We haven’t wavered in our commitment to quality! The maximum number of points awarded by YALS inspectors proved once again that we continue to work with the same professionalism and dedication, as shown before in numerous previous regular inspections ever since 2000. During the second stage of YALS inspection for the purpose of accreditation renewal inspectors Maja Gavrilović from Livingston School, Belgrade, and Biljana Barna from New English School, Pančevo, inspected and assessed implementation of professional standards, school management, as well as school premises and equipment. They held separate interviews with students, parents and teachers, and were able to see for themselves that all the participants were extremely satisfied with Lingva services and attitude. This practice offers a good opportunity for any language school to review the status of its work procedures and processes and to update and improve them in accordance with the latest developments in the field of education.
“Is the inspector coming to observe us too? Why not to our group as well?“ sighed some of Lingva‘s students on Wednesday, 1 March 2017. They were bypassed by the regular teaching reinspection for the purpose of YALS accreditation renewal. It is not customary that students are not afraid of inpectors, but this time it happened that inspector Ana Djordjević, Teaching Fellow in Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Philology of Belgrade University, engaged by YALS Association of Language Schools of Serbia as an external inspector, dispelled all the fears with her professional and unobtrusive approach to the observation of lessons held by 6 teachers in 12 groups, from preschool to adult levels. Teachers did their best to show that all their work is of exceptionally high quality and students responded with utmost interest and cooperation. A lot of enthusiasm and positive energy filled all Lingva classrooms, as well as an all-pervasive feeling that hard work always pays off in the end.
Immediately before summer holiday, as planned in the Lingva’s Annual Teacher Training and Development plan, the topic of our 24th in-house workshop, held by Director-of-Studies Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlović on 24th June, was Speaking Assessment Standardisation, as a sequel to earlier workshops on the same topic held on 15 October and 14 december 2010.
As in the previous workshops, the first part of our session was dedicated to familiarizing with CEFR speaking overviews and descriptors. In contrast to the event in 2010, when the second part included watching and discussing filmed samples of CEFR-calibrated oral production as part of a CoE-EAQUALS project, this time video clips of Cambridge English Examples of Speaking Tests were used first to identify the CEFR levels on the basis of the given speaking criteria and then to analyse which particular features of students performance indicate each specified level. The third stage involved studying the examiners’ commentaries on students performances and comparing them with our own.
The workshop proved to be very useful, especially in providing a much clearer picture of the performance required of students at each particular level and clarifying what each of five speaking assessment criteria – Range, Accuracy, Fluency, Interaction, Coherence – actually implies. Once again it was concluded that we have to be very careful not to be overly demanding when assessing lower level students and that students should not be penalized too much for mistakes as long as they do not impede understanding.
In accordance with the needs analysis of Lingva English language teachers, the 23rd in-house workshop was dedicated to writing assessment. A similar workshop was held On 18t February 2011 with some of the teachers attending both of these events.
Being one of the two most elusive and difficult areas for assessment, besides the speaking skills, since no black-and-white criteria can be set as in the case of listening, grammar and vocabulary, language teachers always appreciate efforts to practice assessment and marking. It is also beneficial for our language school to improve quality and consistency of writing assessment in order to ensure unifed and fair school assessment procedures for young adult and adult groups.
In the first session, teachers brushed up their knowledge of overall CEFR written assessment criteria and then familiarized themselves with the relatively new Cambridge Writing Assessment (sub)scales, first of all four subscales referenced to CEFR level descriptors: Content, Communicative Achievement, Organisation and Language. Special attention was given to clarifying the meaning of specific criteria in each of the subscales. In the second session, teachers were given samples of written students work at B1 and A2 levels to rate them individually and in pairs, which was followed by the whole group discussion. On this occasion, too, agreement was the highest in rating the language, while communicative achievement marks required more harmonizing.The session was ended by agreeing on the exact sets of criteria that will be used uniformly by all teachers for progress test and final exam assessment at each of language proficiency levels.
The workshop was prepared and facilitated by Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlović. The next workshop, which will focus on speaking assessment standardisation, will be held in June.
Three teachers from Tom & Emma School, Belgrade – Milana Papić, Jelena Mitrović, and Sofija Ljiljak-Vukajlovića visited Lingva last Thursday, 10 March, to see how LEGO® bricks and StoryStarter educational programme are used for foreign language learning in our school. They enjoyed working with our young learners on the activities designed by teacher Katarina Andrić at A2.c and B1.b levels, and they also had opportunity to familiarize themselves with the use of StoryVisualizer software, where they were joined by teacher Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlović.
The exchange was two-way – Lingva teachers learned which activities the guests had applied at Tom & Emma, and that they also had positive experience in the use of LEGO® elements with older students. The joint conclusion was that these activities exceptionally boost students’ creativity, which has a direct impact on the effectivenes of language acquisition.
It was confirmed once again that short exchange visits bring a lot of benefits to both sides and that we should continue with this good practice.
After finishing teaching for this school year, Lingva teachers had an opportunity to run an inhouse workshop on integrating LEGO constructions into language teaching. It was our 22nd inhouse workshop titled Help Me Build My Story! Creating Picture Books, Comics and News Stories with LEGO Elements. Continuing its policy of continuing investment into the cutting edge teaching equipment and aids, Lingva has recently purchased an innovative educational Lego pack with expansion sets, together with respective software, aimed at boosting motivation of our young students for language learning and improving speaking and writing skills. The worskhop was set up and run by Marija Milovanović, Marija Matić and Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlović, and other teachers contributed to the activities with plenty of creative details for story “building”.
Lingva teachers recently attended the New Technologies in Education Conference organized by the British Council and the Ministries of Education and Tourism in Belexpocentar, Belgrade, on 27-28 February 2015. Marija Milovanović, Ivana Lazić, Lora Petronić-Petrović and Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlović, together with Jovana Popović from Tom & Ema School from Belgrade, familiarized themselves with the latest trends in the use of ICT in teaching. What they found especially interesting were the presentations on the uses of tablets and mobile phones, as well as the demonstration of integrating creative Lego constructions into multimedia stories or newspaper articles, which took place in the exhibition area. The general impression was that the conference gave a significant contribution to productive blending of teaching needs and knowledge with the cutting-edge ICT resources and that especially useful was the opportunity to share experience with colleagues from the region and Great Britain.
At the recently held 4th National Conference of Language Schools, organised by English Book in Belgrade on 11 October 2014, Maja Gavrilović, representative of YALS Association of Language Schools of Serbia, gave a short presentation on the forthcoming accredited YALS seminars, new YALS project of language school certification, and other activities.
On 21 June 2014, continuing the series of Enlivening Language Skills in-house workshops, after the 19th workshop in February this year on the skills of reading, Lingva teachers gathered to present and try out the activities designed to develop writing skills. This workshop covered all age groups and a broad range of levels, from Primary A1.b to (Young) Adult C1, as well as various types of written tasks – instructions, biographies, stories and references. All sessions featured use of colourful realia and attractive multimedia resources for the purpose of boosting motivation of students for active language learning. As before, this was one more opportunity to share valuable first-hand teaching experience.
Primary A1.b: A Day in Africa Plan by Marija Milovanovic
Secondary A2.a: A Biography Plan by L.Petronic-Petrovic
Adult B1+: What’s Your Story About Plan by Ivana Lazic
Secondary B1: Once Upon a Time Plan by Katarina Andric
Young Adult B2.a: Swift Portraits Plan by Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlovic