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.
New applications, new electronic equipment, and above all unbounded enthusiasm and new energy!
Lingva teachers Mirjana Ljiljak-Vukajlović, Katarina Andrić, Marija Milovanović i Lora Petronić-Petrović have recently had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with new possibilities of integrating multimedia in education at the New Technologies in Education 2016 Conference and Fair. The event was organized by the British Council and Serbian state institutions in Belgrade on 26 and 27 February.
— reported by Katarina Andrić
In the month of November two Lingva teachers Lora Petronic Petrovic and Katarina Andric were a part of an online creative writing course “Small Town Stories” supported by ELTA and the American Embassy, designed for teachers who love writing. The course tutors were Nathan William Meyer, Olja Milosevic and Gordana Klasnja.
It was a four-week course designed to strengthen teachers` writing skills and encourage new approaches to language teaching. During the course, the participants had weekly writing assignments on which they got thoughtful and constructive feedback both by the course tutors and peers. Their final task was to write a short story focusing on different skills of creative writing which they acquired during the course itself. Teachers were also engaged in creating dynamic lessons plan with the aim to implement their ideas in their classroom.
The second phase of the course was Face-to-Face Workshop which was held in Vrnjacka Banja from December 11-13th. It was a great opportunity for the participants to share their ideas and practice, as well as to get valuable feedback on their stories which could help them in their future writing.
Upon the completion of the course teachers were awarded ELTA certificates. They finished the couse with a big smile on their faces because they felt it had really enhanced their creative writing.
From February to June, Lingva teacher Katarina Andrić attended The Trainer Development Course organised by the British Council and financed jointly by the participant herself and Lingva School. The course is designed for teachers who want to make transition from teacher to trainer and it comprised of seven workshops during which the participants learnt how to create and deliver effective and succesful workshops.
At the end of the course, each participant prepared a presentation followed by feedback and discussion. Katarina held a workshop titled Using Songs in ELT ( Using Songs with Teenagers). The goals of Katarina’s workshop were to identify important criteria in choosing songs and experiment with different activities connected with using songs. At the end participants gave their opinion of the workshop. They gave very positive comments stating that “it was very practical”, “versatile and useful” and that they were “looking forward to using those ideas in their classroom”. Some participants said they felt “ inspired “ and they all wished Katarina “ to keep up with the good work”.
This has been a natural step for Katarina to take in her continuing professional development. It is the policy of Lingva school within its high quality assurance plan to constantly support its teachers in their professional career development through a systematic implementation of YALS Teacher Training and Development Scheme, which includes regular mentoring, peer observation, Lingva in-house workshops, and international seminars and conferences organised by YALS, ELTA and the British Council.
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.