Issue #19
October 2000

From the President
13th SPELTA Conference (October 2000) Programme
Abstracts of the Conference Presentations

David Evans Interview

From the President

Dear Spelters and Teflers,

These beautiful autumn days when I am writing these lines, I remember Pushkin's verses. On lyceum anniversary, that we  commemorate on October 19th.  The verses of commitment, of friendship, of unity. Translated into English by Elena Petrova they sound as

My friends, how perfect our union is!
Immortal as the soul, and just as pure.

Yes, we  gather again for our autumn conference and have the same interest in our profession and also the desire to see familiar faces. It is the 13th conference, but we leave the superstitions at home, we need to listen to each other, to socialise, to be in the exiting atmosphere of professional discussion and networking, in the family like atmosphere of community.

Some people say that SPELTA is getting more and more academic. It is partly true in the way of trying to make the standard of our conferences and the level of talks higher, to give every member an opportunity to see deeper into things. It is not true as we are in no way academics that close themselves in the ivory tower, walling out everything connected with  classroom practices.

Others consider SPELTA  a school teachers organisation. It is true as there are a lot of school teachers, there are in fact more school teachers than university professors. However, it is only partly true, as we have a sufficient number of people from primary and tertiary level.

The best thing about SPELTA is that it is both. School teachers, nursery school teachers, university professors mixing together make our association what it is.

The key features of the conference this autumn are : focus on teacher as a learner, plenaries and workshops by native speakers of English, presentation of a new interesting project of the British Council, called SPEX, round table discussion on materials development, and a lot more. This year the council  decided to follow world practices and include our Annual General Meeting in the conference programme. We would very much appreciate your opinion on this matter, whether you think it was a good idea or not, please, give us feedback. You are going to hear the official report of the Council that I am going to present. However, I would like to sum up the main principles we have tried to maintain during my first year of presidency. The first was to give more benefits for individual members - providing the opportunity of lower payments for international memberships, more small scale events, creating family atmosphere, allowing for a closer look at some specific issues. The second was more networking and socialising inside and outside SPELTA, getting over the borders of St. Petersburg, establishing links and co-operation with ELT professionals in other cities of Russia, North-West in particular, maintaining our international status, subscription to a number of e-mail lists, creating our own Website. The third was more variety in the formats of Newsletter, of our conferences, finding more incentives for teachers, that would provide a real help. In a nutshell it is everything that would help to all of us to follow the motto of IATEFL - linking, developing and supporting ELT professionals. I would like to use this opportunity of presidential address to say each and everyone of you thank you  for your  enthusiasm, for your attention, and for the work we have been doing. It has been a great time, a lot has been done and there are yet more plans for the  future  and projects that I would like to continue. Together we are doing a great job!

With all best wishes,

Tatiana Ivanova


13th International Conference of SPELTA

Learning through Teaching

21-22 October, 2000
St Petersburg

October  21, Saturday

12.00 Registration. Everyone will receive a new issue of the Newsletter, participant ticket and conference materials and will be able to pay membership fees. Exhibitions.

1 p.m. Opening -Tatiana Ivanova,  SPELTA President

Greetings from  SPELTA guests:

Elizabeth White, Director of The British Council St.Petersburg
Susan Boardman, Deputy Director of the British Council St.Petersburg
Margarita Mudrak,  English–Speaking Union
Lyudmila Gorodetskaya (Moscow), ESP/BESIG Russia Magazine

2.00 p.m. Plenary

Zoe Chadwick (The British Council English Language Centre). Keeping the show on the road

2.40 p.m. Coffee-Break

3.00 p.m.  AGM  Open Annual General Meeting of  SPELTA Members

4.00 p.m. Parallel  Sessions

1. Literature
Jan Stanbury (the British Council). Learning through Teaching - Using Literature to Assess and Re-assess our Values and Opinions. Workshop
Irina Panasyuk  (St.Petersburg State University). Modern Literature in ELT

2. Information Technology
Anna Rodicheva, Tatiana Zaitseva (Cherepovets).  Chat-Interaction Peculiarities
Marina  Bovtenko (Novosibirsk). Information Technology as Powerful Teacher and Learner Resource. Workshop

October 22, Sunday

Elena Prokhorova (ELT adviser of the Foreign Languages dept. of the University of Pedagogical Mastery), Valentina Bolshakova (Head of English of School #169). SPEX (St.Petersburg Exam project) - Traditions and Innovations

Larissa Alexeyeva  (British Council Examinations assistant). Examination Services in St.Petersburg            Abstract

12.00  Coffee break

12.30 -2.00 Parallel sessions

1. Learning and Teaching: How the Two Go Together
Chair - Svetlana Serova
Elena Petrova (St.Petersburg State University). The English Language Teachers’ Concern About Their English             Abstract
Evgenia Vlasova (Russian Academy of  Sciences). Language Learner as the Focal Point in the Classroom          Abstract
Svetlana Serova (School # 83). Some Aspects of Teaching Reading Comprehension
Inga Panova (School N 112). Project Activities in ELT
Tatiana Ivanova (St.Petersburg State University).What Do the Students Want. Cross-cultural Perspective.

2. Language Awareness in Teaching and Learning
Chair: Evgeny Klimov
Vadim Goloubev (St.Petersburg State University). Translation in Cross-Cultural Dialogue.
Tatyana  Fedoulenkova (Severodvinsk) and Olga Guiritch (Tyumen). Biblical Idioms in Second Language Aqcuisition      Abstract
Maragarita M. Philippova (Moscow State University). Irony and Sarcasm as an Integral Part of English Culture and Their Cognitive Significance in Teaching English       Abstract
Lyudmila Gorodetskaya (Moscow). Teaching Fundamentals of Communication Theory - a Luxury or a Necessity?      Abstract

2.00-2.30 - Break

2.30 - 3.20 Parrallel workshops
1. Alice Murray (ELT Fellow, USIA).  Remembering What «It» Is All About: a Reflective Exercise          Abstract
2. Rachel S. Mikeska (Peace Corp Volunteer). Prolonging Attention Span in the Classroom

3. Lyudmila Gorodetskaya (Moscow). Cambridge University Press Workshop “Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Teaching English Today”

3.30 Round Table Discussion
Materials Development: Native and non-native teacher’s approach.
Speakers: Evgenia Vlasova and Sofia Kostenko - the authors of Focus on the USA, Polly Gannon, Lyudmila Elkonina,  Marina Kvet (Freelance),  everyone is welcome to speak

appr. 4.30 p.m. Closing Ceremony


Abstracts of the Conference Presentations

Larissa Alekseyeva
Examinations Services in St.Petersburg
The speaker will dwell on the following issues: The main aim of the Examinations Services is to provide access to international qualifications. The strategy of the Examination Services includes:
providing information about the whole range of examinations that can be taken in St.Petersburg
arranging seminars and presentations for English language teachers creating close links with supplier schools administering of examinations in St.Petersburg and region.
As far as impact of Examination Services’ activity is concerned, the number of exams is steadily growing (approximately 40 % a year). It is interesting to know that Examinations Services in Russia take the first place among BC offices in the world on the pace of growth. The Examinations Services, Russia, are running examinations on a vast territory from St.Petersburg to Vladivostock and from Murmansk to Sochi.
The speaker will also cover comparative analysis of different types of exams.

Alekseyeva Larissa, Examinations Assistant, BC, St.Petersburg

Marina Bovtenko
Information Technology as powerful teacher and learner resource. Workshop
The purpose of the workshop is to review the wide range of language teaching and learning resources provided by Information Technology (from dedicated language learning software to reference and applications programs, authoring tools, e-mail and the Internet) and general principles and techniques of Information Technologies incorporation into syllabus. The presenter outlines the necessity of language teachers and students training in the field of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). Though CALL is an integral part of language teaching methodology, it needs specific knowledge and skills to be acquired. The content of the textbook written for the CALL methodology course designed and teaching approaches recommended are also covered.

Marina  Bovtenko, Ph.D. in Linguistics, Associate professor of Novosibirsk State Technical University. Her research interests are in  English for Specific Purposes and Computer Assisted Language Learning.

T.N.Fedoulenkova and O.V.Guiritch
Teaching experience at the University testifies to the fact that teaching biblical idioms is one of the most effective means of helping the students to master the English language. On the one hand, idioms of biblical origin comprise the most frequently used part of modern English phraseology; on the other hand, they contain vast moral and ethical values.
One cannot imagine English without such common phrases as  (as) clear as crystal, sing a new song, the signs of the times, wheels within wheels, work out one’s own salvation, etc.
The ethical value of biblical idioms consists in revealing the vices of human beings and in praising their virtues: a) a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a doubting Thomas, to worship the golden calf, etc.; b) an angel of light, clean hands, possess one’s soul in patience, etc.
Biblical phraseology includes many proverbs which, being communicative phraseological units, enable the students to build up the line of discourse: A soft answer turneth away wrath,  Pride goes before a fall, They that take the sword shall perish with the sword, etc.
Biblical phraseology also provides a reliable source of language material for a study of language variation.

Tatiana N.Fedoulenkova, professor at the Pomorsky State University, Severodvinsk Filiation.
Olga V. Guiritch, teacher at the Tyumen State Oil-Gas University.

Ludmila Gorodetskaya
Teaching Fundamentals of Communication Theory – a Luxury or a Necessity?
The speaker shares her experience in teaching lecture courses in various areas of communication at the faculty of foreign languages, Moscow State University: Interpersonal Communication, Intercultural Communication, Argumentation and Persuasion Theories, etc., and shows how closely they are related to language teaching and academic scholarship as well as political, economic and social practices in a true democracy. She compares the courses taught in Moscow with her experience as a Fulbright scholar in the United States and points out strong and weak sides of both educational systems. Talking about a syllabus design, the speaker emphasises the need for country-specific case-studies to help Russian students internalize and make use of the contemporary theories developed by Western scholars.

Cambridge University Press workshop “Linguistic and cultural diversity in teaching English today”
The workshop demonstrates the latest trends in the development of the English language and culture as presented in teaching materials published in Cambridge. The concepts of language variability, cultural diversity and political correctness are analysed and exemplified, and their effect on language teaching is traced. Activities from several Cambridge courses for upper-intermediate and advanced learners as well as methodology and reference books are discussed, and the workshop participants formulate their own opinions on how we can productively combine our positive experience in traditional approaches to language teaching with those new trends and developments. Participants receive catalogues and information materials. The workshop finishes with a book lottery.

Ludmila Gorodetskaya is Ph. D. in Linguistics, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, “ESP/BESIG Russia” editor, and ELT Consultant of Cambridge University Press.

Rachel S. Mikeska
One of the most fundamental aspects in teaching English as a Foreign Language is to grasp the attention of all students and to have them thinking, speaking, listening, reading and questioning during the entire class period. Regardless of the age group or level, learners need to take an active part in their own learning experience. It has been found that a number of methods and activities help to promote this, including a learner centered classroom environment and multimedia materials. A discuss of this in more in detail in a 30 to 40 minute lecture or discussion seminar.

Rachel S.Mikeska is from the US, she is Peace Corp volunteer, currently working in St.Petersburg.

Alice Murray
Remembering What «It» Is All About: a Reflective Exercise
Teaching centers on activity and outcome.  We as teachers attempt to do things with our students with the hope, if not expectation, that they will learn and then can show us what they have learned through their performance on a test or a quiz or in an assignment.  The premise that teaching produces learning creates a dilemma for the teacher:  am I doing the «right» thing, how can I make this better, etc.  It might help teachers who are facing this predicament to try and refocus their perspectives by:
1)examining what is happening in the classroom;
2)questioning why an activity/lesson occurs in a certain way; and
3)assessing how their teaching fits  this particular kind of learning.
The activities presented in this workshop will provide teacherrs with a chance to reflect on how they think, how others think, how much we assume about other people’s thinking, and how much our own personal frames of reference affect the way we filter and learn something new.

Alice Murray, EFL Fellow, St Petersburg

Elena S.Petrova
The English Language Teachers’ Concern about Their English
Most of the EFL teachers working in L-2 educational settings are likely to face the problem of English language attrition or L-2 interference at some point in their careers. The paper gives an account of the debate about this issue moderated by the TESL-L discussion forum, and summarizes EFL teachers’ suggestions for keeping up their English. The problem of attrition of the language taught, however, may appear even more formidable to non-native speakers. The author compares the experiences of native and non-native speaker EFL teachers. The problem is addressed in the framework of accommodation theory.

Elena S. Petrova, PhD in Linguistics, SPELTA member since its foundation year; SPELTA Council member since 1997. She currently holds a tenure as Associate Professor in the English Department (Translation and Interpreting), St Petersburg State University. Her major areas of interest include grammar variation theory, translation theory and practice, and grammar teaching methodology for senior students of English. She is also a coursebook writer and a freelance translator of art books from Russian into English.

Maragarita M. Philippova
Irony and Sarcasm as an Integral Part of English Culture and Their Cognitive Significance in Teaching English
Humour is notoriously difficult to comprehend for foreign learners. Irony and sarcasm are language- and culture-specific. Teaching the language cannot be divorced from teaching the corresponding culture, especially when dealing with post-intermediate and advanced students.
This paper is meant to:
1) conduct an intra- and intercultural study of these two phenomena, i.e. analyze the attitudes to irony and sarcasm typical of Russian and English speakers and their understanding of these concepts;
2) try to interpret the functioning of irony and sarcasm in fiction and cross-cultural communication;
3) look at the means of expression by which irony and sarcasm are conveyed: intonation, contextual relations and others.

Margarita M. Philippova, associate professor of Moscow State University, PhD in Linguistics, a memeber of LATEUM - Linguistic Association of Teachars of English at Moscow State University.

Jan Stanbury
Learning through Teaching - Using Literature to Assess and Re-assess our Values and Opinions
In this workshop we will look at a selection of short stories and poems which will hopefully challenge the views and opinions of students and teachers alike. It will be a practical session, that is, one in which participants are expected to contribute their ideas. Hopefully they will leave with some material that they will be able to adapt to their own classroom situation.

Jan Stanbury is teaching at English Language Centre of the British Council St.Petersburg

Evgenia Vlasova
Language Learner as the Focal Point in the Classroom
The presentation will focus on teaching American studies to teenagers. The new approach is in emphasizing the role of the learner  -  the recipient of the information presented in class. The learner of the year 2000 is  not what he(she) was ten years ago : he is more unconstrained and natural and has more access to the cultures of the world through the Internet and the TV, which demands a new teacher-learner relationship. This concept underlies the text - book on American studies being prepared by the author. The tentative title is "Teens' Guide to the USA". It is an attempt to make the learner the focal point  of teaching through motivation.

Evgenia Vlasova is  an associate professor of the Foreign Languages Department, Russian Academy of Sciences. She is co-author of the "Focus on the USA" ( together with S.Kostenko) which is used in some schools. American studies have always been the focus of her professional interests


This interview was taken more than a year ago (spring 1999), when David Evans visited St.Petersburg and was present at  a lesson  in St.Petersburg State University, at the Faculty of Management.

Tatiana  Ivanova
David Evans:
Professional associations are absolutely essential

Question. How did the idea of the “Powerhouse” come to you?
Answer.Well, “Powerhouse” is not really my idea in fact.  “Powerhouse” is an intermediate BE course which the research that  “Longman” did showed that there was a wide market for. So the idea for writing  “Ph”comes  from the  publishing company not from me.

Q.Thank you. And what, do you think, makes it distinct from other books on BE?
A.Well, there are two things which make it distinct – one is the way in which we organize the book so that every double page spread in “Ph” is a complete lesson in itself. Now we’ve done this because we know that BE teachers use BE books in very different ways and so the teachers who don’t start at the beginning and don’t finish at the end, it’s very useful if they find each double page spread to be a separate lesson, because it means they can programme their courses in a number of different ways. The second big difference I think is in very wide range of authentic material  we’ve included in “Ph”. Most BE books would include  material from newspapers or magazines. But in “Ph” we’ve done much more than that. We don’t just  have  articles from newspapers or magazines we also have political speeches, management texts, business gurus, novels, plays and Holywood movies. So we hope that it provides much richer resource for learners and teachers than most other BE books.

Q. Which Holiwood movies did you choose for your book?
A. Well, from Holiwood movies we’ve got “The Godfather”, “Pretty Woman”, and “The Player” we’ve also got “Garry Glen Ross”, “The Wallstreet” and a slightly less known movie “It could be tonight”.

Q. Are all these movies equally popular in the UK? What do you think?
A. They are not all equally popular. I was looking for the movie with business theme, so obviously those certain movies like “The Godfather” which appears to be about the mafia but in many ways is actually about business. Obviously that’s one of the great movies of the past 20 or 30 years so that was an easy choice to make. Apart from “The Wallstreet” is one of the best known business movies of the past 10 or 15 years that was an easy one to choose. After that the other ones are perhaps slightly less well-known but nevertheless I chose them because they have a business theme.

Q.  I’ve heard that you also work for BBC. So what is this other job about?
A. E.I am a radio producer for the BBC World Service. A job of a radio producer really is a person who is responsible for making the programmes that  you hear. So my job is to write  and record and edit and present a number of programmes that go on BBC World Service.. In fact I’ve worked for BBC World Service for 8 years and for many of those years I actually specialized in programmes for Russia and other former Soviet Republics. So as a result I’ve developed a great interest in this part of the world.

Q. When you worked on the book what  cultural or national audience did you have in mind? Is it 100% international?
A. Yes the book is designed to be used all over the world. However we know where the biggest probable markets are and so when we designed the book we were thinking particularly about learners in Eastern Europe, in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, learners in Russia, learners in Poland and also learners in Brasil, so those are the main areas of the world we had in mind when we designed the book. And obviously we are aware that it would be used in our countries too.

Q.You’ve told me that it’s not your first time in Russia. Do you feel or see any differences? What do you think about our country in general?
A. I am a big fan of Russia I love coming to Russia. I suppose the first time I came to Russia and first time to Saint-Petersburg was in 1993 and since then obviously I’ve noticed enormous changes.

Q. For better or for worse?
A. For me, coming here as a visitor, it’s much easier now to be a visitor in Russia now. I don’t know whether it is easier to live here in Russia or not, but obviously when I first came here in 1993 I found it very hard to find cafes, to find restaurants, even to find shops because there were very very few signings very few window displays and so as a result it was a very difficult place to visit while now of course it’s much much closer to what I am used to at home.

Q. You’ve just visited a lesson. What’s your impression of our students?
A. It was a great lesson. I had a very positive impression of the students. The standard of English I thought was wonderful and they were also very very keen to speak, to communicate and use the language – everything of very good knowlege of the kind of business terms they were confronted inthe book as well so I was really very very impressed.

Q. And probably one or two more specific questions for this interview will be printed in Newsletter of ELT Association. What do you think about IATEFL activities of professional association? What is the future of it? Some words about it.
A. I think the professional associations are absolutely essential in English language teaching industry because obviously it’s an international industry and the way in which idea is spread is really through these professional association and I think they’ve done an enormously good job over recent years in bringing the English Language Teaching Community together and in helping all of us to share ideas across continents, across countries, right around the world really.

Q. What are your plans for the future, I mean in your work on books and developing materials and radio programmes.
A. Well, I’m really planning to focus much more on writing books in the future. I’m just about start writing “Ph” Upper-Intermediate the next level of “Ph”which we hope will be out toward the end of the year 2000.We’re also making a video to go with “Ph” intermediate … in summer and it will be out in the autumn of this year. I’m going to do some work for Penguin working on series  of readers especially for the BE market. So hopefully next year there will be a reader on management gurus and there will be a reader on story of Internet.

Q. What kind of reader will it be?
A. These will be factual readers they will be business presented in entertaining way. And the idea is that people who are interested in business and interested in learning English will read them for pleasure. There will be used graded language that will be much easier for people to read than an authentic management text or authentic story of Internet.

Q. Speaking about gurus. Yesterday at your lecture you told us a wonderful story about a frog. Will you please, briefly repeat it for those who didn’t have an opportunity to hear that The moral is connected with education problems among other things.
A. Yes, I mean this idea comes from the writings of an Irish management guru called Charles Handy. Charles Handy believes that  the world in the moment is changing in a very very dramatic and unexpected way. He compares this process to a story about frog. He says if you take a frog and put it in a saucepan filled with cold water and put this saucepan on a cooker and very very gradually increase the temperature the frog will allow itself to be boiled to death because it won’t notice the changes in its environment and Charles Handy says that this is very much a moral tale for life in the modern world. He says that the world is changing around us in a very very dramatic ways but probably these changes a slimply too slow to notice. And he says if we don’t wake up and become aware of the kinds of changes that are happening in environment just like that frog we are going to let ourselves  be boiled to death.

Q. Both teachers and students.
A. Teachers, students, everybody.

Tatiana. Well, thank you very much. I think we’ll try to be optimistic.