A growing number of educators are united around the idea that students need “21st century skills” to be successful today. It’s exciting to believe that we live in times that are so revolutionary that they demand new and different abilities. A Taste of the 21st Century Teaching was the 13th ELTA IATEFL conference, held on 15th and 16th May in Belgrade, Serbia, tried to give a “perfect” recipe to those teachers who are passionate, keen and motivated to keep pace with constant changes in teaching and learning language and thus meet the needs of their learners. As the member of TETA (the Tuzla English Teaching Association), I was honored to represent our association at this conference.
Eight plenary talks and more than fifty workshops provided enough material to learn and relearn teaching strategies which may not be new, but rather wrapped in new technology trends. Rob Dean’s talk questioned common beliefs in ELT methodology, Deborah Healey introduced digital storytelling, Pedro Moura talked about finding our ways as teachers amid virtual forest, Hugh Deller discussed about a Dogme approach to course books, as well as, technology and principles in language teaching. The power of the image was plenary given by Paul Dummett who recognized visual literacy as a key 21st century skill. Biljana Radić-Bojanić opened the question of digital literacies in the English language classroom in Serbia, while Rakesh Bhanot shared his successes and failures in his 42 years long teaching practice.
My workshop on using games in the English language classroom fitted perfectly in the main theme of the 21st century teaching/ learning process whereas the student and the teacher have no more traditional role.
The highlight of the conference was a walking tour through Belgrade organized for international partners. The rich history of Belgrade and its amazing streets and quarts impressed all the partners from Greece, Hungary, FYR Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
ELT conferences give teachers a chance to get together and discuss rather changes or old-fashioned practices in our field. The Taste of the 21st Century Teaching offered to participants not only a number of great speakers with great ideas for great changes to keep the pace with students’ needs and technology in the 21st technology, but also the sense of community within the field. As teachers we all share the same fears and hope no matter if we use only board and chalk or modern technology, no matter if we are novice teachers or experienced ones, no matter if we come from Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Hungary, Italy, etc.
Report by: Danka Kezunović
Photo courtesy of: Dragana Filipović