My path in and with ELT in Brazil (Kyria Finardi)

I’ve always liked languages (I’m trying to learn my 5th now) and I can’t quite remember when I started to learn English as a foreign language (EFL) and when I began to see myself as an EFL teacher. I have taught EFL in Brazil for over 20 years and have been a teacher trainer/educator for almost a decade now.

As a full time professor in a public university in Brazil I am in charge of the English Language Teaching (ELT) Practicum course which is offered in the last semesters (7th and 8th) of the ELT degree course. I have about 25 students per semester and my job is to supervise undergraduate, pre-service English teachers’ practicum, discussing issues related to education in general and to English language teaching in particular.

I wear many hats – language learner, user, instructor, teacher, educator and researcher – the latter being an all-time passion that I started to develop professionally after I earned my Phd in Applied Linguistics… Now I am trying to train other researchers in Brazil on the two graduate courses I work for, the Education Program and the Linguistics Program where I teach and advise graduate students (Masters and Doctorate).

In Brazil all university teachers must teach, do research and offer services for the community and most of my projects in those three areas are related to Education and Languages. One of these projects, called “Building citizenship through language”, ongoing since 2011, offers workshops, courses and activities for the community on different topics of interest such as healthy nutrition, astronomy, and the use of technology and human rights, all of which are carried out through different foreign languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese for foreigners, French and Italian) though most commonly English.

I use the Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Approach for the project and have recently helped my students, both at graduate and undergraduate level, to prepare a teaching project using this approach to teach different content (physics and mathematics, for example), through English. The project was piloted in a public school in my city and results showed that the teaching project was successful not only to teach the content (physics and mathematics) and the language (English) but also to get students and teachers involved in an interdisciplinary/collaborative project which raised everyone’s motivation and interpersonal skills.

One of the problems with the teaching of EFL in Brazil is the small amount of time dedicated to this subject in public schools. Another problem of using the CLIL approach in public schools is to find teachers who are proficient in the content as well as in the vehicular language (in this case, English). These difficulties were circumvented in this project by the involvement of content and language teachers to prepare materials together. I plan to continue sharing positive outcomes of my teaching/research experience both by teaching, presenting papers and publishing. In that sense, the scholarship that has enabled my participation in the 2018 IATEFL in Brighton will be very important to share my experience with other teachers around the world.

I have never been to an IATEFL conference before 2018 so you can imagine how excited I am about Brighton. My talk will be about two language teaching approaches, the CLIL approach and hybrid/blended approaches and the possibilities and limitations of implementing these approaches in Brazil. The underlying assumptions of my presentation are that language teacher education in Brazil faces several challenges, among which are the linguistic policies and investment in initial and continuing foreign language teacher education. In view of these challenges on the one hand, and the need to circumvent them on the other, inclusive teaching approaches represent a possible solution for this problem.

If you want to read more on hybrid approaches or CLIL you can visit my blog where I have some of these publications available for download. Click on Publicações to see the publications organized in a chronological order.

Hope to see you in Brighton. 🙂


Kyria Finardi

Kyria Rebeca Finardi is a Brazilian EFL teacher and teacher educator. She teaches at the Federal University of Espírito Santo both at undergraduate and graduate courses (English, Applied Linguistics and Education).

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My life-changing professional development journey (Elena Matveeva)

I have been teaching English for almost 20 years now. I used to teach Business English at a university, worked as a freelancer for a couple of years and now I am a teacher and academic director in one of the private language schools in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Through these years of my teaching career there were ups and downs, there were days when I absolutely loved and then when I absolutely hated what I was doing. I lacked motivation in my job and at times I felt isolated and lonely. Due to some circumstances I was forced to become a freelancer when I got back to teaching after my second child was born. That only made the feeling of loneliness stronger and I started looking for ways to develop professionally and to find contact with other teachers like myself.

My first step was attending local conferences and training sessions in my native city, which was interesting, refreshing and inspiring. Then I started looking for professional opportunities online and that is how I found Electronic Village Online. In 2014 I took part in the online course “Developing Business English Teachers” and my professional life has never been the same ever since. I was lucky to meet an amazing group of moderators who influenced me in ways I could have never imagined. That was how I got to know the BESIG [Business English Special Interest Group] team and they motivated me to move further in my professional development. The course itself was the most brilliant online course I have ever taken. It was very practical and made me reflect on my practice as well as make plans for the future. It was then that I decided to start moving towards realizing my dream – presenting at the IATEFL conference. At that time I was not a member of IATEFL but I was very interested in watching online webinars. I tried to find time to be online at the time of the webinar as non-members do not get a chance to watch them later. After becoming an IATEFL member that problem was solved and now I have access to all the webinars from previous years whenever I have free time or wish to watch them.

The first conference abroad I attended was the BESIG conference in Bonn in 2014. The results of the conference exceeded my expectations. It was really exciting to meet my EVO course moderators face-to-face and to give my talk on ‘Teaching presentation skills in the digital age’ in front of famous professionals in the world of Business English. I became an IATEFL member during the conference and since then I have been able to enjoy all the benefits it gives. After the conference I was invited to give a webinar on the topic of my conference talk, which you can watch on the BESIG site, and as a result I got a job offer from a well- known publisher Cornelsen to be an advisor/consultant on their short course English for Presentations A2. It was unexpected and really flattering.

Elena holding a copy of the book she advised on

Elena holding a copy of the book she advised on

Eventually, I decided it was time to make my dream come true and applied for the BESIG Facilitator’s Scholarship for the 50th IATEFL conference in Birmingham. It is difficult to find words to describe how happy I was to become one of the scholarship winners. The whole experience of being one of the 52 scholarship winners at the IATEFL Conference in Birmingham in 2016 was like a dream come true. I got to meet the most amazing and professional teachers from all over the world. The time at the conference was unforgettable. Where else can teachers have a chat with gurus of ELT who are taking part in the sessions and workshops side by side with novice teachers? As a speaker I had a chance to share my ideas and experience when giving a talk on the topic of teaching presentation skills in the modern world.

IATEFL has become my professional family. I have received so much support, advice, warmth and friendliness from people at the conference, from the BESIG team, from my PLN [Professional/Personal Learning Network] some of which I met for the first time at the conference. Now I can’t imagine my life without IATEFL. The annual conference is the place to get to know about the new trends that shape ELT. It is the place to exchange ideas and absorb new knowledge, to meet new people and make useful contacts. IATEFL webinars are a valuable resource of precious information which you can go back to again and again in time of need. Once you become a part of this brilliant community of enthusiastic teachers, your life changes forever. What I learned during my professional journey towards realizing my dream is that everything is possible, we should just take the chance. Being an IATEFL member inspires me to never stop. Looking at all the hard work done by other teachers all over the world is truly inspiring.

What is my advice on how to win a scholarship? In my case being active in BESIG helped a lot. I got involved by presenting at a BESIG conference, giving a webinar, and taking part in online activities. I got noticed while being an active member of BESIG and that helped me to win the scholarship later. In November 2017 I attended another BESIG conference in Malta. This time I wasn’t a scholarship winner but attending IATEFL and BESIG conferences has become addictive for me and I couldn’t miss it. It was held in cooperation with ReSIG [Research Special Interest Group] and it was just brilliant. I enjoyed every moment of it.

So my advice is – get involved, take a chance and never stop in your professional development. IATEFL is there to help teachers like us.


Elena Matveeva

Elena Matveeva is an EFL teacher at The Dmitry Nikitin School in Yaroslavl (Russia). She has been teaching for almost 20 years in different contexts from University to being a freelancer to being an Academic Director of the private language school where she is employed now. Her main interest lies in teaching adults both general English and Business English, including in-company training and teaching. Elena is an active participant of different national and international conferences, seminars, webinars and online courses. Professional development is an essential part of her teaching job. Nowadays, one of the spheres she is actively involved in is inviting speakers from overseas and Russia in order to hold training sessions for EFL teachers based in different cities in Russia. Her blog is and you can find her on facebook as Elena Matveeva.

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If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in reading. We look forward to hearing from you! If you’re not a member, why not join us?

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IATEFL membership for personal and professional development (Latsouck Gueye)

In today’s society, changing faster than ever, teachers are faced with the challenge of how to adapt to changes in the field of methodology as well as technology to design courses that cater best for students’ needs. In this process we are constantly faced with new concepts and pedagogical paradigms, from which we have to choose the ones that are most suitable for our teaching and learning processes and thus equip our students with the knowledge and skills they will need in their professional lives as well for lifelong learning. Being part of IATEFL helps me to make my choices. I consider being an IATEFLer both engrossing and empowering.

I work with a whole community of teachers here in our fledgling association SELTA, which is an affiliate of IATEFL. SELTA stands for Sédhiou English Language Teachers Association. Sédhiou is located in the south of the country, at about 400 kms from the capital city Dakar (see map).

SELTA has existed for just a few years, starting in the 2011-2012 academic year. Our affiliation with IATEFL gave SELTA members the opportunity to receive the Voices newsletter and the possibility to apply for the yearly IATEFL conference scholarships. Three different colleagues had the opportunity to win and travel to the UK to take part in that prestigious ELT gathering. SELTA holds ELT events every year through what we call the English Language Day. Reports and narratives of that event are always sent and published in the IATEFL Voices newsletter. For example, IATEFL members can read my report on the 2013 Sub-Saharan Africa English Teachers’ Associations Symposium in Dakar, pages 30-31 of Voices 233. SELTA have also started to put together our own newsletter, ‘Thoughts‘, though we have only published one edition so far. With financial support, this is something we hope to do more in the future.

In addition to these, we organise workshops outside the English Language Day held every year. These are unique moments to help contribute to the capacity building of SELTA members. Due to the scarcity of resources, teachers and learners have to cope with a range of situations in their everyday activities. That’s why SELTA’s presence is very much welcomed as it tries to gather colleagues with a range of objectives, to find ways and means to cope with this recurring situation in this part of the country where the majority of schools are not equipped with power and internet facilities, compared to many other corners of the country.

Personally, what I’ve gained from IATEFL in general, and particularly from WMIS [Wider Membership Individual Scheme] and WMS [Wider Membership Scheme], has been helpful and invaluable, aiding both my personal and professional growth. It has given me more insights. This has been made possible by the rich sessions I attended through the five international conferences (Harrogate 2010, Brighton 2011, Glasgow 2012, Liverpool 2013 and Harrogate again in 2014), not to mention the famous ELT professionals I have had the chance to meet there, as well as the online resources and hard copy materials our IATEFL memberships provide us with. As well as giving presentations myself, I have also contributed to the Learner Autonomy SIG Independence newsletter.

Teachers continue to be tireless in their energy and enthusiasm to improve their services to make their teaching easier and more interesting, in the most positive and effective ways possible. I know that our associations can help them to do this.


Latsouck Gueye outside the Liverpool School of English

Latsouck Gueye was born in 1969 in Kaolack, Senegal. He went to Valdiodio Ndiaye School where he passed his Advanced Level Baccalaureate in 1991. He went on to obtain a Diplome Universitaire d’Etudes Litteraires (DUEL) certificate in English from Cheikh Anta Diop University in July 1992. In 2003, he left ENS (National School of Education, Dakar) with a CAE-CEM teaching certificate.

He has been a member of IATEFL and the Learner Autonomy SIG since 2008 and has spoken at three IATEFL international conferences, in Harrogate (2010), Brighton (2011), and Liverpool (2013). In 2011, he underwent an online course via the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where he obtained a Certificate of successful participation in EFL Assessment.

Latsouck is a Pedagogic Advisor and a member of the Senegalese National Commission of English. He is particularly interested in Writing & Assessment.

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If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in reading. We look forward to hearing from you! If you’re not a member, why not join us?

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Copyright and Copywrong (Katherine Bilsborough)

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that copyright has got nothing to do with you. It has! Whether you’re a teacher, a Director of Studies, a language school owner, a teacher trainer, a materials writer or an author, copyright is something that you should give some thought to and find out about. But while copyright is something that every one of us needs to know about, the level of our understanding lies across a broad spectrum. Publishers’ in-house legal advisers are at one end and those teachers who go into class with photocopied sets of best-selling books, unaware that they are infringing any kind of law, either morally or legally, are at the other end. Where do you lie on this spectrum? Do you really understand what’s right and what’s wrong?

Copyright means different things to different people. A recent attempt at crowd sourcing made this evident. In various ELT groups on social media I explained that I was going to be writing a blog post on the subject. I invited members to share any opinions or anecdotes. Those who had most to say were authors, some worried about loss of earnings and others frustrated at the lack of understanding of illegal practice. For instance there seems to be a general misunderstanding amongst many professionals that any text, image or video can be lifted from the internet and used if it’s ‘for educational purposes’. This isn’t the case. Teachers had less to say but while some stressed the need to teach their students the importance of respecting copyright laws, they simultaneously – and usually unwittingly – break the laws themselves. Copyright is a tricky business and even more so in this digital age where ownership is complicated and is subject to different legislation in different countries. The biggest problem seems to be with images where the most common practice for teachers needing a picture seems to consist of doing a Google image search and then copying and pasting whatever they find that fits their purpose.

Copyright and Teachers

Having a clear understanding of the ins and outs of copyright regulations and knowing what you can and can’t legally use is an important component of digital literacy. Teachers have a responsibility to get their heads around the whole matter of copyright so that they can pass on the information to their students. They’re never too young to start. Even young children understand that copying and stealing is against the rules. By infringing copyright rules yourself you are modelling inappropriate behaviour and inviting students to do the same. It isn’t OK to hand out class sets of photocopied units from a course book. Nor is it acceptable to download illegal .pdf versions of books from dodgy social media and websites. To make matters worse many of these illegal materials contain malware that end up corrupting the files and/or your computer.

Teachers should help their students understand regulations about copyright and which acts constitute misuse as well as how to attribute an original source for those items that can be shared.

Some guidelines

  1. Not all materials are free to use and share. Some are copyrighted and you need to follow guidelines if you want to use them.
  2. Materials that are copyrighted by their owners usually display the copyright symbol: © Others have a copyright byline. E.g. by Katherine Bilsborough.
  3. Many copyrighted materials have a Creative Commons (CC) license. This means they can usually be used but within certain restrictions. There are several categories of CC licenses, from the most accommodating which allows you to distribute and change the work, even commercially, as long as the original creator is credited, to those which signify something is free to download and share as long as the creator is credited but which can’t be changed in any way or used commercially. Each license has an icon or a series of icons that give a clear indication of what is and what isn’t allowed.
  4. One of the easiest ways to find images with CC licenses is to use the ‘Advanced image search‘ option in Google. The final menu allows you to select usage rights.
  5. The Creative Commons website also has a search engine which can be used to find texts and images. They also have a FAQ page and videos explaining what each kind of license means.
  6. There are some sites dedicated to sharing copyright free work. Two of the best sites for images are ELTPics and Pixabay.
  7. It’s fine to show students a video or to play an audio directly from its original source. It isn’t OK to embed the video or audio into your own materials. Think of it as being a bit like showing students a page from an original book or handing out photocopies of the page to all students.
  8. If you are in any doubt about whether a text or an image can be used in the way you wish to use it, contact the original creator and ask. In my experience people are often happy to let you use their work as long as they are attributed.
  9. The Edutopia blog has a round up of links to videos, articles and infographics about copyright and fair use for teachers.

Copyright and authors

These days there are hundreds of sites that act as resource libraries for illegal copies of hundreds of ELT books. As soon as one site is reported and gets closed, another one pops up in its place. The task of getting books removed from these sites is laborious and time-consuming. While many authors feel frustrated and angry others take the view that this kind of thing has been going on since the beginning of the printed word and there’s not much we can do to stop it. Author Gavin Dudeney takes the ‘Let he who hasn’t sinned throw the first stone’ approach. And he might have a point. Who hasn’t made a home-made cassette or CD of songs for a friend without stopping for a moment to think about the artist’s loss of earnings? Isn’t this the same thing? Should we take a stand and try to educate the offenders? Or should we just accept that copyright infringement is an intrinsic part of the digital world we are living in?

Last words on copyright from others

Professor Michael McCarthy suggests reading Chapter IV on Moral Rights in this Copyright, Designs and Patents Act from 1988. If you can get past the legal speak it gives lots of sound advice to authors about their right to being identified as the author of a piece of work.

Dorothy Zemach told me that while she was speaking at a conference in a country where copyright infringement is rife, she discovered that teachers believed that if a .pdf of a book was found after a Google search, it was the publisher who had put it there.

Author Walton Burns told me about teachers he’d met who have copied course books almost verbatim into a notebook, just changing a few example sentences and then shared them with their students as if the materials were their own.

One teacher asked author Kate Cory-Wright about the letter c on a page from a book they bought. They wanted to know whether it meant you could copy or you couldn’t copy.

Author Evan Frendo has got lots of copyright anecdotes. Once he was asked to autograph photocopies of his books in a teacher training session. Another time, after giving a copy of one of his ESP books to a university dean, the dean told him that his books were popular and that this new level would be photocopied and distributed to all students and teachers that same day. Evan also found out that over 50,000 students at one university were using photocopies of his books. That’s a lot of lost income! My favourite, because of the warped sense of logic, is the university professor who told Evan that they appreciated the fact that he made his books copyright, understanding this meant ‘the right to copy’! And finally, at one large ESP conference Evan was told that photocopies of his books were on sale at the publisher’s stand at a cheaper rate than the original versions.

No matter how obvious the idea of copyright is to some of us, it’s clear that there are a lot of people who are misinformed or very confused.


Katherine Bilsborough

Katherine Bilsborough is a freelance ELT author and teacher trainer. She has written more than thirty coursebooks for many of the top ELT Publishers as well as online courses and mobile learning materials for the BBC and the British Council. She writes monthly lesson plans for and is the author of ‘How to write primary materials’, published by ELT Teacher 2 Writer.

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If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in reading. We look forward to hearing from you! If you’re not a member, why not join us?

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Q & A from Mike Harrison’s webinar on using graphic organisers

On 21st October 2017, Mike Harrison presented the following IATEFL webinar:

Visualising your thinking – ideas for using graphic organisers with learners and teachers

Making decisions is difficult – whether that’s the case for you as a teacher trying to work out what you’ll teach in your next lesson (and how!) or your learners trying to plan what they’re going to write for an upcoming assignment. How can we simplify these everyday dilemmas? This webinar aims to show you how this is possible, by demonstrating a number of decision-making models and graphic organisers that can be used by teachers and learners to clarify their thoughts. Not just for making decisions, these models may also be useful as prompts for productive or reflective work in the classroom. Disclaimer – this is not a magic bullet that will resolve all your ELT-related worries – but if you come with an open mind, some pen and paper ready to work on some decisions, you are sure to pick up some ideas for your next class.

If you would like to watch the recording, you need to be a member of IATEFL (find out how to join). If you’re not a member, Mike has summarised ways to use one of the graphic organisers he described in his webinar. Over to Mike…

This blog post aims to introduce the idea  of using visual methods of organising information with language learners and teachers and look at one particular example of graphic organiser and its potential applications for English language teaching.

What is a graphic organiser?

In simple terms, a graphic organiser is just a visual method for capturing and presenting information. They are not anything particularly new, and a cursory look through almost any ELT coursebook will show you that they are already widely used in the profession: ‘spider diagrams’ for presenting vocabulary and flowchart-esque conversation guides are two such examples.


(Cunningham & Moor, 1998: 92; 2005: 20)

One set of graphic organisers is categorised under the heading of decision-making models.These are frames for organising information and, according to Krogerus and Tschäppeler (2017: 6–7), have the following common features:

  • They simplify a topic, issue, decision – they do not present everything concerned.
  • They sum up a topic, issue or decision.
  • They are visual, using shapes and lines to show relationships between things.
  • They are simply methods – they are not a magic bullet and are only as good as the person using them.

A model for working out where you are

You may already be familiar with the acronym SWOT, or be able to guess the words its letters stand for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. SWOT analysis came out of a 1960s Stanford University study into Fortune 500 companies, and its aim was to help employees understand why they were doing what they were doing.

With the concept being over 50 years old, it’s fair to say that SWOT analysis is somewhat passé in project management. Indeed, teachers of business English or English for specific purposes may have let out a groan on reading the previous paragraph – you’ve probably examined more SWOT analyses than you can count. While this project management tool may have been a victim of ubiquity and overuse for some, it may still have some interesting applications for ELT practitioners.

SWOT analysis in action

Of course, there may be people reading this blogpost who are less familiar with this model. In this case, it is useful to consider an example. Here is my own SWOT analysis completed in preparation for leading an IATEFL webinar:

SWOT analysis for preparing webinar

In completing this analysis, I considered different aspects of delivering an online presentation for teachers around the world. The advantages and disadvantages of undertaking this activity – I could share my ideas but would have to give up part of my weekend to do so. I could assess my own strengths and weaknesses as someone with a fair amount of experience giving workshops, both face-to-face and online.

Most importantly, I could consider the affordances granted by being involved with an IATEFL webinar. I could think about how I could positively impact on the practice of fellow ELT professionals.

SWOT analysis in ELT

So how could you use this model yourself? There are a variety of ways SWOT analysis could be useful in the language classroom. For example, you may ask your students to complete an analysis:

  • before completing a functional task (e.g. buying a train ticket).
  • before a lesson looking at a particular piece of language, like the present perfect form.
  • at the beginning of the academic year or the start of their language course, assessing their English in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and its potential effect on their lives in terms of opportunities and threats.
  • and there are probably other contexts you can think up.

Don’t rush this though – make sure you allow plenty of time to complete the SWOT analysis. This will give students a chance to properly assess where they are. And don’t do the SWOT analysis and just file it away to be forgotten – regularly review these analyses with your students, especially if they’re the kind that have been completed at the beginning of the course.

SWOT analysis for teachers?

What’s good for students could also benefit teachers! Why not try to do an analysis yourself:

  • before teaching a particular area of language.
  • before attending a workshop or starting a teacher training course.
  • at the beginning and end of your teaching year.


Yes, SWOT analysis may be overused and some may think it is out of date, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make good use of this technique and model for our students and ourselves as teaching professionals. I invite you to try it out – you may be surprised at what you find yourself writing down about yourself and your experiences.

More models?

SWOT analysis is of course just one of many decision making models or graphic organisers. If you’d like to find out more, IATEFL members can watch the webinar recording to learn about models including the Superficial Knowledge Matrix and Crossroads Model.


  • Cunningham, S. & Moor, P. 1998. Cutting Edge Intermediate. Pearson: Harlow, UK
  • Cunningham, S. & Moor, P. 2005. New Cutting Edge Pre-Intermediate. Pearson: Harlow, UK
  • Krogerus, M. & Tschäppeler, R. 2017. The Decision Book. Profile: London


Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison is currently a member of the IATEFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group committee and helps keep the SIG’s website running at Based in the UK, he has been a teacher, materials writer, and occasional teacher trainer. When not busy with ELT matters, he likes taking photographs. You can find him on Twitter @harrisonmike or on his blog.

Thank you to Mike for agreeing to write for the IATEFL blog. 

If you’d like to write a blog post or present a webinar for us, please contact blog (at) iatefl (dot) org.

You can find out more about upcoming webinars on the IATEFL website. If you are an IATEFL member, you can access the recordings and slides from all of our webinars in the members’ area. If you’re not, you can join here.

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Q & A from Nicola Meldrum’s webinar on technology and teacher-led development

On 19th August 2017, Nicola Meldrum presented the following IATEFL webinar:

How can technology support and facilitate teacher development?

In this webinar we will focus on collaborative development supported by technology. We will look at different tech tools that teachers can use to collaborate and develop. For example, using instant messaging tools to  create communities of development, share videos of our teaching, images of our boards, pose questions, ask for support and more.

We will also look at the importance of collaboration for teacher development and how it can increase our motivation and commitment to development. 

If you would like to watch the recording, you need to be a member of IATEFL (find out how to join), but even if you’re not a member, you can read Nicola’s answers to some of the questions below, as well as extra suggestions from the webinar participants. For ease of reference, you can also jump directly to the questions:

  1. What can teachers in underdeveloped and developing countries do?
  2. What about technology tools in educational research?
  3. Should we avoid or incorporate instant messenger slang and idiom?
  4. Where can I find mentors in a similar context if there is nobody at my school?
  5. How can we create communities of practice for early years teachers?
  6. Was the WhatsApp group you used to discuss boardwork more effective than an in-person discussion?
  7. How can I decide which methods to use with new teachers?
  8. How can you keep a WhatsApp group on topic?
  9. How can we encourage group members to share, not just the admin or creator?
  10. What control do you have of things you share on these groups, like videos of yourself teaching?
  11. What reading would you recommend on teacher-led professional development?
  12. How can action research be shared in groups?
  13. What tools can we use to promote peer observation between remote teachers?
  14. How can you help older teachers or those not so tech-savvy to get involved?
  15. Are there any tools you recommend we DON’T use?

I would like to start by saying thank you to everyone who attended this event and all the great ideas you shared, as well as the excellent questions below! I hope you find my answers useful.

Q1 from Dharmendra Bhattarai: What is  your suggestion for the teachers of  underdeveloped  and  developing countries where even smart phones are not allowed  to be used inside the school?

This is an excellent question. Many of the examples I used were classroom based; taking images of your board, recording your teaching etc. I can see why you asked me this, Dharmendra.

I think teachers could collaborate on many many things without having these classroom examples. They can still have useful conversations about their lessons and teaching in other ways. They could still form communities of practice using tools and websites where teachers can interact and support each other.

As I said in the webinar, it is important to collaborate where there is real buy-in from the participants and where time is spent considering the group’s goals and best ways of working. You could reach out to teachers in your context who want to collaborate using existing online groups or communities. Once you have got other people interested you need to decide how the group will communicate and what they will focus on AND how it will all work.

You could start by asking the group some questions to decide on a tool or site that would facilitate conversations about development and even collaborative tasks around areas of need and interest.

For example, imagine teachers want to develop how they teach writing skills. They could set up a group using social media, such as Facebook or Slack. Within that group they would then establish the rules for interaction (how long posts should be, being polite and positive in posts etc) and what they will collaborate on during the first week. They might decide to have discussions about existing problems they have teaching this area and offer support to each other with their own ideas, share articles/links to resources etc. They might even decide to take photos of their student’s work and share it on the group, asking how others might correct it to balance feedback on content and feedback on language/structure etc.

Then, the group creator/s should lead by example and start posting and sharing! The group should also decide on a timeframe for each discussion/ task to increase motivation to participate. To help you with this, search online for existing groups (for example, on Facebook) and see how they are working. You can see which groups get a lot of participation and which don’t and then reflect on why.


Q2 from Sandip Patel: Could you also talk of use of technology tools in educational research?

I tried to answer this in the webinar but think I can do a better job here with more time to think about it! Essentially, it depends on the nature of the group and the areas you are researching. If it is informal research with a group of teachers with a shared, specific goal and it is short term, then instant messaging is great! You can ask each other questions about what you are doing, share links, share images and videos – whatever will support the research goal and help each other.

If the research group is more formal, the goals are wider and the time frame longer then inevitably there will be more to talk about so you will a tool where different conversations can happen and you can share research documents and resources as well as maybe share parts of your research. Forum discussion tools such as Slack are good for this. They are much easier to manage than email as you can easily create mini groups and start conversations about specific things. You can organise your discussions easily and you can integrate other tools such as Google Drive.


Q3 from Michael Betz (Thailand G Suite Trainer): What about IM [Instant Messenger] slang and idiom? Should we avoid or incorporate it?

Thanks – an interesting question I had not considered before doing this webinar. I think it depends on the nature of the group and what they are collaborating on. Do participants know each other? Are they conducting more formal research or are they involved in informal teacher development discussions and collaborative activities?

The other things to consider are levels and varieties of English. Use of slang and idioms could hinder communication if these are not consistent between the participants or are above their level of English. As I said in the webinar, it is important to spend time considering how the group will work and what they will focus on. This would be an excellent question to add to that discussion. As well as establishing what areas of teaching and learning the group will look at, you could establish some guidelines for language use. Thanks for bringing this up – it made me think in more detail about this aspect of group formation and setting up communities of practice.

It could also be a goal of the group – to develop their English and knowledge of different varieties – sharing idioms etc.


Q4 from Shailini Seetharama: I often want to try out new things or research some new methodology / new ways of teaching discourse etc. But I have no one to talk to or check my logical sequencing of these lessons. How do I get mentored by a senior teacher in another country who has a similar context so they’ll understand my context better? Where can I find such people?

Another great question which technology can help with. You need to reach out in groups on social media. You can use Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter to find people who have similar backgrounds. Specifically, use the IATEFL Facebook page. There are also groups on Linkedin where you could post a message with some information about what you want to explore. Maybe you could suggest an exchange of some kind. Finding a mentor might be tricky, but maybe you can find other people who teach in a similar context to you by joining a teacher association; many countries and cities have active teacher’s groups which communicate online and have face to face meet ups. [The IATEFL Associates list is a good place to start.] You could suggest sharing lesson plans, materials and resources and getting feedback on specific aspects of your teaching and planning.


Q5 from Shay Coyne (YLTSIG) Barcelona: How can we do this for early years teachers?

Thanks for the question Shay- by ‘do this, I think you were referring to create communities of practice and development. As with other answers, I think it is done by reaching out to people in your current PLN [professional learning network], then maybe finding other like-minded people on social media. This needs a clear statement in your first post/message. You need to think about what you want to develop specifically, how you might do this and what timeframe you are thinking of for the collaboration. Once you have some clear ideas, send a message or post on social media groups like the IATEFL Facebook page. You may also want to limit the size of the group, so mention this in your post. Remember, you only need one other person to collaborate! You do not need a huge group – it is more important that the people involved are motivated and have shared goals.


Q6 from Clare Maas (MaWSIG) (Germany): Was the WhatsApp group for boardwork sharing more effective in your view than an in-person discussion?

Good question Clare. I think it was effective because we were posting live and as thoughts came to us. Often we think of things mid lesson (either teaching or observing) and it is hard to recall it after the event. Through the WhatsApp sharing we were able to capture the moment and the thought that went with it.

This could either lead to face-to-face follow-up discussions or further dialogue using the app. It also served as a record to refer back to, as people replied with comments or other images. In effect, we created a narrative about the point we were discussing, something that is hard to do after the class has finished sometimes. Maybe we can call it “hot” reflection.

Q7 from Ayat Tawel: How can I decide which of your wonderful suggested methods I should try with our group of teachers? What factors should I consider especially if I am a new member of a team but leading ICT there?

Another lovely question! Maybe you could use a survey to ask teachers what areas they would like to develop in their teaching. As leading ICT there you could focus it according to your own perception of their needs and interests, but also involve them in the decision by offering a choice of topics to explore and ways of exploring them. If they have a say they will feel more ownership and motivation to participate. You should also ask them what they feel is within their comfort zone in terms of using technology and sharing with other teachers, especially if this is the first time they are doing something like this. Think of the work involved and ask them how much time they want to dedicate to this, on a daily basis/weekly basis and for how long: one week, one month, six months?


Q8 from Jani Reddy Pandiri: we have WhatsApp group but it is very difficult to control the people. Most of the time they are posting irrelevant things in spite of repeated requests…  

Yes, this is a problem with such tools! I think at the start of any collaboration we need to create the rules for interaction as a group. I have often been told by the group moderator how to post, what not to share etc. I think, as with anything, if I am part of the decision making process, I am more likely to follow the rules!


Q9 from Asep Budiman: How can we engage the members of group to freely share things, because the members are usually silent and only the admin or creator is active?

As I said in the webinar, this is really important and a good question to ask. People are often reluctant and shy to post and share – teaching is a hugely personal thing! I think we need to consider a few things – having a private group and limiting the number of participants – this can help to create a feeling of safety. We then need to do some group formation activities to help people bond and get used to sharing online. For example, we could ask them to post their favourite quote about teaching, or share an image they think represents teaching for them, something simple which does not require too much sharing of personal information. We need to act as a role model and share in appropriate and positive ways. We need to demonstrate empathy as the group leader and as a participant of the group. This will encourage others to post. Finally, we should respond to individuals and create mini dialogues within the group. Praise people for posting and sharing and use their names! I used Claire Venable’s Facebook groups as a model in the webinar. She has done this really well and the participation is fantastic!


Q10 from Michelle Braddick-Southgate: When sharing something, like a video of oneself, would you have control of what happens to it once it is shared?

This is an important area to consider. I think it is essential to get permission from anyone who will feature in images or videos you create. They should agree to it being shared in public spaces such as Youtube.

I think it is almost impossible to control what happens to anything we share, so the best thing to do it get signed permission in writing where the participants are clear what the content is being used for.

Of course, we can ask the groups we are sharing on to NOT share beyond the confines of the group. This would be part of establishing the mission of the group.


Q11 from Tara Alhadithy in Abu Dhabi / United Arab Emirates: Hi Nicola, what reference do you recommend for reading on teacher-led professional development with regard to technology?

Unfortunately, there is very little out there, that I know of. Maybe others can help who read this article?

Q12 from Dr Srinath Addagatla in India: How can action research be shared on groups or collaborative teaching and learning?

I think collaboration in action research can be facilitated by creating online communities of practice. Teachers can either search for groups on facebook which focus on the areas they are researching and find out what other teachers around the world or in their context are doing. Or they can start their own online groups by reaching out via IATEFL, teaching associations in their countries or in social media posts (Facebook and Twitter etc) where they call on teachers to join a community with a particular focus. We can then all learn from comparative analysis of how things are being done in different contexts. We can learn from sharing results of our own research, asking teachers to help us with research and by simply sharing what we are doing and asking for comments and ideas.

For example, a teacher I was working with recently wanted to find out how teachers who have done their initial teacher training qualification and have some experience integrate pronunciation into their lessons, and how confident they feel about teaching pronunciation in general. He created an online survey and shared it on his social media networks, including a Facebook group of Diploma-qualified teachers I run. He got lots of responses and was able to answer this question and identify gaps in CPD in different contexts. He could then make some suggestions about how CPD in teaching pronunciation could be supported with more online development courses and informal collaboration between teachers.


Q13 from Alicia Artusi: I’d like to promote peer observation among remote teachers. Are there any tools you can recommend so they learn from each other?

This is a great question and it is relevant to teachers and schools everywhere. I think many teachers, even those working in the same school, resist peer observation schemes because they see it as more work – it can be time consuming. As an alternative, I think we can ask teachers to record short 5-minute sections of their lessons they want feedback on. For example, it could be related to the question: “I want to improve how I drill pronunciation”. I record myself and my learners doing some drilling and post this on my online teacher’s group (using instant messaging groups or social media groups, for example) and ask for feedback and suggestions. This way teachers can learn from each other’s feedback, like “Your drilling was good when you.. I will steal that technique. Maybe you can do it differently by… Maybe your learners could try ….”

I think in your case, it might be useful to identify areas the teachers want to explore and set up mini focus groups using instant messaging as this usually works best even with slower internet. You can then help teachers learn how to share videos and make suggestions about how they can ask questions and respond to each other. Again, start with conversations about what areas of teaching will be explored, what teachers will do (share images/videos/voice messages/ text messages), when (how often) and the timeframe for completing the peer observation scheme, should all be discussed carefully before beginning.


Q14 from Kimpeck Wee: This is more a comment than a question. What about older teachers above 50’s or 60’s who are not so tech-savvy?

I think the key is to not take on too much too soon. Learn how to use technology you are comfortable with. For example, if you already use a smartphone and text your friends and family, could you use your smart phone to record sections of your lessons and share it with other teachers? Could you text other teachers in a community with questions about teaching and learning? A good idea is to find a mentor who can act as a consultant to help you learn how to use technology. Another idea is to observe teachers in your school who use technology a lot.


Q15 from Veronika Rot Gabrovec: It seems that almost any tool /social network can be appropriated to support teacher development. Is there one you DON’T advise us to use?

Not that I can think of. It is more about how you use it and making sure that everyone who joins an online development community is clear on what they are doing before they begin. People want to be part of a supportive, focussed group so building rapport and clarifying the rules of interaction is very important.

I hope you found this useful and that you are now encouraged to start your own online collaborative teacher development groups.


Nicola Meldrum

Nicola Meldrum has been involved in ELT since 1999 and is based in Barcelona in Spain. She is a teacher trainer, teacher and writer and is currently course director on a Trinity Dip TESOL course at OxfordTEFL and involved in writing student and teacher materials. As well as regularly speaking at conferences, she also writes a blog about teaching pronunciation and articles on teacher development and teacher training. 

Thank you to Nicola for agreeing to write for the IATEFL blog. 

If you’d like to write a blog post or present a webinar for us, please contact blog (at) iatefl (dot) org.

You can find out more about upcoming webinars on the IATEFL website. If you are an IATEFL member, you can access the recordings and slides from all of our webinars in the members’ area. If you’re not, you can join here.

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A life-changing experience (Saula Aguilar)

IATEFL and my dream

Going to the 51st International IATEFL Conference, in Glasgow, was one of the best things that could have happened to me personally as well as professionally. I will never forget all the wonderful things I witnessed and was a part of.

I joined and became a member of this global community of English teachers last year, which helped me make my dream of going to England come true.

Twenty-five years ago, my business partner and I decided to open our own language institute: Fine-tuned English. On the 4th of November, 1992, sixty enthusiastic students strode into our language institute and the teaching commenced. The number of students rapidly increased in a few-months’ time. We now have more than 3,000 students, with Fine-tuned English celebrating its 25th Anniversary! I was given this trip as a reward for all my hard work for and in FTE, not to mention the community.

Since I became an English teacher, I dreamt of traveling to England to witness different accents of English, experience Britain’s rich culture, and to learn and develop from the adventure. The first book I ever used to teach English had a reading exercise called “Flying over London” and every time I gave that activity to the students I wished I could fly to London. So as the plane was descending I felt pure joy, for I was finally fulfilling my dream!

The IATEFL Conference was amazing in a variety of ways. I enjoyed seeing the organization of a world-renowned international conference, receiving instruction from highly qualified teachers, and most of all meeting wonderful educators from around the world!

Margit Szestay and Saula

Margit Szestay and Saula

“…like a well-oiled machine.”

The entire conference was well-organized, and each detail was planned and carefully thought out. Throughout the entire conference I never felt rushed! One had plenty of time to socialize between how-to sessions, poster presentations, forums, talks and workshops. I could attend all the seminars I planned on going to. We didn’t have to rush from one room to the next. It was all wonderfully timed. I tip my hat to the organizers for creating such a lovely schedule.

The sponsors’ exhibits were also great. I could peruse new resources, and was inspired by new ideas.

The organizers not only thought of important topics for teachers to learn about, but also of entertaining sessions at night, in order to experience small aspects of certain cultures. I happily attended the Civic Welcome Reception, where I enjoyed meeting teachers from different countries and ended up dancing a Scottish folk dance. I was also able to attend some evening activities, such as “British Council networking” evening, “Meet the 16 IATEFL SIGS” and “Pecha Kucha”, which made for an amazing evening.

???, Beatrix and Saula with a Scottish piper

Csilla Jaray-Benn (President of TESOL France), Beatrix (President of IATEFL Hungary) and Saula with a Scottish piper

They even used user-friendly technology to make things easier. I found the phone application for the event quite handy. I could make more informed decisions after looking at presenters’ biographies, not to mention the floor plan and the electronic business cards, which couldn’t have been simpler and easier to use.

Making global connections

What I liked most about the conference is the fact that you could meet so many different teachers, educators, writers and trainers from all over the world. It was amazing to see JJ Wilson, who inspired me during a plenary about Professional Development in Ecuador, and I even rubbed shoulders with some other ELT stars like Jeremy Harmer and David Crystal.

Saula, David Crystal and Rakesh Bhanot

Saula, David Crystal and Rakesh Bhanot

Since I have been a member of TESOL for quite a while now, I had something to compare the Glasgow conference to. I found the IATEFL conference different, especially in the crowd it attracted. Most IATEFL attendees were from European countries that I haven’t been to. The conference was great for networking, and I gained relationships all over the world.

It was exciting to walk around, to talk to people, and to see that everyone’s common goal is to get their students to speak better English for the purpose of developing professionally and personally. During coffee breaks, I met so many interesting people, with whom I could exchange ideas.

Additionally, through a PLN (where I was included by a Brazilian friend), I met a wonderful person named Rakesh Bhanot. Through him, I had the chance to meet some very nice people from all over Europe, whose books we have used here in Ecuador for many years now.

Saula and her new-found IATEFL friends

Saula and her new-found IATEFL friends, including Rakesh (centre right)

The unexpected roommate

Through a series of events, I made a lovely new friend named Beatrix Price. Bea and I met because her reservation fell through, and with the help of a mutual friend, she ended up staying with me. As we attended seminars and went to dinner together, our acquaintanceship blossomed into a beautiful friendship.

Beatrix and Saula

Beatrix and Saula

When Marjorie Rosenberg, the IATEFL President, heard about our story she thought it was marvellous and wanted to interview us on how IATEFL is a great place to make international friendships. Right before the interview, I felt so anxious I wanted to cancel, but Beatrix was very supportive, which helped with my confidence and I did the interview after all. In hindsight, I would have regretted it if I hadn’t done that interview. IATEFL is one of the best ways to get international, professional and/or personal friendships, which you will be able to rely on. A little bit of the interview is in the IATEFL 2017 video:

Saula, Marjorie and Beatrix

Saula, Marjorie and Beatrix

Long-lasting effects

I wasn’t the only one to benefit from these great educators. Even before going to the conference, teachers and I watched webinars together which motivated us. For instance, we all learned applicable strategies from Chaz Pugliese´s book “Creating Motivation, Creating Learning.” Later, it was neat to attend Chaz´s workshop in person and I was able to ask him to sign a book during the conference. When I returned home, we completed an in-house training where all the teachers presented an activity from the book. Many of the 80 Fine-Tuned-English teachers continue using what they learned from the training even now.

Chaz Pugliese and Saula

Chaz Pugliese and Saula (sorry it’s a bit pink!)

Not only did we complete in-house training, we also organized a way to include all teachers in watching the main plenaries together. Each teacher watched three plenaries and we brainstormed ways to implement the ideas we heard. After watching Gabriel Diaz Maggioli’s “Professional Development” plenary, we created a CPD pilot plan tailored to our institutional needs. Now teachers complete peer-observations on a regular basis, and they meet twice a month to discuss new strategies. Also, if any teacher chooses to go to professional development conferences here in Ecuador the institute has offered to help with expenses. On top of that, Sarah Mercer’s talk about psychology resulted in our offering Zumba classes to help teachers with their stress management as whole people. Lastly, many teachers are interested in becoming IATEFL members themselves, for they can tell it’s a great investment!

On a personal level, my journey to Great Britain and the experiences I had at the conference continue to affect my daily life. Now, I attend an Air Yoga class which helps keep me relaxed. By attending the conference, I realized I needed to improve my English, so I am a student again by taking a teacher’s morning class in my own institute. Also, I recently attended Jeremy Harmer’s workshop in Quito.

I recommend joining IATEFL to other teachers. I had an unbelievable time at the 2017 conference and I can’t wait to go back in 2018!


Saula Aguilar

Saula Aguilar Jaramillo holds a Doctorate in Curriculum Design, a Masters in Educational Management and a B.A. in English Teaching. She has been the Academic Director of Fine-Tuned English Language Institute for 25 years, has taught English at BCA High School for 15 years and has been an instructor at the Language Institute of the U.N.L. (Universidad Nacional de Loja/National University of Loja). In addition, she has taught Spanish in North Carolina through the Visiting International Faculty Program and was nominated for the Cultural Educator of the Year Award in the U.S.A. as well as teaching English to immigrants in Davidson Community College. Furthermore in 2007, she was awarded the Professional Woman of the Year Award in Loja, Ecuador and she has been an academic consultant for Richmond Publishing since 2004.

Want to join us in the future?

The next three IATEFL conferences will be:

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The first workshop of CI-ATEFL (Cote d’Ivoire Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) (Marcos Ngoran)

CI-ATEFL is the Cote d’Ivoire Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language. Cote d’Ivoire is in the west of Africa:

Cote d'Ivoire in Africa

Image from Wikimedia Commons shared under a CC 3.0 licence

The association won the 2016 IATEFL Projects grant to train 40 teachers of English in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for English learning and teaching, and to set up the Cote d’Ivoire Digital Learning Community (CI-DLC).

The goal of CI-DLC is to initiate training on how to use ICT to design and search for resources; it aims to establish a strong blended community to support teachers countrywide, and create an online library for teachers and students.

The first training session took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on December 8th, 2016 at IPNETP, the Institut Pédagogique National de l’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel (National Teacher Education Institute for Technical and Vocational Schools). It is the only institute in charge of training vocational and technical school teachers, which is in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. 40 teachers from the technical and vocational training sector, along with those from General Education (from private and public schools) took part in the workshop. In addition, 7 educational authorities were present, namely Mr Zakaria Berté, Director General of IPNETP; Mr Oi Kakou Kakou, Director of the Continued Professional Development School; Mrs Diallo Sita Kanga, Head of the Centre for English Resources; Mr Bernard Kakou Brakoua, ESP Inspector General and 3 other Inspectors.

Dignitaries at the CI-DLC training

From left to right: Mr Reymond Kahdio , adviser; Mrs Lydie Kouadio, Inspector; Mrs Sita Kanga, Director of the English for Specific Purposes Resource Center; Mr Marcos K. N’goran, President of CI-ATEFL; and two other Advisers

The event had two main parts: the official ceremony and the workshop.

The official ceremony

Mr Berte opened the ceremony by welcoming everybody to his institution. His speech was followed by that of Koffi Marcos N’Goran, President of CI-ATEFL. He thanked IATEFL for funding the workshop, Mr Berte for the support of his institution, and the inspectors and participants for their invaluable contribution to the success of the event. He terminated his speech by introducing CI-ATEFL, which was created in 2013 to help connect and develop English Language Teachers in Cote d’Ivoire, and fill a gap between teachers of English in Cote d’Ivoire and the international ELT community. He continued by presenting the project of setting up CI-DLC as a tool to support teachers of English, and encouraging them to get involved to aid their development and that of English teaching and learning in Cote d’Ivoire.

The official ceremony was closed by Gary Motteram, from Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, UK. Through a Skype conversation, he congratulated CI-ATEFL and wished the workshop to be successful, and the project sustainable.

The workshop

The aim of the workshop was to train participants to act efficiently in the project. It was split into two sessions.

Session one

Aubin Adi, the facilitator, started by introducing the Digital Learning Community by providing answers to the following questions:

  • What is a community?
  • What is a community of practice?
  • Why is it fundamental to Cote d’Ivoire teachers of English to form a community?

This presentation provided the participants with the background information to help understand the relevance of the project and the benefits for teachers, students and the system of education.

The workshop did not emphasize using Microsoft Office even though support was given to some participants as difficulties occurred. In addition, participants were provided with the fundamentals of the internet and the world wide web.

They included how to:

  • use a browser and search engines,
  • create membership on collaboration websites (Microsoft and Google Cloud), etc.
  • use social media,
  • transfer files from/to a local device like a computer, tablet or smartphone,
  • handle multimedia files (images, audio, video).

As a case study, participants were asked to use web resources (video, text, pictures, and sounds), and prepare a short lesson.

CI-DLC participants during training working at their computers

CI-DLC participants during training

Session two

This took place after lunch. Participants were shown how to get started with CI-DLC. This session lasted about 2 hours.

In this workshop, Aubin explained the tasks of the participants in CI-DLC, as well as the knowledge and necessary information they need to play an effective role in CI-DLC. The session integrated all the previous abilities.

Participants were also taught how to:

  • practice using CI-DLC Community Platforms,
  • implement CI-DLC procedures,
  • handle files on CI-DLC community platforms,
  • apply collaboration tips and best practices.

As a case study, participants were asked to share their prepared lessons in the previous session to CI-DLC with their groups. Group members provided feedback, integrated the feedback into their work and shared their work on the CI-DLC community site and Facebook group.

End of the workshop

The workshop ended with the sharing of useful information and an insight into IATEFL.

The President of CI-ATEFL, Koffi Marcos N’Goran presented IATEFL to the participants (20 of them were members already). He finished his presentation by giving out brochures about the Association. Questions which followed were about the registration fee, scholarships, and the IATEFL annual conference and how to be involved in the international online events.

Adi, the facilitator, advised the participants who have not yet joined the community to register. He also asked them to apply the acquired knowledge to their teaching situation, and to provide feedback by the end of December 18th, 2016.

CI-DLC participants after training - standing on steps arranged in a group

CI-DLC participants after training

The second part of the project

The second part of the project was another success: it took place on April 28th, 2017, at IPNETP, with the institutional support of the Minister of Technical and Vocational training and the Director General of IPNET. The event was again split into two parts: the official ceremony and the workshop.

This time, the workshop was an opportunity to share experiences of the use of the knowledge they acquired during the first training in their different schools. These included their successes and challenges. The follow-up session was an opportunity for the facilitator to address confusing points related to the first training. In addition, he introduced new tips on how to use ICT to share material online, prepare lessons, teach, and use the new WhatsApp group. He closed the session by encouraging each participant to keep up the good work, cascade their knowledge to their colleagues once back to their schools, and continue online interaction. Moreover, another appointment was made for the 2017-2018 academic year with the hope of finding financial support…. Fingers crossed.


Koffi Marcos N'Goran

Koffi Marcos N’Goran graduated from the English Department of Abidjan University with a BA. Then, he obtained the Postgraduate diploma in teaching English as a foreign language, with honors, from the Institut Pédagogique National de l’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel (National Teacher Education Institute for Technical and Vocational schools – IPNEPT).  He taught English for specific purposes to a diverse public including teenagers, adults, and professionals for about 16 years.

He won a fully-paid Frank Bell Scholarship to participate in the annual IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) Conference in Glasgow in 2012. Marcos was awarded a Conference Grant from the British Council in Senegal, and this time he took part in the annual IATEFL Conference in Liverpool (April 2013) where he also presented a paper at the ESP [English for Specific Purposes] SIG’s (Special Interest Group’s) Pre-Conference Event (PCE). In 2014, He took part in IATEFL conference in Harrogate, UK where he presented the experience of Cote d’Ivoire in the use of technology for English learning. In 2015 and 2016, he participated in the Hornby School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Marcos has become more internationally involved in ELT and ESP since 2011, and has embarked on a project to sustain an ESP Resource Centre for local ELT and ESP teacher across various educational sectors. The IATEFL HO granted Marcos a free three-year membership in 2012 in the hope that he becomes a catalyst for setting up a teachers’ association in Cote D’Ivoire – a task which he completed with his Ivorian colleagues in 2013. CI-ATEFL (Cote d’Ivoire Association of Teachers of English a Foreign Language), the new teachers association, an affiliate of IATEFL, is now formally registered in Cote D’Ivoire.

Marcos served from 2014 to 2016 as the head of internship department at the Ministry Employment, Technical and Vocation Training. Currently, though he is the Studies Officer of the Minister of Employment and Social Protection, he is still engaged in teachers’ development projects; the ongoing one is related to a country wide English Teacher professional development with the support of an English Language Fellow, a US Department of States Program.

You can e-mail him at CI-ATEFL has a facebook page if you’d like to find out more.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in reading. We look forward to hearing from you! If you’re not a member, why not join us?

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Q & A from Laura Patsko’s webinar on teaching pronunciation for English as a Lingua Franca

On 9th September 2017, Laura Patsko presented the following IATEFL webinar:

Teaching pronunciation for English as a Lingua Franca (ELF)

What do learners of English need to sound like? Who do they speak to? Who needs to understand them? Who do they need to understand? In 2017, the answer to all these questions is probably not “native English speakers”. Linguists estimate that non-native speakers of English now outnumber its native speakers by at least 3 to 1 (Crystal, 2008), and approximately 80% of interaction in English worldwide takes place with no native speakers present (Beneke, 1991). What does this mean for our classrooms? This webinar will consider new pronunciation priorities and challenges for learners and teachers of English, including practical tips and activities.

If you would like to watch the recording, you need to be a member of IATEFL (find out how to join), but even if you’re not a member, you can read Laura’s answers to some of the questions below. Over to Laura…

Thanks to all those who were able to attend my webinar on 9 Sept 2017. There were so many great questions and not enough time to respond to them all! So in this post, I’ll address some more. People often asked questions on the same general themes, so my responses are grouped accordingly. I’ve also included links to further resources so you can continue exploring ELF and pronunciation.

First of all…


Bachir Sahed: Do we teach our students to be EFL or ELF speakers?

It depends on their needs. One argument is that teachers should determine whether their students are really learning English in order to use it as a ‘foreigner’, i.e. living in a country where most other people use English as their first language, or to use it as a lingua franca, i.e. interacting in English with people from many different first-language backgrounds. They should then teach the students appropriately according to the different priorities of these two different use cases. Another argument is to recognise that we rarely fully understand the future needs of our students (and they themselves might not know!), in which case we should trust in statistics and assume that most people learning English today will need ELF, so that should be our focus.

My own feeling is somewhere in between. I think the most effective users of any language are those who appreciate that language is inherently diverse, flexible and changeable, and who have enough awareness of themselves and others to modify and moderate their use of language to suit different contexts and audiences. In practice, this means that our students today will need a sophisticated sense of what is likely to be most widely understood by the people who they are likely to interact with, but they will also need to be prepared to be surprised and to adapt to new contexts and interlocutors, which they will certainly encounter one day.

Apapan Ruengkul: Do you think that teaching pronunciation for ELF and EIL is the same?

Generally, yes. As research continues and our understanding of language phenomena develops, different scholars propose different terminology. What was once called ‘EIL’ [English as an International Language] is now generally called ‘ELF’ [English as a Lingua Franca], but even the term ‘ELF’ is now being discussed and sometimes replaced by other terms in more recent research. You can learn more about these developments in a free online course developed by the British Council and the University of Southampton’s Centre for Global Englishes.

This is closely related to…

What learners need/want

Arnab Podder (India): In my context (India), I have many students asking me “How do I master X accent”? What should be an appropriate way to deal with it?

We need to understand our students’ reasons for wanting to acquire a certain accent. Do they understand the implications of different accents? Do they (mistakenly) equate a specific accent with perfect international intelligibility? Do they actually want to speak with a certain accent, or do they really want the prestige associated with that accent? Do they simply like how a particular accent sounds because they’ve heard it in films? And so on. We need to have an ongoing discussion with learners about why they want what they want. To my mind, this is what distinguishes English teaching from English education. Of course, once our learners are able to make a considered, informed choice, then it’s our job to help them – by providing guidance, support and resources. Just as we would do for any other aspect of their English learning!

Some of you also asked about…

The content/focus of pronunciation instruction (especially for ELF)

Paul Seligson: Given the large number of cognates between English and Romance languages, where placing the stress in the ‘right’ place will effectively ‘gift’ you an English word, why is word stress not considered important in ELF?

It’s not that word stress isn’t considered important, just that from existing research word stress still appears to be a ‘grey area’ which needs further investigation. My own view is that knowledge of word stress will be useful for producing and understanding nuclear stress*, which is widely agreed as important for intelligibility. But this is a different justification for teaching word stress than the one you suggest. There may well be many cognates between English and Romance languages, but of course Romance languages are not relevant to all ELF research, or indeed all English users.

One thing that most pronunciation researchers agree on, and particularly those focusing on ELF, is that a learner’s L1 is one of the most helpful indicators for identifying priorities for pronunciation work and guiding the learner to producing particular pronunciation features. So if you’re teaching someone whose L1 is a Romance language and you are aware of cognates with only slightly different pronunciation, I’d certainly agree that it would be useful to draw their attention to this. But I couldn’t realistically give the same advice to all teachers and learners of all different L1s.

*Claudia Camenzind: What is nuclear stress?

I’ve written an introduction, with links to classroom activities, to this topic here.

Gonzalo Eduardo Espinosa: Would you suggest working on suprasegmentals first and then segments? Or both at the same time?

This is a difficult question to answer. Different learners have different needs and priorities, so I would probably give different advice to different people! My own preference is usually to start with segments and build them up into increasingly larger structures (syllables, then polysyllabic words, then phrases, etc.). But even more important than this is to simply include pronunciation with any new language structures that we teach. So if we’re teaching vocabulary in one lesson, we should also teach how the words are pronounced (i.e. sounds and syllables). If we’re teaching functional phrases in another lesson, we should also teach where the nuclear stress would likely fall in these phrases (i.e. a suprasegmental feature). And so on.

An interesting topic which I didn’t cover in the webinar was…

The role of ELF and pronunciation in assessment

JJ Polk: How does intelligibility of ELF play into standardized exams today?

James Easton: What steps are being taken to question the way English pronunciation is currently assessed by oral examiners for Trinity College London, Cambridge and IELTS etc?

To the best of my knowledge, the way pronunciation is assessed by standardised test examiners isn’t an immediate concern to the test providers. Pronunciation is perceived by so many in the ELT industry as esoteric and low-priority. Moreover, assessment of speaking in standardised tests tends to have a three-way tension between the need for consistent benchmarking, the need to be seen as respecting the diversity of English(es) worldwide and the need for assessors to be able to apply their discretion when exercising their specialist expertise and assessing someone’s oral intelligibility. These factors together give assessors a lot of individual power but little guidance in how to exercise it.

For example, the need for consistent benchmarking tends to lead to a (perceived or assumed) need to specify a standard norm to mark against, yet no exam boards seem to want to make an explicit choice of which accent assessors should use as a norm (for example, Received Pronunciation), presumably to avoid unpopularity among all the millions of speakers who don’t themselves know or use that variety. This leads to many exam descriptors that are unhelpfully vague or presumptuous, for example:

[pronunciation] is easy to understand throughout; L1 accent has minimal effect on intelligibility
– publicly available descriptor for IELTS band 8

Easy to understand by whom? The examiner? An imagined interlocutor? In what context? Why assume that an L1 accent will have an effect on intelligibility?

[candidate can] Produce individual sounds so as to be fully understood by the examiner, with only a rare sound that deviates from an internationally intelligible model
– publicly available descriptor for Trinity GESE band 12

At least here, a specific listener-judge is identified. But what counts as an ‘internationally intelligible model’? There is no widely agreed such thing. Such descriptors attempt to show awareness of international English without actually providing anything of practical use. It’s an exercise in ‘box ticking’. The best available evidence-based set of pronunciation features that enhance internationally intelligibility is arguably the Lingua Franca Core (LFC), but this is not a model per se. And in my experience, it’s unlikely that these examiners are trained to know the contents of the LFC. What’s more, a listener’s expectations and experience have a significant bearing on whether a speaker’s pronunciation is intelligible. Yet in an assessment situation, only the speaker (the person being assessed) will suffer the consequences of this mismatch in listener expectations and speaker performance.

Ultimately, the best judge of whether someone’s pronunciation is internationally intelligible is someone who is interacting with that person in an ‘international’ context. In other words, an individual examiner with little knowledge of ELF research and implications, who is forced to make a judgment in a few minutes based on an interaction between the test candidate and only one other speaker (listener), is probably not the best assessor – but it’s the best solution we’ve got at present given the logistical practicalities of assessing thousands of test takers worldwide year-round. Certainly, human markers are still much better than machines for comprehending speech and assessing speaking skills. Going forward, I would advise that test descriptors are revised to focus on intelligibility over acceptability, and then ensure that assessors are better trained in how this is actually likely to sound in practice.

There was a programme on BBC Radio 4 several years ago in which they touched on this subject, if you’d like to hear what someone from an examining body has to say.

Now, coming back to the classroom, some people had questions about…

Minimal pairs vs. context

Kemal Bereksi: the minimal pair ‘had’ : ‘hat’ could be confusing in isolation, but will hardly ever be confused in context. Don’t you think so?

Dong An: Would minimal pairs only be useful if the two words are of the same type? They wouldn’t confuse an adjective with a verb, would they?

There are really two issues here: one is about the way words in context might (or might not) confuse us, and the other is about the purpose of minimal pairs.

First of all, pronunciation does not operate in isolation. If a speaker deviates from norms and/or listener expectations in lexis or grammar, this can be compounded by pronunciation factors. So yes, in theory, many minimal pairs would be easily distinguished by the lexico-grammatical context. But in practice, when we listen to someone speak, what we’re actually doing is very rapidly decoding the sounds they produce, matching these strings of sounds to words in our mental lexicon, then matching these strings or words to grammatical patterns, so that we can understand the whole discourse. If that first step – decoding – doesn’t happen easily, each subsequent step can be slowed or stopped. Meanwhile, the speaker continues speaking and the listener is left behind. It’s no longer a question of identifying whether a word is an adjective or a verb, because there was already an issue in the first place with recognising the sounds. Certainly, listeners do use contextual clues to understand what they hear, and this can often resolve potential breakdowns in understanding. But even proficient listeners and speakers can occasionally misunderstand each other, so it’s helpful for learners to raise their awareness of meaningful contrasts through minimal pair work in class, so that they are better equipped to self-monitor during future interactions.

And secondly, even this explanation still neglects the fact that minimal pairs are probably more useful as a teaching technique for pronunciation than as an example of confusion risks. Using minimal pairs in class is just a way of illustrating contrasts that otherwise would be completely abstract for learners. Thus, the ‘hat’/‘had’ example is just an illustration of one particular phonetic contrast that is important for international intelligibility.

And finally, a number of you asked if I could recommend…

Other resources

Christina Cacha: Can you recommend a good book that provides pronunciation activities?

I feel obliged to promote my own co-blog, which is full of activities for pronunciation and listening for ELF! The website is After that, my favourite activity book is Mark Hancock’s Pronunciation Games (CUP, 1995) and my favourite book about pronunciation and ELF specifically is Robin Walker’s Teaching the Pronunciation of English as a Lingua Franca (OUP, 2010).

Jani Pandiri: Is there any material available where speakers of different countries use the same text?

Yes, there is a website called the Speech Accent Archive:


Thanks again for contributing to the ever-fascinating discussion of pronunciation for ELF.

I hope to see you at the next webinar!



Laura Patsko

Formerly an English teacher and teacher trainer, Laura Patsko now works as Senior ELT Research Manager for Cambridge University Press. She holds a BA in Linguistics and an MA in ELT & Applied Linguistics, and is particularly interested in the use of English as an international lingua franca, teaching pronunciation and investigating the practical applications of linguistic research. She blogs at and, and tweets as @lauraahaha.

Thank you to Laura for agreeing to write for the IATEFL blog. 

If you’d like to write a blog post or present a webinar for us, please contact blog (at) iatefl (dot) org.

You can find out more about upcoming webinars on the IATEFL website. If you are an IATEFL member, you can access the recordings and slides from all of our webinars in the members’ area. If you’re not, you can join here.

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Behind the scenes at the IATEFL blog (Sandy Millin)

Now that the IATEFL blog has been running for a year, I thought it was high time to share a post about what happens behind the scenes.

Why does the blog exist?

The aim of the IATEFL blog is to showcase the diversity of our association, covering a range of topics which we think might interest our members. The IATEFL blog is designed to showcase the range of people involved in the association, and to help you find out more about what goes on behind the scenes. It is also our aim is to show the breadth of our profession – you will find information about associates in Africa and South America, teachers in Asia and Europe, SIGs covering business English, young learners and teenagers, global issues, and much more. Every post has links to something practical you might be able to use in your teaching and to further your knowledge of the TEFL profession.

How do we choose which posts are published?

The most important deciding factor is that everybody who writes on the IATEFL blog has to be a member of the association. If they’re eligible, then we work together to decide what might be particularly useful or interesting to our readers. After that, it’s first come, first served: as soon as a post is ready to be published, it goes into the next available slot. Posts are scheduled for every other Saturday, so the next post after this will be published on Saturday 11th November. The only exceptions are…

I’d like to write for the blog. How do I get involved?

Great! We’re always looking for new contributors and we’d love to hear from you. Just email blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in reading.

We have a few guidelines to adhere to:

  • Posts should generally be no more than 1,000 words.
  • They should include a headshot and a short bio (see mine at the end of the post for an example).
  • Do not include images in the text. Instead, send the images separately, labelled e.g. Image 1, Image 2, Image 3. Indicate in the text where you would like them to be placed by writing [Image 1 here] [Image 2 here] in the correct place. If you would like captions for the images, include them in the text. Posts with images tend to be shared more, so if you have any relevant ones you’d like to include, please do, along with the source so that we can credit them appropriately.
  • Most importantly, each post should include an idea or link to a resource which readers can take away and use. Examples are the selected papers from the 41st FAAPI conference, or Julie Moore talking about HLT mag.

What if I don’t know what to write?

We are happy to help you come up with ideas for your post if you’re not entirely sure what to write about. You can also look at other posts on the blog for inspiration, or use some of the questions below to help you. They are designed to serve as prompts: there is no obligation to answer any of them, but they may help if you are suffering from writer’s block.

Individual members

  • Tell us a bit about you and your career.
  • What inspired you to join IATEFL initially?
  • (If you want to tell us!) How long have you been a member? How has the organisation changed over that time?
  • How would you summarise your experience of IATEFL in less than 100 words?
  • Are you a(n active) member of a SIG? What made you choose it? What do you get out of it?
  • Do you work with any other teaching associations or organisations? What makes IATEFL different?
  • Can you share one activity, tip or resource that you’ve learnt about thanks to IATEFL? Why did you choose it?
  • Do you have any interesting stories to tell related to IATEFL? For example, from an event you’ve attended, a person you’ve met, or an idea you’ve used in the classroom.
  • Why would you recommend joining IATEFL?


  • What should readers know about your country? Are there any stereotypes you want to break for us? 🙂
  • What is English teaching/training like for your members? Do you have a typical member? e.g. types of school/institution, class sizes, resources/support available
  • What are the biggest challenges for English teachers in your country?/What are the biggest/most common areas of discussion?
  • What kind of things does your organisation do? e.g. projects you are involved in, past and upcoming events, publishing resources, examples of ways you support members…
  • What have you got out of being a member of IATEFL (as an individual or as an organisation)?
  • Can you share one activity, tip or resource that you’ve learnt about thanks to being part of IATEFL? Why did you choose it? and/or Do you have an activity or resource connected to your country which readers could use?
  • Do you have any interesting stories to tell related to being a member of your organisation? For example, from an event you’ve attended, a person you’ve met, or an idea you’ve used in the classroom.
  • What plans does your organisation have for the future? Is there anything readers could get involved in?
  • How can people find out more? e.g. website, newsletter, social media, people to contact…

Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

  • How would you summarise your SIG in less than 100 words?
  • What kind of things does your SIG do? e.g. past and upcoming online and offline events, publishing resources, examples of PCE themes…
  • What made you choose this SIG? What have you got out of being a member?
  • Can you share one activity, tip or resource that you’ve learnt about thanks to your SIG? Why did you choose it?
  • Do you have any interesting stories to tell related to your SIG? For example, from a SIG event you’ve attended, a person you’ve met, or an idea you’ve used in the classroom.
  • Why would you recommend your SIG?
  • How can people find out more? e.g. website, newsletter, social media, people to contact…

Conference stories

  • Which conference are your writing about? It doesn’t have to be the main IATEFL conference – it could also be an Associate or SIG conference.
  • Why did you choose to go to the conference?
  • Can you summarise the main theme(s) in less than 200 words?
  • Did you present? If so, what about?
  • Do you have any interesting stories from the conference?
  • What ideas, resources or activities did you find most interesting or useful at the conference?
  • When is the next similar conference happening?

Scholarship winners

  • Which scholarship did you win?
  • Why did you decide to apply for it?
  • What were the requirements of the scholarship?
  • How did it help you?
  • What did you gain from winning a scholarship?
  • Can you share one resource or idea you picked up as a result of winning your scholarship, or tips for future scholarship applicants?

Behind the scenes at IATEFL

  • What does your job entail?/What does your committee do?
  • How did you get involved in IATEFL?
  • How has your role developed?
  • What are the upsides and downsides of your position?
  • How would you summarise your experience of IATEFL in less than 100 words?
  • What do you think blog readers would be particularly surprised to know about your position?

I have another idea…

Great! Please tell us about it. We’d love to know what you’d like to read about, and to hear your ideas for other categories we can include on the blog. The only restrictions are that you’re an IATEFL member, and that our readers would benefit from your post. Other than that, the floor is yours!

What happens next?

Once you have submitted your text, we will upload it to the blog and edit it to match the style of other posts in the same category. We’ll send you a link to a draft version of the post, including any questions we may have about the content, or letting you know if there’s anything missing. As soon as these areas have all been resolved, we line the post up to published, letting you know the date it will go live. As soon as it’s on the blog, we’ll let you know so that you can share it with anyone you think might be interested. It’s as easy as that! So what are you waiting for? Email blog (at) iatefl (dot) org to get involved.


Sandy Millin

Sandy Millin is a member of the IATEFL Membership and Marketing Committee (MMCom) and the curator of the IATEFL blog. When she’s not editing posts here, you can find her writing on her own blog, tweeting as @sandymillin, or writing ebooks. Her latest ebook is ELT Playbook 1. The rest of the time, she works as the Director of Studies at International House Bydgoszcz in Poland, and as a jobbing CELTA trainer in the summer.

Contribute to the blog

If you’re a member of IATEFL and would like to contribute to the blog, we’d love to hear from you at blog (at) iatefl (dot) org. We’re looking for stories from our members, news about projects you’ve been involved in, and anything else you think those connected to English language teaching would be interested in reading. We look forward to hearing from you! If you’re not a member, why not join us?

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