An interview with Ellie Katachana

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1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your teaching background? (50 to 100 words)

I have been teaching English for nine years. I am currently working at a foreign language institute and also collaborating with a private college here in Greece in which I teach academic English. I have an MLitt in ELT from the university of St. Andrews and I am very interested in vocabulary research.

2. Tell us a bit about your session. What was your inspiration source?

Elli: Well, studying Lewis’ “Lexical Approach” Nation’s and Carter’s approaches to vocabulary teaching as well as Nattiger’s analysis on corpora linguistics I became very interested in vocabulary instruction and the very nature of vocabulary. In fact, vocabulary instruction and teacher awareness, which is another area of ELT I find fascinating, became the research area for my dissertation.

3. Why are you interested in the area you’ll be presenting on?

Vocabulary instruction and teachers’ perceptions is a vastly under investigated area in the Greek context, particularly in the private sector. The lack of research is striking despite the fact that a large number of EFL teachers are employed by private institutes and also a great majority of students attend private institutes to learn a foreign language. Therefore, I tried to shed some light on this largely unknown, albeit important part of the Greek EFL context and peep, if you don’t mind me saying, at what is going on inside an L2 classroom and why. I was simply curious to find out what my colleagues thought of vocabulary teaching, where they base their teaching approaches on and compare them to current suggestions. At the end, my goal was for all of us to gain some knowledge, become better teachers and help our students become better as well.

4. In terms of teaching experience what kind of audience do you think your presentation would appeal more to?

Vocabulary instruction is a core issue in ELT. I think that teachers who would like to explore and become acquainted with some new teaching approaches or avoid pitfalls of the past will find my session interesting.

5. What should your audience expect from your session?

My presentation is divided into two sections. First, I will briefly present the way vocabulary teaching is perceived according to current pedagogy, analyse some vocabulary learning strategies and how they can enhance the learners’ vocabulary acquisition. Then, I will discuss the findings of my research and talk a little about the Greek reality making, at the same time, some suggestions that my audience could find useful for raising their vocabulary teaching effectiveness. In the last five minutes there will be a Q&A session and I will be very happy to discuss with the audience issues raised during the talk.

6. What are three words that sum up your presentation?

Effective vocabulary instruction

7. When giving a professional presentation do you feel that you become richer in any way?

Exchanging information, discussing and analysing views, opinions and ideas cannot but make someone richer. Interaction is the key to learning.

8. Which other presenter(s) are you looking forward to seeing?

Elli: Well, there are some presentations on vocabulary teaching, such as Ms Lagou’s and Mr Obee’s talk which I would like to attend to. Ms Andreou and Mr Onushco’s talk about non-native EFL teachers as another interesting topic and I’m really looking forward to it.

10. Have you been to a TESOL Greece Convention before or is this your first time?

I participated in last year’s International TESOL Greece convention. I presented an entirely different topic, yet one that still interests a lot. It was a poster presentation about some empirical research I conducted concerning teaching English to senior citizens and more specifically about developing a custom made course for this particular group of learners. It was a wonderful experience for me and an opportunity to share and discuss my work with other EFL teachers.

Interview by Natassa Papakonstantinou and Julia Alivertis, Roving Reporters for the 35th Annual International Convention.

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