Last two nights we burst open Monster Octo and Sweet Medusa to free Santa so that he could give presents all over the world, we made Christmas cards for our dearest ones, constructed cute snowman figures, coloured an Advent calendar, solved plenty of joyful puzzles by pulling Christmas crackers, watched a film how Christmas trees are made, and did a super quiz on the interactive whiteboard, as well as mobile phones.
On March 3rd 2018 Lingva teachers Marija Matić Grujić, Katarina Ristić, Katarina Andrić, Marija Milovanović and Lora Petronić-Petrović attended the conference ‘SIG Day Joy of Teaching Young Learners’, which was held at the Faculty of Legal and Business Studies Dr Lazar Vrkatic in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Teachers were presented with some practical and innovative ideas which they could use while teaching young learners.
Three Lingva teachers Marija Matić Grujić, Marija Milovanović and Katarina Andrić held a workshop called Tricks with Brick in which they showed how LEGO® bricks and StoryStarter educational software can be used for foreign language learning. Participants got familiarized with using LEGO® bricks to enhance listening, speaking, sreading and writing. They also got to experience building stories with bricks and their feedback was very positive, particularly pointing out that these activities would boost students’ creativity and self-confidence.
Another Lingva teacher, Lora Petronić Petrović, held a presentation Speaking and Listening with Polly the Porcupine, which was aimed at practising listening and speaking skills, with special emphasis on speaking skills according to YLE Starters format.
This workshop shows the way of adapting coursebook material to the features of Cambridge Starters Exam. At “Lingva”, private language school in Valjevo, the main material for teaching used in classes are different course book series from renowned publishers, since not all students take this exam. In view of the fact that the test and portfolio items format differ from the one in Cambridge YLE Starters Exam, author of the activities shows the ways of exposing students to exercises which will both, bring test format closer to them, and put them in the exam similar circumstances from the very beginning of the school year. The activities presented are based on New Chatterbox 2 coursebook by Derek Strange Units 7 and 8, as well as Starters Exam Speaking part.
On 23 June, Lingva English teachers gathered for the 26th Lingva In-house seminar. The presenter this time was Marija Matić Grujić, who demonstrated some of her best teaching pieces done so far in her work with students of different age groups at Lingva Language School in Valjevo. All of the activities included a lot of multimedia resources, such as YouTube chants, Lego Education StoryStarter Set with software support, and Scattergories Card Sets. Marija’s skillful integration of varied and attractive activities, as well as the films she made to illustrate her students’ performance made an exceptionally favourable impression on her colleagues from Lingva, who will definitely include some of her ideas into their own teaching.
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.
On Saturday 18 of March 2017, English teachers gathered at Lingva for the 25th round of in-house workshops. The presenters this time were Danijela Bojanić and Marija Milovanović. While Danijela’s workshop, titled Humour Is No Laughing Matter, explored ways of practising different language skills through different forms of humour and using diverse multimedia resources at A2-B1 levels , Marija’s session called “Writing in Class” was dedicated to finding attractive ways of encouraging students of all ages practise this skill, which we more often than not tend to leave aside and assign for homework in order to save precious class time for speaking although we are aware that most of our students do no homework at all. It has been a long time since we last had our in-house workshop and we were all eager to learn and share some new teaching and learning ideas and ready-made activities. Our impressions of the activities presented in both workshops were extremely positive:
Feedback for Writing in Class by Marija Milovanović
“Great, interesting, useful ideas for classes!”
“You’re ready to present at higher levels – at YALS or ELTA seminars and conferences.”
“On the second thought, I’ll use all of your activities. Well done!!!”
“Keep up with the good work!”
Feedback for Humour Is No Laughing Matter by Danijela Bojanić
“I loved it. We haven’t had any workshops so far related to this, what is great is that you could use everything in the classroom (I know I will). Thanks for the ideas!”
“It was very exciting, I liked it pretty much, a lot of interesting ideas and activities. Great job!”
“The song is great! Students could write their own version and practice vocabulary (fruit/vegetables).Tnx”
“I enjoyed it and you encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone! Thanks!”
“A lot of fun! I would actually use the teacher prank list with the worst students and ask them to add their own.”
“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.