‘Withholding the image’ with Jamie Keddie in Belgrade

It is thanks to YALS (the Association of Language Schools of Serbia) and the British Council that (at least some) teachers of English in Serbia will have the opportunity to attend Withholding the Image, a seminar by Jamie Keddie.

Jamie Keddie is a European-based teacher, teacher trainer, writer and presenter. He is the founder of Lessonstream, the site that was formerly known as TEFLclips, winner of a British Council ELTons award. His publications include Images in the Resource Books for Teachers series published by Oxford University Press. Jamie is an associate trainer at NILE (Norwich Institute for Language Education) in the UK and a training partner with Macenta Academy in Istanbul.”

The event will take place at Guarnerius in Belgrade on 23 March 2013.

Explore Cultural, Microcultural and Environmental Contexts

Another real treat awaits us:  the second module of the “Kultura u učionici – učionica u kulturi” accredited seminar at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad on 11 March 2012.

We all know that one cannot truly master a language without getting to know its culture, but as is the case with many languages, the question is how to do it and how many (sub)cultures does a language ‘have’?

Српски / Srpski: Filozofski fakultet Univerzit...

Image via Wikipedia

At this seminar, teachers will have an opportunity to learn more about intercultural communication and take part in activities that can help our students appreciate integrating cultural aspects in their learning. In addition to understanding other cultures, our students should also be able to explain elements of their own culture.

Special attention will be paid to various microcultural contexts. The participants will also have an opportunity to investigate the cultural aspects of successful business communication. Language correctness and stereotypes are other areas that are both fun and a must to know.  Something new in teacher development in Serbia is also learning about the environmental contexts that may hinder or foster our communication.

Registration deadline: 25 February 2012

BC’s Introduction to Primary Essentials with Ivana Milosevic

BC’s Introduction to Primary Essentials with Ivana Milosevic

Tuesday December 13 can bring you some evening fun at the British Council Belgrade office.

Join Ivana Milosevic presenting activities from the BC’s TeachingEnglish Primary Essentials online development course for YLE  teachers.

Songs and games have always held a unique place in children’s learning. Why is this so and why are they valuable for young learner’s development? Are games just for fun or is there a more focused reason to include them in our lessons? Find the answers in this workshop which aims at equipping teachers with resources, practical ideas and activities that can be implemented in real-life classroom situations.

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?

Cambridge Day 2011

  • What:               Cambridge Day 2011 – Belgrade
  • (B2 and C1 level Grammar, Vocabulary and Listening)
  • When:              Saturday, 29 October 2011
  • Time:                9 am – 4 pm
  • Where:              Belgrade, Učiteljski fakultet, Kraljice Natalije 43
  • Organized by:    Cambridge University Press, British Council & Cambridge ESOL
  • Presenters:      Mary Spratt and Bob Obee

Continue reading

Need new inspiration for teenagers?

If you have been looking for a new coursebook to teach your teenage students – or are just in need of some fresh perspective, feel free to join a free Macmillan webinar on 5 October.

Philip Prowse and Judy Garton-Sprenger: New Inspiration: An insider’s guide to the new, improved course.

  • By the way, how do you feel about all the ‘New’ editions of various publishers?
  • And what are your top-five words that come to your mind when you think about teenagers?

Face time for Connecting Classrooms participants

The British Council organises a training for teacher and student representatives of the fifteen Serbian schools participating in the Connecting Classrooms programme in Niš from 14 to 18 September 2011.