The editor is dead! Long live the editor!
Kit here, (ELTABBer-of-the-Month editor for the past while)…
This, I’m afraid, will be my last interview! I have been doing these interviews for at least as long as I can remember now (a year? 18 months? This decade has had a bad effect on my memory) and I simply feel it’s time somebody else had a turn.
It’s been a lot of fun, but I feel these positions shouldn’t be allowed to stagnate – newer members should be allowed to have their taste of the glory too*. Rest assured, I won’t be going far – from the start of April I will be moving over to replace Steph as Newsletter Editor; if you listen carefully on a still night, when the moon is full, you may still hear the faint click-clacking of my keyboard.
“But wait!” I hear you cry in anguish, “Who will select an ELTABBer each month and demand they answer 8-10 questions posed by the community?!”
“Ah!” I reply…. “Don’t despair, dear readers…” – I am delighted to hand control of this blog over to the fantastic and far-more-dependable Eleanor Johnston!
Enjoy the future of these pages, and I’ll see you in the Newsletter!
*taste of glory not guaranteed
Back in 2007 Slobodan did his BA and joined the EFL teaching rank, starting as an English teacher in a private language school specialising in Cambridge exams.
He developed an interest in using technology in teaching and in preparing teens and adults for said exams and, being a centre supervisor and speaking examiner for 6 years, developed a good understanding of where students struggle most with exams and language acquisition.
In 2015, he did his CELTA and started to teach online part-time. By 2020, about 75% of his lessons were delivered online anyway, so the transition to fully online didn’t hit him hard.
He ventured into teaching and training business English in the German market in 2018; since then he developed as a business English and communication skills trainer.
He enjoys the challenges and rewards of teaching people remotely – being in touch daily with people from another culture while trying to teach them about the specifics of yet another language and culture. Fun, all the way.
- How did you hear about ELTABB and what made you decide to join?
I was doing a training course with Stephanie Anderson. She introduced me to the work of ELTABB’s Journal. So, in reality, I was introduced to ELTABB’s work and wonderful people through the Journal and initial contact with Sandra.
- Is social media/communications important for recruiting new members, or is it largely word-of-mouth?
I believe both are involved. Our social media presence is our business, in a way. How far would we get if we relied only on word-of-mouth to kick in? In such an interconnected world, we depend on our social media channels to get new members and keep our existing members up to date on practically everything relevant to ELTABB.
- What’s it like being the communications coordinator of Eltabb? What do your duties entail?
Allow me to use a metaphor I really like, which I heard on a podcast recently. ELTABB is a place with some fantastic people and we make some great things happen, not only for our community but also for the wider ELT community around Germany. If our communications team does everything well, as is our plan, then our amazing ELTABB house has many windows into the world and they’re clear for the world to see inside and also give us access to the world around us. That’s what we’re striving for.
- With so many social media platforms, how should an organisation like ours decide which to prioritise? When will Tiktok move from a platform for the youth/‘yoof’ to a legitimate business platform? (As Instagram did)
We’re an ELT community of professionals – teachers helping teachers. We are present and active mostly on the platforms where our members are.
- I have recently started an English-teaching business. I struggle to think of content to share every day – especially as it’s in quite a niche field. How do you keep people engaged?
Posting about all our activities, events and content relevant to English teaching professionals keeps our social media channels quite active. In addition, we have such a broad range of members that we try to mix it up and cover varied professional topics.
- I’ve never taught to an exam – partly because I feel there’s a lack of support from schools; I don’t know what I need to teach. How did you manage it right from the start?
I’d love to meet someone who “managed it right from the start.” There was a lot of trial and error. Probably the most concrete advice on teaching exam prep came from students’ interest and concerns rather than Cambridge exam tips in books. Focusing on dealing with students’ concerns and challenges made me better prepared for the next semester of teaching exams. Even today, it’s a work in progress.
- You were using technology in teaching looooong before lockdown! What kind of tech were you using in the early days?
Quite frankly, nothing too fancy or advanced beyond a good video call platform and file sharing/cloud service. The big challenge back then was getting students on board and using all the tech available (which was definitely much harder than now).
- Where do students struggle most with exams and language acquisition?
Speaking of exam preparation struggles, many students have poor resource management. This translates into questionable time management (they run out of time in the exam) and they don’t practice exam tasks enough in advance in order to show what they already know and can do. They are pretty standardised exams, so it’s really a question of “practice makes perfect”.
In the end, the students will be excited about their success and you’ll be proud of them as well as yourself.
- When you teach (online) internationally, how much do you cater your courses to different cultures? What kind of things do you need to bear in mind?
Great question. Taking into consideration the cultural dimension when teaching and training are amazing. Think about this: I come from country/culture A and I teach people from country/culture B about how to communicate internationally using language and culture C – it’s an adventure but a highly rewarding one.
- What tips would you give to someone who is new to teaching remotely? Is there anything a teacher should invest in?
Teaching remotely is starting to be explored more and more and as it makes its way towards the mainstream, many challenges become quite apparent.
My top 3 tips for anyone going into teaching remotely:
- Your equipment is your bread-and-butter.
- Mind-blowing things are popping up in the world daily; try to keep up with trends and ideas in teaching.
- Join a professional community – I wish I had done so earlier. Working remotely has benefits, but, at the end of the day, no man is an island.