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June 2024 - Year 26 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

My Pilgrims Dream

Marta Bujakowska is a freelance teacher and teacher trainer from Poland with a strong intercultural focus and special interest in creative methodology, CLIL, reflective teaching, learner autonomy and flipped classroom. In her career she has taught all age groups and levels changing her preferences from time to time, which helped her develop as a teacher and led her into teacher training. Nowadays, she predominantly works with teachers, and teaches adult and teenage learners of English. She loves working with PILGRIMS and has taught several courses there. 


Believe it or not, Pilgrims had always been like a dream for me, a teacher of English from Poland. I avidly pursued any information available at that time and amassed a collection of books published by Pilgrims teacher trainers, with Mario Rinvolucri's "Grammar Games" taking the lead. Then, one day, my dream became a reality. Allow me to recount the journey of how it unfolded.

I've always been a passionate teacher, driven by a desire to improve, develop, and immerse myself in the field. In 1996, I joined IATEFL Poland and have remained a dedicated volunteer for the Association ever since. Attending conferences and workshops became my cherished hobby, squeezing them in whenever my family commitments allowed. I owe immense gratitude to my husband, a true father figure to our children, for his unwavering support in enabling me to pursue my passion.

My first encounter with Pilgrims was fortuitous. Back in 1996, I attended a course for English teachers in Broadstairs, only to find it below my level. The organiser, recognising the mismatch, generously offered me his library card, granting me access to the Templeman Library at the University of Kent, and provided bus tickets to travel from Broadstairs to Canterbury. It was a feast for my eager mind. Around the same time, Marie Daleney, whom I had met in Poland during an IH course on how to teach Business English, reached out to me. I seized every opportunity that came my way. Marie invited me to teach a couple of sessions to teachers on a CELTA course, focusing on Young Learners. I didn't hesitate, despite feeling weak in the knees. Marie assured me of access to their teacher center and provided all necessary materials. That year, I joined some elective workshops run by Mario Rinvolucri, where he brought to life the concepts he had written about in his books.

My journey towards Pilgrims continued a couple of years later. At a conference organised by the British Council on Young Learners in Poland, I felt right at home teaching young and very young learners. Intrigued to learn more, I attended Bonnie Tsai's workshop, a Pilgrims' teacher trainer. The workshop was a vibrant display of humanistic teaching approaches, mirroring Bonnie's colorful personality. Like many conferences, it concluded with a prize draw. Fate smiled upon me as I drew ticket number 96. Despite rarely participating in such draws, I voiced my desire for an anniversary conference at Pilgrims. It was either the 25th or the 30th Anniversary. Raymond Shindler, standing by my side, shared in my excitement. As tension mounted and the best prizes awaited, Raymond exclaimed, "It's your number, it's your conference, go and get it." I could hardly believe my luck.

The conference proved to be an enlightening experience, reuniting me with familiar faces and introducing me to new colleagues. Bursting with fresh ideas, I returned home even more passionate about teaching. In the years that followed, I tirelessly honed my skills, seizing every opportunity for growth. Eventually, I found myself teaching at Pilgrims, surrounded by esteemed colleagues who soon became friends. Each summer brought new experiences and cherished memories, from teaching alongside deceased Bonnie Tsai to sharing profound conversations with the late Paul Davis.

As life evolved, so did my journey with Pilgrims. Though the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, virtual gatherings organised by Chaz Pugliese provided a ray of sunshine amid gloomy days. While we yearn for the bustling summers in Canterbury, we embrace the changes and eagerly await what the future holds. Perhaps one day, when regulations ease, we'll find ourselves back in England, reuniting with the Pilgrims team once more.

  • 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