News Bulletin - December MMVI/February MMVII

Akis Davanellos in Naousa

The State English Teachers’ Union of Imathia and School Adviser for Imathia, Pella and Pieria Mr Theodoros Skenderis organised a seminar on Saturday (4th November 2006), featuring Akis Davanellos as the keynote speaker, in the premises of the Department of Technology Management, University of Macedonia, Naousa. The topic of the seminar was “Organising a grammar lesson and organising the book”. On the same day, the renowned IGUANA publications held a mini book exhibition with their titles next to the central hall of the University Department.

(Centre: Mr Akis Davanellos; left and right: eager EFL teachers from Naousa, Berrhœa and the wider region of Imathia as well as Edessa.)

Mr Akis Davanellos, who is a distinguished orator and presenter, quickly established rapport with the audience and went on to demonstrate his ideas in his unique stylish manner. First, it was illustrated that Practitioner Teachers, as Akis prefers to call us, often resemble driving instructors in that the former, like the latter, need to let their learners take the initiative gradually without overlooking students’ initial lack of skills and potential insecurities, which also entails that teachers should be in charge.

Next, it was proved by way of exemplification that the above assumption does not dictate stifling fun in class or building ourselves into stern authoritative figures. Instead, it is possible to help students evolve into autonomous learners by involving them in genuinely free decision-making regarding their interests and in response to our concerns as educationists. Secondly, it was stressed that educators are required to organise the teaching material and the warm-up, presentation, practice and production stages carefully and considerately, always taking into account the level of each activity and their pupils’ unique characteristics.

Akis’ engaging presentation was followed by an equally exciting workshop with the help of grammar books published by THE IGUANA PROJECT, kindly delivered to participants free of charge. Little wonder the audience remained until the end of the event and enthusiastically asked for another seminar featuring Mr Davanellos in the future.

The new committee of the S.E.T.U.I.

After the biennial general assembly and the elections for a committee at the State English Teachers’ Union of Imathia last September, the new board of directors has consisted of the following members: Demetrios Hadjinicolaou (chairperson), Anastasia Asikidou (deputy chairperson), Maria Foutzitzi (secretary), Eleni Kostopoulou (treasurer) and Sarra Tsismanidou (member). Mrs Helen Baki was elected as an alternate member.

The 3rd EFL Symposium and Book Exhibition in Berrhœa

The State English Teachers’ Union of Imathia in co-operation with Mr Theodoros Skenderis, ELT Adviser for Emathia, Pella and Pieria, organised their 3rd consecutive EFL Symposium and Book Exhibition, kindly sponsored by Burlington Books, Express Publishing, Hillside Press and MM Publications, at the Elea café/restaurant in Berrhœa on Wednesday 6th September 2006.
Teachers of English arrived in their dozens to browse the fascinating titles displayed at the stands and make enquiries to the obliging sales representatives.

(Photograph legend: Above, Mr Nicolaides, and Ms Blatsioti with glimpses of the audience;
below, Ms Papadocostace and a general view of EFL teachers attending.)
Plenary speakers rightly riveted attending teachers with their insightful presentations. Mr Constantine Nicolaides (Hillside Press) focused on “ELT textbooks and social norms”, stressing the EFL publishers and teachers’ joint responsibility to promote healthy role-models for the young to follow, raise the children’s awareness of really significant issues, enhance critical thinking and instil moral values that ought to be an invaluable asset in a person’s character and last a lifetime.

Next, in a lecture-cum-workshop session, Ms Athena Blatsioti (Express Publishing) discussed “Left Brain v Right Brain” skills, aptly demonstrating how to diagnose potential priority of one type of skills associated with one side of the brain over the other, and the enormous ramifications this aspect may have for learning and teaching styles alike. It was also illustrated that if teachers are to cater for their pupils’ needs, they should endeavour to adopt a balanced syllabus and present new language or set assignments in several different ways so that every individual student is accommodated and motivated.

After the coffee break, it was Ms Chara Papadocostace’s (MM Publications) turn to engage the audience with a sprightly performance of “Songs in the EFL Classroom”, highly reminiscent of the active role teachers are expected to play with a view to transforming language classes into hives of absolutely enjoyable, yet fully efficient activities. Added to that, ingenious modes of turning nursery rhymes or popular songs into account as regards vocabulary or grammar acquisition were put into practice, creative learners coming up with some big hits - no pun intended!

Finally, Mr Theodoros Skenderis initiated teachers into “Differentiated Pedagogy”. Citing a well-updated bibliography concerning the rationale behind alternating tasks vis-à-vis their degree of difficulty, he helped make it obvious with specific examples that virtually the same sources, be it coursebook texts or authentic material, can equally benefit most students in multi-level classes, by offering rewarding, hence motivating, experiences to all learners and cultivating a spirit of noble emulation among them.
Not surprisingly, feedback on the thoughts and impressions of participants has clearly shown that the 3rd Symposium was an excellent resource for teachers, who are looking forward to a new similar event.