Category Archives: Workshops

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.

Feat No 25: Allow me to be proud…

Please allow me to be proud:

When Maggie who is now almost ten and Nicholas who is five have been growing up with smiles on their faces while successfully progressing in their language learning. All twenty four previous feats have helped us and now in a more experienced and natural mode, we continue on those familiar to us paths. We still stick to each of us using their own language as introduced in Feat No 1 and we maintain and fully use our investments as explained in Feat No 2. Maggie and Nicholas’ relationship has proven to be one of the strongest factors of development (in every way) as noticed in Feat No 3. We are constantly providing them both with more and more Greek language support just like we promised in Feats No 4 and No 15. They are still speaking to each other in English as predicted in Feat No 6 but with the addition of German language interaction with each other when playing games they have learnt here in Switzerland either at school or through everyday experiences (like when they play supermarket with the stands and products of this country’s brands – very special).

Allow me to be proud:

When both Maggie and Nicholas play a vital role in The Loras Network. When I was supposed to have a solo presentation during the 2nd Loras Workshop this year and they inspired me the evening before to do that presentation as a trio! Naturally, without any pressure or rehearsals. “Would you two like to help mama tomorrow with something more than just setting up the room for the workshop? Would you like to tell the people how we use our mobiles and i pads at home and what we enjoy doing on the computer? How we use our calendar for the languages of our DVDs and all those things we do every day?” “Sure!” replied Maggie with a nodding Nicholas next to her. That Saturday, the 22nd of September 2014, they both accompanied us to our facilities and helped us set up the venue with all the passion and joy that we had.

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They responsibly and maturely participated in the presentation and sat back in their seats at the end of their contribution to observe the other speakers.

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With genuine interest and amazing conduct that even left their own mother speechless.

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Allow me to be proud:

When the Young Learners’ events that you witness through our website or our social media pages are thought up by Maggie and Nicholas. Since August 2014 and on we have been using their ideas for our theme-based days of learning and joy. They have become so experienced now that this Wednesday’s BIRDS DAY was set up entirely by them.

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The rumbling noise this time was not from The Loras Academy but from Maggie and Nicholas’ passionate footsteps. Back and forth, back and forth.

When we go on holidays and at some point mama has to do some business, we all sit down together and do the best business!

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How can I not be proud?

Allow me to be happy and proud!

Thank you.

(It is my birthday on Tuesday, 11 November and this is my way to celebrate it!)

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!

Feat No 17: Oops! There is always room for improvement.

That was the title of one of my slides for my talk on Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Language Learning and Families.

While preparing my talk for our 1st Workshop, I felt I should mainly use material from this blog. I tried to create a summary of all the things I have learnt, used, taught, studied, dealt with and felt while raising my children bilingually and multilingually.

 As I had paused the blog for a while in order to prepare for this event, I thought I should remember if I had added something to our daily routine now that Maggie and Nicholas are older. Or notice something in our home that had been changed or added to facilitate us educationally.

 I actually did come across two things:

* I remembered that just as we follow a pattern with our daily audiovisual moments, we started off using the same pattern for bedtime books. Before the children go to sleep, depending on which language day it is, I give them a stack of books in that language, either to flip through, or one of us reads to them; or Maggie even reads to Nicholas.

This helps them in all sorts of ways, whether they actually read or are read the book, or neither. If they are read a book, they gather all the pronunciation and vocabulary, phrases and expressions, illustrations and concepts the book (and its language) have to offer! If they flip through the book, even the direct or indirect encounter with the letters of the book and the pictures, offers a lot. In the case that Maggie reads the book to Nicholas, well then what more can you ask for! It’s the full package. And all that in a very pleasant and calm atmosphere. Relaxing before bedtime in one of the best ways!

* The second thing I realized was a mistake! A slip-up! And I mentioned it during my talk.   We love having things organized in the house! Especially I do. I personally wish I could have every single detail organized and labelled. Of course, a touch of messiness here and there has its special effect, too – or at least, I have persuaded myself so, in order not to get too obsessed with the issue.

 In Maggie’s room, we have several small wooden boxes that hold different items, mainly for crafts or collections. I labelled them, as you probably would expect, but…did so ONLY in English. So I took a photo of this error of mine and brought it up towards the end of my talk. All participants not only realized the mistake immediately but also understood the significance of writing the labels in our family’s other two languages as well.

And that is what I shall do tomorrow. No, no, I am not delaying something that I can do today… I just forgot the labelling machine at the office. It’s on my To-Do list!

Thank you!

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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

http://prr.hec.gov.pk/Thesis/263S.pdf

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