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Oct 2018 - Year 20 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

Pilgrims News

Emptying my study

by Mario Rinvolucri

My work has entered a new phase as 160 kilos of papers and books I have been concerned with over 40 years have left UK to reach a secure launching pad in the Bridge School in Bratislava, Slovakia, which is where the PILGRIMS-BRIDGE ARCHIVE is being set up by Klaudia Bednarova.

Klaudia  Bednarova is determined to see that the modular part of this mass of Pilgrims documentation will not just weigh down shelves in Bratislava, on the banks of the Danube, but will achieve world availability in its corner of the Internet.

We already have an Italian graduate student sifting through the articles, letters, books, and   unpublished manuscripts in preparation for writing her M.A.  dissertation on forty years of Pilgrims work on the methodology. You could object that this lady will actually be working on the papers of one old geezer but said person has only written 5 books out of 2O on his own. All the rest have been collaborations with Pilgrims associated teachers and trainers. In two cases the writing team was a foursome.  Mostly, though, we wrote in pairs.

However much searching work we may have done in FL teaching methodology over 40 years. the Pilgrims-Bridge folk are a small part of the push towards student centred teaching and we hope the Bratislava Archive will begin to attract powerful contributions from a wide spectrum of groups and individuals from EFL but also from teachers of French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese etc. Think of the really original work done by Steiner teachers (Waldorf Schools) in FL teaching around the world.

Let me round off by saying that my thrill does not lie mainly in the feeling of saving valuable ideas for posterity but rather in the future over the next 25 years coming up with things I would never have dreamt of.


ELT Forum 2019


is an international conference for English teachers. The conference is a joined effort of the Bridge – English Language Centre, Pilgrims – teacher training, LAMSIG and the Slovak association of language schools.

ELTFORUM is a two-day event with an audience of about 300 participants. It takes place on 7th- 8th June in Bratislava and the topic is “Humanising our language teaching”. Since 2011 our goal has been to bring together great minds that have influenced our ELT community to give talks that foster learning and inspiration. The key note speakers for 2019 are Mario Rinvolucri, Hania Kryszewska, Judit Fehér and Chaz Puglieze.

For more info please check a short video from ELTforum 2018

and the website



Pilgrims Teacher Trainer Summer 2018

by Malu Sciamarelli

Pilgrims’ ethos is ‘Pilgrims does not teach a method, but teaches people. The learner is at the centre of the learning process. Not the lesson plan, not the course book or a prescribed method, but the individual’. Bearing that in mind, as I have only participated and taught teachers’ courses where the methodology was the focus, I arrived in Canterbury last July wondering what it would be like.

Right from the start I knew it would be a unique experience. All the teachers were welcomed at their accommodation and walked through the lovely woods at the University of Kent to the Rutherford College Hall, where we met all the staff, including our trainers. After a warm welcome and introduction to the courses, each group of teachers had the chance to meet who they would work with during the following two weeks.

Instead of going directly to our classrooms, the groups then walked around the university campus together with their tutors to familiarise themselves with the premises. It was also a great opportunity to get to know each other a bit more in a non-traditional way.

The course I chose to attend was ‘British Life, Language and Culture’. The course description only hints at its context. According to the summary, ‘the course offers an opportunity for data and information collection on British culture and an update on current English usage’. However, it was so much more than that. Our trainer, Sally Edge is a lively trainer who did everything to bring to the class a true experience of what it means to be born, raised and live in the UK. In addition, during every afternoon there was a guest speaker from different sectors of social like, including secondary school teenagers, a policeman, a school teacher, a former mayor, a social worker, among others. It was a course we could not have experienced in any other place. However, the highlight of the course was the multicultural exchange that happened in the class. While studying British life, language and culture, the participants (teachers from Spain, Slovakia, Germany, Estonia and Brazil) contributed in a lively manner, comparing and contrasting life and culture in those countries, and sharing their experiences of what it is like to teach English in their contexts. It was a truly globalised multicultural experience with the teachers being the centre of the learning process.

I also had the great opportunity of being in Hania Kryszewska’s course ‘Teaching Advanced Students’ and Stefania Ballotto’s ‘Creative Methodology’.  In the Teaching Advanced Students course I saw enthusiastic teachers working together to have the best of what the course could provide while Hania brought into the class a myriad of reference books and a list of resources made using the teachers’ actual needs, as a supplement to the course content itself. It looked as if the course was being woven with every teacher’s contribution: different threads combined together to create a perfect harmony. In the Creative Methodology course, I saw teachers sharing their classroom practices and learning from each other while Stefy taught them that everyone can be creative as long as it is combined with discipline and creative energy but also lots of fun. These are skills Stefy showed herself and injected into the course.

If you think however that coming to Pilgrims is just being committed to humanistic principles and approaches while being in the classroom, you are wrong. Pilgrims is more than that. Each day after the course ended, there were a wide range of activities, workshops and practices: Understanding Art; Memory, Learning and Teaching; Creative Writing; The Meaning of Tea; Mindfulness, Creativity and Humour Strategies; Doodling; Games; Latin Dances; Yoga; A Walk in the Woods; Walking Tours / Boat Tours; and all the cultural activities the amazing medieval city of Canterbury can offer.

Is that all? Not quite yet. Pilgrims is much more than that. If a good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instil a love of learning, a good teacher training course can operate miracles in teachers’ lives, inspiring them to find the strength within themselves to constantly look for professional development and collaboration with like-minded teachers, having in mind that the most important asset we have in class is the people. Undoubtedly the methodology matters, but without the humanistic side, we may not go anywhere.

The people were the most important part of the courses at Pilgrims and we definitely felt we were at the centre of this learning process. We did reward ourselves!


Memories from 27th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference

27th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference

Promoting 21st century ELT: language, life skills and digital literacies

Burgas, Bulgaria

                                                    by Gergana Georgieva

From 22nd to 24th June 2018 there was held the 27th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference Promoting 21st century ELT: language, life skills and digital literacies in Burgas, Bulgaria at Burgas Free University.

This current international forum at which participants from Bulgaria and the whole world share their experience in foreign language teaching and learning is of an immense significance for the professional development and qualification of English language teachers.

With the new development of technologies and their impact on all areas of public life, the topic related to digital literacy is becoming increasingly topical. Thus, during the conference emphasis was laid upon the digital skills because they help people to easily adapt towards the non-stable labour markets and fast-changing societies.

Plenary speakers at the conference in Burgas were Hanna Kryszewska – a Pilgrims teacher trainer, HLT Editor-in-Chief and senior lecturer at the University of Gdansk, Poland who dedicated her presentation to the 21st Century Skills in ELT and Marjorie Rosenberg – research assistant and lecturer at the University of Graz, Austria who talked about Getting unstuck – stretching out of our comfort zones.

It was with great enthusiasm that the Rector of Burgas Free University Prof. Hristozova hosted the event. Deputy Mayor of Burgas Municipality – Ms. Ananieva and the Director of Regional Educational Authorities – Ms. Ilieva cordially welcomed the participants at this year’s conference.

Representatives of TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece, ELTAM Macedonia, ELTA Serbia and ATECR (Association of Teachers of English in the Czech Republic) attended the annual conference this year. There were also participants from USA, UK, Greece, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

On the first day of the conference, talks were devoted to how tests should be made to work and look better, how to develop speaking skills at university as well as effective ELT for teens & young adults. The first forum introduced the topic of ways to develop learning and teaching skills. Teaching creative reading and writing activities and collocations, constructions and foreign language teaching were the main focus of discussion. The day wrapped up with a debate on language coaching programs as a tool for improving L2 proficiency and competence and activities for very young learners. The final event was a warm reception and raffle where awards were given to the winners of the 10th lesson plan competition and certificates of article publications for Humanising Language Teaching web magazine were presented.

Over the course of the second day, original ways to practice vocabulary and creating infomercials for developing 21st century skills were presented.  Furthermore, using meta-language in a novel and modern fashion, thinking critically about critical thinking and translation issues were under scrutiny.

Noteworthy is the fact that the afternoon was devoted to language studies and English language teaching. The focal point was teaching negative prefixes through cognitive linguistics, promoting 21st century ELT in the Medical University and spoken communication skills in English, using picture books in secondary EFL classroom, teaching through technology and developing intercultural communicative competence. Another high point of the day was the forum on current issues in foreign language teaching and learning where problem-based learning in FLT and electronic aids in and outside class were reviewed in detail.

Moreover, teaching & learning 21st century skills through ELT was not overlooked either.  In the meantime, the etymology of idioms and their teaching and the transformative pedagogy for ESOL in a super diverse Europe were also scrutinized.

On the last day topics such as teaching business basics through Suggestopedia, sustainable professional development through coaching and the benefits for teachers and learners as well as the importance of going digital but staying human were also addressed.

By and large, it has been a great honour and pleasure to welcome all participants to the second largest city on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. The gorgeous surrounding lakes, mild weather, natural attractions and the spirit of unanimity and cooperation has served as a further motivation in the quest for excellence in language teaching and learning.

To conclude, the 27th BETA-IATEFL Annual International Conference brought together a variety of language professionals from different backgrounds and countries around the world. The three days of fruitful debate and exchange of experience have contributed to a delightful, stimulating and enlightening event that will undoubtedly serve as a motivation for the continuing professional development.


Visual Arts Circle

Hello VAC Members,
We hope you have all had a fantastic summer whether that was spending time with family and friends, exploring new projects, or continuing with your regular workload.
As you know, the Image Conference in Athens is fast-approaching in October. We are very happy to have so many of our VAC members speaking and attending. To find out more about their talks and to see the provisional programme, you can look here.
And if you haven’t managed to sign up yet, it’s not too late! We’d love to have you join us on 6-7 October. You can find registration information here.
The Visual Arts Circle will once again be collaborating with the IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group and there will be a strand of talks related to the refugee crisis. Thanks to Sylvia Karastathi for all of the work she is putting into organizing this very special event.
The hashtag for the conference is #ELTimageg18.
More conference opportunities
If you’re unable to attend the Image Conference or would like to add another related conference to your autumn agenda, the ELT Council is collaborating with VAC again. The VACLE Conference (Visual Arts Creation in Language Education) will take place in Malta, 23-24 November. A call for papers has started already and the deadline is 21 September. Speakers will be notified by 5 October. For more information, please see the Call for Papers.
Other speaking opportunities for VAC members
A reminder that our online events coordinator, Rob Howard, would still like to hear from you. If you are interested in speaking for ten minutes about your current project that involves images and language teaching, please email Rob ( to get your name on the list!  
Website update
We welcome all of our members to contribute, so if you have an idea for a project or want to write a short article, please let us know and we’ll post it on the website. We would like very much to hear from some of our members who are involved in film, sound engineering, video creation and other aspects of production and how they apply to language teaching. Please email Anna Whitcher ( if you are interested in writing an article about one of these areas. You can find all recent articles on our website.
Social media & recent postings
Keep on posting! This is a quick way for you to be involved in the Visual Arts Circle without giving much time – just a quick click or two. Thank you! Please use these hashtags: #ImageInELT #VisualELT #ELT #ESL 
Job opportunities
If you are looking for someone with specific skills related to images, consider reaching out to VAC members and post your job in our newsletter. We would like the Visual Arts Circle to be a place where people can not only share ideas but also job opportunities as this enables our members to truly collaborate and achieve even bigger things.
Thank you for your continued support and participation. We look forward to being in touch with all of you again about the Image Conference.
Best wishes,
The Visual Arts Circle Team