From the President
9th SPELTA Conference (November 1998) Programme
Abstracts of Conference Presentations
Penny Ur Interview
From the President
We meet again for our regular autumn conference - a major event in SPELTA's activities. At some time we have lost track of the number of International conferences organised by SPELTA, there is a certain discrepancy in various documents. Assuming that in October 1995 we had the third conference, this one must be the ninth, the next one in April 1999 to be the tenth. I propose we accept this enumeration and proceed with it.
Almost a year of my work in the presidential office has made me confident of the Association's great potential, which is to express itself in future conferences as well as in many other creative forms of activity. It is only human that one may get bored of or lose interest in SPELTA's activities or simply move on in one's professional career and discontinue the membership. There is nothing wrong with it - on the contrary, the teachers' organisation must have helped the person to find other perspective in life. Still, as an organisation we are not becoming weaker with the loss of former members - new people come in their stead, who are full of interest and energy and ideas. We find it a challenging task to be able to adjust to the changing ELT scene, to see ahead and, in a way, to show how wide the horizon is. Stability, dynamic equilibrium, sensitivity and responsiveness are characteristic of SPELTA's professional image. If you merely look through the list of this conference speakers you will see what I mean, you will find names familiar from the very first steps of the organisation and you will see new people and new institutions, the British Council and the USIA fellows working side by side, ready to share their expertise and ideas. All are welcome! Come again and bring along your friends! We are here and we plan to stay as long as you wish us to.
In this issue you will find the Announcement and Call for papers for our next, 10th conference and also information about the Annual General Meeting where we are to elect new SPELTA officers. Please, take this information as addressed to you personally and respond accordingly - promote new people, take an active part in policy making and in implementing new ideas. It is YOUR professional association.
SPELTA International Conference
21-22 November 1998
21 November, Saturday
Venue: Assembly Hall (Room 191), Faculty of Philology, St.Petersburg State University, 11, Universitetskaya nab.
14.00 Registration, Book exhibitions
14.45 Opening of the conference
15.00 Plenary Session
Prof. George Thompson (Pskov Volny University), Issues of Educational Organisation
Prof. Frederic M. Lorenz (USA, Fulbright Senior Scholar) Legal Aspects in Education
16.00 Teacher Development SIG, Chair: Galina Avdieva
Jennifer Lucy Billinge (Great Britain), Topic-Based Teaching – Language for Communication
Dr. Natalia Malkina (The Herzen Pedagogical University, Addison Wesley- Longman,
Task-based Approach and Teaching Adults.
Lyudmila Golubkova (Oxford University Press), Learner Independence - What about a Teacher?
Dr. Nora O. Frolkis. (Russian Academy of Sciences), Fast Reading
16.00 Speech Communication and Argumentation SIG, Chair:
Dr. Tatiana Ivanova Room 25
Dr. Georgina Nevzorova (Baltic Technical University), Anthropology Factor in Language Teaching: Theory and Practice
Dr. Lyudmila Yeserskaya (Regional University of Economics and Finance), Team-Teaching in ESP - a Way to Develop Communication Skills
Dr. Tatiana Ivanova (St. Petersburg University), Debate and Argumentative Skills Development
Dr. Vadim Goloubev (St.Petersburg University), Argumentation Analysis in Language Teaching: Theory and Practice
16.00 Business English SIG, Chair: Dr. Elena Petrova
Elena Rumyantseva (St.Petersburg University), Teaching Skills in General English and ESP
Anna Belyakova (St.Petersburg University), Business English for Career Planning
Alice Murray (USIA ELT fellow), Learning to Write Your Own Case Studies. Workshop
18.00-20.00 Room 191
St.Petersburg English Language (Teachers') Theatre presents the play “The Brothers Grinnel” by Michael Ferraro.
22 November, Sunday
Venue: Assembly Hall (Room 191), Faculty of Philology, St. Petersburg University.
No. 11, Universitetskaya nab.
10.00 Registration, Book exhibitions
11.00 Plenary Session (Room 191), given jointly by
Dr. Irina Kolesnikova and Dr. Olga Dolgina (The Herzen Pedagogical University). English and Russian ELT Terminology: Similarities and Differences.
12.00 Testing SIG, Chair: Vladimir Ivanov Room 171
Jane Spilsbury, Lynn Pollard (British Council), Common FCE (First Certificate Exam) Pitfals - and How to Avoid Them
Yulia Lebedeva (British Council), How Students Can Benefit from UCLES ELT Examinations
12.00 Teacher Development SIG, Chair: Galina Avdieva
Francis O’Brian (British Council), Classroom Research
Jan Stanbury (British Council), Using Short Stories in the Language Classroom
12.00 Global Issues SIG, Chair Dr.Tatiana Sallier Room
Dr. Victor V. Kabakchi (The Herzen Pedagogical University), Passing the Message of Russian Culture in English
Dr. Tatiana Sallier (St.Petersburg State University), Global Issues: State of the Art
Galina Sokolinskaya, International Project for Realisation of Global Programme
12.00 Literature Studies SIG, Chair: Dr. Sergei Pshenitsyn
Dr. Yelena Menderitskaya (Moscow State University), Fiction as an Object for Discourse Analysis
Dr. Yelena Yakovleva (Moscow State University), Intonational Polyphony in Literature
Dr. Ingrid Bengis (St.Petersburg University), Literature in the Classroom
Marco Polo (Columbia University, New York City), The Challenge of Attracting Students to American Poetry
14.30 Business SIG, Chair: Dr. Lyudmila Devel
Dr. Lyudmila Devel (Business Language Centre), Business English and the British World
Dr. Elena Petrova (St. Petersburg University), An Online Course as a Factor in Professional Development
Dr. Olga Vessart (St.Petersburg University of Economics and Finance), Teaching English to Professionals at Low-Intermediate Level
Ann Gorizontova (Addison Wesley-Longman), Longman New Business Course ‘Powerhouse’
Theresa Glassett, Martin Glassett (International Language Academy, St.Petersburg),
Negotiations as a Creative Process
14.30 Young Learners SIG, Chair: Ekaterina Vorontsova
Ekaterina Vorontsova (The Herzen Pedagogical University), Effective Ways of Teaching English in the Young Learners Classroom
Dr. Natalia Malkina (The Herzen Pedagogical University, Addison Wesley – Longman Representative) Storytelling and Development of a Monologue
Yuliana Druyan (The Herzen Pedagogical University), Reading English Poetry as Part of ELT at School. A New Approach.
Natalia Vassilkova (Addison Wesley - Longman), Developing Dictionary Skills with Young Learners
14.30 Translation SIG, Chair: Dr. Elvira Myachinskaya
Dr. Nelly Fyodorova (St. Petersburg University), Workshop: Cultural Aspect in Translation Teaching
Dr. Galina Startseva (St. Petersburg University) Teaching Translation in Cross Cultural Aspect
Jennifer Lucy Billinge (Great Britain), Accurate Translation Techniques – Understanding What is in Context
Dr. Sergei Pshenitsyn (Herzen Pedagogical University), Translation as a Means of Teaching "Understanding"
14.30 Teacher Development SIG, Chair: Dr.Tatiana Ivanova
Alice Farnham (Oxford University, International Language Academy), Teacher Roles and Links with Conducting
Betsy Lewis (USIA ELT Fellow, Moscow), Workshop: Using Questionnaires and Interviews for Communicative Speaking Practice
Literature in the Classroom
Dr. Ingrid Bengis is a writer, essayist and novelist, the author of three books, one of which was nominated for the National Book Award (American equivalent of the Booker Prize). Her work has been translated into six languages; one of her books will be published in Russian this year. At present she is Fulbright professor teaching Contemporary American literature at St. Petersburg State University
Business English for Career Planning
The current dynamic economic and political climate in this country provides career opportunities unthinkable for the Russians lass than a decade ago, which opens unique career opportunities for young people. They are not always capable of gaining the benefits of the situation, though, because of the lack of professionalism, confidence and, sometimes presentation skills,
The Career Planning Course offered as part of the Business English Language Programme at St.Petersburg University Manage-ment Department offers practical assistance both in the general aspects of professional behaviour, psy-chology, etc. and in mastering English for business activities.
Practical classes on career planning will supply students with the information on how to succeed in today's international business world. The structure of the course is based, roughly, on the following aspects, self-assessment, presentation skills, networking, research methods, writing a cover-letter and a resume, interpreting techniques and behaviour, managing campaign and others.
Anna Belyakova received a Master's degree in Philology at St. Petersburg University in 1996. Since graduating she has been teaching Business English at the Faculty of Management at St. Petersburg University. Currently, she is working on a Ph.D. in Economics, with a special emphasis on organisational behaviour.
Jennifer Lucy Billinge
Accurate Translation Techniques – Understanding What is in Context
This seminar examines the relationship between context and language: what the situation is and where the language is used, and consequently which language is to be used when translating. We look at ways of identifying the context by using the clues, such as style and register, in a text and the importance of accurately reflecting meaning while retaining the style of the original. There are also some words on the translation of idioms, where a word-for-word translation cannot be applied, as well as an insight into colloquial English with its wide usage of phrasal verbs and slang expressions, and its most appropriate Russian equivalents.
TEACHING - LANGUAGE FOR COMMUNICATION
A seminar demonstrating language teaching through a series of topics, where the language arises from the texts and activities themselves rather than from a traditional grammar syllabus. The language is shown not as a system of rules but as a means of communication, and the teacher’s main function is that of assessor, aiding, encouraging and making gentle correction, while not actually hampering the communication process itself.
Jennifer Lucy Billinge, BA (Joint Honours) in Modern Languages, Education, Translation. Graduated from University of Westminster (Polytechnic of Central London). Dissertation topic: The Development of the Role of Law in the USSR. She is Head of Studies at non-governmental school "Vera", her key skill is Business English Training.
Business English and the Russian Business World
The understanding of what Business English implies has changed very much in the Russian business world. In the early 'nineties Business English was the prerogative of foreign trade and foreign relations agencies.
Today, next to classic Business English topics, we often come across such issues as human resources, logistics and real estate not only in the English papers published in St. Petersburg, but in our everyday life.
Reading English Poetry as Part of ELT at School. A New Approach
Yuliana Druyan is a lecturer at Herzen Pedagogical University, where she is in charge of a course on British and American Studies. She is presently working on problems of interactive reading. A member of SPELTA since 1994.
Teacher Roles and Links with Conducting
This is an lecture highlighting the variety of roles the teacher plays. The theme of the presentation is the similarities and differences of managing a class in relation to conducting an orchestra.
Alice Farnham (Oxford University), teacher at ILA - International
ILA is a Language Academy specialising in Business English but with a whole network of other courses including training for all the major exams - CFE, IELTS, MBA (Masters of Business Admini-stration) and others. The Academy prides itself on the professionalism of its teachers and the quality of its teaching. The Academy is also the home of "The Fine English Club", a forum for native English speakers and non-natives to mingle and converse in a social setting.
The presentation deals with fast reading, skimming and scanning, and gives some recommendations as to how to facilitate and speed up the process of extracting information from a text and increase the efficiency of reading. This may be done by concen-trating on different kinds of signals that can provide useful and various information.
Dr. Nora D.Frolkis, Ph.D., a Reader at the Department of Foreign Languages, Russian Academy of Sciences.
Cultural Aspect in Translation Teaching
Cultural information about the country of the language studied is represented in the text on several levels, which requires different approaches in solving particular translation problems. Careful selection and grading of the material is needed to insure a satisfactory result and stimulate the learner's interest in further language and translation studies.
Nelly Fyodorova, Ph.D. in Linguistics, a Reader at the Department of English Studies, St.Petersburg State University. She is a leading specialist in teaching translation and a regular SPELTA conferences contributor.
Theresa Glassett, Martin Glassett
Business Negotiations as a Creative Process
The lecture provides hints and tips on managing a negotiation. "Negoti-ation" is perhaps one of the most challenging areas to teach in Business English, but also a field that many business people are eager to improve in.
Teresa Glassett (Oxford University), Course Co-ordinator
at International Language Academy
Martin Glassett (Manchester University), Director of Inter-national Language Academy
Argumentation Analysis in Language Teaching: Theory and Practice
Students usually have little difficulty studying a text full of action or images. If the instructor's goal is to teach students to communicate their ideas alongside with teaching them new lexis and grammar, a good start is to have them comprehend and analyse others' ideas. This is where an argumentative text comes in.
Asking questions, the instructor helps students identify the author's main claim, arguments supporting the claim, opposing the claim and opposing the arguments. It is the argumentation structure repre-sented on the board that replaces the narrative and images to become a skeleton for students to lean on when rendering the text. Further discussion is focused on whether or not students agree with the author. The students are divided into pairs to work out a short debate to perform in front of the class.
Learner Independence - What about the teacher?
We hear a lot about learner independence these days, but what does this mean for the teacher? Is this downgrading of our role in the classroom? What kind of changes should we or our students make - if any - to incorporate the new ideas? The talk deals with the ever-changing role of the teacher and tries to answer some of these questions. The speaker is going to consider philosophical, pedagogical and practical rationale behind the concept of learner independence with a special focus upon the role of dialogue in the process of learning, new classroom materials and tasks, the importance of feedback and self-access facilities. The speaker points out that the teacher's role now is multiple - she/he is not so far an information holder in the classroom, but also an expert choosing materials, a monitor watching the students and a resource consultant for them.
Lyudmila G.Golubkova is ELT Promotion Manager at Moscow Office of Oxford University Press
Debate and Argumentative Skills Development
Debate is a complex intellectual game with rules, strategies and goals. It was developed as a teaching method by Protagoras of Abdera (480- 410 BC), a famous Greek philosopher best remembered for saying "man is the measure of all things". This method, revolutionary for its time, enabled his students to develop exceptional thinking and speaking skills - far better than simple public speaking training could provide. This teaching technique has been effective for nearly 2500 years and it still works today!
The presentation shows the reasons of this unrivalled popularity over the centuries and deals with major values of learning to play this game, with strategies involved, with skills it trains and their value with the focus on argumentative skills development.
Tatiana Ivanova, a Ph.D. in Speech Acts Theory, a Reader of the Department of Intensive FLT at St.Petersburg State University, teaching at the Faculty of Management and the Faculty of Philology, currently working on Post-Doctorate Thesis on The Language of Conflict Interaction. She is SPELTA Vice-President and Speech Communication SIG co-ordinator.
Irina Kolesnikova, Olga Dolgina
English-Russian ELT Terminology Handbook: the Project Review
Recent political and ideological changes in Europe have brought about new trends and a shift of emphasis in English language teaching (ELT) throughout Europe, which has been reflected in a number of key ELT publications, including documents and projects of the Council of Europe. These publications acknowledge the diversity of educational traditions and lay a greater emphasis on the informed exchange of ideas and a two-way transfer of ELT technology. Stressing the impor-tance of a more environment sensitive ELT methodology they call for the development of a Common European Framework of reference for language learning/ teaching and assessment. The creation of this Framework is impossible without a reflective and critical assimilation of basic ELT terms, notions and tech-niques behind them.
Against this background, in 1996 the Project aimed at producing
English-Russian ELT Termino-logy Handbook was started in St.Petersburg
with the support of the British Council. The demand for this work was prompted
by the following internal factors:
- the existence of two parallel sub-systems of ELT terminology in Britain and in Russia as a result of the specific development of ELT in Russia;
- lack of a comparative glossary of English-Russian ELT terms, or of a dictionary of foreign language teaching in Russian;
- expansion of British ELT literature and resource materials and the perceived need of ELT specialists in a reference book to guide them in the current multiplicity and variety of ELT terms.
The handbook is intended to provide those interested in teaching Modern Languages with reference materials that would give them access to British ELT literature. The Handbook might help to compare the two sets of ELT terminology developed in Russia and in England, to match and link the notions and categories that exist in both languages and to absorb those which are not yet fully assimilated in the Russian ELT tradition.
A wide range of ELT terms from a variety of sources have been surveyed. These terms reflected the essential EL teaching/learning practicalities, techniques and behaviours as well as the most important theoretical ELT con-cepts. The identified ELT terminology areas have formed the layout of the Handbook, with six chapters covering ELT Methods and Approaches; Syllabus Design; Teaching Language Skills; Language Teaching Activities; Classroom Management and Assessment and Testing.
In the process of work the authors have been confronted with a number of problems concerning the theoretical and methodo-logical conceptions of the book as well as its format. From the outset the proposed publication was conceived as both a termino-logy and methodology handbook. It has been found that mere translation or transliteration of terms from English into Russian is not always possible. Neither is it always helpful as it may not give the user a clear idea of what a term can possibly refer to. Since terms are connected with a given terminological field, and their definitions reflect their systemic relationships with other notions and concepts of the system, studying and systematising terminology means expounding some of the theory on which the terminology is based. Finding terminological equivalents or analogues across two different languages (English and Russian) presupposes the awareness of peculiarities of two terminological systems based on two different languages. It also involves the analysis of various theories and schools of thought within the given methodological system. The purpose of the handbook is not to create new terms but to prevent the confusion of the existing ones by means of providing Russian definitions and explanations for the English entries and if necessary, illustrations and examples.
The authors hope that when published the hand-book will be of use to all Russian-speaking teachers of foreign languages (not only EL teachers), to teacher trainers, University professors, researchers and students, translators of ELT materials and all those interested in language learning and teaching.
Irina Kolesnikova, Ph.D., Olga Dolgina, Ph.D. work in Herzen Pedagogical University of Russia.
Elizabeth A. Lewis
Using Questionnaires and Interviews for Communicative Speaking Practice (workshop)
This workshop will be devoted to the use of questionnaires and interviews in EFL classrooms of all levels. The advantages of incorporating these techniques into the speaking practice of students are manifold. Perhaps most importantly, interviews give students the chance to participate in communicative activity with the aim of gathering real information. Both speaking and listening skills are practised, and within a meaningful context. For beginning students especially, valuable experience is gained in formulating and practising questions in English. Additionally, interviewing activities can be developed for virtually any topic.
Another advantage of interviews is that students are given the chance
to speak in pairs (interviews), small groups (discussions), and indivi-dually
(presentations.) For example, after conducting interviews, students
then have the possibility of working in small groups to analyse the information
they have gathered--a chance to engage in meaningful dis-cussion.
And finally, as a wrap-up activity, students can present indivi-dual
or group presentations on the material they have analysed.
Various models can be used, depending on the level of the students. The presenter will discuss ways to have students: interview each other in class, interview visiting native speakers, and interview people outside of class. Rationale will be given for interviewing in either English or native Russian, depending on the situation, provided that discussion and presentation are conducted in English.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Lewis is United States Information Agency fellow. Based in Moscow, she conducts seminars there and in other Russian cities. She is also the co-ordinator for the EFL Fellow Program in Russia, overseeing the work of four other Fellows.
Legal Issues Facing the US Education System
Professor Rick Lorenz is Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Faculty of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University
Fiction as an Object for Discourse Analysis
Dr. Yelena Mendzheritskaya is an Associate Professor at Moscow State University
Anthropological Traces in Verbal Interaction
It is commonly recognised that every utterance is generated by the speaker's intention. However, in modern linguistics there is no conventionally accepted definition of the term. Some people think of intention being similar to illocution, while interpersonal conversation analysis does not always allow us to support that theory. In this paper it will be shown that in a real conversation intention should be understood as an active force combining two components: illocutive force and perlocutive force, the latter not to be confused with perlocutive effect, resulting from perlocutive force activity. To distinguish between the two components is especially beneficial when we study anthropological factors influencing communicative effect.
Georgina Nevzorova, Ph.D., Head of Foreign Languages Department in International Business and Communication Institute at Baltic Technical University. Now working on Post-Doctorate Thesis at St. Petersburg University's Department of English Philology and Translation.
This session will examine current ideas on teacher self-development, focusing on ways teachers can use their classrooms as data for professional innovation and adaptation. We will look at theories underlying action research and discuss some case studies with a view to thinking about implementing action research in our own classrooms.
Francis O'Brian, British Council, English Language Centre teacher.
Elena S. Petrova
An Online Course as a Factor in Professional Development
The proposed paper is an account of the author’s first experience of taking an online course. The lectures, given via e-mail in the summer of 1998 by Moya Brennan and moderated by Chip Harman of the City University of New York, were intended for teachers with a background in ELT who were planning a Business English course. However, the methodology, principles, and teaching styles observed can be adapted to planning other courses and enriching ELT techniques at the university level.
Elena Petrova, a regular SPELTA conferences contributor, is a graduate of St.Petersburg Univer-sity's Department of English Studies; a Ph.D. holder in Linguis-tics; her current interest being pronominal usage. She is a SPELTA Council member.
Translation as a Means of Teaching 'Understanding'
Translation could be seen as a model of human communication and understanding: it is impossible to convey anything to another person without the recipient actively interpreting the message. This creative part of the process of understanding is not usually noticed. People normally take it for granted that words are somewhat like labels and thus the meaning of an utterance or text is directly 'contained' in the words.
Teaching translation provides an opportunity to expose the students to the complexities that understanding another human being involves, particularly if it is a case of cross-cultural communication. Translation practice in ELT classroom could be used as a powerful tool to make the students become aware of the natural pitfalls of understanding others and thus increase their communication abilities.
Sergei Pshenitsyn, Ph.D. in Linguistics, Associate Professor, English Philology Department, Herzen Pedagogical University; Lecturer, Special Philological Faculty, St.Petersburg University. Now working on Post-Doctoral Thesis at the Herzen Pedagogical University, St. Petersburg. He is also Translation SIG co-ordinator.
Teaching Skills in General English and ESP
Literate people who use language possess the four basic language skills of speaking, writing, listening and reading. In addition to these General English skills, professionals who want to be competent users of English should possess specialised communication skills.
Business communication skills include an ability to deliver a message effectively through presentations, meetings, negotiations, telephone conversations and written documents. As universities in our country deal mainly with learners who have never been employed before, students do not possess those skills even in their own language. Their teacher's task is therefore twofold: to give them confidence in the use of English and to equip them with unfamiliar business communication skills in both their own mother tongue and English. Elena Rumyantseva, MA, graduated from the Faculty of Philology, St. Petersburg University, in 1996. At present she is a staff member of the Department for Intensive FLT, St.Petersburg University. She teaches at the Faculty of Management.
Global Issues on Foreign Language Curriculum
The so-called global issues are understood to embrace a wide range of subjects, such as environmental protection, racism combating, problems of drugs, abortions, sexism, sexual harass-ment, assisted suicide, etc. Some of these issues are known to the Russian public, others are not. Meanwhile, all these subjects are being widely discussed in the West. A Russian student is some-times surprised to find that there are more than one view to the problem (e.g. legalisation of drugs or assisted suicide).
It seems important to introduce students to a variety of views on the subject, to help them form their own opinions on contro-versial issues and, at least to know that such issues exist at all. Moreover, awareness of such global issues may help the student avoid an awkward situation by knowingly observing the rules of political correctness.
Tatiana Sallier, Ph.D. in Linguistics, a Reader at the Department of English for Humanities at St.Petersburg Univer-sity, and Head of Foreign Languages Department at St.Petersburg Higher Administrative School. Global Issues SIG Co-ordinator.
Jane Spilsbury, Lynne Pollard
Common FCE Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
This workshop will identify common pitfalls which are encountered when teaching for the revised Cambridge First Certificate in English Exami-nation (FCE). The session will highlight strategies for successful exam teaching and attempt to answer the question - to what extent can we make our students "testwise?"
Jane Spilsbury, Lynne Pollard, British Council, English Language Centre teachers.
Using Short Stories in the Language Classroom
During this workshop we will be looking at the ways in which short stories can be used with students to enhance language learning. It will be a practical session which will involve reading a story and a discussion of how to best exploit short stories in the classroom.
Jan Stanbury, British Council, English Language Centre teacher.
Teaching Translation as Cross-Cultural Communication
It is generally agreed nowadays that a language is an intrinsic part of culture. In order to translate from one language to another, the translator or interpreter should be aware of the native speakers' universe of discourse. "Cultural literacy" is absolutely indis-pensable for translators, as today they are assigned a role of "cultural mediators", who go beyond languages and who have to be not only bilingual, but bicultural as well. Training specialists of this kind is a mammoth task to achieve within the framework of a college or university course, but we can, and should teach sensitivity to a foreign culture.
When non-native teachers face this objective, they have to cope with quite a number of problems, one of the most essential being the right and proper way of introducing socio-cultural issues in the translation class. Clare Cramsh claims that culture in a foreign language classroom should not be taken only as "background information", but as a "place of struggle between the learner's mea-nings and those of native speakers". This approach presup-poses personal involvement of students in the process, when they are encouraged to make comparisons, pronounce judgements and speculate on what lies behind the cultural differences.
Galina Startseva, Ph.D. in Linguistics, a Lecturer at Regional State University.
Issues of Educational Organisation
George Thompson, professor of American Studies at Pskov Volny University since 1993 and at St.Petersburg University, Depart-ment of English Studies. He got his Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Sciences and International Rela-tions at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). G.Thompson is a retired Lieutenant-Colonel (Pilot) of US Air Force, former Associate Professor of Political Sciences at the US Air Force Academy, and Assistant to the Dean of Faculty. He is also former Headmaster of Patterson School (private boarding school).
Developing Dictionary Skills with Young Learners
There are a number of excellent dictionaries at the moment, but we have an unfortunate habit of thinking about 'the dictionary' as some kind of authority on the language. This habit disguises the fact that there are many dictionaries designed for different stages of learning. How to help pupils select a suitable monolingual dictionary? When should we start dictionary training? What should we teach at the simplest level? The talk will highlight the importance of dictionary skills training in lower secondary school.
Natalia Vassilkova, Addison Wesley Longman representative.
Teaching Business English to Professionals
At present many specialists working in various commercial and industrial companies have an opportunity to get a second higher education, in economics. Along with such subjects as marketing, management or accounting, a foreign language makes an integral part of the curriculum of higher schools of professional re-training. Though the students' proficiency in the foreign language may be not very high when they enter these schools, they usually have high motivation and a desire to learn the foreign language. The main objective in teaching the language to these specialists seems to be oral skills (listening comprehension and speaking) in business context, which is usually their weakest point. Such topics as the organisational structure of a firm, a visit to a factory, the working day and the respon-sibilities of a manager, etc. usually produce quick response from these students because they are connected with their personal work experience. This feature may be a good foundation for studying BE and it distinguishes such people very favourably from first- and second-year University undergraduate students of economics who have no profes-sional experience. Practising these topics in class is recommended in two surroundings: in a hypo-thetical firm in the English-speaking world and in the Russian company where this student is really working. This content-oriented approach enables one to draw parallels between the two different business environments and goes beyond purely conversational practice. This approach is very broad and can be applied to dialogues, role plays, essays and other activities in class and at home. In this case the student studying the language and the business culture of the English-speaking country is not isolated from real life, from the professional activity in his or her native country.
Olga Vessart, Ph.D. in Linguistics, a Reader at the Department of Foreign Languages at St.Petersburg University of Econo-mics and Finance.
Intonational Polyphony in Literature
Team-Teaching in ESP - a Way to Develop Communication Skills
ESP (English for Spesific Purposes) focuses on using English effectively in specific fields such as business, law, banking, medicine, etc. Respective ESP courses highlight such specific vocabulary and lay emphasis on tasks related to the field, in order to develop appropriate negotiation skills and effective techniques for oral presentations. The entire program is designed to meet the specific professional or academic needs of the learner.
However there is a gap between what students really need and what a standard course book can offer.
What can an ESP teacher really do to meet the students' vital needs? Our answer is "team teaching" - a joint teaching programme in which the subject specialist and the English tutor work together. The presentation deals with a team-teaching project in the State Regional Institute of Economy and Finance, and its effect on the students' involvement in the process of natural communication, on the development of their presentation skills and their learning through discussions and negociations, preparation of offers and arguments.
Lyudmila Yeserskaya is the Head of the Department of Foreign Languages at the Regional Institute of Economy and Finance. Her interests are: Business English, ESP, Developing Communication Skills
FROM THE ANCIENT CITY OF TOMIS TO IATEFL-EAST 1998.
THE WARMEST MEMORIES
SPELTA Vice President
The ancient city of Tomis (where Augustus exiled the poet Ovid for writing The Art of Love) was founded according to legend by a splinter-group of Argonauts. It was renamed Constanta by the Byzantines after the Emperor Constantine and drew its commercial success from the protection of the goddess Fortuna. Her terra-cotta statue is one of the relics of the Hamangia Culture unearthed near Constanta in 1970s during excavations. Others were Neolithic figures of The Thinker and his less thoughtful-looking spouse. These two were the logo of a very successful conference held in Constanta last August. It was organised by joint efforts of three Romanian ELT Associations ( in Bucharest, Cluj, and Timisoara), Moldavian ELT Association and the British Council in Romania and supported by IATEFL. The conference was hosted by Ovidius University of Constanta.
IATEFL-East 98 was the third EFL conference in the Balkan Region. It was an open and representational forum for ELT professionals from all over the world. The list of participants showed countries of two hemispheres and five continents. Nearly 400 participants came to this sunny port at the Black Sea coast to share ideas, to discuss problems, to give opinions, to express feelings. And they had all the opportunities they needed to do so in the course of dicussions at sessions, during the breaks, at cocktail parties, concerts and even on the beach and in the sea. The sea was nice and warm these last days of summer and the hotels the participants stayed at were on the beach in Mamaia, a popular resort near Constanta.
However, the schedule was so packed that swimming enthusiasts only had time for a quick swim at 7 a.m. or 11 p.m, when it was already pitch-dark. At nine o'clock the buses took us to the other end of the city, to the University (a very good idea of the organizers to avoid any possible temptations), and the working day started.
The number of talks was enormous 160, or so, organised in 12 sets of concurrent sessions: four or five every day, to say nothing of the wonderful plenaries. Concurrent sessions mean 14 presentations simultaneously in 14 different rooms, going for either 20 or 50 minutes with a 15 minutes break when people are rushing into other rooms. The advantages are: you may have almost as many presentations as you like and you help participants to keep fit giving them a lot of additional exercise. The biggest disadvantage is, to my mind, making a conference rather fragmentary. Presentations that were very close thematically were given separately and very often to different audiences, therefore it lacked discussions. I dared a bit of a criticism, but it was explained to me that it was the modern trend and I had to face a continuous process of decision-making which was a bit tiresome. On the other hand the choice was fantastic from highly theoretical to very practical matters - methodology issues, results of field research, results of classroom research, talks on the theory of language, global issues and cultural differences. To illustrate, I will give a few titles here: The World through Proverbs, You Are in the Army Now (ESP), Writing Styles in Business Communication, Aspects of Teaching Comparative Typology, Postmodernism, Feminism and Educational Reform. The range of presenters was very wide and also added to the democratic nature of the conference. I think the organisers managed to strike a balance between native and non-native speakers, between Romanian teachers and guests from other countries, between celebrities and highly experienced university professors, and very young instructors and post graduates. An interesting fact was that high level of activity of Romanian teachers is encouraged in a way by their Ministry of Education. If they participate in conferences and publish articles they have a special merit salary, not a very big one, but a bonus!
The plenaries were given by people, who hardly need any special introduction. They were Prof. Henry Widdowson, Dr. Penny Ur, Roger Gower, the author of "Matters", and Prof. Peter Medgyes from Budapest. I hadn't heard about Prof. Adrian Nicolescu before, but his ideas on the aspects of decision-making in teaching were extremely interesting and his presentation was brilliantly ironic.
The thrust of all the plenaries and some other presentations was assessing the results of thirty years of communicative approach. The methodologists spoke about dangers of dogmatic vision and were unanimous warning against it and against discarding and discrediting traditional things that were effective, the attitude, especially important for the countries that had methodological traditions in pre-communicative period. The words about "the bath, the water and the baby" were said more than once and every time found an immediate positive response in the audience. It will be better if I give the floor to two most popular authors:
Professor Henry Widdowson, the author of the main books introducing communicative methodology (one of the English participants said after his presentation. "If even a guru said that communicative approach is not 100% faultless theory, it does mean something"):
Communicative Language Teaching: Conceptions and Misconceptions
"Communicative language teaching has become a fashionable orthodoxy since it was first proclaimed as an approach almost thirty years ago, but what its basic principles are remains in many ways unclear, confused and sometimes contradictory. This talk will seek to identify what these principles are, or are thought to be and take a critical look at them to establish their validity and relevance."
Dr Penny Ur, the author of Five minutes activities, Discussions that work and many other books of practical activities, used, loved and enjoyed by many. She is also the author of A Course in Language Teaching.
The Communicative Approach Revisited
"The communicative approach has been considered for some time the most appropriate basis for the design of foreign language teaching methodologies and materials. Its introduction brought about many healthy changes in teaching; but also it led some methodologists to discard or discredit components of more traditional methodologies that actually have value for effective language teaching and learning."
This idea was developed by professor Peter Medgyes, who treated the problem in the cross-cultural aspect of non-native teaching.
Among many events of the conference I would also like to mention a presentation and a post-conference launch of British Studies textbook Crossing Cultures, the product of joint efforts of the mixed native and non-native teachers team.
The conference in Romania has resulted in new friends, new ideas and new professional connections, that I hope would be useful for us in future.
"DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS - A CONSTANT CHALLENGE"
Penny Ur, a prominent ELT author, gave three presentations: one has been mentioned above. Then next day she volunteered to stand in for Alan Maley, who had to leave due to urgent family matters, her talk was or"Are teachers born or made?". And third time she spoke about the bridge between fluency and accuracy. So she really was the star of the conference.
I asked her for a short interview for our Newsletter and was not at all sure she would agree, there were so many people who wanted to talk to her. But she did agree and that is Penny. She is a real giver, very warm and encouraging and always ready to help.
T.I. Do you often give interviews?
P.U. No, not very often. May be I've given two or three in my life.
T.I. You were in St.Petersburg a year ago. What are your memories?
P.U. I remember the very, very warm welcome I got there. I remember, of course, beautiful places I've visited in the city, Winter Palace, the statues and the churches and the river and the canals and on the professional level I remember working with teacher trainers from the British Council and finding very much of a common language with them in the point that the problems which St.Petersburg teacher trainers face are very similar to the ones I face in Israel and we found we were working together in the same way. It was lovely.
T.I. You mentioned at one of the sessions here that you wanted very much to come to Romania. May I ask, why? What is your special interest in this conference?
P.U. I'm interested in going to the conferences in the countries, where teachers interest is developing very fast and these countries are not very rich and they therefore are managing on very limited resources. I find I have more to give, have more to say to teachers in the countries like this than I do in very rich countries like Japan or America, and I feel that if I come to countries like Romania, firstly I learn a lot and I have a lot to give and the interchange is much richer than it is in other countries.
T.I. Yesterday you made a wonderful presentation "Are teachers born or made?" You said that "teaching was thrust upon you"? . How did it happen?
P.U. It happened because I was an English-speaking immigrant to a non-English-speaking country, in this case Israel. They said: "Oh, you've got a University degree and you speak English, so you must be able to teach English", which actually doesn't follow at all. A lot of people can speak English and have no idea at all how to teach it, - anyway, they said: "You've got to teach it, we have nobody else to teach it". At the beginning I found it very very difficult, and later on I started enjoying it and learned to do it well, and I have been doing it since.
T.I. What is the most difficult thing for you in teaching profession?
P.U. Discipline problems. As children in the classroom in Israel anyway, are not terribly disciplined,. I have problems with classroom management. I mean, I manage, obviously. If I hadn't taught successfully , I wouldn't be here, but it is a continual problem for me and I'm learning how to deal with this problem. It has been one of the challenges of my teaching life which I find very satisfying to solve or partially solve as time goes on, but it remains a problem, and I suppose it always will be.
T.I. What gives you the biggest professional satisfaction?
P.U. Biggest satisfaction is seeing children who you've taught learning English and speaking English and then coming back to you, you know. I've been in the profession for thirty years, I have actually taught the children of the children I taught and seeing these children speaking English - this is satisfactory in particular. One child who I taught when she was in third-fourth grade who grew, became very fluent in English, she didn't actually visit an English-speaking country, but she was very fluent from my teaching, from other people's teaching when she went on to high school, and became an English teacher herself, and now she is a colleague, and this is really a wonderful feeling.
T.I. You have written so many books. You teach a lot and you go to conferences. You have a family. Do you have problems trying to combine all these?
P.U. Yes, a lot of problems. People always ask me, how do you manage to teach and write and teacher-train and I have four children and a husband, of course. When the children were smaller, I did less, I didn't do so much travelling, now I do a lot of travelling, as the children are grown up. One thing which helped me a lot was the fact that I live in a kibbutz which is a very supportive environment. The children are looked after during the day, so during my working day I didn't have to worry about the children when they were small and also I suppose the fact that both my husband and my children are so very supportive, very tolerant of my teaching, of my taking time off to travel and then it's a matter of personal time organisation, working when you have time to do things, using every moment of time you can and I just like it, I love it, I love writing, I love teaching, so I make the time.
T.I. Your books are admired by many people. Which is "the favourite child" of the books you have written?
P.U. It is interesting that you said child, because there is a lot in common in writing a book and having a child. The one I am proudest of is my latest one, it is "The course in language teaching", which is the culmi-nation of an enormous number of years work, I think that's one I am proudest of . If you ask, which is my favourite, which one I like best, and I what I use most myself, it is "Grammar practice activities", which I continue to use and continue to enjoy.
T.I. The next question may seem strange. Do you yourself use the exercises included in your book, already published, or create new ones?
P.U. I carry on using them, that is why I wrote the book, I needed it, I needed the exercises there, grammar practice activities, for example, or Discussions that Work activities, I use these activities in my own classrooms, but at the same time, one moves on and I am creating new stuff. If I have to write these books again today, I'll put in a lot of new stuff, because you keep thinking of new things.
T.I. What are your plans?
P.U. This year I am on sabbatical and my plans are more to learn than to write. I have done an enormous amount of writing and lecturing in the last few years and I feel the need to recharge my batteries to learn, sit in libraries, read, catch up on what other people have researched and then I'll think about may be writing another book.
T.I. We'll look forward to it. Thank
you very much indeed.