Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Valuable Symposium Experience

by Tong Chong Hua
SJK Yong Shing, Sibu

ELTDP symposium is the best event that I ever joined. Before attending the symposium, I can’t imagine how the symposium looks like. The moment I reach at the registration lobby, I just realized it is really BIG and professional event. I’m really thankful because my proposal been selected and got the chance to share with others. Although my English not as good as others but I try very hard to express what I had done in class to try really hard in helping my three students.

This symposium, I gained a lot of teaching ideas and some professional knowledge which is really helpful in my teaching life. Of course, it helps me in trying very hard to help my students’ English and not letting them left behind. I hope that, teachers don’t easily give up although having fewer students in the class. They are kids, they need to learn and gain knowledge from us. We are playing the important role model.

I hope that this project to be continued. We need it a lot to really help our students and the teachers who are non-optionist been asked to teach English. Lastly, thousand thanks to my dearest mentor, Ms Rhett who work so hard to help me in preparation. She is really nice mentor; I really appreciate what she had done not only for me but four of us, mentees who been selected to go to this symposium. Thanks God. 

A message from Dayang anak Jaya

Symposium 2015 was really amazing. It gave me a chance to meet people, especially the keynote speakers, ELTDP VIPs and mentors from sabah and sarawak, sharing knowledge and ideas about  teaching profession. I also made many new friends. If you are talking about nervousness during the presentation...I was among the top 10..! Thanks everyone. God bless you all.
SK Nanga Salim (Sibu, Sarawak)

Monday, 16 February 2015




It was such a wonderful moment when I was selected to attend the Symposium in February 2013. As I’d never participated in any Symposium before, I couldn't have imagined what was going to happen there.

Then, after the two days at the Hilton Hotel, I was able to say that the Symposium was fantastic. The workshops were fun, challenging and informative. It was a place where all teachers from different schools and places gathered, sharing ideas and exchanging experiences.  The most interesting part was when we listened to the professors’ great speeches. Their talks were very motivating.
I had a very precious experience, learnt something new and enjoyed being with other teachers. As well as that, attending the Symposium enriched my knowledge and helped to open my mind to think outside the box. I would like to thank my mentor, Steve Ellis, for giving me the opportunity to take part in the event. Thanks for your guidance and advice.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

In-Depth interview with Cynthia James and her former mentor Justyna Skowronska 

Keeping it Going : Sustaining Professional Growth  
                              British Council’s Symposium 2015  Kuching 4-6 March 

The English Language Teacher Development Project is about to have their second Symposium in Kuching on the 4-6 March. Over eighty Sabah teachers will be presenting and running workshops along with their colleagues from Sarawak and Labuan. We were fortunate to interview a teacher who is attending the Symposium for the second time and she reveals how the experience changed her life. 

 Tell me about yourself before the symposium in 2013. 
In 2013 I had been teaching in Kunak for 7 or 8 years and  worked hard but I was not getting anywhere.  I still loved my job but I would say I was a very tired teacher in 2013. When I was first posted to that school in 2005, the school had no English teacher for about 10 years and the children hated English. They didn’t like learning English. So I my first few years  were spent trying to get the students to love English and learning. 

What do you mean that you weren’t getting anywhere? 
The school wanted to see something that they could measure, like an improvement in exam results for instance. Also another thing is that I didn’t just focus on academic exam and tests because I don’t believe that it would inspire the students to learn English so that’s why my focus was more on getting them to be involved in extracurricular activities in English.  I tried to enter my school in as many competitions as possible and we were able to win several competitions at district level and zone level and I know that my students felt proud and good about their achievements in those areas but apparently it was not perceived as something very important.  I knew I was making a difference there but when nobody comes to you and gives you any recognition you begin to doubt yourself. 

Can you remember how you felt before you went to the symposium in 2013? 
 I felt very excited and felt that it was probably going to be the thing that would open up all doors of opportunities for me to do what I believe in. 

And did it? 
Yes , I was presenting about my work with the parents.  I really believe that in order  for the school to  see changes we have to collaborate with the parents but I hadn’t been able to do that before the ELTDP.  I knew that the parents were willing to work with me but I just didn’t know how and then the ELTDP showed me a few ways as to how and when I managed to do it, it was a success and that is what I presented about at the symposium It somehow validated the work that I was doing and I think it showed people that this is actually something that can benefit the school in many ways. After the symposium, a lot of people, particularly at my school, knew what I was doing and they started to support me. After the symposium I showed them that this was for the students  and they agreed with me that working with the parents had helped me to help the students more 

What was your impression of the symposium?  
I think it was an amazing event - really wonderful. When I went to the symposium I knew that my work mattered and I was proud that important people were listening to me and maybe could influence other teachers as well. There were a lot of teachers attending who were doing good work quietly and nobody knew about them but the symposium gave them the chance to showcase whatever good work they were doing at their school. It was truly a celebration of teachers’ work which is very important. You don’t go there to brag and boast but you can’t inspire people if you can’t inspire yourself. Events like this keep you inspired and give you the inspiration so you can inspire others 

 Let’s talk about this year’s symposium. What are you expecting the symposium to be like? 
I think it will probably be even better than the first one. There will be more teachers sharing their experiences and for me personally it will be my second time presenting so I will have a lot more confidence now.  In comparison to the first time, I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t know whether I would get the message across but I know now that I  will be able to reach out to more people and share my story with them.  

 Did you gain more confidence after the symposium in 2013 and did that start your career in presenting ? 
I’ve been attending MELTA for quite a while but I never had confidence to present. After the symposium 2013 I got addicted to it; torturing myself; sending proposals to present and then regretting it a few minutes before but then after presenting feeling  glad that I actually did it 

Where have you presented? 
In MELTA in Johor Baru, and then UMS conference, in ITEFL research SIG in the UK, and in Kuching also MELTA Asia TEFL. I can’t believe it myself,  this is the first time I put it in a list…  

Would you say that participating in the symposium could be a life changing event for some people? 
Yes, I definitely believe so. Because I know a few people who have been inspired so much by the symposium. There are some teachers that I meet at conferences with whom I met at the symposium. Some of them are going to be there at the second one as well so we have become addicted to it! 

Did you meet some people with whom you stay in touch during the symposium? 
Yes, of course, that’s what it’s all about every time I go to conferences - I exchange emails, contact numbers, business cards with people, expand ones network which is very important for teachers. 

Why would you say it is very important for teachers? 
Because you can’t work alone. You can be someone amazing and wonderful but if you’re alone there is no one to inspire you. Inspiration comes from other people of course. 

This year’s theme for the symposium is “Keeping it going: Sustaining Professional Growth” so we are asking people what ‘it’ is for them what makes them want to keep going improving their practice; what would you say ‘it’ is for you? 
It would be… inspiring and being inspired!  

How does it make you feel being inspired and inspiring?  
It makes me feel that everything that I’m doing is worthwhile. When we inspire people and we get inspired by other people, you know that you’re going somewhere. You are not stuck  going around in circles but actually achieving something 

Thank you very much; one final request is for you to take a symposium selfieThanks again.