Special Educational Needs Conference: Challenges and solutions

Special Educational Needs Conference: Challenges and solutions, a conference on special educational needs and inclusive classroom, is held in Sava Centre in Belgrade on 7 June 2013. It is organised by the British Council.

The event will be an opportunity to learn from British experience and gain practical insight into relevant regulations, as well as teacher training needs and opportunities. The conference also provides workshops tackling dyslexia, ADHD, general challenges of inclusive learning…

There is no attendance fee. The event shall also be broadcast online.

The conference agenda, as well as some info on the presenters, the plenaries and the workshops can be viewed here.

To register, fill out this form or go to http://bit.ly/118cJDm.


Recycling vocabulary literally

I almost trashed a perfect classroom material, without realizing its value.

The other day I just cut off the label from my son’s new pair of trousers and was about to throw it away when I discovered its unorthodox contents:

YES!  Recycling and reinforcing clothes and other everyday items vocabulary can be extended to practicing (creatively and fun) related verbs (good old -ing in disguise).

Scenario 1:

Students design similar labels for e.g. umbrellas, paper tissues, chewing gums, …

Scenario 2:

Students try to match the item with the label.

Scenario 3:

(It’s up to you to decide.)

Novi Sad stages Language Drama Lab 2

The weekend of December 10&11 brings us the second Language Drama Lab, a festival of students’ performances in English organized by Novi Sad City Library and the British Council. This year as many as twenty-one shows performed by sixteen state and private schools from Novi Sad, Futog, Kula, Lazarevac, Niš, and Pirot compete in three age groups for the awards and many prizes provided by the British Council, Oxford University Press, Data Status and the English Book.

Free entrance.

How to get to the venue – Laza Kostić Grammar School in Novi Sad


Saturday, 10 December 2011:

12:00-12:15   Official opening

12:15-12:55   Age group: 6-8 

              • 12:15 Theseus and Minotaur (Školigrica from Novi Sad)
              • 12:40  Crazy Story (Ladybird from Novi Sad)

12:55-13:10    New Visions School, Novi Sad (non-competitive programme)

13:15–17:20   Age group: 9-12

              • 13:15 The Three Little Pigs (Rainbow School from Novi Sad)
              • 13:35  Facebook Login (Ladybird from Novi Sad)
              • 13:55  Beauty and the Beast with a Twist (Language and Translation Centre from Novi Sad)
              • 14:25  The Four Robins (Blue Moon from Kula)
              • 14:45  Cinderella (Sveti Sava Primary School from Pirot)
              • 15:15–15:35             British Council
              • 15:40  Never Caught by Surprise (Kosta Trifković Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 16:00  An Old Picture on the Wall (Kosta Trifković Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 16:20 Seven Snow Whites and a Dwarf (Prva Vojvođanska Brigada Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 16:40  Three Sideway Stories from Wayside School (L.A. Language School from Lazarevac)
              • 17:00 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Spell from Niš)

17:30–18.30   British Council Surprise Box
18:30              Awards ceremony


Sunday, 11 December 2011:

11:00-11:05   Recap and Announcements

11:05-15:35    Age group: 12-14

              • 11:05 Commedia (Vasa Stajić Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 11:35 Romeo and Juliet (Parody) (Ladybird from Novi Sad)
              • 12:05 The Wizard of Oz (Sonja Marinković Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 12:35 Back to the Summer (Kosta Trifković Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 12:55–13:15  British Council
              • 13:20  Allo, Allo (Ivo Lola Ribar Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 13:45 Hair, musical (Prva Vojvođanska Brigada Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 14:20  Hippies, Housewives and Watering Holes (Busy Bee from Futog)
              • 14:50 The Kingdom of Callentinea (Jovan Popović Primary School from Novi Sad)
              • 15:15 Prince Marmaduke’s Birthday (Sveti Sava Primary School from Niš)

16:30              Awards ceremony


The first Language Drama Lab was organized on 17-18 December 2010.


European Antibiotic Awareness Day: never bug out

November 18 is the European Antibiotic Awareness Day. Considering that we are are facing the onset of the flu and cold season, we could stretch the awareness day to an awareness month.


In our English classes, it is also an opportunity for some CLIL about microbes.

You can ask your students to visit e-bug, “a free educational resource for classroom and home use and makes learning about micro-organisms, the spread, prevention and treatment of infection fun and accessible for all students.” The site contains special resources for junior and senior students as well as teachers.


No time to engage in the above activities?

Here are three half-a-minute videos created by the English Department of Health, with the same message: “Take care, not antibiotics“,  that we can use as a conversation starter, or for reinforcing health-related (and other) idioms, words, phrases and collocations.

  • And here is a just as short but more informative TV spot from the 2009 campaign:

One day for “Languages and Cultures in Time and Space”

Two weeks left before the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad welcomes the participants of the conference “Languages And Cultures In Time And Space“.

The international conference will pay homage to the work of Ranko Bugarski and also mark the tenth anniversary of Du yu speak anglosrpski? Rečnik novijih anglicizama.

General Timetable

Continue reading


Halloween infographics – no tricks, just real treats

Some of us teachers might be avoiding Halloween activities in the classroom for so many reasons:

  • I’m teaching adults, you know; they just don’t care about this stuff.
  • It’s just sooo commercialized. I’m not going to support it!
  • A festival that endorses horror and fear? Well, not for my little angels, uh-uh.
  • My students’ parents are dead against it. I don’t need another conflict.
  • What’s that got to do with the cultural heritage of the people in this country? And don’t come up with that argument that I could have my students compare Halloween customs with our Poklade, busójárás, or farsang.
But even these abstainers could take a peek at these fun and interesting infographics, and perhaps even dare to use them in class as fun 5-minute activities.
The first one is from history.com. It can be used for a scanning reading activity, where each student is given a number from the infographics and has to report on it to the class, or you could have groups of students racing against each other, or …


This one by Lemon.ly via visul.ly is more just for fun and a great visual prompt as a conversation starter for young adult and not so young adult learners.

If you are teaching business English, here is a real treat for you.
And some more infographics can be found here.
And more genuine, graphically digested facts could be created by your students.
Have fun!
                   – or not.

10 things I dislike about some online courses

Anti-Disclaimer: This post is based on true stories and true characters. Any resemblance to actual courses, past or ongoing, is entirely intentional and hopefully to the benefit of the online community of teachers.

1. Changes in course content and objectives after enrollment. 

I had a recent encounter with the biggest sin of all: the announced and advertised title of the course is not what the course is actually about.

A year ago: I also felt somewhat perplexed when the moderators decided to change the tools we were to get familiarized with halfway through the course.

And I felt cheated when some of the stated objectives were just touched upon in another course, without going in depth and without us participants actually learning something.

2. Unclear instructions.      

It is not just the usual unclear instructions that some inexperienced or careless teachers are prone to make. My recent experiences include gasping at different wording of what was supposed to be the same task, in the outline section and the task page itself: not nuances, but substantial differences in the components of the task.  

3. So not web 2.0, so methodologically unacceptable.

Ideally, an online course material should be easily eyeable and searchable. It is not a textbook with one- or two-page paragraphs of verbose text.

I admit wasting some time trying to figure it out where the relevant resource referred to in one course was; then I wasted some more time figuring out why the course designer did not use a HYPERLINK.

My genuine plea: Please try and apply more paragraphing, bolding of key concepts, hyperlinks, bulleted key points, illustrations, examples, stating the aims and objectives, key questions and graphic organizers for revision, [pls continue the reasonable wish list yourself].

But don’t go to extremes, because I don’t want to see dancing neon letters either. The way you organize your resources, their clear visual layout, and easy navigation is something I appreciate both consciously and subconsciously.

4. It is a question of time I: schedule

I see more often than not a lack of clear timeline of tasks provided at the beginning of the course or, even better, prior to enrollment. The participants need to know if they will physically be able to complete the tasks on time.

An awkward phenomenon I experienced was having to wait a couple of days for the course activities to start after the official beginning.

The participants need to know in advance the pace of the course; let them know if it is more intensive and may require completion of three time-consuming tasks in just a week.

I have a life. I got a real job to do. I am no superhero: I am willing to sacrifice my weekends and a couple of nights for the common good, but I can’t go without sleep for weeks.

5. It is a question of time II: overall number of hours

Occasionally I run into a somewhat painfully misjudged number of hours needed for a participant to finish the course. (A call for a rigorous ‘know thyself’ exercise both on the course designers’ and the participants’ side.)

6. Spells of illiteracy.

Not coment.

7. Unclear criteria. 

Not announcing up front the criteria for awarding points for tasks is another major no-no.

My alternative pet hate: changes in the criteria after the participants have completed the tasks.

8. Unknown technical requirements.

It is only after enrolling that I found out that I need to install a dozen of apps, many of which are similar to the ones I already have. Well, I like my computer and I am sort of picky who it befriends with.

9. Invisible moderators.

The only thing that is more demoralizing than an over-patronizing moderator that shovels uncritical “Great job!” remarks at every feeble attempt of a participant and never lets a forum thread come to its natural end is the one who is self-apologetically absent as a moderator.

We teachers have embraced the trend of development from a pedagogue (the old Greek word for a slave who escorted children to school) to facilitators, enablers and resource-centers-on-demand, but this should never mean leaving the students entirely to themselves.

10. Copyright.

Why is it that some course designers think that they are exempt from copyright law?


What are your not so positive experiences with online courses? What is it that bothered you? Please let me know. If you want anonymity, why not take part in this questionnaire?