ELT 2021 Influencers

ELT 2021 Influencers: Elisavet Veliou

Elisavet, has a BA in English Language and Literature (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and an MA in Cinema Studies (University of Bristol, UK).  Her areas of expertise are teaching English through films as well as experiential learning and teaching very young learners. Her school got the Silver award for Innovation in Education at the Education Leaders Awards 2019 and she got the 2020 ELT Excellence Awards for her School's programme "My little House of English" for teaching English to very young learners.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, teaching and ELT forever. That is a fact. For many of us though it has been the reason why we evolved, transformed and reinvented ourselves as teachers and school managers. E-learning has been developed greatly with the introduction of new tools, upgraded platforms, the combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, which has worked perfectly for students, and the addition of gamification. Students have developed digital skills, enjoy the learning process and look forward to the lessons. Distances are limited and now language schools have students from all over Greece; sometimes from all over the world.

We, as educators, discovered new ways of getting the message across, new ways of approaching education and new ways of assessing our students as well. We had to step out of our comfort zone, find web tools and involve kinaesthetic activities that would place the learner in the centre of the learning process. We managed to deliver student-centred online lessons making e-learning an engaging student-centred experience. Teachers in Greece aspired to make online lessons similar to their face-to-face lessons. And WE did it!

The huge success of this major step will have an amazing impact on the face-to-face lessons as well, if we take advantage of it. If we managed to succeed in having active learners in online lessons, imagine how successful we could be if we implemented all these things we’ve learned, in our face-to-face lessons combined with the experiential learning methodology. This would be the new trend in language teaching; a combination of all the valuable knowledge gained during the time of the pandemic from the online lessons with the magic of the experiential learning approach. We could create experiences in the classroom which would unleash students’ creativity, promote collaboration even outside of the classroom and create autonomous learners.

Although things in the field have developed greatly, there are still issues that remain unsolved. Language schools still function as test centres. Grammar is still thought to be the most important aspect in teaching, learning and assessing language. Assessment is mostly summative with parents and teachers considering marks and scores the only things that matter when assessing a student’s progress. This is not 21st century Education. This is not Education at all. We teach language and we should make it an enjoyable experience by exposing our students to the target language as much as possible. If we, as teachers, create the conditions and teach the language holistically, learning will be achieved. We should promote critical thinking by focusing on the things that matter. Students, should be able to express themselves in the target language, be who they really are and say what they want to say. Our students are not score reports. They are rebels, poets, directors, actors, script writers, orators. They are the future generation which, hopefully, will change the world. Let’s teach them this way.