Perfect 20 Conference - IH Bucharest

Notes from the “Perfect 20” Conference hosted by IH Bucharest this April.

In 2002, one of the relatively few language centres based in Bucharest, Romania, decided to join the International House network. IH Bucharest was born. Since then it has grown from 6 to about 150 teachers, from a dozen of client companies to 400, and it has taught a total of almost 29,000 students and around 390,000 hours. Also, it has outlived two major crises: the economic one in 2008-2010, and the recent pandemic.

IH Bucharest is turning 20 this year. To mark the occasion, its new but ambitious Teacher Training Centre organised on 8-9 April 2022 an international online conference called “Perfect 20. Two Decades of IH Bucharest Expertise at Your Service.” IH teachers from across the network enjoyed discounted tickets to the event, while language teachers from war-afflicted Ukraine had free access.

The conference gathered participants from Romania, Moldova, Poland, Canada, Italy and the UK, and because it received a succinct but gratifying accolade (“Excellent event!”) from one of its most popular speakers (Alastair Grant), we would like to share with our IH family the list of speakers and an insight or key point collected from each but one of the 20 sessions.

Let us start with the four plenary speakers.

Sarah Ellis (Assessment Services Europe Senior Manager, Cambridge Assessment English)
Session title: “If your students can dream it, they can do it!”
Insight: somewhere in your students’ future there will be English, so use English as a tool for achieving dreams.

Scott Thornbury (Co-founder of Dogme ELT, Teacher Educator & ELT Writer)
Session title: “Modern Languages Are Not Dead Languages”
Key point: modern languages aren’t taught by teaching just vocabulary and grammar, but by drama, speaking, projects, etc.

Palmina La Rosa (Founder of Giga IH Catania & of Coaching, Training and Development)
Session title: “21st century competencies and language teaching…where is the connection?”
Key point: the language classroom is the perfect place to integrate 21st-century skills (critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, communication, etc.).

Martin Jelinek (Teacher Trainer, Macmillan Education & Founder of Bright House Language Institute)
Session title: “Future teachers skills / Ftr tchrs sklls”
Insight: the environment in which we teach is changing from natural to digital, which takes language teaching to new realities.

Now, 15 of the workshop speakers in alphabetical order.

Alastair Grant (Teacher Trainer, ELT Author & Public speaker)
Session title: “Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z…what next? Engaging the current and upcoming generations in 2022 and beyond.”
Key point: with generation Z students, you need to keep moving.

Anette Igel (IHWO German Advisor)
Session title: “Offener Unterricht oder wie Lernen an Stationen funktionieren kann”

Aniella Giorgiana Bușilă (Teacher Trainer & Cambridge English Educational Consultant)
Session title: “Big dreams for young learners”
Key point: Cambridge exam preparation materials can also be used by teachers who are willing to improve their skills and the atmosphere in their classes.

Christopher Walker (Teacher & ELT Writer)
Session title: “Formal Writing for Business and Other Purposes”
Insight: writing is a way of measuring our students’ attainments like no other.

Estelle Hélouin (IHWO Modern Languages Coordinator & French Advisor)
Session title: “Key word magics and other tricks”
Key point: why teach the grammar rule, when you can teach just the two or three most frequent examples?

Irina Mutu (Senior Language Trainer & Mentor, IH Bucharest)
Session title: “Crafts for VYLs – beyond paper and scissors”
Insight: instructions for crafts with VYLs can be taught like any other piece of vocabulary.

Jennifer Hillhouse (Teacher Trainer, IH Bucharest)
Session title: “Simply the best: the greatest hits of EKA!”
Insight: imagination is the most useful tool in our toolbox.

Julie Lehner (CELTA, DELTA & CLIL Trainer)
Session title: “Lessons from the new classroom: doing CELTA and DELTA online”
Key point: on the CELTA, we teach teaching reflexes and industry-relevant skills, while the DELTA gives you the theory beyond those teaching reflexes and implies a change of mindset.

Karolina Kotorowicz-Jasińska (Assistant Professor, Marie Curie-Skłodowska University)
Session title: “’To err is human...’ On correcting mistakes and giving feedback”
Insight: mistakes are learning steps.

Lisa Phillips (Director of Studies for Teen and Adult Courses, IH British School Reggio Calabria, CELTA Trainer & IH OTTI Tutor)
Session title: “Monitoring matters”
Key point: what makes the most successful teachers lies in the quality of the monitoring they’re doing.

Małgorzata Mróz (Teacher Trainer, Macmillan Education)
Session title: “Games that teach English to modern (lower) primary learners”
Key point: we all play games in the classroom, but only games with educational value ought to be used, as we’re not there to entertain the students, but to teach them.

Maria Samsel (Special Educational Needs Coordinator, IH British School Reggio Calabria)
Session title: “Supporting young learners with ADHD in a language classroom”
Insight: every child is different, and getting to know your students is the best way to handle ADHD challenges in the classroom.

Nick Bilbrough (Teacher Trainer, Hands Up Project)
Session title: “Remote Theatre - an idea turned into a European project!”
Key point: drama is a very, very powerful tool not only for English students to develop their English, but also to enable their voices to develop outside their country.

Robert Martínez (Director of Studies, Lacunza IH & CELTA Trainer and Assessor)
Session title: “Learning Outcomes: the what, the why and the how”
Key point: aims are prospective and focus on the teacher, while outcomes are retrospective and centred around the student.

Steve Ferrara (CELTA Trainer, IH London)
Session title: “Fitting it all in - Fully exploiting texts for Cambridge exam classes”
Insight: linguistic awareness is key to practising the four skills for exams.

Many of these sessions were praised for the fresh teaching energy they spread at the “Perfect 20” conference, and so we hope you will be able to participate live in IH Bucharest next similar event!