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June 2024 - Year 26 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

The Humanistic Experience

A Pilgrims teacher trainer since 2007; a teacher trainer at The Faculty of Education Masaryk University, Brno, Czechia,  since 2006 where she teaches didactics, phonetics and phonology, and drama in education in ELT; between 1996 and 2001 she taught English at The Janacek Academy of Music and Performing Arts. 

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Canterbury, Parkhill, 2009

Pilgrims has always been a HUMANistic experience for me, from the very beginning moment I met the great Mario Rinvolucri at the Faculty of Education where he was giving a workshop for us, the Department of English language and Literature,  in 2006 till today.

Pilgrims has always meant being part of a team, inspiring and enriching each other, sharing, discussing, observing each other´s session as well as swapping sessions within a course to offer students a different experience. A special meeting space for trainers and trainees on the Parkhill in Canterbury where people would bring influences from their places into a melting pot of ideas.

My memory is not perfect, so I do not remember all the sessions, all the discussions, chats, or swappings, nevertheless let me list a few that were crucial for my current career and let me add I am hoping to be fortunate to live through more in the future:

One of the first Pilgrims encounters was meeting Mario Rinvolucri, first at the Faculty of Education in 2006 and then at Pilgrims in 2007, I had just finished teaching my 6 hour day, packed my stuff and was going to go back to our accommodation when I was passing the auditorium where Mario was giving a lecture and I stood frozen in a complete awe looking at the frantic energy that he was showing when talking about the things he loved. One moment he looked at me, stopped, then just said: “What?” and continued being phenomenal. I am also very kinaesthetic, which he realised very soon as one of my afternoon/evening sessions was aerobics/Zumba session so we had a discussion how we could upgrade the TPR (Total Physical Response) activity they had devised with Sheelagh Deller for teaching irregular verbs through movement. They were using arms movements to indicate the number of forms the irregular verb had (e.g., 1) put, put, put, 2) teach, taught, taught, 3) know, knew, known), using the activity as a warm-up in the best sense of the word. And then we decided to add the aerobics leg movement to indicate the 3 following forms: infinitive-past-past participle. We first presented it together, Mario and I, at the ATECR (Association of Teacher of English of the Czech Republic Crossing Boarders Conference in Český Těšín in 2009 and I have been using it since. For example, at our faculty during the first semester of practical language for the pre-school teacher trainees, or at workshops, seminars, and conferences, for example P.A.R.K. Conference in Brno in 2014:

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However, Mario has not been the only one as all the Pilgrims trainers had a lot to offer, let me mention the swappings with Magda Zamorska and Stefy Ballotto when training primary teachers, discussing the activities together and offering the ones that we were good at, e.g. Magda´s storytelling, or Stefy´s multisensory chocolate lesson that inspired me to create a multisensory tea lesson finished with painting sceneries using various kinds of tea. Or the multitalented Bonnie Tsai´s sessions on using Music and Art in ELT lessons or using MI (Multiple Intelligences) and creating an MI museum having different activities at different MI stations and enabling all the participants to try what they were good at. I will never forget the love with which Bonnie trained Stefy Ballotto also giving her all the tools and puppets for the museum before she passed away.

Or having the chance to participate in Adrian Underhill´s bodily-kinaesthetic lectures on phonetics and phonology which gave me the courage to teach phonetics at our department when I was asked to do so. And I cannot forget the wonderful evenings when Adrian Underhill, Tim Bowen, Mark Almond, and Chaz Pugliese took guitars in the evening and started jazzing…

Or CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Teaching) thinking of Phil´s Dexters practical geography, Judit Feher´s science lessons, Magda Zamorska´s and Hania Kryszewska´s literature and art in the lessons, etc.

Or SEN (Special Educational Needs) facilitated by Phil Dexter and Marie Delaney, which made me think about listening to my students better with trying to understand more.

Or DRAMA in ELT that was taught wonderfully by Peter Dyer and Magda Zamorska and that I was so fortunate to be able to participate in.

And the last but not least that I want to mention, even though I am fully aware that I haven´t mentioned all occurrences nor trainers was the period of lockdown during the Covid 19 time when trainers started free online Pilgrims café sessions to support teachers around the world as well as each other, for example see below the one from 13 February 2021, where I presented online activities inspired by all the meetings, discussions, observations, participations, etc. I must admit that the part on board games were inspired by Hania Kryszewska´s session on board games and how to make them to meet the needs of your learners, the only thing I did was I found applications that made it possible to transfer the boardgames online.

For example:

  1. A game comprising 3 activities to revise animal vocabulary:

  2. Christmas Escape room with 3 activities and locks to be unlocked:

  3. Or Advent Calendar with 25 activities:

So let me conclude that I hope we will stay together inspiring each other, caring for each other, finding our strong points and sharing them as I agree with the title of the Pilgrims Café from 13 February 2021 that we are BETTER TOGETHER!

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  • The Pilgrims Trainer: Charismatic Non-conformism!
    Till Gins, Lead Officer, Pilgrims

  • A Pilgrim’s Odyssey
    Robert Gillan, UK

  • The Humanistic Experience
    Sharka Dohnalova, Czechia

  • My Pilgrims Dream
    Marta Bujakowska, Poland

  • Another Reason Why Pilgrims is the “World”
    Stefania Ballotto, Italy and RSA

  • My Experience at Pilgrims – How It All Began
    Linda Yael, Argentina