The Bulgarian Society for British Studies 13th annual Conference

The Bulgarian Society for British Studies (BSBS) held its 13th annual conference on November 7-9th, 2008 in Sofia.
The aim of the conference was to shed light on the impact of global processes on communication. The topic of the Conference – Discourses Of Globalisation – was approached from different perspectives among which language policies; language manipulation; Global English and foreign language teaching/ learning; ways of identification and conceptualisation of human action; dynamics of globalization discourses in terms of homogenisation/ differentiation, integration/ fragmentation, etc.
Besides the three plenary sessions delivered by prominent scholars in the field, nearly 60 more presentations (one third of them given by international participants) were streamed into two sections working simultaneously.
BETA was represented by 4 of its members. A big clap for our folks who all gave interesting and thought-provoking presentations:

  • Ellie Boyadzhieva (“Ditransitives and their arguments in modern English”)
  • Stefka Kitanova (“Humour in Science books and lessons)
  • Syana HarizanovaNikolina Tsvetkova (“Young learners in the Global Village”)

Two Conferences – One Goal

Written by: Ellie Boyadzhieva
The 6th Annual Conference of the Serbian English Teachers Association (ELTA) was held in the capital city Belgrade on 30th May- 1st June under the title: The Classroom that Beats the Odds. It was organized with the support of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Serbia, the British Council and the American Embassy. The venue chosen by the ELTA Organizing team, Sava Centar, was right in the heart of the city, a wonderful location and excellent facilities. It mirrored a wide range of theoretical and practical issues and developments in the teaching world covering a wide range of topical areas in ELT among which Teacher Training, Teacher Development, Teaching Young Learners, Computer Assisted Language Learning, ESP, Business English, Literature, Media and Cultural Studies, Global Issues, Testing, Evaluation and Assessment. A special focus of the Conference was the Teacher Development SIG Day on Sunday, 1 June. The programme of the conference included also other issues that teachers from all over the region chose to share, among which was the co-presentation of Anna Parisi and E. Boyadzhieva devoted to the idea of creating the SEETA platform. Now we are witnessing the results of the appeal for cooperation in the Net as the project has been ongoing since.
The conference was officially opened by Maja Simrak-Grbic – the current then President of ELTA, who was at that time just three months before becoming a mother for the first time and who with her enthusiasm and efficiency evoke the admirations of all present at the conference.
The participants actively took part in various types of presentations, workshops, talks and discussions which totalled over 45. The plenaries were given by internationally well-known practitioners in ELT: Robert Dean, Hugh Dellar, David Hill, Lisa Harshbarger, Robert Hastings, Philip Kerr, Steve Lever, Anne O’Keeffe. A special guest to the conference was Sarah Hannam, the big IATEFL Associates’ Coordinator.
The Annual conference of the Macedonian TA – ELTAM was also held in the capital of the state – Skopje on 24-26 October 2008.
This was for the first time since the establishment of the organization as the first four conferences used to take place in Ohrid – three times and once in Struga. The 5th International ELTAM conference was innovative not only in terms of the venue but in terms of cooperation with other related organizations as well. It was a joint-project of ELTAM, IATEFL and TESOL and sponsored by the American Embassy in Skopje, The British Council and the University American College. The latter provided the venue for the conference.
The pre-conference event was hosted by the Research SIG of ELTAM who invited Dr. Judy Richardson as a key-note speaker and moderator of the event.
Unfortunately Lisa Harshbarger, the Regional English Language officer at the US Embassy in Budapest, who had to open the conference with her first plenary, had had an accident and could not make it to the conference. This gave the audience the chance to listen to Judy Richardson’s plenary, devoted to reading and writing in ELT, followed by the second plenary on Sunday given by David Hill dealing with the essential need of extensive reading for ELT learners. Both plenaries incited a heated discussion on what is the teachers’ role in making youngsters to read in this readless computerized and globalizing world.
In addition to all other benefits, at both conferences there were several Publishers’ & Sponsors’ events, discounts, prizes and awards. A major ELT Resources Exhibitions were organized displaying and promoting the latest titles for the participants to browse through or purchase at special conference prices.
The Organizing committees both in Serbia and Macedonia were helpful, efficient and smiling in unison with the wonderful weather which, I suspect, they must have eagerly begged for.

2008 BETA Competition results

Member winning entry: Tsvetelena Taralova – Parents-Children Relationships at home and in the film “Cat on a Hot  Tin Roof”
Download: Lesson as a .ZIP archive [8,3 MB]
Non-member winning entry: Iglika Bachvarova – What Do They Eat?
Download: Lesson as a .ZIP archive [0,5 MB]
Second place: Bistra Vasileva – 21st Century Taboos
Download: Lesson as a .ZIP archive [0,1 MB]
There were 5 competition entries sent to BETA Commiitee for evaluation as follows:

Author Lesson Title
Bistra Vasileva 21st Century Taboos
Eleonora Lazarova Cultural Learning Lesson
Iglika Bachvarova What Do They Eat?
Tsvetelena Taralova Parents – Children Relationships at home and in the film “Cat on a Hot  Tin Roof”
Yuliya Parvanova Fresh Waters of Europe

The submitted lesson plans and all the accompanying materials were evaluated by a specially appointed evaluating committee:

  • Nina Tsvetkova (BETA committee member, ISLE SIG)
  • Stefka Kitanova (BETA committee member, EAC SIG)
  • Svetla Tashevska (TED SIG)
  • Syana Harizanova (BETA committee member, YL SIG)
  • Tanya Ivanova (BETA committee member, YL SIG)
  • Villy Karastateva (ISLE SIG)

according to the following criteria:

  1. Benefit for the learner
  2. Clarity and cohesion
  3. Logical sequence of the lesson parts/activity steps and coherence
  4. Applicability in other teaching contexts

The winning entry submitted by a BETA member is Parents – Children Relationships at home and in the film “Cat on a Hot  Tin Roof” by Tsvetelena Taralova. Tsveti will attend next year’s BETA conference for free.
The winning entry submitted by a non-member is What Do They Eat? by Iglika Buchvarova. Iglika will attend next year’s BETA conference at half a fee.
The evaluating committee decided to give a second prize to 21st c. Taboos by Bistra Vasileva.
BETA Committee would like to thank all the teachers who participated in the competition. We hope that next year’s edition will gather even more entries!

Report from Varna language conference

Fifth International Conference
12 – 14 June 2008, Varna Medical University
About the venue
Varna – our third biggest city and busiest Black Sea port is not just a beautiful place, not just a centre of economic, commercial, tourist and cultural activity but also a centre of a busy academic life.
About the conference
It is a well-known fact that all higher education institutions in Varna have very well-developed and active language departments which offer general and specialized courses in modern foreign languages as well as in Bulgarian as a foreign language.
One of the most important professional events in this respect is the International Language Conference organized by the Department of Foreign Languages, Communication and Sports at Varna Medical University. The conference happens every two years and attracts specialists in theoretical and applied linguistics from most Bulgarian universities (both state and private) and from many international ones.
This year’s Conference, entitled The Language – a Phenomenon without Frontiers – was attended by 198 delegates from Bulgaria and abroad (the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Romania, Turkey).
About the programme
The conference programme is usually organized along two main streams – a Bulgarian one (concerned with teaching Bulgarian as a foreign language to international students at Bulgarian universities), and an FLT one (concerned with teaching foreign languages to Bulgarian university students) which is further subdivided according to the language taught.
The presentations (145 altogether) were about professional investigations and research as well as about personal and shared experience in the following main areas:

  • Language communication in the European frameworkSpeech strategies and tactics
  • Communicative behaviour
  • Communicative competence: standardisation and certification
  • Linguistic and cultural aspects of foreign language teaching
  • Modern strategies and approaches in foreign language teaching
  • Language and the Internet
  • Translation as interaction between language and culture
  • Management of language teaching
  • Sports as a means of communication

The working languages were Bulgarian, English, German, French, Russian and Spanish.
BETA members’ participation
Six BETA members gave presentations at the conference. Bellow are their names, as well as the titles and brief resumes of their presentations:

  • Nikolina Tsvetkova (with Bistra Stoimenova from the Department of Information and In-service Training of Teachers at Sofia University) gave a presentation entitled Web 2.0 Games and language education. The audience learnred about the aims and expected outcomes of a project that exploits Web 2.0, computer games as a powerful means of enhancing students’ foreign language skills and developing their initial plurilingual competence.
  • Stefka Kitanova presented BioDiscoFisica which sums up the results of her and her colleague Lillie Samurkova’s work on cross-curricular issues.
  • Svetlana Tashevska spoke about Some Lesson Planning Problems for New English Language Teachers. Her presentation was based on work with Cambridge CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) teachers, some – with relatively long experience, others – new to the profession.
  • Syana Harizanova shared her ideas on how to help students and teachers make the transition From Teacher-dependence to Student Independence.
  • Valentina Angelova-Raynova gave two co-presentations. The first one (with Stefan Raynov) was on Project Work for Developing Productive Skills while Teaching English for Specific Purposes, and demonstrated how some projects done by students of tourism had helped them develop their creative writing and speaking skills and their intercultural competence, and had also improved considerably their presentation skills. The second presentation (with Svetla Trendafilova) was dedicated to The Interdisciplinary Approach of Teaching English to Students of Medicine and Dentistry. It described how this approach had made the process of ESP teaching more meaningful to the students, thus allowing them to acquire skills and learn vocabulary in a natural context that would help them as future doctors and dentists.
  • Zhivka Ilieva gave a presentation on Investigating Oral Communicative Competence in the Primary Classroom. She analysed primary students’ skill to be polite in a conversation in English as well as the various communicative strategies they use to overcome difficulties in receiving or expressing the message.

Each of the above presentations was met with genuine interest and led to lively discussions. It is worth pointing out that three of the above presenters were appointed to chair the work of their section, namely Zhivka Ilieva was the chairperson of the Linguistic Aspects of Language teaching section, Syana Harizanova was the chairperson of the Language and Literature section, and Svetla Tashevska was the chairperson of the Methods and Approaches of Language Teaching section.
To sum up, once again BETA people were in the centre of professional action and won respect and recognition. This can only fill us with pride and satisfaction.
The social aspect
Traditionally, besides working on issues of professional interests, a lot of socializing happens at such events. This year’s International Language Conference in Varna was no exception. The local organisers had managed to provide a full range of entertainment activities (a welcoming reception over a glass of wine, a walk along the coast, a folk dance concert in the open, a cocktail dinner party, a disco night, a trip to Balchik), which kept everybody in a perfect physical and emotional state throughout the whole conference.

Впечатления от 42-рата Международна конференция на IATEFL

Сияна Харизанова, Нов български университет [toc class=”toc-right”] Къде и кога? От 7 до 11 април 2008 в град Екситър, Великобритания, се проведе ежегодната конференция на Международната асоциация на преподавателите по английски език като чужд (IATEFL), на която Българската асоциация на преподавателите по английски език (БАПА) е асоцииран член.

Кой беше там?

Конференцията, която е най-голямото събитие в годината за заетите в сферата на преподаването на английски език като чужд, събира професионалисти от различни краища на планетата, които в продължение на една седмица се потапят в неповторимата атмосфера на този форум. Тази година в конференцията взеха участие над 1200 делегати, представители на повече от 60 страни, сред които, както обикновено, бяха и най-големите светила в областта на преподаването на английски език, хора с внушителен опит не само в преподаването на самия език, но и в подготовката и усъвършенстването на учители по английски, в създаването на методически и учебни материали, в писането на книги и пособия за преподаване на английски. Презентациите, чийто общ брой на тази конференция надхвърляше 350, третираха някои от най-актуалните проблеми на чуждоезиковото обучение, представяха постигнатите резултати по различни образователни проекти в света или пък популяризираха нови продукти за стандартно или уеб-базирано обучение. Внушителният списък на изнасящите презентации включваше имена като Jim Scrivener, Michael Swan, Mario Rinvolucri, Penny Ur, Herbert Puchta, Scott Thornbury, Adrian Underhill, Barry Tomalin, Jane Willis, Susan Holden, Catherine Walter, Rod Bolitho и много, много други по-малко или повече известни лица, така че участниците в конференцията имаха нелеката задача да разпределят времето си по такъв начин, че да успеят да извлекат максимума от наситената програма.

Интересно е да имаш “специален интерес”

От няколко години насам специфична особеност на конференциите на IATEFL е, че денят преди официалното откриване на Конференцията протича по специална програма, организирана от т.нар. “СИГОВЕ” – групи по интереси (от англ. SIG – Special Interest Group). Всеки член на IATEFL може да бъде член и на един от 14-те “сига”, които водят много интензивен и интересен живот. Те имат отделни уебсайтове и дискусионни групи, собствени периодични издания (newsletters), организират свои мероприятия от по-тесен професионален интерес и всячески задоволяват нуждата на членовете си от обмяна на опит, обогатяване и образоване в определена, “специална” област от сферата на чуждоезиковото обучение по английски език.
На тазгодишната конференция 10 от 14-те “сига” на IATEFL предложиха специално разработени програми, които протичаха успоредно и привличаха делегати с подчертан интерес в дадената област. Те дадоха възможност на професионалисти от цял свят да се съберат и да дискутират проблеми от тясно специализирана област на преподаването на английски език като чужд. Този “предварителен старт” придаде на самата Конференция изключително целенасочен дух и настрои участниците на работна и творческа вълна за предстоящите дни.

Пленарните сесии

На 42-рата Международна конференция на IATEFL имаше четири пленарни сесии. Лекторите, утвърдили се професионалисти с всепризнат международен опит, засегнаха много интересни въпроси относно ролята на английския език в световен мащаб, относно значението на мотивацията при обучението на не-носители на езика, относно различни важни аспекти на обучението по английски в динамично променящия се заобикалящ ни свят.

Изложбата на ELT материали и продукти

Задължителен щрих към конференцията е присъствието на множество издателства и други организации в сферата на обучението по английски като чужд със свои щандове (40 на брой за тази конференция), на които се продават с големи отстъпки, а често и просто се раздават, различни учебни материали, разиграват се интересни томболи и състезания със съблазнителни награди. Делегатите с по-дългогодишен опит знаят, че на ежегодната конференция на IATEFL се идва с резервна чанта, защото в резултат на многократните “отбивания” до изложбата багажът неусетно нараства и натежава.

Българската следа

По традиция всяка година IATEFL кани по един представител на асоциираните си членове да вземе участие в работата на конференцията и да представя страната си на т.нар. Ден на Асоцииациите, който, подобно на програмите на “сиговете”, предхожда самата Конференция. За официален български представител на тазгодишния Ден на Асоциациите, в която взеха участие 34 представителя от 32 страни, бе избрана Сияна Харизанова, гл. ас. по английски език, щатен преподавател към МФ на НБУ.
Българската презентацията, изнесена от Сияна Харизанова и доц. д-р Елисавета Бояджиева – бивш Президент на БАПА и дългогодишен член на Управителния съвет на организацията и завеждащ катедра „Чужди езици” в ЮЗУ – запозна участниците с историята и дейността ан БАПА, като изтъкна редица успешни практики от българския опит, а също така сподели и някои предизвикателства пред чуждоезиковото обучение в България. В резултат възникна оживена дискусия, при която бяха обменени идеи, съвети, предложения. (Слайдовете от Power Point презентацията могат да бъдат разгледани тук.)

Exeter On-line

За тазгодишната си конференция IATEFL в сътрудничество с British Council създаде он-лайн уебсайт Благодарение на него много хора по света, които нямаха възможност лично да присъстват в Екситър, успяха да се включат дистанционно, при това абсолютно безплатно, в работата на Конференцията. Те имаха възможност да видят наживо пленарните сесии, да видят и чуят записи на част от останалите сесии, да “присъстват” на някои тематични мероприятия, да участват в дискусионните форуми и чат-сесии, да посетят различни конферентни блогове и албуми. Това бе наистина грандиозно постижение, от което се облагодетелстваха хиляди. На миналата конференция в Абърдийн, когато IATEFL и British Council за първи път осъществиха онлайн конференция, бяха регистрирани 2500 потребителя от над 80 страни. Тази година броят им бе много по-голям.

Извън програмата

Разбира се, нищо не може да се сравни с това да се намираш “в центъра не събитията” и да усетиш духа на конференцията на място. От една страна, само така получаваш неограничени възможности за неформални контакти и разговори между колеги от цял свят. От друга – организаторите бяха предвидили разнообразни тематични събития извън програмата, така че делегатите имаха богат избор от варианти за прекарване и на вечерните часове. Някои решаваха да отидат на вечер на приказките и поезията с такива ненадминати разказвачи като Andrew Wright и Alan Maley. Публиката, която на моменти бе взривявана от смях, а на моменти довеждана до сълзи, никога няма да забрави тези час и половина с двамата велики! Други пък бяха привлечени от възможността да си “поиграят” с английския език не с някой друг, а със самия David Crystal. (Участниците в пловдивската конференция на БАПА – IATEFL EAST през 2001 г. сигурно си спомнят пленарната му сесия, както и забавните разговори с него вечерта на масата в ресторанта.) Не беше за пропускане и културната вечер, посветена на Девън – една от най-живописните области на Англия, където е разположен град Екситър. Запознаването с традициите на този край не мина без дегустация на местното питие – сайдер, така че градусът на настроението бе наистина висок. Естествено, разходките из града, надничането в магазинчетата за сувенири по крайбрежната улица на река Екс и особено посещението на катедралата в центъра на града също допринесоха за пълната гама от впечатления, които събраха делегатите на 42-рата Международна конференция на IATEFL.

В заключение

След седмицата, прекарана в обкръжението на единомишленици, обединени от своя висок професионализъм и обзети от желание да общуват и да се развиват, всички бяха заредени с ентусиазъм да пренесат по места духа на конференцията и да гледат с нетърпение към следващия такъв форум догодина в Кардиф.

How can we moodle together

Written by: Anna Parisi, SEETA  Project  Leader
TESOL Macedonia – THRACE Northern Greece, Vice Chair
The people
I’ve just arrived in Sofia and I can already  hear Greek being spoken around me. When I ask a grinning  clerk at the train station where I can get a bus to the city centre he  immediately leaves his booth  to walk with me to the bus stop so that I don’t get lost. The BETA Bulgaria board have advised me not to take a taxi outside the train station because I’ll probably be overcharged.  I could be in Greece!
On the bus I’m thinking aloud where to get off and the woman standing next to me clears away my worries in perfect Greek. She is married to a Greek doctor and divides her time between Sofia and Thessaloniki. The hotel receptionist welcomes me with a wide grin and we chat about tavernas in Thessaloniki. I take a brief walk in the spectacular city centre, which is full of beautiful churches, mosques and a bustling market very much like Modiano. The traffic is chaotic and I, along with lots of others jay walkers and motorists perform a harmonious city dance, timed to perfection due to practice over the years. A skill that has kept us all alive up to date. I could be in Greece!
BETA  Bulgaria
When I arrive at the conference venue, I’m instantly surrounded by  BETA board members , who look after me and are always cheerful, available and obliging throughout the two hectic days of the conference.  We talk about the challenges that BETA  Bulgaria are facing : organizing and funding events, finding suitable  but cheap/ free venues for these events, sustaining and increasing the number of their members, raising young teachers’ interest in the organization, the substantial rise in the cost of living without a comparative rise in wages. This has resulted in many teachers undertaking two or even three jobs, which leaves no time to extra commitments such as being an active member of a professional organization. 
Despite the odds, BETA Bulgaria are remarkably active thanks to the zeal of the executive board and the support of their sponsors. I could be in Greece!
The SEETA  Project
BETA are also one of the seven, so far, participant Teachers’  Associations  in the SEETA project, which is led by TESOL MACEDONIA – THRACE  Northern Greece and funded by the  BRITISH  COUNCIL Greece.  The  SEETA   electronic networking  project  aims to set up a virtual community for the benefit of all ELT practitioners in South- Eastern Europe.
SEETA stands for South–Eastern Europe Teachers’ Associations.
At the conference, I give a 45-minute presentation to introduce the project to the membership. Also, I address the members at the BETA  AGM , where we discuss ways in which members can be active now, in the project’s initial stages  by submitting articles with practical teaching ideas and/ or solutions to problems we face every day in the classroom. These will be loaded up onto the SEETA  site. The members are enthusiastic at the SEETA  project but at the same time questioning their expertise and value of their own ideas and teaching practices.  “Our ideas can’t be as good as those coming from leading ELT  authors.”   “We do simple things. How interesting can they be ?” members ask me. I could be in Greece!
Ideas from teachers at the chalkface are invaluable. Effective solutions to classroom management problems can only come from practising teachers. Simple ideas that work is  what we all need.  Along with great ideas from leading authors  who are sending their articles for the SEETA site !
Back to the conference
The BETA conference is a big success. The plenaries are interesting and informative conducted by well-known speakers such as Gary Anderson, Philip Kerr, Chaz Pugliese and Olha Madylus. The conference presentations and workshops are impressively diverse:

  • — Teacher: enjoy yourself or you’ll bore us !
  • — New tendencies in teaching ESP
  • — Intercultural training of learners of English
  • — Adding sights and sound to the English lesson
  • — Ideas for Internet – based  CALL projects

to name but a few. The presenters come from eight different countries.
But what makes this conference so  special is the teachers. Enthusiastic, cheerful and chatty.  Warm, friendly and loud.   I could be in Greece!
I would like to thank the BRITISH COUNCIL GREECE  for sponsoring my trip to Bulgaria.