@Brad5patterson’s Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language

I was checking twitter when I saw one of the always great post from Brad Patterson. He was asking about How and Why we learned a language. He is asking a lot of questions lately, isn’t he? 🙂 Here is my love and hate relationship with French language:

Being a child of immigrant Albanian parents here in Greece, my parents never had the chance to afford to pay for any foreign language lessons besides English language which was something that you had to do. The first touch with French came in junior high school where they were a part of the curriculum. My first impressions? Well, it was definetely not  a  love at first sight. I hated it because I could not anything pronounce properly and no one around had the patience to show the right way because most of the students already knew French from private lessons. So, I gave up trying and the teacher gave up on me.

Two years later, we had another teacher. She was really different from other foreign language teachers. She used to talk to us for hours about France, about Paris, french people, their habbits and even in L1. She used to bring her laptop and show us pics from her vacations in Paris, in Cannes or in Lyon. From a student who was really weak in French, I managed in one semester to become one of the best. She once told me that I have a real talent to foreign languages.  What did she do to me? Of course she cultivated passion inside me. She gave me an inner motivation to learn this amazing language. This was the only year I learned some French. It was the last year of junior high and at the following year the teacher was again exactly like my first experience with French. She expected B2 level from her students and she worked only with the good ones. I was about A1 level.   From romance to hate again!

Last year, I had the luck to visit Paris on summer for vacations and then on autumn for TESOL France Conference. And especially on my second visit, I knew it was time to give our relationship with French another chance! Maybe I gave up to easy. I loved Paris and I actually saw some elements that my favourite teacher used to tell us.   As soon as I arrived to Athens, I arranged with a teacher to start immeadietly. At first, everything was easy and simple, then as things became more complicated started to be really difficult. (learning a language from scratch, not a piece of cake!). But know everything is amazing. My mind finally understood the French language system and I can learn much more quicker and efficiently. And I can say confidently,  je t’ aime francais pour toujours.


Elinda et derriere le tour l' Eiffel 😉

My reflections as a teacher:

  • Learning a language is really difficult. We should really understand that and get frustrated if our students did not understood at our first explanation the conditionals. It needs patience, repetition and lots of practice.
  • There is an energy that a teacher passes to the student. When someone is actually learning? When s/he actually wants to. As teachers we have to find the way to make the students love the language. We have to cultivate an inner passion and motivation. They should think that I am in this classroom because my parents, or my professor wants it. I am here because I want to learn.
  • You cannot understand your students better, unless you are in their position. All language teachers should try learn a new foreign language. It will make you understand things from your teaching that you could never understand.
  • As a teacher, you cannot work only with a group of students that have more advance linguistc level than the others. Mutual indifference may be sometimes  the easy solution but it would be very difficult for me to know that a child hated and never wanted to learn English because I did not dedicated some minutes per lesson to help him/her out with the problems which may have risen.

So what about you? How and why How and why you learned a foreign language? Brad is challenging you to tell. Here is his original post.



#ELTChat Blog Challenge: Read it Later

They say better late that never, so I finally found some time to respond to this so practical challenge. On 18th January ELT Chat  was on the  the advantages and disadvantages of social networking for language teachers.

The blog challenge was about keeping #ELT bookmarks in an organized fashion and   was inspired by Tara Benwell:

@tarabenwell: Okay, so next PLN blog challenge topic: Best  Method for Organizing #ELT Bookmarks! Choose 1 and demo #eltchat

Here is my response:

The way I bookmark my favourite web pages is by using Read it Later for my Chrome browser, iPad and iPhone. You can save videos, articles or pretty much anything you find interesting to your Read It Later queue. So wherever I am, I can just click or tap on Read It Later button and save the web page in a common place for the three of my devices.

So here are some snapshots from my google bookmark toolbar, from the my iPad and iPhone.

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Stay tuned, because soon James Taylor will release a great #ELTChat podcast episode  in which among others you can hear me and Tara chatting about this challenge. You can find January’s  #ELTChat podcast as well as this month’s podcast hopefully this week at #ELTChat blog.

Websites for Educators

Here you can find a great collection of links which is created and maintained by  Gutman Library Research Services staff from Harvard University, provides links to freely available sites of interest to educators. It contains lots of useful links for educators and it can be a really great resource page.

The categories of the links are numerous and cover all the fields of educations. Some of the categories are:

Adult Education and Literacy
The Arts
Bilingual Education / ESL
Boston Area Libraries (selected)
Charter Schools
Children’s Literature
Colleges and Universities
Comparative/International Education
Counseling and Guidance
Curriculum Resources (K-12)
Distance Education
Early Childhood
Education Administration and Policy
Education Associations, Organizations, and Conferences
Education Libraries
Education Reform
Educational Technology
Employment Opportunities
Foreign Languages
Higher Education
History of Education
Home Schooling


and many other interesting topics. Click here to redirect at Harvard’s page.


Schools From Around the World: Education in Indonesia via @Yitzha_Sarwono

Recently, I have decided to host in my blog a new page which is called ”Schools from Around the World”. I have been asking from teachers from all around the world to introduce education conditions in their country as well as their own teaching reflections in the country. Some weeks before I was lucky enough to gain a new friend: Govinda from Nepal. You can read his guest post here. This time, another friend, Yitzha Sarwono, shared her reality from Indonesia.  I am inviting all of you to write a post about our teaching experience in your country.

Here is what Yitza shared with us:

Indonesia is a developing country consists of many islands with beautiful landscape and rich heritage. We are also very rich in term on culture. This diversity of course not only affecting the way we run our daily life but also in nurturing the young mind. Education in Indonesia comes in many kinds of form and way. From public schools, to the variety of private school. For those who live in big city, the options on finding the school that suitable for their needs are even wider. But for those who live outside the big city and in Remote Islands, education is still a luxury. Cause even when they don’t need to pay anything, to get to school isn’t an easy thing to do with the small number of school and teachers available there, not to mention conquering the nature just to get the knowledge since they usually have to travel miles to get to school. We actually have a program set by government and also independent organizations like Indonesia mengajar or Indonesia’s teaching (http://indonesiamengajar.org/) to settle the matter, but somehow with the population here, it is hard to reach all.
Public school is no doubt the 1st choice for almost everyone. Not only it provides the kind of education that is needed for everyone, here it is also free and filled with dedicated teachers. The only problem is that there’ll be so many students in one classroom that sometimes the teacher will find it hard to discover each student’s potential or help them 100% in reaching their goal.
Private school in Indonesia comes in many kinds and guarantees to fulfill each student’s needs. From a religion based school to nature school, homeschooling based school to Montessori school. Each offers prepared curriculum and experienced teachers. For people who are lucky enough to make a good fortune, they will surely choose Private schools as the number of students in each class aren’t as many as in public school and they can choose the one that is suitable for their needs.
But whether you go to public school or Private school, one thing for sure though, the final exam is conducted by the government and English is taught in every school.
I currently work in a Montessori Kindergarten based school. All lessons here are presented in English. And because we run our own curriculum, we can make sure that what we teach in the classroom has everything our students need in order to achieve our goal. Of course we try to keep it up to the national standard of Indonesia’s education which is for our students to be able to read and write when they start their primary school. It is quite hard sometimes and demanding as parents expects so much from us, being the private school with high tuition. But good thing that we don’t have a lot of students in the classroom (the most is 10 for my school), so all teachers can try their best to make it happened.
But being a teacher in Montessori school does give me a lot of new experiences. Not only because here we have different method than most school, we are also equipped with our own learning tools that we ought to mastered in order to teach them properly. And I am very fortunate that my school provides weekly, monthly and term training to all teachers. That is our way to make sure that we got what it takes to bring our students to their best and at the same time, expanding our ability as teachers.
To reflect about how I started of as a teacher, we have to go way back in my junior high school’s time. I was offered to tutor my classmates in refining their English, since I was doing kind of okay there. And I just knew it from the start that I love sharing! I’m a blabber, I love talking and I can go on telling things for hours and hours! So I thought, why not put that ‘quality’ of mine to a good use; Teaching!
I started as an English teacher professionally back in 2001. Later in 2008, I began to be drawn by early childhood education, merely because I believe that the young learners are pure like a new paper, ready to be written on. So I was so eager on playing the part of preparing them with a godd basic. Didn’t somebody say that everything we know, we learnt it in Kindergarten? 😉 So here I am now. And I have always been so blessed by the opportunity to work in good places where I could not only experience great things and share my knowledge but also the chance of growing as a person and educator. And that is why I am also so moved to be involved in many things in hope that I could inspire young people in Indonesia to also be teachers, since we still need plenty of them, especially in remote area. And I’d love to thank Elinda for giving me the chance to introduce you guys to my country, Indonesia. Thanks so much, and as I always say : “aza aza fighting!”

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Thank you so much my dear Icha!!

There is an open intvitation for everyone who wants to share the teaching conditions and experiences from his/her country. Do not hesitate to contact me here.