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Name: Clarisa Remy
Location: Rosario, Argentina
Current position: Kindergarten and secondary school teacher at St Bartholomew's School, and lecturer at associated Teacher Training College and School for Translators
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
'We were impressed by how, through the simple and practical application of assessment criteria, you developed the active participation of your students and overcame your students' fear of peer ridicule. You clearly understand your students, and your commitment and enthusiasm for teaching was very evident.'
WHY I APPLIED FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
'I have been teaching English since I was 20 – I work as Head of the English Department at Saint Bartholomew's School, a bilingual school where I co-ordinate lessons for the Kindergarten and Secondary school children who sit Cambridge ESOL exams throughout their school career.
'I am also a lecturer on language pedagogy at the associated Teacher Training College and the School for Translators, and teach at another Cambridge ESOL Centre, the Asociación Rosarina de Cultura Inglesa.
'At this stage of my life, I thought I could try for an overseas scholarship – my children are young adults, and my husband has always been very supportive and so it felt like a good moment to benefit from the experience of attending an IATEFL event.
'When one considers applying for a Scholarship, winning always seems a distant prospect, but when I saw the Dr Peter Hargreaves Scholarship, I thought 'why not'? After all, the required task – 'How assessment exerts a positive influence upon the development of speaking skills' - has been one of my areas of teaching interest in recent years. I have noticed how students can improve their oral performance simply by becoming more aware of their peers' strengths and weaknesses as well as their own. Preparing assigned presentations also fosters participation and motivation.
'In addition, I actually had the pleasure of meeting Dr Hargreaves when he visited my school in Rosario in the 1990s, and thought him such a friendly and charming gentleman. 'He will certainly bring me luck,' I thought – and so he did!
'I have always enjoyed learning and teaching English because of its universal nature. I used to play hockey, and knowing English allowed me to communicate with people from different countries and learn about their cultures. Also, I have always loved British music and as a young girl, I wanted to understand the lyrics of the songs I listened to.
'I hope the experience of winning the Cambridge ESOL IATEFL Scholarship will give me the chance to go on learning and exploring new horizons. I look forward to attending the IATEFL Conference, enjoying colleagues’ classroom stories and sharing my own with them. It should hopefully be an enriching exchange, helping me grow both professionally and personally.
'In the long term, I hope that telling my colleagues what I have learnt at the Conference will also be of great benefit because of the multiplying effect sharing has and also, that by establishing bonds with teachers from different countries I will help expand the boundaries of our teaching profession and thereby help it grow further.'
TASK AND RESPONSE – IN SUMMARY
Write a short paper, of between 400 and 500 words, on how in your experience assessment has a positive impact on the development of speaking skills.
Clarisa describes the difficulties of motivating teenagers to develop speaking skills. Peer pressure is particularly influential here – they resent expressing opinions in front of a class as they fear they will be immediately ridiculed, and they are also afraid of making mistakes for the same reasons. In addition, they often lack the language required to express their thoughts, or simply have no ideas. To challenge this, Clarisa set regular 'oral presentations' as homework for pre-first Certificate students. After completing each unit, students had to prepare a one-minute presentation for the class on a photograph from the unit. Students assessed each presentation on the variety of expressions and vocabulary learnt from the unit, accuracy, fluency, pronunciation, creativity and imagination, and as soon as they were familiar with the format, students took their role as assessors very seriously. Presenters were not so comfortable in their role, but enjoyed any positive feedback from their peers, and were happy to discuss expressions or vocabulary used. A final mark was agreed after all feedback was given.
After initially finding it hard to persuade students to present, students quickly began to actively volunteer, and Clarisa notes how rewarding it was to see how such a simple assessment instrument could have such a positive impact on students' attitude and skills in speaking and in listening.
Name: Jemma Prior
Location: Bolzano, Italy
Current position: EAP / ESP Lecturer and English Language Teacher, Free University of Bozen
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
'You impressed the judges with an essay that displayed a clear understanding of the needs of your learners and provided a thorough and comprehensive approach to helping them improve. Your learner-centred approach focused not only on textual features, but included relevant language development work as well.'
WHY I APPLIED FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
'Although initially I hadn't planned on a career in English language teaching, over the years – and after teaching students of all ages and at all levels – I soon realised that this is my profession and that I love the work. As a result I decided to become qualified so I could be a better teacher; I began with the CELTA qualification, then Delta, and am now finishing my dissertation for an MSc in TESP with Aston University, in the UK. I have never been to an IATEFL Conference, as being a lecturer at my university in Italy, we receive no funding to attend external events such as this. However, I did attend the IATEFL ESP SIG Conference at Bilkent University in Ankara in June 2010 and gained so much from the experience that I decided that it really was time to try and attend the annual Conference - and so I applied for a Scholarship.
'I chose to apply for the EAP Scholarship as EAP and ESP are the two areas in which I specialise, both in my teaching and research. My dissertation is based on my research into the English language proficiency of our Economics graduates, and how well equipped they are (in terms of interacting in English) for the local job market. This means I focus on needs analysis and course design, and have presented papers on my EAP research; for example, at Bilkent University I spoke about my work on academic reading strategies with undergraduate students at the School of Economics at the University of Bolzano, where I work.
'I hope to gain a lot from attending the IATEFL Conference. I am looking forward to hearing fresh ideas which can improve my teaching, and attending presentations on my research interests which will broaden my knowledge of current trends in an international context. I also want to catch up with some of the new materials available for English language teaching, and meet delegates from other countries, as sharing different experiences is so rewarding. In addition, as a regular reader of ELT publications, I am keen to hear from well known ELT experts, and I also want to visit the jobs fair and make contacts that may some day lead to a permanent position in the profession.'
A brief essay of 400–500 words describing ways you help students learn how to structure a piece of academic writing.
As an EAP teacher in an Italian university, Jemma explained that her students are from many different disciplines, with different first languages, language skills and knowledge. Her response focused on an approach used with her B2+/C1 Economics students to help them structure academic reports which analyse statistical data.
Jemma describes how she begins by looking at the language used in such reports, using sources such as The Economist or material from the IELTS Academic Writing paper. Looking at key lexical phrases, students practise aspects such as comparatives, superlatives, modals, and typical adverb plus verb or noun collocations (such as 'sharp rise' or 'fall gradually'). They then analyse the question being asked, looking at content, trigger words and other aspects, in order to guide the structure of the resulting report. They also consider typical discourse structures such as problem–solution paragraphs, sequencing, and concession, and the key lexical phrases that signal these structures and organise the text. Students then practise the skills required on short texts and exercises, before planning, organising and writing their own report, supported by Jemma, and with peer review.
Name: Matias de Paula
Location: Oberá, Argentina
Current position: School Head and EFL teacher, de Paula School of English; EFL Teacher and English Dept. Co- ordinator, Bachillerato de Orientación Laboral Polivalente N3
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
'We liked the way you related the activity to the interests of school-aged learners. The task takes account of difference abilities within the class and provides students with plenty of opportunity to practise the language necessary to be successful in Part 3 of the Cambridge English: First for Schools Speaking paper.'
WHY I APPLIED FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
'I have studied English since I was very young but never thought I would eventually become an English Language teacher. On leaving secondary school I had planned to study science or engineering, but things didn't turn out as expected and so I started to study EFL teaching. At first I was reluctant, but by the time I reached my third year, and was starting to plan my own lessons, I realised how much I enjoyed teaching. Since then, my goal has been to improve my skills through study and by keeping an open mind, and to find new ways to help my students learn.
'I applied for the Cambridge ESOL IATEFL Scholarship to help me reach these goals, as I am sure I can learn much from attending the IATEFL Conference. I have always wanted to go to an international event such as this, which is why, when I heard about the Scholarship, I had to apply. I am now delighted to be able to attend the Conference, and to visit England for the first time in my life. In addition, when I saw that the Scholarship was being sponsored by Cambridge ESOL I knew it had to be good. Cambridge ESOL exams are becoming increasingly popular in Argentina due, I think, to the familiar exam format, and the international reputation of Cambridge ESOL. I currently prepare students for Cambridge English: First and Cambridge English: Advanced, and I will be preparing students for Cambridge English: Key and Cambridge English: Preliminary; I really enjoy teaching these qualifications as they are reliable exams that test my students' real abilities.
'I love teaching English and I'm glad to be able to make a living out of this profession as I am currently head of my own school, the de Paula School of English. However, I also work at a public school in the town of Campo Viera, which is a completely different experience, and the reason why I applied for the Scholarship for Best Practice in State Education. At the public school, classes are much bigger, levels more varied, books scarce if non-existent, and contact with the English speaking world is much more limited. I always try to introduce my students to the world of English as much as possible, to enhance their future studies and their chance of employment.
'I hope that by attending the IATEFL Conference I will become more knowledgeable about what I do and, as a result, I will become a better teacher. I also hope I can share my experiences with other teachers working in the same area who can benefit from my knowledge. In addition, I can't wait to visit England and share my pictures with my students.
'In the longer term, I hope that my visit will improve my performance in the Master's degree that I am currently completing here in Argentina. It will give me tools, ideas, resources and maybe even some experiences on which I can draw for my final thesis. In addition, the Scholarship will certainly add to my CV, helping my career prospects in areas such as teacher training, university teaching, or assisting in the design of the provincial or even national curriculum.'
The new Cambridge English: First for Schools examination, also known as First Certificate in English (FCE) for Schools, is now available and includes content and topics specifically targeted at the interests and experience of school-aged learners.
You are teaching a large, monolingual mixed ability class. Write one activity and a rationale for teaching to a Cambridge English: First for Schools Speaking test task of your choice. Write between 400 and 500 words.
Matias outlined an activity designed to introduce students to Paper 5 Part 3 of the exam, and which would help them develop their ability to express and exchange ideas, justify opinions, and agree or disagree with other people's comments.
The activity uses seven pictures of different summer camp activities which are first used to test the vocabulary of the class ('What are people doing?'), and then to extend a conversation ('Do you ever go running?'). Students are then divided into groups of three and given the same pictures; new questions are then written on the board, together with useful phrases and vocabulary. Students discuss their answers together (to questions such as: 'What are the advantages and disadvantages of these activities?'), before the groups are changed so that students work with different people. The final question asked is: 'Which two activities would you choose for the programme and why?'.
By asking students to describe the pictures, Matias states that students of different levels can answer using language they feel comfortable with. Their work in mixed ability groups replicates the exam, where their partner may have a different ability level. Teacher comments are used to motivate students and encourage them to provide more information, to engage in a discussion, give and justify opinions, show agreement and disagreement, speculate and give suggestions.
By regrouping students, the teacher also exposes them to other ideas and opinions, and once they are familiar with the vocabulary and useful phrases, they can work on the final question. This approach enables students to sustain a debate by giving and justifying opinions, agreeing and disagreeing, speculating, and eventually reaching (or not) a negotiated outcome.
Name: Susana Dichiera
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Current position: EFL teacher, test materials designer, and Cambridge ESOL Speaking Examiner, Asociación Argentina de Cultura Inglesa, Teacher Training College
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
'In your paper, Assessing speaking performance at Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Level: Exploring the link between Cambridge ESOL Analytical Scales and CEFR Descriptors, you provide a clear account of how the CEFR's description of the C1 level of proficiency can be linked to the analytical scales used to evaluate Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) candidates' speaking performance. You focus on aspects of fluency, organisation, breadth of vocabulary, interactivity and pronunciation and comment that "it can clearly be seen that it (the CEFR) has become an invaluable reference for language evaluation.'
WHY I APPLIED FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
'I wanted to be a teacher from a very early age – I never even considered another career. When I started learning English, and became interested in English literature, I decided to become an EFL teacher and now work at the Asociación Argentina de Cultura Inglesa (AACI), where I also work in the Evaluation Department as a test materials designer, designing and administrating standard tests which are used to evaluate students in different centres across Argentina. I have also been a Cambridge ESOL Speaking Examiner, at the AACI Open Centre, since 2008, and teach an FCE course here at AACI.
'The IATEFL Conference is one of the most prestigious events for those involved in ELT, and I think every ELT practitioner would like to attend the event at least once in their lifetime – I therefore considered the Scholarship a unique opportunity for professional development. I applied for the Scholarship for Best Practice in Language Assessment because I have always been interested in the area of evaluation and testing.
'I hope that the Scholarship will help my professional development and lead to further career opportunities, and I am particularly looking forward to attending the IATEFL conference. I have attended many professional conferences in Argentina – both as a speaker and as a delegate – and have always gained insights into different ways of teaching in varied contexts, and welcomed the opportunity to interact with colleagues from different regions and countries across South America. I hope the IATEFL conference will give me the opportunity to share experiences with teachers from across the world, to reflect on the effects of technology on teaching and, of course, to learn about different methodological innovations.'
Cambridge ESOL aligns its examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Read Cambridge ESOL Research Notes 37: write a paper, between 400 and 500 words, discussing the alignment of a Cambridge ESOL examination (of your choice) to the CEFR.
Assessing speaking performance at Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Level: Exploring the link between Cambridge ESOL Analytical Scales and CEFR Descriptors. In her response to the task, Susana Dichiera's paper focused on the CEFR's description of the C1 proficiency level, and how it could be linked to descriptors used to evaluate candidate's speaking performance at Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Level. The paper looks in detail at how the Manual issued by the Council of Europe in 2009 describes Level C1 candidates, and also the relevant CEFR descriptors. These are then compared with the Cambridge Speaking Analytical Scales for Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE), and clear links identified. In her conclusion, Susana states that 'although the Framework was not intended to be used as a prescriptive set of rules, it can be clearly seen that it has become an invaluable reference for language evaluation.'
Name: Tran Thi Quynh Le
Location: Ha Noi, Vietnam
Current position: English Teacher and Head of English (1 Division), University of Language and International Studies, Vietnam National University (ULIS-VNU)
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
'We feel you had a real young learner 'flavour' and the session outlined would be a useful way of looking at the key issue selected. The activity you chose to describe in detail would help trainee teachers improve their practice.'
WHY I APPLIED FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
'I heard about the Cambridge ESOL IATEFL Scholarship from one of my colleagues, and the popularity of the IATEFL Conference, as well as the chance to go to the UK, really appealed to me. As a teacher trainer of primary English teachers I decided to apply for the Teacher Training Scholarship because, for the past three years, I have been working on a project co-ordinated by the Ministry of Education and Training, and the British Council here in Vietnam, and this has given me a lot of useful knowledge about young learners, and about teacher training skills in general. In addition, I regularly undertake training activities with novice and secondary school English teachers as part of my job here at the University of Language and International Studies, at the Vietnam National University (ULIS-VNU), and so teacher training has become one of my strengths and is my passion.
'As for many of my friends, English has opened the door to the world for me, and through my work as an English teacher I hope to help the young people of our country succeed in the same way, especially as English is so widely used in Vietnam. As a result, I hope the Scholarship will allow me to make full use of the skills and knowledge I have accumulated, and will help improve my performance in my current role. I also hope that the Scholarship, as well as being a chance to visit the IATEFL Conference, will provide inspiration that I can use in my teaching.
'The IATEFL Conference promises to be a professionally rewarding event for me, where I will have the chance to network with prestigious authors, researchers, teachers and trainers from all corners of the world, and where I can find out more about the latest research in teaching techniques. I hope to share my experiences with my colleagues – and hear theirs – and this will support my own professional development. Last but not least, I am looking forward to visiting Brighton and the UK.
'I hope to bring back much from the Conference that I can share with my colleagues at ULIS-VNU. I want to encourage them to participate in future Conferences, and to apply for Scholarships – and in the future, I myself would like to attend the Conference as a presenter. Finally, I also hope the Scholarship can promote greater co-operation between Cambridge ESOL and our University, where we already have a Cambridge Centre.'
The forthcoming TKT: Young Learners test will test teachers' knowledge and understanding of the key issues surrounding the tuition of children. Identify one key issue and say why it is important. Give an outline of a training session you would run with a group of teachers preparing to work with young learners (varying from ages 6–12) which focuses on the two key issues you have identified. Your task must be between 400 and 500 words.
Having trained English teachers for many years, Tran considers the development of oral skills in young learners the most challenging issue in primary education, compounded by the fact that many primary teachers possess only limited competence in both teaching methodology and command of English. Most primary teachers have not received any formal training in the teaching of young learners, and therefore often apply an outdated, and inappropriate grammar-translation approach.
She describes how she uses stories and dialogues – two of the most popular features of English textbooks – to help teachers plan an engaging and instructive lesson, while also developing their awareness of the importance of context, and of the different techniques which could be used when presenting new language items.
When using stories, Tran asks teachers to consider and then discuss the language being presented in the story, and to notice the techniques used by the trainer to encourage students' interest, such as visual aids, gestures, or voice. A handout elaborates important points, and Tran also summarises the key information learnt and the advantages of using stories in this context (for example, that they are a child-friendly context in which to support children's understanding).
The session then ends with some practice, and an opportunity to reflect on what has been learnt.