroidered with well read poetry; then by Hugh Dellar: "Technology and Principles in Language Teaching", who touched upon the burning topic of how far technology should rule our classroom lives; thirdly, by Mathew Stubbs: "Child protection", who poignantly talked about adults’ obligation to provide children with a safe learning environment; and lastly, by Fiona Aish: "From General English to Academic English via IELTS". Unfortunately, I could only attend the first three presentations due to my re-scheduled flight. There were also 18 workshops and talks on a variety of topics from young learners through to teenagers, and exam preparation to ESP.

On behalf of IATEFL Poland, I had the privilege to invite our Ukrainian colleagues to participate in the 23rd IATEFL Poland Conference in Lublin in September, and for free, as a gesture of our solidarity. The invitation was received with great appreciation and gratitude. A few members of IATEFL Ukraine have already registered for our Conference, and I am looking forward to hosting them in Lublin.

Even though I could see tired faces around at KROK University, the participants of the Conference seemed very focused, mindful and attentive. There were a lot of talks, friendly conversations and laughter was heard in the halls of the Conference. If I were to describe the event with one word, I would choose: "HARMONIOUS".

An international development report from IATEFL’s Liaison Officer, 2013-2014

by Marta Bujakowska
(International Liaison Officer, IATEFL Poland)

At the 22nd IATEFL Conference in Łódź in September, 2013, we had a smaller number of delegates from partner organisations than at the 21st IATEFL Conference in Wrocław in 2012. However, we had quite a few guests from other countries who made our conference more international. My job was, as usual, helping our guests to find their way and settle in, showing them around, and introducing them to other members of our Executive Committee.

One of my objectives for 2014 is to host more delegates from our partner organisations at our Lublin Conference in September. I would like to make it international, not only by name, but in reality. I believe that it is very important for our association to expand, nowadays, and have links with many other teaching and related bodies. Following on the heels of the Łódź Conference, our partner association, IATEFL Hungary, hosted their Annual Conference, and this took place in Budapest. Maria Cyrankowska represented IATEFL Poland there, and I have no doubts that she did it really well.

TESOL France’s Annual Convention was the next major event on the international calendar in November, where two of our delegates, Alicja Gałązka and Ewa Mroczka, had the honour of representing IATEFL Poland, and I know from my French colleagues’ feedback that they certainly represented us in style.

In April of 2014, IATEFL UK’s Annual Conference, at Harrogate, saw us represented by a strong group of Sławek Nowikowski, Magda Zawadzka, and Ania Gębka-Suska. They all scouted for potential speakers for either our Lublin conference or regional workshops.

We renewed an agreement with ATE CR, Czech Republic, and hopefully, we will have a delegate at their Annual Conference in Liberec on the 19th – 20th September, 2014.

As a result of my efforts, we managed to sign partnership agreements with quite remote and sometimes exotic countries, like Haiti, Iran, and Tunisia, and also with close neighbours, such as Slovakia, who, after some turbulence, managed to form a national organisation. My new ‘baby’ is ELT Ireland, a long-awaited autonomous organisation.

Hopefully, we shall host delegates from Haiti, Tunisia, and Ireland, in Lublin. We can also expect several participants from Algeria this year, even though they still do not have a national organisation with whom we can sign an agreement. I keep in touch with Saliha Si Chaib from Algeria, who was our guest in Wrocław, and I hope they will soon manage to set up an association.

As some of you may already know, I went to TESOL’s Convention in Portland, Oregon, in March. My intention was not only to experience this immense event, but learn more about TESOL. This is where I met many delegates from our partner organisations, signed new agreements, and managed to invite TESOL’s Past President, Deena Boraie, to come and speak at our Lublin Conference.

The Annual TESOL Convention is the biggest, global ELT event, and it hosted about 6,500 teachers from all over the world this year. First time participants were invited to a reception and there were 800 of us, mostly from both Americas, Asia, Australia, and Africa! Europe was represented by a few participants. Over 100 countries sent their delegates who exchanged ideas and practices, enhanced their knowledge of a vast range of ELT content areas, engaged in mentoring on research and other projects, reviewed the latest professional publications and resources in a huge English Language Expo, kept up with current trends, or expanded their professional networks, which was my main professional objective as IATEFL Poland’s member.

In April this year, I went to Kiev for IATEFL Ukraine’s Conference with a special mission to invite our Ukrainian colleagues to participate in our Lublin Conference. The invitation was received with great appreciation and gratitude, as I mentioned in my separate report. So far, we have seven participants who have applied, and, of course, we can’t be sure if they will manage to join us in September. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

Next week, I am going to Bratislava to officially and face-to- face sign our agreement with SKA Slovakia.

See you all in Lublin!

Publishers' woes

As you may or may not know, publishing companies have been facing a difficult time, lately, with impending government legislation proposing the concept of a ‘free-coursebook-for-all’ young learners, and ending the act of granting teachers a free coursebook, workbook, etc, when sets of coursebooks are ordered by schools. Their woes could well be ours! We will have to buy our own books for work in the future. Just one more cost to add to a limited wage-earner's budget.

For years, publishers have supported us, especially via such events as our Annual Conferences, selling books at generous discounts, and issuing free coursebooks at the end of top-quality workshops, not to mention sponsoring entertainment evenings, offering thousands of prizes and awards, and running valuable courses of their own. We owe them a great deal.

So, how can we help them? IATEFL can make, of course, an official approach to the authorities to express our concerns. However, I would suggest that you make contact with the publishing contacts you have, and ask them how best you can help. They can outline the overall situation in far more detail, and will be pleased to hear that you support their cause. The more that schools and teachers can make officially known their worries, the more likely are the authorities to listen. For instance, their idea that one "coursebook-fits-all" is easy to argue against. Has there ever been one book that suited all learners?

So, everyone, the situation looks grim, and action needs to be taken urgently. Please find out more about the issues, and let us know what you think about the problems. Feel free to write to me at newsletter@iatefl.org.pl or, as I suggested, contact your local publishing contacts in the first instance.

Peter Whiley

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