Report by Sylvia Velikova, BETA President
This report summarises the Committee activity from June 2013 to April 2014. Since our term (2010-2014) is going to expire at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Blagoevgrad, the report also provides an overview of how far we have come in the four-year period and what more there is to be done in the future. Our activities largely reflect initiatives in the following areas: strategic partnerships, communication, sponsorship and fundraising, membership, international cooperation, event organisation, publications.
At the start of our term in 2010, we took a decision to work with a clear division of responsibilities between all the Committee members. As the President of BETA I have been responsible for the leadership of the Committee and for ensuring its good communication, collaboration and effectiveness. In addition, I have coordinated the Association strategic partnerships, fundraising and sponsorship, as well as communication. These are the key areas of action that I will highlight in my President’s report. Below are also the reports from the Membership Secretary, the International Coordinator, the Public Relations Committee Member, the Annual Competition Coordinator, and the E-Newsletter Editor.
Strategic partnerships, fundraising and sponsorship, communication. Thoughts and ideas for the future
For the past four years, BETA has made significant progress in partnership at strategic level. Successful contacts have been established with representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science. In July 2013, we held a meeting with the Head of the Directorate for Qualification and Career Development. Together we explored possibilities for cooperation and information exchange between BETA and the Directorate. As an outcome of the meeting, in November 2013, BETA submitted a proposal for a joint project with the Regional Inspectorate of Education – Blagoevgrad. If approved (we are still waiting to hear from the Ministry with regard to their decision), the Ministry of Education and Science will provide funding for state school teachers to attend the 2014 BETA Annual Conference. In 2013 and the beginning of 2014, successful cooperation continued between BETA and the Regional Inspectorates of Education in Blagoevgrad, Silistra, and Veliko Turnovo. This was possible mainly through our contacts with the Foreign Language Experts, our participation in the teacher training seminars organised by the regional inspectorates and in other local and regional activities, such as the 6th Regional English Language Theatre Festival, Veliko Turnovo in February 2014.
Since 2010 we have established and strengthened our new partnership with the Regional English Language Office (RELO). RELO supports the missions of Public Affairs sections of the United States Embassies in Central and Southeastern Europe through its informational, educational and cultural programmes. This year the Regional English-Language Officer, George Chinnery, will represent the State Department at the BETA conference in Blagoevgrad. In 2012 BETA worked in partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer TEFL Program and contributed to the success of the International Creative Writing Competition Bulgaria 2012. In 2013 Tsvetelena Taralova (Sofia), Kremena Radoeva (Silistra), and Neli Gospodinova (Silistra) – BETA members and high school teachers – were selected for participation in the Educational Leaders’ Training Program 2013, organised by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. They visited the Teachers’ College, Columbia University in New York City for a three-week professional development and training. Currently, there is an active information exchange in place between the U.S. Embassy Sofia and BETA.
In 2010 BETA re-established its close links with the British Council Bulgaria and since then our cooperation has been further expanded. In 2011 and 2012, the British Council supported BETA by providing grants to the official BETA representatives (Sylvia Velikova – 2011, Tsvetelina Harakchiyska – 2012) to attend the IATEFL annual conferences in the UK. The British Council and BETA also jointly organised special events at the BETA annual conferences in Ruse (2012) and Varna (2013). In addition, the British Council has supported BETA by providing financial assistance to an excellent array of plenary speakers at the BETA annual events (Carol Read – Sofia 2011; Phil Ball, John Clegg, and Keith Kelly – Ruse 2013; Steve Mann – Varna 2013). This year again the British Council is co-sponsoring a plenary speaker – Terry Lamb, University of Sheffield (UK) and FIPLV President. Similarly, one of the highlights of the 2014 BETA conference is the British Council Bulgaria Event on “Creating an inclusive learning environment for students with specific needs” (featured speaker: Richard Cherry, British Council Bulgaria).
In 2011 and 2013, BETA became a member of two international organisations: the European Network of Language Teacher Associations (REAL) and the International Federation of Teachers of Modern Languages (FIPLV), thanks to the FIPLV President Terry Lamb who attended our Annual Conference in Varna in June 2013. By joining the strong, collective voice of these associations, BETA will gain more international visibility and cooperation in furthering its mission to support foreign language education and the training and professional development of English language teachers nationally. Over the past four years, BETA also has successfully collaborated with IATEFL and the Young Learners & Teenagers Special Interest Group (Dennis Newson represented it as a speaker at the BETA Conference in Sofia in 2011), and the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe, Graz, Austria (Terry Lamb was sponsored by the ECML as a plenary speaker at the BETA Annual Conference in Varna 2013). In 2012, following my participation in a ‘neighbourhood’ IATEFL Associates meeting in Ankara (organised by the British Council Turkey and INGED-Turkey), BETA joined the newly-formed alliance called ATA (the Alliance of Teachers’ Associations). The members of the alliance formed an e-mail group to enable efficient exchange of ideas and information between partner associations.
Throughout our term we have kept successfully collaborating with the major universities, providing EFL education (including ESP) and training of English language teachers in Bulgaria. From 2010 to 2013 we worked with four universities on the organisation of our annual conferences and teacher training events. The following institutions were involved in the BETA activity as event co-organisers: the New Bulgarian University (Sofia) in 2011, the University of Veliko Turnovo in 2012, the University of Ruse in 2012, the University of Shumen (DIQLL- Varna) in 2013. This year the South-West University in Blagoevgrad will host our annual conference. Special thanks to Zarina Markova who kindly volunteered to serve as a 2014 local conference coordinator, in addition to her busy role as a BETA Committee member!
The partnerships with language teaching and teacher training organisations in Bulgaria and the UK have been continued and diversified. In 2011 AVO-Bell (Sofia) sponsored Jim Scrivener as a plenary speaker in Sofia. Pilgrims (UK) generously supported our annual conferences by sending their best speakers and teacher trainers: Chaz Pugliese (2011), Adrian Underhill (2012), and Tim Bowen (2012). This year Paul Davis is attending the BETA conference in Blagoevgrad as a featured speaker, sponsored by Pilgrims. In 2010 and 2011, in conjunction with Pilgrims, BETA organised teacher training seminars in Veliko Turnovo and Ruse. These events were highly successful and were attended by over 150 teachers from Veliko Turnovo, Ruse and other regions in Bulgaria (Silistra, Razgrad, Targovishte, Shumen, Pleven, etc.). BETA continued to work with SOL as a key partner at our annual conferences. Traditionally, SOL generously contributes to the conference prize draw by offering a free place for their teacher training courses in Devon (UK).
BETA has also expanded its collaboration with the ELT publishers in Bulgaria. In 2010 and 2011, Macmillan Education supported our teacher training seminars in Veliko Turnovo and Ruse. The Association was invited to promote its activity by sending BETA representatives and disseminating its promotional materials at the Trinity College London 2nd National Conference, held in Varna and Sofia (2012); the Sixth National English Teachers Conference (Cambridge Day 2012), organised by PONS Bulgaria, Cambridge University Press, and Cambridge ESOL; the Pearson Longman Bulgaria seminars with Jeremy Harmer, organised in Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv, and Sofia in 2012; the Educational Centre seminar with Hugh Dellar in Sofia in 2012; the Oxford University Press seminar in Veliko Turnovo in 2013; the Klett seminar in Blagoevgrad and Sofia in 2014, the Express Publishing seminar in Sofia in March 2014; and the Macmillan seminar in Sofia in April 2014. In June and September 2013 we organised two meetings between the BETA Committee and representatives of the major ELT publishers in Bulgaria. At the meetings we exchanged ideas for concrete actions and joint activities that would help us achieve greater synergy in accomplishing the common goal for supporting ELT and the professional development of the teachers of English in Bulgaria.
Our term started with a completely re-designed website, featuring a modern functionality. We decided to renovate the BETA website in 2010 since we wanted to respond to the emerging demands of the Internet era and the need to reach more effectively our members and other foreign language teaching professionals in a world of increased online communication. The BETA site makes use of social media feeds and its content can be easily found and shared by the site visitors. From 21st March 2013 to 21st March 2014 it attracted 25,591 unique visitors from 184 countries. The top visiting countries were Bulgaria, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It is important to note that over the past four year the BETA website has served as a platform for the publication of news and updates about ELT events in Bulgaria and abroad, information about the BETA Annual Conference, the conference open-access online publications and the bi-monthly BETA E-Newsletter. The website also connects to the BETA Facebook group, which now stands at 325 members from Bulgaria and internationally.
Though the website content management system is easily updateable and user-friendly, recruiting a volunteer, willing to invest skills, time and efforts in managing the online presence and communication of the Association, has remained a challenge for us. Therefore, currently I have the responsibility to update and publish web content as necessary, while BETA pays an annual subscription fee for general website maintenance by a webdeveloper.
Sponsorship and fundraising
As a non-profit organisation, BETA relies upon the generosity of sponsors for the funding of its activity. That is why, over the years, we have worked hard to attract sponsors for the BETA annual conferences. Since the onset of our term, we have launched a new sponsorship scheme, offering special sponsor packages. The scheme gives good results and attracts sponsors to all our conferences. Sponsorship takes various shapes – from financial support to guest speakers (invited by BETA), direct donation for coffee-breaks and conference reception to prizes for the conference prize draw. The ELT exhibition has also been enlarged to include a number of organisations (in addition to book publishers), such as the U.S. Embassy Sofia, the British Council Bulgaria, RELO Budapest, international and local ELT service providers and educational institutions. This means that BETA finances are currently in – good order thanks to the generous sponsorship and support of various partner organisations. It also means that BETA has an operational capacity to initiate ELT activities locally, to cover its basic expenses (e.g., website maintenance), and to offer its members a range of bursaries.
Thoughts and ideas for the future
Since 2010 BETA has established links locally and regionally with EFL teachers and FLT experts. We organised our annual conferences in three different regions in the country – Sofia (the South-West region), Ruse (the North-Central region), Varna (the North-East region), Blagoevgrad (the South-West region). This has significantly helped us to reach more teachers outside the capital region and to attract more members from different corners of the country. These local collaborations on a national scale can be further sustained and diversified and can help recruit BETA representatives from the different regions to coordinate various BETA community events – performances, competitions, teacher training workshops, social events locally.
In addition, the relationships which we have established and re-established with a range of organisations will stand BETA in good stead for the future. Cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science has been a priority issue addressed by the current Committee, with varying degrees of success. However, I am delighted to be able to report that considerable progress has been made in our communication and cooperation with the State Expert at the Educational Programmes Directorate. New contacts have also been created with representatives from other directorates and departments – the Qualification and Career Development Directorate, the International and European Cooperation Department. I hope the incoming BETA Committee will build on this for the future. These and other links and contacts with the American Embassy in Sofia, the British Council and the international language teaching associations could evolve into mutually beneficial partnerships for collaborative projects and events on a local, national, regional, and international level.
Effective and varied forms of web communication with the ELT community in Bulgaria and internationally is another priority issue for the future. Our website and Facebook group are greatly appreciated and bring many new contacts and members of the Association. The incoming BETA Committee can make every effort to recruit a web-communications member, who could take responsibility for the technology-based communications (supporting webinars and other online events and resources), including the BETA website and the social media channels. She/he will be an enormous asset to the Committee team and the Association!
In closing, it has been an honour and pleasure for me to be involved with BETA as a President for the past four years. I would like to extend special thanks to my colleagues and friends at the current BETA Committee for all the shared moments of inspiration, creativity, joy, tribulation, and personal growth while working together towards our Association’s mission to support the English language teaching community in Bulgaria. I wish the new Committee all the very best and every success!
Report by Zhivka Ilieva, Membership Secretary
In 2013 there were 96 BETA members. In 2013 more people availed of the opportunity offered by the BETA Happy Days and renewed their membership for 2014 at a reduced membership fee, so we can conclude that organising several happy days was more effective than just one happy day (as we did in 2012).
In 2014 there are 14 representatives at IATEFL under the WMS. We had a quota of 20, which we could not use. So for the next bid (2014 – 2016), for which we submitted an application in February 2014, we expect a reduced quota of 10. We will let you know about the results of our WMS application as soon as we receive them from IATEFL.
Please remember that BETA membership gives you:
– Access to more information about various events connected to FLT in Bulgaria
and abroad. The information is provided on our web site, our facebook group
and through e-mails to each member.
– Our members are continuously updated on SEETA events and have exclusive access to SEETA closed courses.
– Once a year the members of BETA can apply for a grant of 100 euro to take
part in a forum in Bulgaria or abroad.
– BETA members can also apply for an official representative at the annual conference of one of our partner associations. BETA members pay a reduced fee of 30 BGN at our annual conference and can take part in our partner’s conferences at the fee for their members (not as non-members).
The change of the number of our members for the period 2010-2013 can be followed on the table below. It varies across the years but it is between 70 and 100 on average. It seems that the conferences in Sofia (2011) and in Varna (2013) attracted the largest number of BETA members.
Since 2012 we have introduced a BETA Happy Day (in 2012 for 2013) and several BETA Happy Days (in 2013 for 2014) which gave the opportunity to more teachers to become members at the reduced fee of 15 lv.
During the last two years we could not avail of all the WMS places we had for IATEFL.
Therefore for the next bidding we asked for less WMS places for BETA. We will keep you informed about the results of our IATEFL WMS bid application for the next two year period.
||2010 – 2011
||2011 – 2012
||2012 – 2013
||2013 – 2014
Report by Zarina Markova, International Cooperation
Following the established practice, BETA continued to work towards strengthening the links with other ELT / FLT associations which support teachers’ professional development and represent teachers’ voice in policy. During the period between 2011 and 2014 BETA was officially represented at the Associates’ Days and IATEFL annual conferences in UK by Sylvia Velikova (2011), Iskra Angelova (2012), Tsvetelina Harakchiyska (2013) and Zhivka Ilieva (2014). In 2011 BETA became a full member of REAL, the European Network of Language Teaching Associations, and in 2013 BETA joined FIPLV, the International Federation of Teachers of Modern Languages, represented as an NGO with the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
BETA has continued its involvement in the SEETA Community project. Throughout the years the variety of activities at SEETA has increased and at present there are thirteen different features offering open forums, projects, closed courses for SEETA members exclusively and webinars among others. Since March 2013 BETA has had a regular feature at SEETA: Steliyana Dulkova’s Teaching Young Learners: Tips and Tricks, where magical teaching ideas have been piling up. Thanks to Steliyana and Mariyana Todorova a SEETA webinar was conducted, on the topic of research on yoga in the ESL classroom. The webinar is recorded and still available to view at the SEETA website http://www.seeta.eu/course/view.php?id=96#section-5 .
BETA established new partnerships and continued the cooperation with associations of English language teachers from the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia and Serbia. The main features of this cooperation are the exchange of newsletters and conference delegates. BETA hosted official representatives from the Czech Republic (one, at the 21st BETA Conference in Ruse), Greece (one, at the 22nd BETA Conference in Varna), Hungary (one, at the 20th BETA Conference in Sofia), Macedonia (two, at the 20th and 21st BETA Conferences) and Serbia (three, at the 20th, 21st and 22nd BETA Conferences). Correspondingly, BETA sent and will be sending official representatives to Hungary (one, in 2011), the Czech Republic (one, in 2012), Greece (three, in 2012, 2013 and 2014), Macedonia (one, in 2012) and Serbia (four, in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014). It should come as no surprise that the most effective partnerships have been the ones with organizations from South-eastern Europe, which are SEETA partners and also easier to access.
Apart from partners’ conferences, BETA representatives also took part in other events aiming at furthering the cooperation between ELT / FLT associations. Sylvia Velikova represented BETA at the REAL launch conference (2011, Serves, France); Ophelia Pamukchieva gave a poster presentation about BETA at a REAL seminar (4-6 June 2010; Iasi, Romania, with participants from Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, France, Spain and England); Sylvia Velikova represented BETA at the ‘neighbourhood’ IATEFL Associates meeting (December 2012, Ankara, Turkey). Ophelia Pamoukchieva represented BETA Committee at a seminar on fund-raising (March 2013, Zrenjanin, Serbia).
BETA members have also applied for bursaries towards travel expenses or fees for attending other conferences. During the four-year period, such bursaries were received by Zhivka Ilieva (10th Jubilee LATEUM Conference 2011; 11th LATEUM Conference 2013), Ellie Boyadzhieva (20th Annual International Convention of TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece, 2013) and Zarina Markova (47th IATEFL Conference, 2013).
Note 🙂 If you would like to receive a bursary to attend a professional event in Bulgaria or abroad, send us a letter of interest and your speaker’s abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org
Report by Ophelia Pamukchieva, Public Relations
The most important of my activities are as follows:
- Publication about BETA in Voices, the official magazine of IATEFL in issue 222 (September-October) 2011. It was Sylvia’s idea to publicise our 20th anniversary. The article gives information about our conference – both serious work and entertainment, illustrated by photos. The article was edited by Sylvia.
- Participation in the Hungarian IATEFL Conference as a representative of BETA in October 2011. It was a very well organised event. Plenary speakers were Jamie Keddie, Sheelagh Deller, Michael Swan and Graham Stanley. My favourite Michael Vince (the author of Language Practice for ESOL exams) was also there. I had a workshop about students with different level of knowledge, preparing for FCE exam.
- Participation at a REAL seminar (4-6 June 2010) with a poster presentation about BETA; Iasi, Romania, with participants from Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, France, Spain and England other events aiming at furthering the cooperation between ELT / FLT associations which led to a full membership of REAL, the European Network of Language Teaching Associations.
- Having gathered the e-mail addresses and the names of the heads of Regional Inspectorates of Education, we could send e-mails about our annual conferences. I also had some informal talks with authorities about BETA and how the association can cooperate with them.
- Participation at a fund-raising seminar, held in March 2013 in Zrenjanin, Serbia as an official BETA representative. The different revenue (income) streams available to Teachers’ Associations and ways to develop new ones were discussed and fundraising and sponsorship was reviewed in more detail.
- The new ideas were immediately applied by organising a meeting together with Sylvia Velikova with a representative of our Ministry of Education and Science. We firmly believe that the new practices will be established and thus more people will be encouraged to participate both in our BETA conferences and initiatives.
Annual BETA Competition
Report by Tanya Spahiyska, BETA Competition Coordinator (Co-opted Member)
BETA has organised the Sixth Round of our Competition for Teachers and Teacher Trainers. This year the task for teachers is to prepare and deliver a lesson focusing on practical teaching techniques for presenting grammar or vocabulary, speaking or reading. The winning prize traditionally is an annual BETA membership and attendance of the 23rd BETA Conference and Preliminary Conference Event in 2014 with no fee.
Report by Tsvetelina Harakchiyska, Newsletter Editor (Co-opted Member)
In 2012, the publication of a bi-monthly E-Newsletter was launched. The publication of the E-Newsletter continued during the year 2013. As it is published bi-monthly, a total of 5 issues have been published:
- January – February 2013;
- April – May – June 2013;
- July – August 2013;
- September – October 2013;
- November – December 2013.
The e-Newsletter is published only electronically and is distributed to all BETA – IATEFL members.
The editorial team has not changed and includes:
- Tsvetelina Harakchiyska – Editor and designer
- Sylvia Velikova and Zarina Markova – Newsletter Team
The topics which the E-Newsletter covered in 2013 include:
- Reports from BETA-IATEFL representatives on their participation in partner association conferences;
- Reports from educational initiatives (at local or national level or abroad) in which BETA-IATEFL members have participated;
- Articles on ELT topics such as netiquette, teaching literature, working with young learners and many others.
A special edition of the E-Newsletter was published after the 22nd BETA-IATEFL conference in Varna. It contained all submitted for publication papers presented at the conference. In order to ensure the high quality of materials published in the newsletter all manuscripts were peer-reviewed.
Unfortunately, the main problems the editorial team experienced in 2012 have not changed much during the last year. One main problem is the relatively low number of papers submitted for publication from BETA-IATEFL members – this causes a delay of some of the issues and involves ingenuity on behalf of the editorial team.
Still there are some good points:
- Bill Templer is a regular contributor to the E-Newsletter. Perhaps it would be good if he is given a regular “column”;
- We have started a new rubric – Students’ Corner. It would be good if this rubric is kept by the next BETA Committee and enriched with materials.
- Cooperation with relevant bulletins of partner association can be established so that materials of other authors (ELT practitioners from abroad) are included.
24 July 2014
The BETA Committee currently consists of the following members:
President: Sylvia Velikova
Membership Secretary: Zhivka Ilieva,
International Cooperation: Zarina Markova,
Public Relations: Ophelia Pamukchieva,
Newsletter Editor: TsvetelinaHarakchiyska, Co-opted Member
Annual Competition Coordinator: Tanya Spahiyska, Co-opted Member