Introducing the Plenary Speakers

We are please to have a true variety of colleagues come to share with us this year, including our plenaries. 

We’ve known Maggie since 2014, when we first met her at another conference we organised here in Slovakia. We love Maggie, because Maggie is one of us. Besides that, she’s an amazing teacher and teacher trainer. 

Maggie Kubanyiova is a university lecturer and researcher at the University of Birmingham (UK) where she directs the MA Education TEFL programme training English language teachers from all over the world to develop their teaching skills and expertise. Maggie’s areas of expertise include communicative language teaching, motivation, classroom interaction and language teacher development. Her book ‘Teacher Development in Action’ (2012, Palgrave) investigates the development of English language teachers in Slovakia and her 2014 book ‘Motivating language learners, motivating teachers: Building vision in the language classroom’ (Cambridge University Press, with Zoltán Dörnyei) proposes new ways of looking at motivation in the language classroom.

Plenary: Motivation and vision in the language classroom: Helping students to ‘taste’ their L2 future in classroom talk (Saturday morning)

In this presentation, I will draw on latest research on L2 motivation which has identified students’ future visions of themselves as successful L2 users as key in motivating their present efforts in language learning. We will reflect on one of the pedagogical principles that this finding has generated, namely, that students are unlikely to desire their L2 future, unless they have tasted it (Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2014). While creative ideas on how to achieve such ‘tasters’ in the language classroom are abundant, many require additional material, time or human resources that are not always available to all language teachers. By using data excerpts from actual L2 classrooms in Slovakia and beyond, the aim of my talk is to demonstrate that sometimes subtle changes in the way we use language in teacher-student interaction can have powerful consequences for L2-relevant futures that our students are enabled to experience. Together we will reflect on what these findings may mean for our own professional development and on the wider consequences of what it means to learn and know languages in the 21st century. 

We first heard Margit at an IATEFL Hungary conference a couple years ago. Then we bumped into her again at IATEFL Slovenia this past spring and felt that there was much we here at SKA could learn from her, not only from her passion about global issues but also from her long and varied experience in teachers’ association, large and small. So, we invited her and she said, ‘Yes’! 

Margit Szesztay has been involved in teacher education for the past 25 years. For much of that time she has been a member of the faculty at the Department of English Language Pedagogy at ELTE University in Budapest.  However, she is also very involved in teacher associations: She has been a member of the IATEFL Hungary executive committee, coordinator of the IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group, IATEFL Associates Coordinator, and IATEFL Vice-President. She was instated as IATEFL President in April of 2017. Her professional interests include learning through discussion, creativity in ELT, the teacher as educator, and building professional communities. 

Plenary: Teacher Associations and the Road Less Traveled (Saturday closing)

We live in the highly competitive world of the individual. And yet as seven billion plus sharing the same home, our survivor now depends on our ability to co-operate. This plenary will focus on the crucial 21st Century skill of collaboration not just at the workplace, but in all spheres of life. In particular, it will explore the role of Teacher Associations in building open, inclusive communities, why these communities matter, and what English teachers can do to sustain them.
Community building has always been a central theme in my life. As a beginner teacher, and later as a trainer and mentor, I was keen not just to use groupwork, open discussion and other cooperative methods, but to anchor my teaching in reaching out, listening to minority voices and appreciating differences. It is my drive towards community building that got me involved with teacher associations twenty odd years ago, and which motivated me to become president of IATEFL.  

Workshop: Creative ways of starting lessons 

The first few minutes of a lesson can make a big difference to its success. An energetic start can create focus and help the learners to pay attention. We will try out different ways of starting out, bringing in an element of surprise, creativity, and helping everyone move into English and into ‘group mode’. You will also have the chance to share your favourite way of starting out, and to think about how to adapt the activities we try out to your own teaching context. 


Marjorie has been a Facebook friend to SKA for over three years. We finally met her face to face in early 2016 at the Teachers of English in Austria conference in Graz where she lives. We’d tried repeatedly to sync our schedules so she could come up to Slovakia to give a Business English workshop or even be a conference plenary but it just never worked out. This  year, it finally did for which we are grateful!

Marjorie Rosenberg has been teaching English as a Foreign Language in Austria since 1981 in companies and at the tertiary level and is an active teacher trainer throughout Europe.  She has written extensively for the business English market (CUP, Pearson, National Geographic-Cengage, Macmillan) and has written two methodology books: Spotlight on Learning Styles (Delta Publishing) and Creating Activities for Different Learner Types (Wayzgoose Press). She has also co-authored school books for the Austrian and Polish markets. Marjorie was the Chair of Teachers of English in Austria (TEA) coordinator of IATEFL BESIG, served as IATEFL President from April 2015-2017 and is currently the IATEFL Vice-President.

Plenary: Getting unstuck – stretching out of our comfort zones (Friday afternoon) 

As our daily teaching schedule and all that involves takes up so much of our time and energy, we don’t often have the chance to thing about ‘what else’ we could be doing.  We tend to stick to certain routines and sometimes don’t take advantage of possibilities to stretch ourselves or take on challenges in other areas.  This talk will explore the implications of this regarding our teaching styles, methods we are accustomed to using, the types of classes we usually teach, the technology we are comfortable with and demonstrate a wide variety of choices available to us as ELT professionals both inside and outside the classroom.  Some of the reasons we keep doing what we have always done will be discussed providing a basis for us to work together and come up with ways for us to ‘get unstuck’.

Workshop: Getting Business English Learners to Speak 

Today a great deal of business is done through face-to-face meetings, conference calls, or on the telephone meaning that it is essential for business people to become more confident when speaking English in the business context. This interactive workshop will look at the specific fears and problems facing learners as well as the factors which comprise business communication and the tasks required of our learners.  Participants will have the chance to try out activities which focus on both interactive speaking situations and presentations.  Different ideas will be discussed and participants will have the opportunity to contribute their own thoughts and suggestions. The workshop will round up with a discussion on how to use the activities in different teaching situations and how learners can be motivated to actively take part in speaking situations in class. 

Steve has been to Slovakia before, speaking at other conferences and doing workshops, but it’s his perspective on life skills for learners that got our attention this last spring. We realized that it was just what we needed to hear and thought others of us could learn from it to. We are thankful to Express Publishing for sponsoring Steve so he could come, and Mária Csikós Tamás for efforts on our behalf. 

Steve Lever holds a BA (Hons) from Leeds University. After working as a teacher of EFL for eleven years, he moved into ELT consultancy for Express Publishing in 2001. In this capacity, he has travelled around the world delivering workshops and seminars. He has been a plenary speaker at many international conferences and has been involved in joint projects with the British Council and ministries of education in various countries. He has a strong amateur interest in teaching through drama and encouraging the use of critical thinking in education. He also works as a freelance translator, proof-reader and copy editor.

Plenary: Life and Language Skills for the 21st Century (Friday opening)

21st century learners need a skill-set capable of meeting the constantly changing demands of modern life. These skills are not only linguistic, but include a range of cognitive and practical tools that will help learners communicate, collaborate and use the resources available to them creatively, critically and effectively.

Workshop: Creative Language Learning

In this session, we will demonstrate that creativity can go hand in hand with effective language learning. Far from being an abstract concept, creativity actually demonstrates sound knowledge of the subject and its basis on firm foundations. It is a valid educational goal, which draws on all aspects of learning and synthesises them into a memorable experience. However, it will be demonstrated that creativity can only result from groundwork laid beforehand and that the ‘one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration’ rule still applies.

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