Sunday, March 12, 2017

24th TESOL Macedonia Thrace Convention Report by Eleni Kampadaki

(this entry is a host article written for TESOL Greece Newsletter by the TESOL Greece representative Eleni Kampadaki).

This year’s TESOL Macedonia Thrace Convention attracted many teachers from Greece and abroad, and hosted distinguished speakers who set trends and presented techniques that signal a world of change.

On Saturday, Ms Marisa Constantinides in her plenary, stressed the importance of creative teaching in developing students’ creative thinking skills. She illustrated this with a variety of interactive activities that the audience really enjoyed.

In the second plenary of the day, Professor Sugata Mitra presented his projects - “the Hole in the Wall”, “the Self Organised Learning Environment”, “the Granny Cloud” and “the School in the Cloud”, all of which, point to the future of learning. He revealed to us that he has serious evidence to believe that what makes his projects really successful is the fact that “children in groups have an understanding that is greater than that of each individual’. The metaphor he used for this was very vivid: “the hive knows everything”, he said.

On Sunday, Dr Marina Mattheoudakis made us all wonder about what - if anything - has actually changed as regards the teaching of the English language in Greek state schools since its introduction in the National Curriculum. The conclusion of her very enlightening talk was that a bottom-up reconstruction of the educational system must be implemented, meaning that every single teacher has to change his/her own class. 

During the two days of the convention a lot of very inspiring concurrent talks and workshops took place. 

Danny Singh’s workshop dealt with the issue of how to learn English through the mind and the body, turning passive listening, shopping lists, and subtitled films into simple steps to improve students’ competence. Angelos Bollas conducted a very powerful workshop on how affectively engaging topics can increase students’ motivation and have a better effect on their learning. Ms Spyridoula Kokkali pleasantly surprised us and moved us by explaining all about a project called “Healthy Little Eaters” that has really changed the eating habits of her students and has sensitized a whole community in Corfu to environmental issues.

Mr Leo Selivan in his plenary talk had us pondering on error (or mistake) correction in writing. The point he really managed to make was that there are many cases in which a student’s error that at first glance might seem as a grammatical one is indeed evidence of a lack in his / her lexis, and it should thus be remedied accordingly. 

It is also worth mentioning that the members of the Board as well as the volunteers did their best throughout the conference in order to cater for all our needs and make us feel most welcome. On the whole, it was a convention worth attending, that raised our awareness to so many trends and techniques of our ever changing world. 

By Eleni Kampadaki
For TESOL Greece

Note from the Editor: [First published in the TESOL Greece Newsletter, issue 133, p23]

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