interview

Interview with Olja Milošević, President of ELTA Serbia

 

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Olja Milosevic has been involved in second and foreign language teaching at all levels in primary, secondary and tertiary education. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics and is primarily interested in second language acquisition and maintaining mother tongue. Olja is also interested in teacher training.

(This interview appeared first on the ELTA newsletter May – June 2017)

Today I am interviewing a wonderful lady from the ELT world who also happens to be president of ELTA Serbia. I think we all deserve to know her better.

 

Vicky : Dear Olja, I am so happy you have agreed to do this interview with me!  You are the President of ELTA Serbia and a lot of people know you. But I am also sure that you are quite a private person and do not share a lot of details about yourself. Can you tell us a few things about you so that everybody gets to know you a bit more?

 

Olja : I live in Belgrade and I teach English as an additional language in the International School of Belgrade. I teach grade 6, 7, 11 and 12 students. They come from many different countries and teaching them is a privilege. In my spare time, I love to hike and to spend time in nature.

 

Vicky : Would you like to share with us something that most people do not know about your life (an achievement, a quality of your character that is not easily discerned , etc.) ?

 

Olja : Most people do not know that I taught English to the elderly. That was 65+ club, but many of them were well over 80. Teaching them was a great experience.

 

Vicky : You are a member of the C Group, among other things. In your bio for the C Group (Creativity Group) website, I read about you: She believes that only creative teachers could stay sane. Can you explain more about what you mean with this statement?

 

Olja : Teaching is a wonderful profession, but also a very stressful one. Including creative elements in my lessons helps me to ‘destress’ students and when they feel well, I feel well. Also, for me, being creative means doing things differently so you are not bored, and when I enjoy the class, there are better chances that my students will, too.

 

Vicky : What is your motto? What is the main belief that you follow in your life and guides you?

 

Olja : One of my teachers told us once that you may compare your life to a piece of writing. One of his rules was that each essay we write should have a margin. The margin makes writing easy to read and pleasing to the eye. To have a successful life you need to draw a margin (a line)  and have a life outside of work / school / university. I love my job, but there are so many other things that are important and not related to it.

 

Vicky: We were only introduced last year for the first time but I was pleasantly surprised by you because, most of the times, women in leadership positions, have frequently be described as unapproachable, dominant and/or  aggressive. You, on the other hand, are a very warm and kind person. Theorists argue that this has been the case with women because in trying to attain these power positions they  have to assume a more male role in order for them to be identified as ‘leaders’ themselves. Do you think that strong women today can balance between power  embracing their femininity more successfully, when they are in leadership positions?

 

Olja : I am not sure if I could act any other way. Part of it is my Balkan background. When we have guests, our sole aim is to make them feel happy and you were our dear guest, Vicky.
As for leadership, there are different leadership styles and I just happen to be comfortable with being approachable.

 

Vicky: What makes you such a successful President in ELTA Serbia? What are the main difficulties that you have to overcome every day?

 

Olja : Thank you so much for your words of praise. However, the words of praise should go to the whole team. And I guess that the success comes because we all work hard on different aspects to promote and develop our association.  My biggest difficulty would be the lack of time.

 

Vicky : What are your plans for the future?

 

Olja : We are trying to develop a self sustained project for teachers. That will be my big project for the next academic year.

 

Vicky :  Thank you so much for your time and for answering my questions. It has been an honour!

*******

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Interview with Christina Martidou on the making of ‘Dylan & Lydia’ : a digital storybook for young learners of English.

This is my 2nd interview in which I present another creative colleague and a very dear friend, Christina Martidou. We first met here  in Thessaloniki, our hometown, and we ‘clicked’ immediately. I particularly like her inquisitive and restless spirit which led her to create, along with her sister Marina,  a little ‘gem’ : a digital storybook  for young learners of English, «Dylan & Lydia», which is actually the theme of our interview!  I have to tell you though that this is actually a ‘double’ interview. After interviewing Christina, I asked her to interview her students who took part in the making of this storybook by lending their voices. I think she did an excellent job and we have come up with a wonderful video which I hope you will enjoy watching and which will also give you a better idea of her work.

Interview with Christina Martidou 

Vicky : Christina, so nice to have you here!

Christina : It’s my great pleasure and honour, Vicky!

Vicky : Christina, I hear 2 little kids, Dylan and Lydia have stolen your heart!!! Who are they?

Christina : That’s right! Dylan and Lydia are the main characters of my first digital storybook designed for young learners of English around the world.

Vicky : Now, how did you come up with the idea that two small children like them could actually ‘choose’ their own fate?

Christina : I generally believe in the power of choice and creating one’s own destiny. Throughout our lives we face various dilemmas and the decisions we make, lead us to different paths or can even change our lives forever. For me, it’s good to let children know early on that actions have consequences and we should use our power to choose as wisely as we can.

In the case of our storybook, we also thought that offering ‘Dylan’ and ‘Lydia’ the opportunity to choose their own fate empowers the user who can pick the direction of the story in the role of the protagonists and create his own reading path.

Additionally, it makes the storybook even more interesting and rich in content since the readers can enjoy two completely different stories with different endings and morals in one App!

Vicky : Can you tell us a bit more about the plot?

Christina : Dylan and Lydia are two amiable 9 year-old- twins who live in Oxford. On a day trip to London, they meet Madame Sonya, a famous Fortune teller, who will slyly try to trick them into her evil plans. The twins have the chance to travel to a wondrous place for children called ‘Fantasy Land’ or experience adventurous moments with notorious pirates on a real pirate ship! Dylan and Lydia end up learning important life lessons about the value of true friendship and trust.

Vicky : Who wrote the story? How did you get inspired?

Christina : My younger sister Marina and I came up with the stories on a boat trip to Corfu, a beautiful Greek island. Then, I set out to write the stories in English and design the accompanying activities, dictionaries and games.

Our sources of inspiration have definitely been all the fairytales and Disney movies we have read and watched throughout the years. Writing and publishing our very own children’s book was one of our childhood dreams. This storybook is the outcome of a greater need to be creative in a time of deep financial crisis and stagnation in Greece.

Vicky : How difficult was the realization of this dream (making this app) and how long did it take?

Christina : It was much more challenging than we had originally anticipated. It took us about 6-7 months of full-time work to complete this project. However, this has been by far the most enjoyable and creative experience of my professional life and we really look forward to the ‘Dylan and Lydia’ sequel. Needless to say that this App wouldn’t have been realized, without the invaluable help of remarkable colleagues like Hanna Kryszewska, Charles Boyle Edmund Dudley, John Hughes and Esther Martin. My students’ contributions also make this storybook stand out.

Vicky : I know that several of your students took part in the making of ‘Dylan and Lydia’. Can you tell us more about this experience? How easy or difficult was it to include them in this process?

Christina : My students participated in the whole process very actively! Firstly, we had all the materials (texts, graphic designs, games& activities) tried and tested by 9- 12 year old students (boys and girls) from different backgrounds and language levels. Their feedback was really valuable and we actually implemented many of their ideas in the storyline.

More importantly, the roles of the main characters have been narrated by students of mine who are non-native speakers of English.  Thus, when children read the storybook, they can easily relate to other fluent young learners of English. The experience at the recording studio was unique! My students were more than happy to participate and thrilled to visit a recording studio! However, some of them were initially intimidated by the microphone. The tricky part for us was to achieve a satisfying level of performance (good pronunciation and acting) without losing students’ spontaneity by having them repeat their lines again and again. Luckily, with a little encouragement, the recordings were completed successfully. 

Vicky : What kind of important life lessons can the children learn? Tell us a bit more about one of these life lessons!

Christina : Through the stories children empathize with the main characters and in this way learn useful life lessons. One of them is that true friends are important in life, they can help us through difficult situations and we must never betray them!

Vicky : What are your plans from now on?

Christina : I usually avoid making long- term plans. However, I do wish to keep developing both personally and professionally. Right now, I’m working on a handbook for all teachers who wish to read and explore our educational App with their students. It will include extra language activities, worksheets, DIY crafts and drawings for further practice and fun! This will soon be published on my personal edtech blog (http://christinamartidou.edublogs.org/) and it’ll be free to download.

Thank you for this interview Vicky mou !!!

In fact, just before we were ready to publish her interview, Christina had already prepared this handbook and was kind enough to offer it to all our readers today. Here it is!

DYLAN-LYDIA-HANDBOOK (1)

10988927_10152577872971360_8151353815085493654_nChristina’s bio

Christina Martidou has been an English teacher for the past 14 years. She holds a degree in ‘English Language and Literature’ from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and an MA in ‘Media, Culture and Communication’ from UCL.

She has worked both freelance and in private schools with students of various ages and levels. She currently works at Perrotis College, American Farm School of Thessaloniki. Christina has a genuine interest in educational technology, mobile learning and continuous professional development.

Christina is the author and creative director of ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’, a double- path digital storybook created for young learners of English (http://bit.ly/1pzv6O8 ).

She loves blogging about edtech- related topics at: http://christinamartidou.edublogs.org/

E-mail: martidouchristina@gmail.com

Twitter: @CMartidou