Tuesday 17th May

I got up really early on Tuesday. I had breakfast and then took this selfie before I left the hotel. To remind me of the day I’d give my first talk in front of actual 3D people.

I look calm, right? Well, something you learn when you become a teacher is to work on your cool face so that students can’t smell your fear! 😂😂

I made my way to ICC. The scholarship committee had reserved seats in the first two rows for scholarship winners. I sat next to my new friend, Helen! I was pretty psyched! Thank you Laura and Maureen for all your help!

(Re)imagining and (re)inventing early English language learning and teaching

The first session I attended was Nayr Ibrahim’s plenary session. Nayr is such a gifted speaker! She took us on a metaphorical journey through the landscape of early language learning.

The rise of YL teachers: a runaway train. 🚝🚝

Let’s stop and reflect how we got here and re-imagine a new itinerary to teaching YL.

At the train station of early language learning there is a sofa. The comfy well-researched sofa of SLA.

Nayr said she sat on the sofa but she soon realised this was for teachers and trainers of adult students, not children. The children and their teachers were hidden behind the sofa!

She was thrown into the train with the wrong ticket: a CELTA for teaching adults, not YLs. Same thing happened to me when I started teaching and it was quite the challenge! Not un-qualified but mis-qualified, as she said.

Young learners came out of the sofa in 1985, when the first IATEFL SIG was created, the YL and teenagers SIG.

The sofa isn’t robust enough for YLs. What do we do? Resize the sofa? No, Nayr says. We get rid of the sofa and we replace it with cushions and tents and mats.

I would summarise her talk in three sentences:

You can read a detailed summary on Sandy Millin’s blog.

CELTA tutoring 2.0: revisiting our role post COVID-19 -Anna Hasper

Anna’s was the next session I attended that day. I was lucky enough to sit with Abeer Okaz, Jeremy Harmer and Clare Hayward, otherwise known as the Canva girl!

Anna talked about the challenges of shifting CELTA online and asked us to reflect on how the CELTA tutor’s role has changed during the pandemic. As I don’t have any experience as a CELTA tutor yet, I mainly listened to my peers. They mentioned that in F2F courses, the tutor’s role is more of a facilitator, supporter , whereas in the online setting tutors also provide lots of tech support and have to digitize all the materials and handouts.

I mentioned that an advantage of online training for some people like myself, is that there is no more of these kinesthetic ice breakers, such as meow like a cat to find your partner-which I never liked. But Jeremy asked a good question. How do you recreate that fun atmosphere online? How do you build engagement and social connections online?

Anna said the CELTA tutor’s role appears to be mostly associated with assessing, which is not fair as it’s not ALL CELTA tutors do.

The CELTA tutor’s role is to enable candidates to succeed no matter what.

Anna Hasper

She then asked how CELTA tutors supported each other during the pandemic.. Answers were:

Facebook groups – Online Communities in general

Anna made a good point:

Here are some more of my takeaways:

  • CELTA tutors can help trainees by making them aware of the difference between online and face to face teaching when introducing frameworks/activities.
  • They can help trainees adapt materials for the online classroom.
  • They could encourage them to select a couple of tools and stick to them rather than demotivate them by demonstrating a hundred different tools.
  • Help teachers manage their well-being online. Find ways to help them recover from too much screen time Flipped approach? Mindfulness sessions?
  • Share what works but also get more support from Cambridge.

Ethan Mansur’s talk: An exam preparation toolkit

I ran into Riccardo Chiappini and Uma Tadema in the auditorium, where Ethan was giving his talk !

Ethan shared some super practical ideas for exam classes.

  • Giving students the transcript to check their answers.
  • Giving them the answers and asking them to hear for either evidence or paraphrasing.
  • Using student-friendly peer and self assessment, for example simple checklists such as the following

Have I..

Self assessment can be hard for students – the teacher can check the checklists afterwards. This process can help students become more aware of the assessment criteria.

Peer assessment can be hard too, because students tend to focus on the negative. That’s why Ethan suggested using a tool such as the ladder activity which he got from Project Zero

I also found these tips incredibly useful.

Simulate exam conditions to avoid surprises

Ethan Mansur
  • Train students how to use mark sheets.
  • Do writing in class to help them become aware of their own time management.
  • Get them to work in groups and assign roles: examiner, interlocutor , candidate.

Teach them strategies they can use in the exam.

Ethan Mansur

This is how much time students have to read the instructions and questions in different parts of the B2 and C1 exam. Ethan trains his students to do that 45 or 30 or 70-second reading often. Brilliant idea and I never really thought of it!

Exploring empathy in ELT with pre-service trainees and novice teachers. Maria Heron and Susi Pearson

I met the lovely Emma Heyderman there, so we sat together!

Maria and Susi said they were inspired by Kieran Donaghy’s plenary on empathy. They feel that tutors should be more empathetic with trainees, which can be hard on CELTA courses because of:

  • the assignment-focused nature of the course
  • the intensity
  • not knowing trainees
  • cultural background

💡💡 Some of the ideas they shared were the following:

1.Including input sessions on

  • becoming a reflective teacher
  • adult learning
  • humanising your teaching

2.Modelling empathy in all interactions: T-Ls, Ls-T, L-L

3. Providing examples of empathy in the materials that you use.

My favourite ones:

4. Present case studies and ask trainees to reflect on how they would deal with situations like these:

5. Adding questions/comments on empathy in observation feedback sheets

One thing to remember though:

Raising awareness of empathy does not immediately translate into action. There is no way to assess impact.

Maria Heron

Planning collaborative and reflective online lessons for adults and teenagers – my talk!

I skipped lunch and I ran to my room (Hilton Glenbank) to make sure I had everything I needed. Frank was there to help me. Who’s Frank you ask?

Frank is one of my blog followers, who’s based in China. We’ve been in touch for a couple of years, and he found my posts helpful when doing his DELTA. Well, guess what! He was assigned to be my steward at the Hilton. Small world!

There was a little problem, though… It was sooooo hot in there! 🌡️🌡️Something was wrong with the aircon and it was blowing warm air.. Phil Longwell was the first to come in and make some jokes about me having 3 fans (the devices, not the people!) which made me laugh and helped me relax, cause I looked like a fish out of water as he wrote here. 🤣 A steamed fish I would add!

Then, more and more familiar faces came in, like Emma Heyderman, Michelle Palanco Kremser, Leo Selivan, Mark Hancock, Sandy Millin. I’d never met most of them face to face before, so it was so nice to see them there! My tutor Carole Robinson from NILE also came to support me, which I really appreciated. Penny Mosavian, one of my DELTA Module 1 peers also came and we finally met F2F after 4 years! Nuri Arda Nurioğlu, who I met at the PronSIG PCE was there! It was lovely to see Ethan Mansur, Riccardo Chiappini, Matina Gatsou and Christopher Graham . Marjorie Rosenberg, who also expressed her support for my fight against Inlingua after the session. It means a lot, Marjorie! Fatih from Turkey was standing at the door and wasn’t sure if he was going to come in and in the end he said he was really glad he stayed! Hugh Dellar and Robin Walker speaking at the same time, among other speakers, so I really wasn’t expecting such a turnout, that’s why I asked for a small room.

I was so nervous at first that I didn’t even introduce myself. While I was thanking everyone for coming to my talk I was thinking ….I’m forgetting something important!

I got super positive feedback from everyone, so I’m very pleased! I may have used my Greek hands too much but I don’t think I distracted anyone! They looked engaged. I really enjoyed these 30 minutes, I must say. Thank you Phil, Frank and Emma for the pictures 🙂 Thank you, Leo, for your positive comment about my slides!

What I basically presented was my idea of something I call the jigsawgloss -here is the formula:

I took Emily Bryson’s advice and drew something for my slides

It’s supposed to be a breakout room on Zoom! That’s why I named one of the students after Emily. The second is named after my mentor Fiona, as she gave me some great ideas for my talk! The other two names will remain a mystery..!

Then as my mentor Fiona suggested, I asked my audience a question in the last 5 minutes (did I mention my mentor was the fabulous Fiona Mauchline?) and suddenly the room was buzzing! Here is the before and after video!

Here are my slides:

And here is Sandy’s detailed summary. She’s done such a great job, that there is no need for me to re-write it! Thank you, Sandy! 😘

Here is me with Michelle from ELTAS and Emma Heyderman. These lovely ladies gave me enormous support and encouragement. Sorry I ruined our only picture, Emma!

I needed a break after this, so I just sat in the Hilton lounge for a while. I saw David Bish and we had a nice chat. It was great to catch up with him after 8 years. David is one of the few people I’ve met face to face, as my first teaching job was with EF Oxford. I also met his teammates Laura Wilkes from TESOL Pop and Matina Gatsou, whose great session I attended next.

Choosing asynchronous: designing self-access ELT training for online teacher. Matina Gatsou

Matina mentioned some of the pros of asynchronous training:

  • it is self-paced ✔️
  • it is self-directed ✔️
  • there are plenty of opportunities for practice ✔️
  • it is flexible ✔️
  • there is built-in feedback ✔️

Matina said the content should be

  • short/succinct
  • directly relevant
  • problem-based
  • human-centric
  • with built-in reflection time
  • academically strong

I loved Matina’s snacking metaphor and I couldn’t agree more.

Snacking in training means bite sized content that teachers can consume, digest, then recharge and come back for more!

Matina Gatsou

Here’s what Matina says about designing asynchronous training courses:

  • 100 colours can be distracting and they don’t build engagement.
  • set short term goals
  • include self-assessment checklists
  • provide external/navigational support – human support needs to be there
  • include social channels of communication
  • use white space
  • selective use of graphics, visual and media
  • Simple layouts and predictable patterns

Her 5 guiding design principles are:


I had a long break which I spent chatting with Ethan about our struggles as teachers and expats. Ethan’s a great guy and a knowledgeable teacher. He and Riccardo Chiappini have written this brilliant book, which I also mentioned in my talk, as mediating a text is an important element of the jigsawgloss.

After that, I went to the Scholarship winner’s gathering where I got my cash prize! Thank you, IATEFL!


Finally, I joined the lovely ladies from ELTAS and other ELTA associations in Germany. We had dinner at a really great bistro. Thank you for a great evening, ladies!

Being part of a local teachers’ association is crucial. I can’t stress this enough. Without this great group, I would have never found my lawyer Patrick Mustu, and I would have never gone against Inlingua for what they put me through. If you’re a teacher based in Germany, find your local ELTA and join now!

And that was the end of IATEFL 2022, day two!