Workshops: Young Learners – part 3

The last, but not least, of the young learners workshops on offer at SKA 2015!

Júlia Stehliková (British Council, Slovakia)

Pair work for young learners? Why and how? Julia Stehlikova(YL: absolute beginners) Saturday, Workshop G

Is pair work possible in the YL classroom? Is it a good idea for children to work in pairs? Is it relevant? This workshop will focus on the advantages of doing pair work with primary learners and explore ways of introducing it to our YL classroom, while bearing in mind the potential problems. We’ll look at some hands-on activities to take straight to the classroom which will help us master pair work with our young students in the future.

Júlia has been teaching English for ten years, during which she has taught a wide range of courses for young learners, teenagers and adults from four to sixty four. In September 2014 she joined the British Council as a teacher for classes of all age groups. Before that she spent three years at International House Bratislava working as the YL (Young Learners) Coordinator. She’s a certified Cambridge English examiner for young learner exams YLE Starters, Movers and Flyers, and has completed an International House World Organisation course in teaching young learners and teenagers IHCYLT. She’s interested in YL teacher training and development.

Sue Barfield (USA)

Integrating Roma culture into English language learning through Children of the Sun (YL-teens: A1-B1) Saturday, Workshop G

Sue will present teaching strategies that promote better understanding of Roma culture, using her two new tri-lingual (Slovak, English, Roma) children’s books (Children of the Sun) based on a Roma folktale and illustrated by Roma students. All participants will receive free copies of the books, audio CD and Teacher’s Manual with additional classroom lessons.

Sue is Professor Emeritus at Montana State University-Billings. She has been an educator for over 42 years, including teaching and guidance counseling in K-12 settings and nearly 20 years in teacher education at the university level. She has twice been a U.S. Fulbright Scholar; first for the Ministry of Education in Chile and again for the University of Prešov in Slovakia. Since 1990 Sue has conducted program evaluations for dual language/immersion programs in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Arabic, and Chinese. She has also been a Principal Investigator, Project Director, and Faculty Advisor for several U.S. Department of Education grants that increased the number of Native American teachers in Montana. Having visited, and often worked or presented in, over 35 countries, her area of interest is the integration of culture into English language learning.

And a 90-min Friday workshop with Barb Hoskins!

Creative teaching for 21st century learners (Friday, Workshops A & B)barb

There’s a lot of talk these days about including 21st century skills in language classes. What are these skills, and do they have any place in a language class where teachers have limited contact time, and the priority is, still, to teach English? In our workshop, you’ll learn teaching techniques to help your learners become strong English users and also critical and creative thinkers. By making every moment of class time count, you can help your students succeed – on exams and in future jobs. You can build both the traditional four skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and the 21st century 4Cs (communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking) in every class.



Workshops: Young Learners – part 2

Introducing a few more of the teacher trainers coming to do YLs workshops…

Sylvie Doláková (CZ)

Sylvie DolákováEnglish from the very first word (YL: absolute beginners) Saturday, Workshop D

Do you know how to start teaching English to (very) young learners from the first moment? You don‘t want to or can’t translate every word, but will they understand an English-only approach? And how can they learn about their progress? This workshop will provide some practical tips for working with young beginners in a way they (and you) will enjoy.

Sylvie is a freelance and university teacher in the Czech Republic teaching English in kindergarten, primary school, and now as a teacher trainer. She’s designed many games for teaching English to children aged 4-10, as well as published in books and CDs of English games and activities for children.

Anica Đokić (ELTA Serbia)

Let’s celebrate! (YL: A1-A2) Saturday, Workshop Hanica dokic

It is a perfect time to get ready for the upcoming holidays! Halloween’s coming in a month, Thanksgiving in two, Christmas in three, and there is a celebration that can be in the spotlight throughout the year – our students’ birthdays. This workshop will offer a variety of practical activities that can be used in our classrooms with young learners. Chants, games and new vocabulary worksheets based on the themes of these holidays are going to be presented and practiced in an interactive way.

Anica has been an EFL teacher for 10 years. She graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. She works in a primary school in her hometown, Novi Sad. She has been an active member of ELTA Serbia since 2006, as a board member, regional coordinator, and teacher trainer. She has also participated in a number of conferences throughout Europe. Her fields of interest are teaching young learners and teaching unplugged.

Eva Reid (UKF – Slovakia) 

eva reidCulture in English lessons (YL: absolute beginners) Saturday, Workshop H

This workshop focuses on socio-linguistic, pragmatic and non-verbal competences in English language teaching to young learners. Slovak and English components are compared. By games, role plays and explanations we will cover the following competences: greetings, onomatopoeia, gestures, and pragmatic phrases and cultural knowledge.

Eva is an assistant professor at Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra. Her specialisation is developing intercultural communicative competences in English language education and teaching English to gifted children. Her monograph “Intercultural Aspects in Teaching English at Primary Schools” was published by the Peter Lang publishing house. She is also the author of three English language school books for primary school children.

Daniela Clarke (Macmillan SK) 

Chalk and Cheese: Teaching mixed ability primary Daniela Clarke photoclasses (YL: all English levels) Saturday, Workshop F

In this seminar we will look at the challenges teachers face when teaching classes with mixed learning abilities. We will look at why classes have mixed abilities and at activities that can help the teacher find a balance to keep the strongest and the weakest pupils on board, addressing the needs of a wide range of learner abilities, sensory learning styles and levels within the class.

Warmers and Coolers for Young Adults/Adults (teens/adults: all English levels) Saturday, Workshop D

In this workshop we will explore a number of short, enjoyable and communicative activities used as warmers to wake up, motivate and enthuse learners, and consider how coolers can be used effectively to wrap up and close a lesson. The warmers and coolers demonstrated in the workshop are versatile, and can be used in teaching both language and skills for all levels and abilities, with a view to making learning not just more fun, but also more productive.

Daniela is a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer. She has been involved in ELT since 1997, mainly in the UK, where she taught a range of students from young learners to adults, and trained and coached teachers. She has cooperated with Macmillan both as a teacher trainer and author. Daniela currently lives and works in the Czech Republic and presents regularly at ELT conferences in Central and Eastern Europe.

Workshops: Young Learners – part 1

One of the workshop categories this year is teaching young learners. As we’ve already said, teaching little ones is going to become more and more important with each passing year and so we hope to encourage and equip our colleagues who teach primary-aged kids with the tools they need.

There’s a wide variety of teacher trainers coming from all over, so we think you’ll be able to find something that suits your needs. Here are the first 4 we’d like to introduce.

Dana Hanesová (UMB, Slovakia)

dana hanesova“What shall I do when …?” (YL: A1-A2) Saturday, Workshop E

This workshop is for anyone teaching young learners at primary schools and who has any questions about what to do if /when … In the first half,we will share together our experiences/ hindrances/ issues/ questions/ doubts about our own English teaching. Thus several support groups will be formed around certain issues. Then, using various innovative approaches and also video presentations of how real teachers have dealt with some of the issues in their teaching, real solutions will be found. DVDs (and methodological notes to go with them) will also be available.

Dana studied teaching English as a foreign language both at Comenius
University in Bratislava and Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica, where she has been a teacher trainer since 1993 and now serves as an associate professor. In 2010 she also became involved in teaching English at the primary level. Her main research interest is ELT methodology, including CLIL, with various age groups of learners. Dana has written 5 books and about 100 studies, some focused on shifts from ‘teaching facts’ to ‘teaching to think’. She loves to experiment with various innovative teaching methods and to apply her findings in her teaching.

Barbi Bujtás (Hungary)

Let some Minecraft in! (YL: A1-A2) Saturday, Workshop G

Barbi Bujtas
Photo courtesy of Mike Harrison

If you teach young learners, most probably you have heard about (or played) Minecraft, a cult game popular with most of our learners. In my experience, merely uttering the word Minecraft opens doors to those little ones in our classes who seemingly cannot pay attention to school lessons: the multitaskers for whom a traditional exercise is just not engaging enough, the ones who often get the ADHD label, the ones who cannot grasp the concept of English as a means of communication, etc. I will share some ideas that have worked for me and transformed the meaning of language learning for my students.

Barbi is a freelance EFL instructor in Balatonfüred, Hungary. She has been teaching for 15 years in various teaching environments from one-to-one to high school, depending on local demands. Her professional interests are Dogme, ICT, engagement, materials design, and teachers’ communities.

Eva Balážová (Slovakia)

eva balazovaScaffolding for speaking in CLIL (YL: A1-A2) Friday, Workshop C

English at CLIL lessons is a means for achieving a content goal. Both CLIL teachers and CLIL students use English for reading, listening, writing or speaking about the content. However, young CLIL learners can rely only on their A1 – A2 English language proficiency. The workshop shows a series of practical scaffolding activities that help children to speak in English with confidence.

Eva has devoted her broad teaching and teacher training experience to professional teacher development. She studied English at Matej Bel University as well as completing ELT methodology courses in Exeter and Oxford. She’s also an approved Oxford Teachers’ Academy trainer. Eva has considerable expertise in reading skills and reading literacy development and worked as an Oxford University Press ELT Consultant and speaker for eight years. Currently, she runs her own educational project Lingua Credo in Zvolen.

Jana Chocolata (CZ)

Primary CLIL: English naturally (YL: bilingual primary), Saturday, Workshop F

Would you like to combine what you normally do in class with your pupils with English and turn it into a meaningful input? In this workshop, a series of activities will be presented to give participants an idea of a purposeful and enjoyable use of English in their P.E., Maths, Arts, Music and other classes.

Jana has been teaching English for almost 20 years and is currently a teacher trainer at the Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Education, Masaryk University in Brno. She has taken part in a number of national and international projects, e.g. CLIL do škol, Dystefl and Neflt. Her research focus is on pre-service teacher education and in teaching young and very young learners.

SKA 2015 Plenary Speakers

The Slovak Chamber of English Teachers is delighted to have three excellent teacher trainers for our inaugural conference. Each one has been specifically asked to share with us as English language teachers because they are experts in their fields of interest – areas that are important to what happens in our English classrooms in Slovakia on a daily basis.

First of all, we asked Péter Medgyes to come because of his research into non-native teachers of English (NNESTs). The vast majority of us are not native speakers of English and we often feel that makes us ‘less’ in the English classroom. At the same time, native speakers of English (NESTs) – often with no qualifications or experience – are elevated to a special status simply based on their place of birth. Peter’s plenary ‘Always look on the bright side – Being a non-native teacher will address the issue.

“The bad news is that we are linguistically handicapped – there is no way we can emulate native speakers in terms of their English-language competence. The good news is that we can (a) provide a better learner model for imitation; (b) teach language learning strategies more effectively; (c) supply learners with more information about the English language; (d) anticipate and prevent language difficulties more successfully; (e) be more empathetic to the needs and problems of learners; (f) make better use of the learners’ mother tongue. The aim of this plenary is to discuss these controversial claims, with the final message that natives and non-natives are potentially equally effective teachers.” (Opening Plenary, 2pm Friday, 25 September 2015, Moyzesova sieň)

We asked Barb Hoskins Sakamoto for three reasons: we’ve seen her commitment to excellence in teaching YLs online (via Oxford University Press), we’ve seen her commitment to teacher training (via iTDi), and we’re coming to believe that the most important English teacher in Slovakia is the one teaching young learners. According to British linguist David Graddol, all the rest of us English teachers will no longer be needed in future years. Why? Because English is being taught to younger and younger children. By the time they’re old enough for our classrooms in secondary school, they will already know what we now teach our teenagers. That’s how it could be…should be. And for that reason, investing into primary English education and our teachers teaching at the primary level is vital to our future as English teachers. And so we asked Barb to come and do some training in teaching YLs. Her plenary ‘Moving beyond 21st century skills‘ will cover what we can do to ready ourselves and our students for the future that awaits us.

“The 20th century idea of education was learning content. The 21st century idea is learning the tools and skills to create content and moving education outside of the classroom to include more informal contexts. What does this mean for language classrooms, where students still do need to learn content in order to become skillful tool users and creators? What are 21st century skills, really? And, do they have any place in a language class where teachers have to prioritize what to teach because they have limited time in which to teach it? Fifteen years into the new century, researchers have had time to look at innovative teaching practices around the globe to identify those approaches make the greatest impact in preparing our students for life in the 21st century, and beyond. Their findings may surprise you.” (Saturday Plenary, 9-10 am Saturday, 26 September 2015, Moyzesova sieň)

Finally, we asked David Fisher to come show us all how to use fun, games and performance to make our classes a bit more enjoyable. We all know how difficult walking into that classroom can be some days. We face issues and situations that were never covered in our training. Using drama isn’t the answer to every problem, but it can surely help our students (and us) relax and make our lessons more fun.  David’s plenary/performance ‘We can all use theatre as a tool for teaching‘ will include us in the fun on Friday evening. And we’ll probably even learn something!

“David Fisher of The Bear Educational Theatre, Prague, combines plenary, workshop and performance. Starting with a gentle introduction on why drama can be an invaluable tool for teaching, he will move on to perform some sections of the company’s repertoire where exciting and interactive games actually feature as part of the shows. The same games can also be easily used in normal classroom situations.”  (Evening Plenary, 7-8 pm Friday, 25 September 2015, Moyzesova sieň)

Find out more about who our plenaries are and where they come from below…

Péter Medgyes, CBE, is Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics and Language Pedagogy at Eötvös Loránd University Budapest. During his career he was a schoolteacher, teacher trainer, vice rector, deputy state secretary and ambassador of Hungary. He has been a plenary speaker in 45 countries and is the author of numerous articles soland books, including The Non-Native Teacher (Macmillan, 1994, winner of the Duke of Edinburgh Book Competition), The Language Teacher (Corvina, 1997), Laughing Matters (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Golden Age: Twenty Years of Foreign Language Education in Hungary (National Textbook Publishing Company, 2011). His main professional interests lie in language policy and teacher education, with a special emphasis on non-native English speaking teachers. He can be reached at (We’d like to thank Sharing One Language – SOL for sponsoring Peter’s participation in the conference.)

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto earned her secondary English teaching certificate and her us embassy flagMA TESOL degree in the USA, and has taught English and ESL in the US, and EFL in Japan. An EFL teacher and teacher trainer since 1985, she has conducted workshops throughout Asia, the USA and Latin America. She has experience teaching for all ages in many different environments; schools and universities for 30 years. Barbara is co-author of one of the world’s best-selling textbook series for children learning English, Let’s Go.  You can often find Barbara online working with teachers around the world as one of the Directors for International Teacher Development Institute ( on her award-winning blog, Teaching Village, or on her new blog, Teaching Children English. (Barb’s participation in the conference is being covered by a US Small Grant from the US Embassy in Bratislava.)

David Fisher is the founder and director of The Bear Educational Theatre, Prague. He has lived and worked in the Czech Republic since 1990. His theatre specialises in performing educational shows in English, directly in schools. LOGO_OXFORDThe aim is to entertain, but more importantly to motivate students in their English studies. David is also a professional actor and has played in several cinema and TV films, including Dune, Joan of Arc and A Knight’s Tale. (We are grateful to Oxford University Press for sponsoring David this year.)