6 plenary speakers, 6 interviews (17th ELTA Serbia Conference, 10-11 May 2019)

After Alan Maley’s interview, and under the direction of our chief editor, Milena Tanasijevic, I interviewed 6 plenary speakers for the next ELTA Serbia conference that will take place next May in Belgrade. The speakers are : Beverly Ann ChinMike ShreeveLinda SteyneFiona DalzielAlistair Starling and Matthew Fitzjohn.

The interviews first appeared in the pre-conference issue of ELTA newsletter and can be found here : http://elta.org.rs/2015/09/09/current_issue/

A day in the life of the plenary speakers for  the 17th ELTA Serbia Conference  

Vicky Papageorgiou, ESL/EAP instructor, Thessaloniki, Greece


Interview with Beverly Ann Chin



Dr. Beverly Ann Chin is Chair of the English Department, Director of the English Teaching Program, Director of the Montana Writing Project, and former Director of Composition at the University of Montana.

In 1995-1996, Dr. Chin served as President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a professional association of literacy educators, kindergarten through graduate school.  

Formerly a high school English and adult education teacher, Dr. Chin has taught at several universities, including University of New Orleans, Arizona State University, and University of Central Florida.  She earned her B.A. and M.A. from Florida State University and her Ph.D. from University of Oregon.

Dr. Chin is a highly respected leader in English literacy standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  She served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an organization dedicated to certification of accomplished teachers.  As Senior Project Consultant for the 2011 Writing Framework of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Dr. Chin advocated for computer-supported writing assessment.  She is an Expert Panelist for NBC Education’s web-based resource, The Parents’ ToolKit.  A popular keynote speaker and workshop leader, Dr. Chin regularly presents at conventions, such as National Council of Teachers of English, International Literacy Association, National Middle School Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Catholic Education Association, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL International).  She greatly enjoys working with students and educators and presenting at conferences throughout the world. She has worked with schools and universities in Canada, Germany, France, England, Scotland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Israel, New Zealand, People’s Republic of China, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Japan, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Guam.

Dr. Chin has written, edited, and/or consulted on resources for teaching literature, reading, writing, and grammar.  She was Senior Program Consultant for Glencoe Literature, grades 6-12.  She was Contributing Editor for Chinese-American Literature (Globe) and Program Advisor for Asian American Literature, African American Literature, Hispanic American Literature, and Native American Literature (Glencoe).  She was Senior Content Advisor and Web Writer for Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades and featured as a Literary Scholar/Teacher Expert in The Expanding Canon: Teaching Multicultural Literature in the High School(Annenberg Media/CPB).  Dr. Chin is now Senior Series Consultant for Grammar for Writing, grades 6-12; Grammar Workshop, grades 3-5; and Writing Workshop, grades 6-12 (William H. Sadlier).  She is also a National Consultant for AP English Literature and Composition.

Dr. Chin has received numerous awards, including the NCTE Distinguished Service Award, which recognized her valuable professional service, scholarly/academic distinction, distinguished use of language, and excellence in teaching.  She has also received the Richard W. Halle Award for an Outstanding NCTE Middle Level Educator, the Rewey Belle Inglis Award from the NCTE Women in Literacy and Life Assembly, the Distinguished Educator Award from the Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Florida State University College of Education, and the University of Montana Distinguished Teacher Award.

Vicky : First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Beverly Ann Chin :  Thank you for this opportunity for me to share with your readers.  

Vicky : Would  you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Beverly Ann Chin :  I love the teaching profession and have many years of experience as a classroom teacher, a university teacher educator, and a national advocate for vibrant professional development and sound education policies.  Currently, I am Chair of the English Department and Director of the English Teaching Program and the Montana Writing Project at the University of Montana in Missoula. I have had the honor of serving as President of the National Council of Teachers of English and as Board Member of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  In addition, I write textbooks for elementary and secondary students, create video programs on teaching multicultural literature, and present workshops at many state, national, and international conferences. I am delighted to be a plenary speaker at the 2019 ELTA conference in Serbia.

Vicky : What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, that ESL teachers are facing today ?

Beverly Ann Chin :  One of the biggest challenges facing ESL teachers today is helping our students value the learning of other languages.  ESL teachers around the world tell me they are challenged to motivate their students to learn other languages, especially those languages that are not spoken in their immediate local communities.  

As adults in today’s global society, we know the benefits of learning other languages and discovering other ways of knowing.  Our ability to communicate with people who speak other languages expands our understanding and appreciation of others and their cultures.  When we learn about other languages and cultures, we also gain insight into our own language and culture.

As ESL teachers, we have the opportunity to open the world to our students.  Through our teaching of ESL, we invite students to explore the richness and complexity of diversity among people, perspectives, places, and times.  As a result, we empower our students to be engaged members of their communities and to build a more peaceful, more joyful world.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your typical day might be?

Beverly Ann Chin :  As a department chair, I have a flexible, but very full schedule.  On average, I work “in the office” 10 hours a day. I also work on the weekends.  To keep me organized, I write items in a daily calendar.

Each day is a unique combination of teaching classes, advising students, attending and/or leading meetings, writing reports, greeting visitors, consulting with other faculty and/or administrators, and supervising staff.  

As the director of the English Teaching Program and the Montana Writing Project, I teach methods courses (and grade papers), observe beginning teachers in their field experiences, mentor experienced teachers in their teacher inquiry projects, read and give feedback on theses and dissertations, review manuscripts and journal articles, and write letters of recommendation for students who are applying for teaching positions and/or graduate school.

As a Board Member of Writing Coaches of Montana, I visit schools and mentor secondary students as they revise their classroom writing assignments.

At the end of each day, I reflect on the people I’ve assisted and the problems I’ve addressed.  Then, I write in my calendar the things to do—and their deadlines—as well as longer-term projects and/or larger goals to accomplish.

 Vicky : Being in this profession for years, you often might have to face routine! How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high in your work?

Beverly Ann Chin :  I am very fortunate to have a career that I love.  It’s a pleasure to teach students, to mentor educators, and to be a member of supportive professional learning communities.  My energy comes from seeing my pre-service students grow into accomplished teachers who are committed to their own students’ academic and personal success.  My motivation stems from bringing people together to do good work for the benefit of others. As I participate in local, state, and national initiatives, I enjoy contributing to the development of standards, curriculum, and assessment.  I enjoy sharing my experiences and insights with educators, parents, business people, policy-makers, and the public. As a leader, a mentor, and an advocate for education, I am energized by innovative, collaborative projects that empower our students and educators.  Above all, I am sustained by my deep commitment to teaching for lifelong learning, to developing and nurturing friendships, and to serving others.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your plenary is going to be about?

Beverly Ann Chin : My plenary is titled “No Teacher is an Island—We are all Connected!”  I’ll be sharing my experiences with mentoring, networking, and building professional learning communities.  I’ll also suggest ways we can connect with others who share our vision of ESL teaching as a lifelong, purposeful, and joyful profession.

Vicky : Can you share with our readers any exciting plans for the future that you have?

Beverly Ann Chin :  I have many exciting projects this summer.  When I return to Missoula, Montana, I will go on a camping trip and immerse myself in the beautiful summer weather and spectacular landscape.  I will begin revising an elementary textbook series titled Grammar Workshop, grades 3 through 6, which is published by William H. Sadlier.  In addition to teaching a graduate course in June, I will make several presentations to international high school and college educators who are coming to the University of Montana to study American education.  In July, I will be a speaker at the College Board’s Advanced Placement annual convention in Orlando, Florida, where I will also visit my family. I look forward to a very busy, productive, and rewarding summer!


Interview with Mike Shreeve

Mike ShreeveMike Shreeve has taught in state schools, language schools and management academies. He has also worked in a business and professional context. The connecting principle is an interest in people and their psychology.

Mike is CELTA trained and a qualified coach who aims to enable students to realise some if not all their learning potential. He has taught for the last few years in Pilgrims summer teacher training school the coaching with NLP course and teaching “difficult learners”.

He has recently been involved in a large teaching project to enhance coaching and feedback skills to Ethiopian teachers- a welcome return to a country he worked in when qualifying as a teacher. Outside of this he coaches individuals (mainly teachers, business owners and professionals) and is involved in several education projects. Until recently he has been a school governor.

Outside of professional life, Mike lives in Brighton and enjoys walking and contemplating the South Downs and is (healthily) obsessed with playing tennis.

Vicky : First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Mike Shreeve: It is a great honour and privilege to be invited to ELTA Serbia and I am truly looking forward to it.

Vicky : Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Mike Shreeve:  This is a trickier question than it seems since I have different roles, I work as a teacher trainer in Pilgrims summer school and on educational projects. A recent one was in Ethiopia to encourage teaching supervisors to adopt a coaching approach to observations.  Outside of this I work as a language and management coach and as a part-time teacher. Until recently I was a school governor in a deprived area of Brighton that has gradually improved standards since the time it was burnt down by a disaffected student!

Vicky : What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, that ESL teachers are facing today?

Mike Shreeve: It depends partly where you are working, I think in the state system (in the UK at least) we are looking to reach perfection through defining the teaching process. Whilst I agree that some definition is useful, we also need teachers to take risks and be creative and there is a danger of losing this.  The irony is that teaching is a trial and error process that can lose its magic when over- prescribed. The attempt to force this can lead to teacher stress, over regulation and burn-out.

From a language teaching point of view how do we link the learning process to the teaching process. Is language a series of rules that we learn?  What part of learning is a conscious effort and what part do we learn by unconscious patterning? The extent to which we intervene and where we intervene determines our style of teaching. I am an advocate of having a learning intention and themes with some objectives and the teacher getting out of the way sometimes. The question is what is the best balance between non-conscious and conscious learning processes and what areas should a teacher focus on to get the best results?

Finally, another important area is to ensure that there is not a mismatch between the classroom and the home or cultural environment. The challenge is how do we identify and harness different ways of learning, different beliefs and values so that each student feels included? Not easy!

Vicky : Can you tell us what your typical day might be?

Mike Shreeve: The joy (and sometimes scariness) of my life is that I have no typical day! A snapshot might illustrate this. Yesterday I was working with a department head who is trying to introduce more two-way feedback to her lesson observations, and we worked on how to get more input from the observed teacher. After that, I wrote the outline of a coaching programme that is due to run in the summer in Slovakia – a teachers’ retreat where teachers can recharge for a week. I am so excited by this project that is aimed at helping teachers relax and renew their approach. That evening, I taught English to a group of students who are based in a computer games factory. A topic they had chosen was short film, with some specialist terms relating to their video and graphic design work but also with some short films that have interesting points of view.

Vicky : Being in this profession for years, you often might have to face routine! How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high in your work?

Mike Shreeve: I have nearly always been a teacher but managed to adapt to many different situations. I have worked with all ages, in both a work and school – based context and particularly” difficult classes.” Looking back overtime I think the experience of some very tough schools and situations early on helped me absorb some people skills, another positive from adversity is when I have had very little resources, I have had to be creative. Because you can never predict how human beings will react, I never think of teaching as boring but as a roller coaster – sometimes exhilarating and other times emotionally draining.

Another important element is being part of a community of teachers. This is the power of numbers and the challenge, learning and support of a group such as ELTA, or IATFL or the Pilgrims’ community is so essential.

The most challenging classes, for me, are ones who don’t want to learn and will not engage. Usually there is a subculture of negative group dynamics. I used to get very down (and still do) when I have had a bad day, but over the years have developed more resilience and don’t take it so personally. I often get it wrong, and do not see myself as a perfect teacher however I think it is one of the best things to be doing with one’s life. So, in short, variety and always being appropriately challenged and supported is the answer!

Vicky : Can you tell us what your plenary is going to be about?

Mike Shreeve: the aim of the plenary is to explore and question whether the way we plan lessons is suitable for these times. Whether as well as cognitive progression of activities we might be looking for an emotional progression in the way that students can become engaged with the learning process and hence learn more effectively.

It has a second theme of how we can relate to the individual learner in a class of many. Is it to do with the numbers involved?  How can we teach the individual and still stay coherent with the whole class? I am going to try to relate this to a few mathematical concepts as a way of seeing this, but don’t worry if you are math’s phobic -there will be no sums involved!

Vicky : Can you share with our readers any exciting plans for the future that you have?

Mike Shreeve:  Over the next few months, there is the relaxation week in Slovakia and a busy summer in Canterbury with Pilgrims teaching two courses, NLP and coaching and supporting “difficult “learners’ course which I share with Phil Dexter. I am hoping to go back to Africa in the winter, but no definite plans yet. I quite like the unfolding of life without too much planning, maybe this fits in with the theme of the plenary!


Interview with Linda Steyne


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Linda (Lyn) Steyne is a South African born, American passport holder who’s lived in Bratislava, Slovakia, longer than anywhere else. She’s been an English language teacher for going on 30 years, teaching students aged nine and up in public primary and secondary schools, as well as at university. She’s served as deputy head of a secondary school, bilingual programme coordinator, and teacher trainer/mentor of incoming English teachers. Lyn has taught academic writing, research skills, and English at both the university and secondary school level, as well as short courses for Slovak journalists. She’s the current (and founding) chair of the Slovak Chamber of English Language Teachers (SCELT).

Vicky : First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Linda Steyne: Thanks for asking me 😊

Vicky : Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Linda Steyne: Surely! So, you know my name and that I’m an English language teacher and teacher trainer. I’ve taught all levels: primary through tertiary. I deal a lot with writing and editing. My passport is American, but I’m working on Slovak citizenship since I’ve lived in Bratislava longer than anywhere else and it really is home. Beyond that, I can’t wait for spring!

Vicky : What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, that ESL teachers are facing today ?

Linda Steyne: I’ve taught in the state school system for all but 2.5 years of my 30-year professional life, so my answer will be about the challenges facing teachers in public schools. And there are many. I really can’t choose just one ‘biggest’ challenge because they’re all intertwined. They’re like separate cords that make up the rope that society uses to hang us – and education – on the gallows of ‘production’ and/or ‘outcomes’. Let me explain.

To begin with, the vast majority of state school teachers in Central Europe (and many other places) do not earn a living wage nor are they respected for the work they do. For the most part, few countries in Central Europe invest enough money into their educational systems. At the same time, many governments have decided there are only two ways for our students to succeed: attend vocational schools in order to man the new factories built by foreign investors or study to pass standardized tests which have no value outside the borders of each individual nation (except for PISA). A teacher’s (and school’s) success is based on the outcome of students’ exams – a weak result is interpreted as poor teaching. Parents, administrators, and the government use this to flog teachers with the notion that they are not worthy of a higher wage or greater respect. Thus, our university teacher training programs do not turn out many graduates who go into teaching because of the low pay and the lack of respect. And the cycle starts all over again. This isn’t only about English. This is about education.

As for ESL teachers specifically? The challenge is to teach English as a skill and not just for a grade or a test. A friend of mine wrote me this morning that the director at her 5th-grader’s school said she shouldn’t expect her daughter to actually learn English in English lessons – they’re only responsible for ‘laying foundations’. I’d say that’s teachers not taking up the challenge of teaching language as a skill.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your typical day might be?

Linda Steyne: Well, funnily enough, I’m currently unemployed 😊 However, my days are surprisingly full! Since my last day at my previous uni position, I’ve spent most of my time working on our Slovak Chamber of English Language Teachers’ events. I’m chair at the moment, and we just had a mini-conference with Dorothy Zemach last week in Bratislava, so there was a lot to do with that. Our annual conference in September also needs a lot of prep.

I just started back to teaching English to our local journalists three evenings a week, something that colleagues and I did last year as well, but this time around we’re trying to create an replicable course that can be used by other colleagues in other Slovak cities and towns.

I’m also busy with conference presentations since this is a very busy spring for them – 5 in three months. And then there’s also proofreading, editing, and copy-writing for some colleagues who are publishing.

Since I’m no longer at work from 6.30am to 6.30pm, it’s also nice to have time in the afternoons to get together with friends and former students.

Vicky : Being in this profession for years, you often might have to face routine! How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high in your work?

Linda Steyne: This is a difficult question. It’s not the routine that kills motivation and enthusiasm. It’s just the sheer amount of work. I taught Academic Writing for 3.5 years, something that can’t be done without reading a lot of weak papers and providing a lot of feedback.

My enthusiasm is waning, to be honest. I love teaching and it’s when I’m in the classroom that I have that enthusiasm. But when I open up my email and see 30 second or third drafts waiting for feedback? That’s hard.

But I know there’s a purpose to teaching. I know that what I do is worth it for the students. Coming out of that evening class two days ago, I bumped into a former student who graduated from secondary school in 2000. She was on her way to a company dinner celebrating 20 years of existence and she was responsible for organizing and dealing with their international partners. In English. She told me that without my teaching, she wouldn’t be where she is today. That’s motivating for me. My job equips my students for the real world.

I get to invest into the future. I can’t allow myself to forget that.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your plenary is going to be about?

Linda Steyne: Without giving away too much, let me just say it will be on teacher motivation 😊

Vicky : Can you share with our readers any exciting plans for the future that you have?

Linda Steyne: One plan is a 3-week trip this summer to South Africa with my dad – who is South African – and brothers to see family. The other plan is more a prayer: to find the right teaching position among good colleagues where I can settle and work hard until I retire 😊


Interview with Fiona Dalziel



Fiona Dalziel is Associate Professor of English Language and Translation at the Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies (DiSLL) of the University of Padova, Italy. She teaches on the BA in Language, Literature and Cultural Mediation and the MA in Modern Languages for International Communication and Collaboration. From 2013 to 2016 she was Head of Padova University Language Centre, where she set up the LEAP (Learning English for Academic Purposes) Project, whose aim was to provide support for lecturers teaching their content courses through English. Her research interests include: promoting metacognitive learning strategies and learner autonomy; teaching academic writing; English-medium Instruction (EMI); and the use of drama in language learning, including that of adult migrants. She is a member of the editorial board of Language Learning in Higher Education, the journal of CercleS, the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education, and she is guest editor of the May 2019 issue entitled “Language learning for and with refugees in higher education”. She has been coordinator of Padova University English drama group for 20 years.

Vicky : First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Fiona Dalziel: It’s my pleasure. I’m really looking forward to meeting you in May.

Vicky : Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Fiona Dalziel: I’ve been teaching English for over 30 years in different contexts, but almost exclusively in Italy. I started out at a private language school and then I began working at the University of Padova. I was head of the University Language Centre here for three years and was involved in an interesting project to provide support for Italian lecturers who were teaching their content courses in English. English-medium Instruction (EMI) is increasing rapidly here.

My interest in drama in language learning arose out of my own experiences as a student of foreign languages in the UK. I was studying Russian at the time and I took part in a one-act play by Chekhov called “A Marriage Proposal”. I found this experience so memorable and valuable that I later decided to set up an English theatre group at the University of Padova in collaboration with a local theatre group. We’ve now been going for over 20 years. This year the English theatre group is working on a production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” … it’s quite a challenge! We now have theatre groups for six different languages: English, Spanish, German, Romanian, French and Italian as a Second Language (for Erasmus exchange students).

Most of my teaching is on our BA and MA degree programmes in foreign languages. This year I taught a new course on Liaison Interpreting, which I found quite hard but fascinating. I decided to incorporate some drama techniques into the course and the students appreciated this, so I would like to work more on this for next year. I also have a course in “Academic English” for students studying on our BA in Psychological Science, a degree programme which is taught entirely in English. I really enjoy the course as there is an interesting mix of Italian and international students and they are all highly motivated. My job also involves supervising dissertations and participating in research projects and I have various administrative duties such as being Erasmus coordinator for my Department (The Department of Linguistic and Literary Studies).

Vicky : What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, that ESL teachers are facing today?

Fiona Dalziel: Of course there are many challenges, but I would say that today the biggest is the constantly changing role of English in the world and the idea of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). I cannot just prepare my learners to communicate with native speakers of English because when they go out into the real world they will find that more interaction in English takes place between people with a variety of language backgrounds. Some people may think that this implies that standards are dropping and that using ELF is synonymous with accepting errors (for example dropping the third person “s”). I would argue, however, that ELF means more rather than less. Learners of English need to acquire the pragmatic and intercultural competence required to interact with people from all over the world … and that’s not an easy task! As I mentioned above, in Padova we have been involved in giving EMI support. In some cases, our lecturers were very worried about their pronunciation sounding too “Italian”: we had to help them to understand that they didn’t have to sound like native speakers in order to communicate effectively with their classes. What we felt they were often lacking was simply self-confidence.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your typical day might be?

Fiona Dalziel: I really don’t have a typical day. Apart from my teaching and office hours, everything varies from week to week. Some days there will be research or departmental meetings, other days seminars and workshops. I just try to keep one day free a week for my own research and writing. And like all busy English teachers, I always seem to end up with lesson preparation, marking and emails to answer at the weekend.   

Vicky : Being in this profession for years, you often might have to face routine! How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high in your work?

Fiona Dalziel: Actually, I think that the one thing that I don’t have is a routine. I am lucky enough to work in an environment where new jobs are always cropping up. This year for example, as well as teaching a completely new course, I have been involved in two European projects. There are always so many things to learn. And even courses I have taught for years are never the same, as so much comes from the students themselves. This is especially true when you try to encourage agency and creativity in your students. This year, for example, my psychology students gave 3-minute talks on topics of their choice, ranging from the Boötes void to cat therapy or “Why Netflix is better than a boyfriend”: I had a lot of fun listening to them and learnt a lot too. And I am curious to see how the student production of “As you like it” set in the 1980s will end up. So, it really isn’t hard for me to be enthusiastic and motivated.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your plenary is going to be about?

Fiona Dalziel: My plenary will focus on my interest in drama in language learning. As you know, the title of this year’s conference is “No English teacher is an island”. In my experience, drama activities are an ideal way to foster collaboration. As I said before, in my theatre group I work closely with a local theatre company; all the sessions are co-taught, with me focusing on language and Pierantonio Rizzato, the theatre director, focusing on acting skills. We also invite colleagues who teach English Literature to come and talk about the works we are performing. And I have worked closely with Drama and Education expert from Trinity College Dublin, Erika Piazzola. Together, we have run Process Drama workshops in English for undergraduates and in Italian for asylum seekers in Padova. Another collaborative drama venture I will mention in my plenary is “Kids University”. Every year, the University of Padova opens its doors to children from local primary and lower secondary schools. I will describe how working together with colleagues, university students and primary school teachers, theatre can provide an inclusive environment where everyone can play their part.    

Vicky : Can you share with our readers any exciting plans for the future that you have?

Fiona Dalziel: Two things come to mind. In July, together with Filippo Fonio from Grenoble University in France, I will be involved in the organization of an International Summer School The role of drama in higher and adult language education: teacher training and the challenges of inclusion. If anyone is interested, you can find details at: https://drama-fl-edu-19.sciencesconf.org . Then in August I will be travelling to Thessaloniki for a workshop on drama as part of the VIA Culture Erasmus+ project.



Interview with Alistair Starling



unnamed (2)Alistair leads our business-to-government efforts on the ground across Europe and North Africa, in close liaison with our International Development team in Cambridge. Alistair was previously Regional Director Northern Europe in our Berlin office. He works closely with Directors in other regions and colleagues in Cambridge in formulating and implementing global strategies.

Alistair is passionate about language learning, taught English in Italy for 2 years, and learnt German, Italian and French by working overseas most of his adult life. Before joining in November 2013, he was Higher Executive Officer in the British Diplomatic Service (Foreign & Commonwealth Office), and General Manager, in the UK’s National Trust.

Previously, Alistair headed up the Inward Investment Team for UK Trade & Investment in Italy for 4 years, following 10 years in the private sector in the UK and Italy, culminating in heading up Marketing for a multinational software company based in Milan.

Vicky : First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Alistair Starling : Many thanks indeed for having invited me!

Vicky: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Alistair Starling : I’m what we call the Strategic Development Head for the part of Cambridge Assessment English covering Europe and North Africa – this simply means government relations and is the best job!

Vicky: What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, that ESL teachers are facing today ?

Alistair Starling : As often I answer when asked this question, it’s the support and time and general resources to help teachers keep their students motivated in an ever faster and more global world of demands.

Vicky: Can you tell us what your typical day might be?

Alistair Starling : I don’t have one! I travel for between 100 and 150 days per year, meeting Ministries of Education across Europe, and spend the rest of my time in Berlin with my two children, or visiting Cambridge and London which is where I’m from.

Vicky: Being in this profession for years, you often might have to face routine! How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high in your work?

Alistair Starling : No routine, I meet fascinating people everyday, so not a problem!

Vicky : Can you tell us what your plenary is going to be about?

Alistair Starling : It’s about the worldwide work we do to support governments to give their young people the best chance in life where globalization means English is a must.

Vicky : Can you share with our readers any exciting plans for the future that you have?

Alistair Starling : We hope to be making a big announcement in Serbia soon, regarding Cambridge working with your government – following perhaps closely in the footsteps of an exciting announcement I can make now about our work in Estonia!


Interview with Matthew Fitzjohn



Matthew Fitzjohn is an archaeologist in the department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. Matthew’s research is primarily focused on the archaeology of Italy and Greece from the Iron Age through to the Classical period (First millennium BCE). His work investigates the relations between people and the places that they inhabit by developing historical geographies of everyday life at a range of scales (in domestic spaces, city and countryside). These relations are examined in a number of his publications on domestic architecture, and how the fragments of ancient houses can be used as the building blocks to help articulate his ideas on embodied learning and the role of habitual bodily practices on identity formation across the Greek world. Matthew is heavily involved in undergraduate and postgraduate archaeology teaching. His research on houses and experiences, and the digital methods he uses to analyse material. An important part of his teaching is using digital technology and enquiry based learning.

Most recently, Matthew has been working with educators in Primary and Secondary schools in the UK on a research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, to develop ways to enhance pupil experience and engagement as they learn about Ancient Greece.

Vicky  : First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Fitzjohn Matthew : You are very welcome. I am delighted to be participating in the 2019 ELTA conference.

Vicky : Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Fitzjohn Matthew : Although I have worked in English Language teaching in Japan, that was over twenty years ago! Now I work as an archaeologist based at the University of Liverpool, where I teach and undertake research. My research is on the archaeology of the Mediterranean in the first millenium BCE. I focus on ancient Greece and Italy, and over the last few years have been particularly interested in how we can construct our understanding (and stories) of the past from houses and the activities that were involved in their construction and the activities that took place within them.

I am heavily involved in teaching and educational development at university level and in one of my recent research projects I have become involved in collaboration and teaching with schools (both primary and middle school level).

Vicky : What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, that ESL teachers are facing today ?

Fitzjohn Matthew: This is a little difficult for me to answer, as I am not directly involved in ESL teaching at the moment. However, I am faced with many changes in the classroom, even at university level. One of the most fundamental challenges is supporting my students to reflect on their learning and knowledge that they have acquired, which enables them to use this knowledge to express their own ideas. There are several ways that I have been trying to do this at University, and in my work with school teachers. I hope to share these experiences with you at the conference.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your typical day might be?

Fitzjohn Matthew : During the university teaching year, my days are usually spent with a mix of teaching, supervising student research projects (undergraduate and postgraduate students), pastoral support to students and university-level administrative meetings. Over the last three years, I have been working with schools to develop curricula for younger children (Year 3-6) and high schools, so I also spend time during the week on this. Outside the teaching semesters, and mainly during the months of mid-July to mid-September, I am free from teaching and can spend my days focusing on research either working on archaeological excavations or in the library.

Vicky : Being in this profession for years, you often might have to face routine! How do you keep your enthusiasm and motivation high in your work?

Fitzjohn Matthew : I am incredibly lucky that I’m involved in a wide range of teaching and have the opportunity to modify my teaching every year. Over the past few years I have been experimenting with the focus of classroom activities and I have tried to create more opportunities for students to lead activities, as well as interact with their peers and learn through playful.

Vicky : Can you tell us what your plenary is going to be about?

Fitzjohn Matthew : I plan to share my experiences of developing teaching schemes of work and classroom activities that actively involve play and storytelling at all levels. I’m going to focus on a mixture of my university teaching and my work in schools that have combined my research on houses and thoughts on narrative to support students to use their new knowledge to write collaborative stories about the past, and to express their ideas using materials (often LEGO) and newly acquired language.

Vicky : Can you share with our readers any exciting plans for the future that you have?

Fitzjohn Matthew :

Sharing experiences with you, workshop to discuss practice used in schools and how you might implement these practices or your thoughts on how I might improve them.



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