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.)

Launching a Practical ELT Publication: ELTI

In cooperation with the Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies of Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra (Slovakia), Slovenská komora angličtinárov/the Slovak Chamber of English Teachers (SKA) is pleased to announce the launch of a new annual English language teaching publication. ‘English Language Teaching Ideas’ (ELTI) will be an annual online publication of practical articles (by our conference speakers and others) published for our members (and our sister associations’ members).

SKA invites you to submit an article for the first issue of ELTI. The klis
publication is going to be peer-reviewed and published electronically, with an ISBN. The first issue will be kindly edited by our colleagues at our partner institution – the Department of Language Pedagogy and Intercultural Studies at the Faculty of Education (KLIS), Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra.

The purpose of the publication is to record and compile practical ideas which have worked well in your English language classes and bring them to your colleagues who would like to try out some new ideas in their own classes.

Therefore, we seek previously unpublished articles from English teachers and teacher trainers which reflect current theory and practice in English language teaching and which present practical ideas and recommendations that readers could apply in their classes with their students. In addition, we welcome short Classroom Activities articles which introduce an instance of a particular, possibly original practice/technique the author has used successfully in their English language class: a warm-up activity, a long-term project…

Articles should be submitted as email attachments with the subject line “ELTI publication” to by December 6, 2015.

We are excited about partnering with KLIS on this new project and look forward to what our ELT colleagues have to share!

Formatting and guideline information can be found for download here.

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1st SKA ELT Conference – Call for Speaker Proposals!

Conference poster

The Slovak Chamber of English Teachers (SKA) is excited to invite English teachers from Slovakia, central Europe and around the world to share their expertise at its inaugural ELT conference the 25th and 26th of September 2015 with Péter Medgyes, Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto and David Fisher at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia. (Registration for participants starts 1 June 2015.)

Call for Speakers

We at SKA believe that both teaching and learning are collaborative processes. We learn from each other, as well as learn better together. Our teaching can also be better informed by sharing our experiences, our insights, our wisdom, and our challenges with each other.

And so, we invite YOU to share those practical tips and insights in teaching English that you have learned and used with your students and in your classrooms. We’d like to hear what you have discovered works with your learners.

For our first year, we have decided to focus on 4 areas which we feel would be of interest to our ELT teachers in Slovakia:


  • Teaching Teens and Adults
  • Teaching Young Learners
  • Teaching Business English
  • Using Drama in ELT

We welcome proposals for 45-minute workshops relating to any of those four areas.

Definition of ‘workshop’:

  • A practical presentation which shows, rather than tells, an ELT technique/activity/idea that can be used later in the classroom or for personal professional growth. The speaker involves participants through hands-on activities.

To send in your proposal, please fill out the form here.

Deadline: 15 June 2015

We look forward to hearing from you!

SKA 2015 Conference Committee