Magda Zamorska is a senior lecturer at the University of Wroclaw and a teacher trainer for Pilgrims in Canterbury. She has worked for various educational institutions in the UK, Austria, Italy, Greenland, Spain and many more. Magda’s interests include art, drama and educational psychology.
Here she talks about her career in TEFL and what she sees as the most important directions the profession will take in the future.
Tell me a little about how you got started in TEFL and the main influences on your career.
Funny you should ask that, I come from a family of teachers (3 generations) and, as a teenager, I swore not to be a teacher. I was practically brought up in the staffroom of the school where my parents taught and, although I liked it, I didn’t really want to follow in their footsteps. Look at me now…
However, when I was an undergraduate I joined an English speaking student theatre and noticed what incredible difference drama made to the students’ language skills. So teaching through drama was my first serious influence, followed by using literature (I have a degree in English Lit), teaching and learning through literary texts.
After graduating I got a job as a teacher at the English Language Centre set up jointly by the British Council and the University of Wrocław. And my first ever teacher training course happened to be with none other than Mario Rinvolucri and John Morgan, two Pilgrims legends. Then everything sort of clicked for me and I realized I really wanted to be a teacher. I guess Pilgrims and their approach, however you choose to interpret it, have influenced me most in my teaching and training.
How have approaches to teaching EFL changed over your career?
It really has been quite a revolution…I have been teaching for over 33 years so when I started working, teaching English was mainly teacher-centred and very structured. We have since then seen the student taking a more central role, with communication becoming the main objective. ELT has since embraced and included so many different ideas from psychology to IT….I love the variety and versatility it offers now.
You are giving two workshops at the ELT Forum- could you say a little about why they are important? The first is on creativity- how important is this in ELT and what advice can you give teachers? The second is about motivation- what techniques can you recommend to help students maintain motivation in their studies?
Creativity is a bit of a terror now, everybody feels they HAVE to be creative. I understand it more as a natural drive to explore, to be curious, to generate excitement and find new ways of doing things, also, as is often the case for teachers, to avoid monotony and burnout . Fostering this and changing our ways of looking at things, solving problems and generating new ideas will be explored in the workshop Lessons from nowhere.
The second workshop is also very much connected with creativity: motivation is such an important factor in learning, even more so in learning a foreign language which is more of a life skill than just a subject to learn at school. The teacher and the students as sources of mutual inspiration, complementing and challenging each other. We’ll try to find ways of motivating and inspiring one another, teacher to student, student to student , teacher to teacher, student to teacher…
What are the main directions you see for TEFL in the future?
ELT faces many challenges right now, there are so many possibilities to teach and learn with technology or completely unplugged, hundreds of methods and approaches to choose from, innovations, not always brilliant, that the governments, school boards, teachers and parents try to implement…what I think is needed most now are critical thinking skills, the ability to evaluate, choose and follow what you feel and know is optimal for your here-and-now group of learners and you as their teacher.
Magda will be presenting two workshops at the ELT Forum, Lessons from Nowhere and Person to Person.
author: Graham Strouts, teacher at the Bridge
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