Stefania Ballotto is a teacher, teacher trainer, and trainer of trainers. She is a Lecturer at the University of Udine, Italy, and she trains pre-service and in-service teachers. She has presented at conferences all over the world and has been a PILGRIMS teacher trainer for nearly two decades. She enjoys developing creativity, innovation and critical thinking. Stefania is South African-Italian and has an MA in Applied Linguistics from Cambridge University, UK.
Creativity lies at the heart of your teaching practice. How can creativity be learned or developed?
Some main abilities of creativity are; finding problems, visualizing, being flexible, producing original ideas, enjoying and using fantasy. These are abilities that can be developed by challenging ourselves constantly, stepping out of our comfort zone, making something new of high quality, which is relevant and valuable, taking risks and being aware that novelty does not mean creativity.
How does your teaching at Pilgrims compare / differ from your teaching at the University?
I teach/ train just the same wherever I am in the world, with 10 or with 100 students. I need to create an affective learning environment so that learning is efficient.
The only difference is that at the end of an academic year at university the students have an exam.
It is often said that the current generation is not developing sufficiently strong critical thinking skills. Do you agree and if so, what can be done to reverse the trend?
Perhaps the current generation know a lot and might not understand as much as they know. I would focus on work where the students need to “think aloud”. Using tools such as setting lots of questions and the process to uncover the answers and giving them problems to invent their own possible solutions. Forget giving them the answers, let’s find the answers together.
From your experience of teaching English all around the world, what one thing would you like to see happen to improve the profession?
It would be a dream come true to see more student centred classes, web-based learning, a focus on skills rather than on knowledge, and have a global community.
What can we expect from your workshops at this year’s ELT Forum?
Both are practical workshops. One looks at the skills of learning a language in a new way. The exercises are humorous, delightful, surprising, putting emphasis on creativity. Participants in this session will be given examples of the four acts of language which are based on a fact of grammar.
The other workshop is bringing energy to our classrooms with short physical and mental activities. All have the aim to of giving students the opportunity to recharge their batteries.
author: Ben Gwillim, teacher at the Bridge
Registration for ELTFORUM 2019