Category Archives: Professional Development

Support for the Swiss Federal English Exam of the Direktionassistenten/-innen Course

Via @vickyloras

Vicky Loras's Blog

Are you considering taking the Swiss Federal English Exam of the Direktionassistenten/innen Course (Berufsprüfung Direktionsassistent/-innen)?

The Loras Network is here to assist you, with a lot of helpful material we have either created ourselves, or have in the form of Past Papers.

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We provide full support in:

– Presentation Planning & Practice – Speaking Part 1

– Text Comprehension + Q & A Section – Speaking Part 2

– Correspondence for Writing Section

– Grammar for all levels

– Extra Vocabulary & Idiom Practice

We have successfully been supporting the needs for the Swiss Federal English Exam of the Direktionassistenten/innen Course (Berufsprüfung Direktionsassistent/-innen).

Please feel free to arrange a meeting with us in order to discuss your needs and determine your level of support.

Thank you,

Eugenia and Vicky Loras

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The Loras Workshops

The Loras Workshops.

“We have a business to run!” – And a family to raise!

I actually took my Organizer with me into the delivery room when I was about to give birth to my first child. I had no idea. I knew that I would have to be away from our business for some days – and it was the first time I was going to do that too.

 

My doctor was in shock at the sight of a woman in labor with an Organizer but we worked very well together. Excellent teamwork!

The next day, I was overwhelmed; by having our first child and by missing our business. So I did open the Organizer that very next day to make sure that everything was running well. A bank installment had to urgently be paid on that day and I immediately spoiled my husband’s first moments of fatherhood by sending him to make the payment. As soon as he informed me that it was done and over with, I could peacefully concentrate on our daughter. You experience this very often when running a business.

Again, my trusty Guardian Angels, had helped throughout my pregnancy. In so many ways. Even by helping recruit new teachers as for the first time I had decided to reduce my working hours.

Many things were happening to me for the first time:

– For the first time I became a mother;

– For the first time I was absent from our business for three consecutive weeks;

– For the first time after nine consecutive years I made the decision to reduce my working hours on weekends. I wanted to spend time with my child. Oh, those Sundays. A full schedule from 10am to 10pm. It took me approximately two years to become accustomed to NOT working on Sundays.

– For the first time I had reached levels of such trust with my colleagues that I felt very comfortable being away from the business. They knew, however, that whatever they needed, I was there for them.

Many things were adjusted so that I could smoothly and happily combine being a parent and a businessperson:

– We had made sure to have our apartment very close to our school. Literally, a three-minute walk that would end up being much longer due to all the people we would greet and talk to on our way. This way I could easily visit my daughter and she could just as easily visit us. Frequently. That is what we wanted.

– When we renovated the school, we took the opportunity to create a playroom both for our very young students and for my own child. So that she could be just next door while I was working.

– I managed to nurse her for seven months which was a great accomplishment for us under the busy circumstances.

– Some of our teachers would also have fun lessons with her. How happy I was to be able to raise my child in such a social and educational environment.

– As I had the incredible support of my whole family, I was also able to continue attending the seminars and workshops whether they were local or not.

– I grasped the great opportunity to learn more about my profession while studying about my child. Bilingualism, Multilingualism, Childhood development.

Many things showed me that I love being a businessperson while being a parent:

– When our second child was born, we moved to Zug. I made the decision to pause my active professional life and devote myself to encouraging our family’s adjustment to our new environment and all the changes that came with it. I continued my professional development from home. It was not long before I accepted the first business proposal to be project manager of a corporate multilingual childcare center. I said ‘Yes!’ so easily. So willingly. And I could do it from home which made it even more positive.

– Not long after that project was complete, I was asked to become Interim Manager at an international Business Center. I would be responsible for Customer Relations and Sales. Well, how could I say ‘No’ to that? Clients are the Saints of a business in my book. For this period, my father came to Zug and we knew that both our children were in the safest of hands.

– Having the momentum of the previous two Swiss business encounters, I swept Vicky off her feet (who in the meantime was working unbelievably hard) to continue where we had stopped off. The Loras Network was born. And here we are now, again with homes very close to our new facilities so as to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I did not start being professionally active again because I got bored at home. A parent who is at home with their children is among the busiest people on Earth. My children’s pediatrician has a sign on her door that writes: “You have not worked full-time until you have become a parent.” Up to a point, the sign is true. But when you have had the chance to experience both professional life and parenthood to the fullest of their capacities and to extremes, in some cases, as I have, then you just have got to love it to be able to handle it.

And I love both.

It is Sunday and I am working so I guess old habits die hard. At least this time I did it from home, seated between my two sleeping children while playing classical music in the background as a lullaby.

Thank you.

This is how I was inspired to write this post tonight:

My children were playing together and created their very first business card tonight, leaving us speechless. I present it to you.

Maggie and Nicholas' first Business Card

Maggie and Nicholas’ first Business Card

“We have a business to run!” – Our Services

Our services – Our rituals:

“So tell us, Mrs Loras, why do you have so many invoices for bottled water purchases?” asked the tax inspector upon visiting and investigating The Loras Academy in Ioannina, Greece. “Just like I wouldn’t want my children to drink bathroom water anywhere, that is why we serve clean bottled water to our students.” You are probably shocked by the question I was asked but I must tell you that the tax inspector was actually shocked by the answer.

In some people’s minds, spending time and money on “unnecessary” elements while running a business is wrong. We support the exact opposite.

Our young clients have always been treated as if they were our own children and the adult clients with the respect we would like ourselves to be treated as well. So what is shocking about that? The fact that our services go a step further? The fact that we respect our clients?

Due to the fact that we were based in downtown Ioannina and later on downtown Zug, we offered to wait for some of our young students downstairs a few minutes before the lesson and also safely return them downstairs to their parents in order to relieve the clients of the extra stress. This way we have also added an extra benefit to our lessons and business. The hearts of cities have their benefits but also their stressful attributes like occupied parking spaces and traffic issues. This, however, gives us the chance to greet the clients and briefly remark on the productivity of that day. This gives us the chance to show our clients that we care about them beyond the clientele relationship that we have.

We have been slightly or greatly deprived of our breaks for such services. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You do not get paid extra for these services. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You might have to help out a colleague who has a lesson directly after the previous one… and they might not be able, for practical reasons, to do exactly the same for you. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You might have to serve a glass of water or cup of tea and coffee to your clients or colleagues. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You might have to give a small surprise to a birthday child or a Lost Tooth Award to your young ones. You know, just for that extra smile involved! You have to love it to be able to handle it! You may have to attend professional and educational workshops and seminars to keep up with examination developments and to learn more and more about your profession. At your own personal expense. You have to love it to be able to handle it! You may have to renovate when the time is right while offering clean and safe facilities along with a new and pleasant environment for everyone involved. You have to love it to be able to handle it!

“And what’s in it for me, Mrs Loras? I could just go on, only teaching English, saving myself valuable time and money while enjoying all my breaks and let my secretary do all the rest”. I would suggest that this person need not worry about their clients at all. They will be in good hands with us.

I love being a generous and conscientious citizen, a respectful teacher and parent, a professional and facilitating business person. Everyone desires and deserves respect.

Thank you.

Help out your clients by adding all nearby parking spaces to your website.

Help out your clients by adding all nearby parking spaces to your website.

“We have a business to run!” – Our Team

And how can your Saints be happy if your Angels are not happy, too!

Our Angels in business, our Guardian Angels in fact, have always been the colleagues we have been working with. Yes, in the business world they would be called employees, but not in our business world. They are our trusted, reliable, highly-established colleagues. They have been working WITH US instead of FOR US. We have entrusted them with our precious clients and they have respected and appreciated that to a level hopefully many other businesses have experienced the way we have.

It is a big responsibility choosing the right person to work with. The path we have always followed (and we have been very lucky to experience a booming business that needed additional colleagues several times) is that of sharing the same vision. Whenever conducting an interview, we would mainly describe the way our business worked, the visions and priorities we had and of course, how it had all started. From the other party’s reactions and comments, we would easily realize if our business, and up to a point, personal chemistry, matched. There were basic technicalities that were very important as far as the qualifications were concerned, and basic qualities in their personality such as politeness and punctuality, a great sense of humor and a very positive attitude.

But then, it was up to the business to make sure that our Guardian Angels were fairly and professionally treated; were kindly and lovingly blended into our business family. We have been in the position of a person working in the interests of a school that did not belong to us. So we held on to all those moments, and made sure that they felt as if our school DID belong to them.

We did our very best:

Individual well-organized and equipped offices; User-friendly methodology with full communication and discussion with us in the event of complications or different preferences on behalf of our clients; Monthly meetings but also anytime-meetings to discuss … ANYTHING and EVERYTHING; Constant modifications based on their invaluable feedback but also the clients’ feedback. Finally, my personal favourite: Fun but informative lockers for each employee. A locker in which they have discovered a wide range of information throughout the years: from examination or schedule changes, to both my pregnancies.

And those are the moments you truly cherish your Guardian Angels. When our relationship had reached a point of such mutual respect and compassion; when we had achieved such high levels of professionalism and democracy; when we cared for, protected and stood up for each other. Without ruining the balances among colleagues while making sure our clients were never disrupted.

No! We had not spoilt them one bit. They deserved every single element offered and deserved so much more. We have had excellent teamwork. Stunning collaboration. Outstanding results. It was not smooth or perfect from the day our very first colleague joined us. But we learned a lot along the way and never forgot one single lesson.

Many years ago when the first problem with a colleague occurred, I made absolutely sure none of the other colleagues were disrupted. I was pregnant to Maggie, my first child then. When a new teacher arrived to take the place of the one that had left, Helen, a long-term Guardian Angel said: “How did you do that? We did not have a clue that something was wrong.” My answer to you now Helen is because we loved you and our school, and never wanted anything to ruin it.

Our moblie phones and email accounts were available to our colleagues 24/7. They knew they could feel comfortable informing us on a development or concern, something they had forgotten to mention at school or just a quick joke to add a happy ending to a long day. We would all arrive way before work began and would stay even after work had ended.

All the above refer to the team we created at The Loras Academy in Ioannina, Greece. At The Loras Network in Zug, Switzerland it is just Vicky and me for now. The unbelievable group of Angels that we were honoured to have met, especially before our finale in Ioannina, is like a dream come true for us. I hope they feel the same. It took me a while to exit my mourning phase and find the braveness to maintain contact with them. I apologise to them for that.

Thank you LAMBRINI, HELEN, CHRISSIE, MELANIE, REA, ALEXANDRA, MELINA, JAHNAVI, LISA, DIMITRA, TINA, ANASTASIA, ANDREW, ANGELA, JOANNA and my very own VICKY and CHRISTINE LORAS.

Even before entering, you could hear us laughing with joy!

Even before entering, you could hear us laughing with joy!

“We have a business to run!” – Our Clients

And now I shall introduce you to a part of my Business Religion: Our Clients are our Saints.

Yes, I have always done and always do my very best for them! Yes, they are our students but due to the business format of our Language Schools, they have simultaneously been our clients. I feel no ethical problem naming our students as clients because in the twenty-two years that I have been teaching while running our own businesses :

Not once have we sold them anything that was just beneficial for the business.

Not once have we thought of cheating them.

Not once have we recommended anything that we could not personally guarantee.

Our reputation as a family and business have never been compromised; even though, we have been balancing a school and a business. There have been numerous occasions that I have acted solely in the benefit of the client, ignoring the negative financial impact on the business.

There are constantly cases that the services offered on our behalf, surpass the fee paid on behalf of the clients and never the other way around.

There are instances that you are faced with incredibly profitable opportunities that are in contrast with your personal and professional ethics and we have declined such offers.

Thanks to our Saints, our family has a roof over our head, food on our tables, clothes on our backs.

Thanks to our Saints, we have become an eagerly grateful human beings.

Thanks to our Saints, my children are proud of us.

And when your Saints, express their unconditional loyalty to you even after years have passed by since your last professional encounter; when your Saints have become a part of your personal life because you allowed them to and they wanted to; when your Saints are always your Saints no matter what has happened in a course of a lifetime; when your little Saints have turned into fully – grown and achieved adult Saints and you feel the I way I feel while writing this hymn in their honor…

then you must be doing something right while you are off to run your business!

Thank you.

Thank You Card from The Loras Network, Switzerland. An idea continued from The Loras Academy, Greece.

Thank You Card from The Loras Network, Switzerland. An idea continued from The Loras Academy, Greece.

“We have a business to run!” – You’ve got to love it to be able to handle it!

I would like to share the anguish and success, the success and the anguish of entrepreneurs.

“We have a business to run!” How I love saying that in my most cheerful, dynamic and ambitious tone of voice. I love being an entrepreneur in education for so many reasons. On both a personal and professional basis, you are offering while watching (and sometimes helping) children grow; you are assisting an adult add an extra qualification to his professional profile (and thus contributing to his professional development and progress); whether a parent, or a parent-to-be, a relative to a child, or godparent, you are contributing to the child’s upbringing in such an invaluable way.

And all the above are offered by every single educator working in the private or public sector.

When owning your own Language School, however, you truly do have a “business to run”. And believe me when I say that ” You’ ve got to LOVE it, to be able to handle it”. I personally thrive upon it. I have been through every single possible stage and form an entrepreneur can experience. Freelance, employee status, volunteer status and business start-up. I cannot imagine myself doing it any other way. It suits me and yes; I LOVE IT! Even as a child and throughout my life, I have always admired our relatives in Canada and in Greece who had achieved to set up and grow their own businesses.

Despite the anguish, the tight financial corners you will be put into, the ruthless schedule of self-employment, the sleepless nights about how to maintain what you have built, the lost appetite over how to find an immediate solution to an urgent matter while not affecting clients, … and I would have to go on for twenty-two years with the rest.

This first chapter of the experiences of a business owner is all about the LOVE OF IT! If I had not become a language school owner initially, I do not know what else I would have become, but for sure, no doubt about it, I would be running a business. I love it and live it so intensely that I sometimes feel that unintentionally, I have already influenced my children in that direction. Unless it is in the genes!

Thank you.

Loras Academy 8

Born and raised in an educational business environment

A factual account of bilingualism and multilingualism in our personal and professional lives

This post is a summary of my talk on ‘A factual account of bilingualism and multilingualism in our personal and professional lives’ during our 1st International Loras Workshop in Zug, Switzerland.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We would like to thank all those who were present at our 1st International Workshop on Sunday, 22 September 2013. We would also like to thank all those who were not able to attend but supported us online, offline or any other way possible, sending a wish or a kind word. We greatly appreciated the presence and support of our exceptional speakers, Dr MA Sipra, Mr Alex Rawlings and Ms Claudia Buzzoni. Our friends and family deserve a huge thank you for all their support throughout our personal and professional lives.

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The theme of the year at this workshop was ‘Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Families and Language Learning’.  We decided to start off our series of workshops with this specific theme for a very good reason.

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I have been an English Language teacher for eighteen years and a mother for eight years. Whether at our school in Greece or in Switzerland, the questions that parents/clients ask us have been constantly the same.

* At what age should a child start an additional language?

* How frequently should the child be exposed to the additional language?

* Will the child get confused?

* Should a parent speak to the child in the additional language?

* Should the new language start when they start learning it at school or should they get a headstart?

* Is there something more we must do as parents and / or teachers?

I too had the same questions when I started off my career as a language teacher and even more so when I became a parent. I needed answers for my students and my children, so I specifically started studying bibliography on this topic. As much as I possibly could. And the questions started receiving answers; one by one… consistently.

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These are the conclusions I reached personally and professionally:

* At what age should a child start an additional language?

  It does not really matter as long as there is CONSISTENCY.

* How often should the child be exposed to the additional language?

  As often as possible or feasible, as long as we are CONSISTENT.

* Will the child get confused?

   Not if we are CONSISTENT.

 * Should a parent speak to the child in the additional language?

    If it is his/her (almost) native language and they feel confident in using it, yes, but

CONSISTENTLY.

* Should we start the additional language when it begins at school or earlier?

  It does not really play that big a role as long as it is done CONSISTENTLY.

* Should we do something more as parents and / or teachers?

  Be CONSISTENT with your children and / or students and keep learning more on the topic of languages CONSISTENTLY.

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One of the aspects of our profession that I really love is the fact that you can actually mix business with pleasure. Everything I applied at our school, I did at home and what I experienced at home, I added to the methodology of our school. The basis for our efforts and progress was given mainly by two books.

The first one that I started studying was Growing up with two languages by Una Cunningham-Andersson and Staffan Andersson. Two educators and parents of four children that were raised bilingually. That combination alone was a guarantee for me that the specific book was a good choice to start off with. When I was pregnant to our first child, we were living in Greece and bilingualism was our concern and focus. I studied, selected, adjusted, skipped, repeated and applied whatever I understood was relevant to our family and business situation.

Before we moved to Switzerland, I was pregnant to our second child and a third language was to be introduced into our lives. A language none of us knew. A language that would be added to our first child’s bilingual foundation and a language that would be simultaneously introduced to our second child along with two other languages. The second book that I turned to for this special guidance was ‘Raising Multilingual Children’ again written by an educator and mother, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa. This was even more challenging and at the same time, I had to properly revise all I had learnt from the first book. We had to stick to the successful recipe we started off with while transforming our language acquisition to the new circumstances, without pressure on the children just as we had never applied pressure on our students. We have always been trying to make our language lessons and experiences pleasantly productive.

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A summary of our language journey would include our decision to follow the ‘One Person, One Language’ method. This was the best choice based on our family’s personality, our professional schedules and the languages we were confident in.

We were all very devoted to this project; all members of my husband’s and my own family and the consistency we maintained was another winning factor.

We really had to show patience, especially in the case of our second child who was brought up multilingually from scratch. Our patience has paid off. Without pressure, without stress, patience helps children elegantly learn languages.

Progress is the gift you keep on receiving when being consistent and patient. This is one of the things that makes us love being teachers and / or parents.

And my personal favourite: encouragement. What better motivation than the kind proud words of a teacher or a parent.

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While walking around our home to see what other ideas and tips I may had forgotten to include in my talk, I stumbled upon a slip-up. Everyone in the room immediately spotted it! And we have now added the labels of our nicely organized boxes in the languages of Greek and German, too.

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I ended my talk with some recommendations of sites concerning the topic of bilingualism and multilingualism hoping any piece of information would encourage the teachers and / or parents to go ahead and apply. Consistently and confidently. Pleasantly and productively.

Thank you all for your support!

The Loras Network interviews Claudia Buzzoni (ELT Consultant for Macmillan Education)- Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Loras Network (L.N.): Claudia, thank you so much for giving us this interview. We are so excited that you will have a presentation at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism!

Claudia Buzzoni (C. B.):  Thank you! I’m really looking forward to speaking at your workshop next month. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart as my oldest daughter is just starting to put together her first sentences in both Swiss German and English.

L.N.: Claudia, we met you as the representative for Macmillan Publications. Can you tell us a few things about yourself and your work?

C. B.: I’ve been with Macmillan Education for the past three and a half years. I work closely with a wide range of private and public school teachers throughout the country, helping them to select and implement different teaching materials. Outside of work, I’m studying linguistics and German and am also a mum to two small girls.

L.N.: You have also taught extensively. What do you enjoy the most about teaching, and what about working in publications?

C. B.: I loved working with students and watching as they absorbed new information and developed their skills. Working with teachers, I still get a huge amount of satisfaction of helping someone find materials that will make their classes easier to teach and a more effective place for learners to learn.

L.N.: Macmillan has a great variety of readers, which in our opinion are an important means of learning in every home and school. How can teachers and parents best exploit your readers?

C. B.: That’s a big question! Giving children access to any kind of reading material has so many knock-on benefits. Modelling is a great way to encourage reading. Offering loads of opportunities to read and exploring different ways to use texts also helps. Sourcing materials that are enjoyable to the children and making sure that activities are suitable for their skills also helps motivate them to read more.

L.N.: We are extremely enthused with your six-series Macmillan English books for our international young learners. This is a series you specifically recommended we use and we thank you. What are the strongest points of your referral?

C. B.: This course makes use of research into how English is learnt as a native language, and how it is taught in English curriculum classrooms. As a result, it combines the best-practice of both learning English as a mother tongue and as a second/foreign language. It’s ideal for international children who come to your classes with varying degrees of English language experience. It also offers early exposure to rich and genuine language – a great basis for studying other subjects in English as well as leading towards native-like fluency in both spoken and written English.

L.N.: What would you advise all the educators out there reading your interview?

C. B.: There is no single ‘right’ way to teach, or to learn, and teachers should also participate in the ‘learning’!

L.N.: Thank you so much, Claudia! We look forward to seeing you in September and attending your presentation.

For more information on Macmillan Education, our 2013 event as well as the interviews of our other distinguished speakers, please feel free to explore the following links:

http://www.macmillaneducation.com/

http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-Workshop

https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/feat-no-14-our-1st-workshop-on-bilingualism-and-multilingualism-in-language-learning-and-families/

https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/the-loras-network-interviews-alex-rawlings-speaker-at-the-1st-international-loras-network-workshop/

https://eugenialoras.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/the-loras-network-interviews-dr-muhammad-aslam-sipra-speaker-at-the-1st-international-loras-network-workshop/

The Loras Network interviews Dr Muhammad Aslam Sipra – Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Loras Network (L.N.): Dr. Sipra, we really appreciate this interview you are giving us. We are delighted that you will present at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

Dr. Sipra: Thank you very much for inviting me to this interview. I feel very honoured to be one of the speakers of the Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

L.N.: Initially, we would like to ask you what drew you into the field of education.

Dr. Sipra: Frankly speaking, I never thought of joining the field of education or teaching. I joined the teaching profession with the intention that I would quit this job as soon as I get any managerial or administrative position. As the time went by, I worked hard in this profession and gradually started enjoying university teaching. Presently, I can’t think of any other job and teaching is my passion now.

L.N.: One of your main interests is bilingualism. How did you select it as such,and why do you think it is important for language learning?

Dr. Sipra: In my country, we are all not only bilinguals but multilinguals. We have two medium of instruction i.e. Urdu and English. Majority is the product of Grammar Translation Method (GTM). I myself started learning English after primary education I mean I started learning English from Y-6 during school time. We are taught English through GTM in Urdu medium schools. When the same students come to learn English language in language institutions, they expect from their language instructors to explain some difficult concepts in their own language where bilingualism occurs. In fact, the bilingual system in our education and such circumstances faced by the students compelled me to conduct research on this topic.

Now I would like to answer the second part of your question why bilingualism is important in language learning. Bilingualism has a small but very important role in communicating meaning and content especially while teaching integrated skills at beginners’ level. It is used as a teaching technique. It has been endorsed by many teachers during my research on bilingualism that the translation of many words, complex ideas or even the whole passages is a good way to learn a foreign language. Pedagogically speaking, bilingualism in which two languages are at work, are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. Moreover, there is no empirical support for the view that bilingualism detracts from development of a foreign language.

L.N.: What are some of the most fascinating aspects of bilingualism for you?

Dr. Sipra: The interesting and fascinating aspect of bilingualism is that it is a teaching aid and a facility for both teachers and students. Simultaneously, it is surprising that some of our colleagues deny the contribution of bilingualism despite the fact that they benefit from it in their classes. The reason behind this is, some misconceptions about bilingualism. I have observed and experienced that it develops association between the teacher and the students. It is less time-consuming while teaching and learning a foreign language.

L.N.: We would like to know more about the program you teach at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. What is the background of your students? What do the courses include?

Dr. Sipra: The English Language Course labelled as Intensive English I & II has been designed to put more emphasis on the basics of English language. The New Interchange Series by Cambridge is used to motivate our students to improve their ability to communicate in English fluently. Additionally, Rosetta Stone Software for English Language Learning is also used in our Language Labs to expedite and consolidate learning process. The students are made to improve their understanding of written texts as well as spoken language. Integration of skills has been made the target to achieve the goals. So, all the skills like Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and, of course, Grammar have been made the focal point of teaching & learning. In my Department, the students join the university for undergraduate courses after completing 12 years of schooling. Since the level of our students is so low, we have to work very hard with them as far as English language is concerned. They don’t study English intensively or extensively at school so they have to face a lot of difficulty in a university. Consequently, we have to start from the scratch and after spending 32 weeks with us, our students may interact in English comfortably to some extent.

L.N.: Your talk for our workshop is under the title of: Contribution of Bilingualism in Language Teaching at Beginners’ Level. Could you give us a brief introduction, and why you chose this topic?

Dr. Sipra: Well, I am going to talk about what bilingualism is and some misconceptions about it. Briefly speaking, my main focus will be on the applied side of bilingualism. I would like to share some data collected from the EFL teachers and the learners of English Language and will explain at what occasions, bilingualism assists teaching and learning.

L.N.: You have also written extensively in the subject, be it articles or books. Is there a topic you have not yet explored through your writing, that you would like to write on?

Dr. Sipra: Bilingualism is a very fast field. There are many aspects of bilingualism which need to be researched and explored. However, I would like to continue with the comparative analysis of Monolingualism and Bilingualism in future.

L.N.: And one more question about your writing. You have written many articles for the Canadian Center of Science and Education. How did that collaboration initiate?

Dr. Sipra: Well, I not only contributed but I am also part of the editorial board of one of their renowned journals in English language teaching which has been indexed and archived in world’s famous databases and libraries. I found this group very committed and well organized. They have maintained quality instead of quantity. Their contribution in the field of applied linguistics and research is highly appreciated. When I sent them my first research article for publication, I came to know that they have zero tolerance for plagiarism. So there I decided to contribute and work with them and our collaboration and mutual cooperation still continues.

L.N.: To close this interview, what advice would you like to give language teachers around the world for their careers?

Dr. Sipra: “To be great is to be a teacher”.

Education is truly an important field. It requires lots of hard-work and commitment from us as teachers. Continuous teacher development is the need of the hour. One has to manage such development oneself. A teacher has to be up-to-date in the present scenario and s/he should be able to understand the psychology of the students. To me, teaching is one of the most beautiful professions of the world.

L.N.: Thank you so much for your insights and time, Dr. Sipra!

Please feel free to explore the following links concerning Dr Aslam Sipra, his work, King Abdulaziz University and our 2013 Loras Network Workshop:

http://www.kau.edu.sa/CVEn.aspx?Site_ID=0052921&Lng=EN

http://www.kau.edu.sa/home_ENGLISH.aspx

http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/elt/article/view/23043

Click to access 263S.pdf

http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-workshop

The Loras Network interviews Alex Rawlings – Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Loras Network (L.N.): Alex, we would like to thank you very much for this interview. We are also very happy that you will be presenting at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

L.N. : Alex, we first saw you in a BBC video, being presented as the UK’s most multilingual student, with a total of eleven languages. Can you give us some background as to how and why you learned so many languages?

Alex Rawlings (A.R.): Languages started off as a hobby for me and quickly turned into a passion. I speak Greek from childhood and studied French and German at school, but that never felt like enough! There were so many people out there in the world that I wanted to talk to, and I didn’t want to restrict them to those I had a common language with. I picked up some language courses from my local bookshop and library and decided to have a go. Then I caught the bug – I wanted to learn more and more, picking a new one each summer and trying to find out as much about the country and culture as I could, hoping one day to visit them!

L.N. : What one tip would you give a child- language learner? How about a teenage-language learner and then an adult-language learner, as you have experienced all these stages now?

A.R. : Don’t let your limits be set by other people – set them yourself. Actually, I don’t think anyone really has limits, if you want something and you put your mind to it, you’ll always succeed. I think that advice applies to everyone!

I’m skeptical about there being an “ideal age” to learn languages. The way I’ve learnt languages has constantly changed and developed with the different ages I’m at. I used to hate flashcards and vocabulary lists when I was younger, but now I can appreciate their efficiency and I use them myself. Equally, I used to not have to spend much time on pronunciation, but now I have to concentrate on it a bit more. Not that any of these things become impossible as you get older (or younger!), it’s just that you have to change the way you go about them.

L.N. : What one tip would you give the parents of a child language learner? And then the parents of a teenage language learner? 

A.R. : Encourage them! Like with everything, there’s nothing a child wants more than supportive parents who think they’re great no matter what, even if they don’t always say so! But don’t be pushy with them – nobody can develop a passion for something when their parents are just forcing them to do it. We’re all individuals with our own interests, and for some languages aren’t that exciting. Don’t despair though, it’s very likely that they’ll go back to it in later life when they realise just how valuable languages are!

L.N. :We are sure many people are wondering, as we are as well – which is going to be your next language and why?

A.R. : The problem is there are so many languages I’d like to learn! It really depends on where I am when I finish my degree. If I’m still involved with Eastern Europe I think I have to learn Polish to find out more about the region. Otherwise I like the challenge of Arabic, and Turkish has always seemed interesting. But at the same time, I’d like to get better in the languages I do have!

L.N. : Do you know all languages you have acquired both in written and spoken form? Would you ever learn a language in only one form?

A.R. : Yes of course, and no never!

L. N. : Thank you so much, Alex! We are truly looking forward to meeting you in person.

Please feel free to explore the links to the 1st International Loras Network Workshop and Alex Rawlings’ blog:

http://www.lorasnetwork.com/events/events-1/25-1st-international-loras-network-workshop

Poster Part

http://rawlangs.com/

copy-RawLangs-WP2

Feat No 15: The Loras English Network …with a touch of Greek School!

Our school year is coming to an end and so is the case for Maggie’s Swiss Public School, Nicholas’ Swiss Playgroup and last but not least Maggie’s Greek School.

A full, productive and of course, hard-working year. One that is entitled to a well-deserved summer break.

When we decided to change Greek school after the Christmas break, as described in Feat No 4, we chose a private Greek school. Both, however, in Zurich. Twenty-five minutes away from Zug by train and one tram-ride away from the center of Zurich. And we did it. To be precise, Maggie did it. We were just the escorts. The cheerleaders that kept encouraging Maggie and her progress. For two whole years, every Saturday, Maggie woke up to a school day.

And when the going got tough, literally, the homework got heavy and the cheering was not working anymore, we discussed the issue with Maggie and decided that we should try the second option. The private Greek school. An extra expense for the family budget, but a very good way to maintain and progress our Greek. And it worked! Maggie had fewer hours of lessons, fewer classmates and less homework. She had regained confidence especially in her Greek speech and is now very advanced for a child that does not attend a daily Greek school.

We are very proud of her and also relieved that this school year has come to an end. She can relax and practise during our holidays in Greece with our relatives and friends.

But you do not know the best part yet…

Although The Loras Network is, in fact, The Loras ENGLISH Network, we have decided to go a bit further than that and create a Greek Language Workshop for the families of Greek origin living in Zug:

Dear Parents and Students,

As of the new school year, August 2013 we shall begin a Greek Language group for an hour and a half, once a week. This will be a group for children aged 6 years old and up. The lessons will take place at our facilities and we shall maintain and develop the children’s Greek Language skills in a pleasant and creative way close to their homes.
As we noticed with our own child, Maggie, it has been extremely difficult, exhausting, time-consuming and expensive travelling to another Canton weekly. We have been doing so for the past two years while trying to facilitate her Greek language skills at the Greek schools that exist in Zurich. Through our own personal experience, we came up with the idea of creating this Greek Language group here in Zug. For your children and ours.

And many families in Zug were relieved to receive that letter. So were we. So was Maggie who has already paved the way for Nicholas’ well-being while learning Greek.

At the same time, this will be a test for our professionalism as teachers due to Maggie’s presence in the group. Both Vicky and I are my children’s English-speaking contributors. From now on, every Wednesday for an hour and a half, we will be her Greek language teachers.

Greek Workshop image

A Special Feat: Professional Development While Being a Parent

For two and a half years, I was not in the classroom; not once did I think of deducting those years from my teaching career. And that, thanks to my two full-time students, in Life Sciences and English Language Learning; my daughter, Maggie and my son, Nicholas.

The amounts of Professional Development that I have been receiving through their development, physical, mental, psychological and linguistic, is invaluable.
This Special Feat is a message to all English Language Teachers who have become parents. Professional Development does not stop when you become a parent. On the contrary and through personal experience, you can make the utmost out of your gift and responsibility of being a parent:
You can be one great teacher for your family and for your students.
  •  We have turned our home into a school and our school into our second home. 
  • I have been extensively studying the specialized topics of Bilingualism and Multilingualism and have been applying all I am learning both to my children and my students.
  • Through this effort, several other colleagues-parents have become motivated and began studying and asking for advice on these issues – issues that are firmly bonded with teaching languages. 
  • Some of us may not be able to frequently visit workshops and conferences. That’s alright! That’s what webinars, online conferences and workshops, educational blogs, social media and books are for.
  • And some of us may be able to bring our own children into the groups we teach. This is my personal favourite. As if I have been living and working for this.  

Congratulations to all teachers and parents on their feats. Thank you.  

This post was originally published on the BELTA (Belgian English Language Teachers Association) blog.

Feel free to explore BELTA Belgium: http://www.beltabelgium.com

(The Loras Network is an institutional member of BELTA Belgium)

maggie and nicholas