XIIth Umbrella conference “From Reflection to Action” Tula 2013
About 300 teachers of English from all over the Tula region gathered in Tula State Lev Tolstoy Pedagogical University on September 20, 2013 for the opening day of the XIIth Umbrella conference “From Reflection to Action”. The delegations came from Schekino, Chern’, Ephremov, Zaoksky and Tula.
Several expositions were organized in the foyer (among them – books written by the TSPU professors, students’ contest works and the sale of methodological materials on teaching of English language).
"We rarely get a chance of such live communication with the professors and experts of this class – teachers from Zaoksky are sharing – We are always interested to hear something new on those topics, although we are more like veterans in the field of education."
The rector of TSPU opened the conference with thanking the Office of English at the U.S. Embassy in the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Education of the Tula region for the opportunity to hold the conference in Tula State Pedagogical Lev Tolstoy University. The Minister of Education of Tula region Denis Bychkov wished everyone to have a productive conference and fruitful work. Attache of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow Fran Westbrook was laconic, but chargeâ the audience with her energy and positive expectations from the conference.
September 21st, Saturday
The whole second day was devoted to working in groups. Tula welcomed about 60 guests from all over Russia – from Kaliningrad to Birobidzhan. Each group came up with different ideas and projects for future realization. All the participants exchanged their contact information and agreed on their projects’ dates in some of the working groups.
IT Training (moderator: Stefan Mizha) – The main topic of this working group was the iBooks Author platform. Here the discussion became very emotional. The participants talked over the importance of creating publications and iBooks devoted to the topic of teaching tolerance, and the challenges that may be faced during the implementation of the project. Also, future cooperation and focusing on work in regions as a main perspective were mentioned.
Testing/Speaking (moderator: Lyudmila Kozhevnikova) – This working group continued one of the first day’s working sessions about the new standards of the Russian State Exam (EGE). The participants had a deeper discussion on the topic, looked through some more examples of future tasks from the speaking section (all materials are taken from ‘Exam Success’, Cambridge). The discussion was organized in a form of dialogue in a friendly atmosphere.
Appreciating diversity (moderator: Aida S. Rodomanchenko) – During this session, the participants agreed to create a working group on the same topic on the ‘ELT Russia’ website, where everybody interested could continue working and present their ideas on projects related to teaching diversity. The final product will be a book about Russia and its regions where students of non-linguistic institutions and foreign readers will be provided with information about the cultural diversity of the Russian Federation. The participants also decided on the working plan and level of English for all the publications (A2 – B1).
Research and Publication: Breakthrough to International Standards (moderator: ELO Frances Westbrook) – This discussion was also held in the form of a dialogue, where all the participants were learning from each other. The working group came up with ideas for creating two courses on academic writing for English teachers, who first are going to be trained online and then work as ambassadors and spread the knowledge further to their colleagues and students. Frances Westbrook also shared a lot of experience and convinced the participants that everything is possible with well-organized planning and great motivation.
After the brainstorm sessions of the working groups were finished, the moderator, ELO Frances Westbrook, shared her impressions of the “Research and Publication: Breakthrough to International Standards” workshop:
– It went really well. It was a perfect opportunity for me to meet with the Russian teachers and I think we came up with lots of new ideas.
– What challenges did you face during the session?
– Sometimes the terminology can be tricky due to the language gap, but other than that I am pretty happy with the results.
– Is there any difference between the Russian and the American teachers?
– They are pretty much the same. Russians are more passionate though, more emotionally involved.
– Do you speak Russian?
– A little. I can understand 75-80% but it’s much harder when it comes to speaking.
– You’ve been here in Russia for over a year now. How do you like the country?
– I like it very much. I work in Moscow which does not really show Russian culture well, but I travelled a lot, and, for example, in Siberia everything is so Russian. People are so proud of the place they live in, it’s amazing.
– Do you get homesick often?
– No, my husband is here with me and I have always been travelling a lot, so it is alright for me, though of course, at least once a year I go to America to see my family.
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