My update


Well, the picture kind of says it all. As of 8 January 2020, I’m a committee member of the IATEFL Leadership and Management SIG! I could list one hundred reasons why it’s so important to me, but here are my top three:

  1. IATEFL is one of the biggest and certainly the most well-known international organisation in the field of English language teaching.
  2. LAMSIG is one of 16 IATEFL special interest groups and the closest to my heart: five years ago this SIG gave me, a very new and inexperienced academic manager, a scholarship to come to the 50th anniversary conference. It made me more confident, encouraged me to reflect and develop a more academic approach to my work, and to go out and meet more like-minded people. And now I have a chance to give something back.
  3. I’m one of the 10 committee members, and the other 9 are incredibly cool. I know most of them from before because I’ve been attending their talks, reading their articles, admiring them from a distance – and now we can actually work together!

So, there you go. This also means that my blogging schedule is moving from daily to weekly, but I promise I will continue to read and share the best bits of ELT goodness 🙂 Keep watching this space – and see you at the next IATEFL, maybe?


Post-conference efforts


I was talking to a few teachers during a conference coffee break on Saturday, and they shared how unrealistic many of the things they’d heard are. Yes, there are too many ideas and so little time to put them into practice, and sometimes the students are not as ideal as we would like them to be – and yet I feel that it’s worth making an effort and trying out at least something new. I saved this cool link some time ago, and I think it’s the perfect time to share: it’s advice from conference experts (in a totally un-ELT field, which makes it even more interesting) about how to plan your work and thinking process after an event. There are quite a lot of approaches to choose from: create a special template, write about the best ideas, rewrite and teach, ‘pick one for one’, analyse the ‘wow, hmmm, meh’ – some excellent tips there! Hopefully, this will help with conference hangover 🙂

My impressions about the Grade Teachers’ Conference 26 October 2019


Are conferences worth it? You bet. For me, each day is a month’s worth of professional development. You meet amazing people, you listen to their stories and of course you attend all kinds of interesting workshops. If you have a chance to speak, it’s even better! That’s why I’m so keen on these events, and I’m always sorry I don’t have enough time for all the cool events that happen in Kyiv (to say nothing of more distant places).

So, what did I gain from the yesterday’s conference? (By the way, it was really well organised by Kateryna Protsenko and her team, they are absolute superstars.)

I saw six talks and workshops:

  1. Adrian Underhill is always a pleasure to listen to, and I’m really happy for the participants who saw him in person for the first time. And pronunciation, ‘the Cinderella of teaching’, needs all the attention it can get, really! His advice to NNSTs and I suppose any speakers of English: ‘Teach your own accent and expose students to multiple others’.

2. My wonderful colleagues, Alina and Mariya, spoke about the neuropsychology of signposting in perhaps the most memorable talk of the day.

3. Kris Kirby gave loads of helpful advice about how to tweak speaking tasks so that students use the target language and keep speaking.

4. Tony Prince, one of the amazing NILE tutors I’ve been privileged to study with, was there with a great plenary on critical thinking. Such an important topic nowadays, and never enough time to go into it deep enough.

5. A team of academic managers/teachers from Lviv spoke about their favourite ways to engage learners (and used Mentimeter – nice).

6.  Irina Sushko spoke about the importance of good learning habits. Now this is definitely something I’ll discuss with my teens!

And, of course, I presented my own talk and really enjoyed talking to the participants and listening to their ideas. It was a bit of a challenge, to speak in the last slot, but I think we all did really well 🙂

Now I have lots of new ideas to try out in my classroom – what a breath of fresh air!

My presentation at IATEFL 2019

I’ve made presentations about the Sense of Progress several times this academic year: presenting the training plan at home, doing an INSETT session, doing an external workshop for teachers – and for the IATEFL Liverpool presentation I’ve attempted to bring it all together and speak about a CPD concept which can help teachers focus on the sense of progress.
You can download the slides here. It’s a condensed version of what I said in the talk, so check the ‘progress’ tag on my blog if you’d like to read more about it (or drop me a message for a copy of the evaluation tools).


Me pacing the room to answer questions.

I had great questions and comments from the audience (and anyone else who cared to listen to me before and after the presentation!). For example, what organisational support is needed to make the change sustainable? How do I concentrate less on lag and more on lead indicators? How many years does it actually take for a CPD scheme to make a lasting impact? Exciting – seems like my next year’s plan is cut out for me!


IATEFL 2019: Intro

And it’s the IATEFL time of the year again.
I’m thrilled to be here, to take part in the biggest event of the year in my professional field, to get a year’s worth of professional development in a week and to see all the nice people I’ve been lucky to meet here since 2016.

It’s a bit cold outside, but the conference is lively and bustling. For me, it started yesterday with the LAM SIG pre-conference event, and what a joy it was.

The topic (Evaluation) was very close to my heart, and I even got to be one of the speakers. I’ll write a separate post about it and put the presentation slides up when I have a bit more time, watch this space!

EdCamp Linguist Positive Change: my impressions

The event happened on 1 March, and I was very happy to be one of the speaker experts. There were more than 400 English language teachers from all over Ukraine!


The opening ceremony


I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of them in my own session, where I spoke about my favourite hobby horse – the sense of progress! You can download the presentation slides here.


Ready for the session

Just like any conference, this one tempted me with several interesting workshops at the same time. I finally chose Anne Robinson’s, about Support, Challenge and Choice in the secondary and adult classroom. It was quite an interesting session, with a range of activities to do around an exam-type text: from rehearsing to choosing photos as illustrations, and webapps. The text she chose was about planting trees, and she compared the kids who planted the trees in the story to cathedral builders who never used to see their finished work. Isn’t it the same with everyone working in education?

Two sections of the day were given to the participants to suggest and then present their own topics, and I got to see two of those. So much enthusiasm, so much enjoyment in their work! And my own audience was the same: warm, responsive, enthusiastic and interested. During the questions part, the teachers got up and started writing their tips to each other on the board. How cool is that?

And I bought myself a great book about personal effectiveness.  Perhaps I’ll write about it on my blog (once I become more effective, that is!).

Train the trainer: professional skills in Dubai

What’s the best thing about working for an international organisation? There’s always so much going on, so many opportunities to learn something new and to meet like-minded people – just like last week, when I had a chance to take part in a workshop for trainers of professional skills.



I won’t give you all the details, but here are my biggest takeaways:

  • a lot of teacher training skills and techniques can be transferred to professional training
  • that said, we should be careful not to call trainees ‘students’: the training room is not a classroom after all
  • there are things happening outside traditional young learner and adult ELT that are just as exciting

And a traditional link: a website recommended by the course tutors. It’s a great resource for workplace training sessions, with a lot of activities that can also be used in Business English classes and ESP: games, puzzles and more games!

Online teaching 8 of 15: student interaction


Here’s a very inspiring article by Bindi Clements about ways to increase student interaction in the virtual classroom. It is possible to achieve quite a high level of engagement, if you know how and plan well: another myth dispelled.

So, how do you avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’? Set polls, use the chat box, use the record function, tap into your learners’ experience and, above all, plan student interaction patterns, just like you would for a face-to-face lesson, or probably more. There’s more useful advice and a link to the author’s IATEFL 2018 presentation slides (wish I had seen that!). Very, very good stuff.