Atlantic Language’s first IBA Minsk visit was a hugely rewarding experience. We were bowled over by the hospitality and warmth of everyone we met. We undertook the long journey back to Ireland on Monday with plenty of lovely memories, and looking forward to the opportunity to go back.
The event itself was hugely positive for us, a chance to meet and chat with English language teachers from all over Belarus, and consider how we can be of service with our academic and teacher training courses, General English, young learner and family programmes. We were hugely impressed by the level of interest and the seriousness of the motivation of Belarus’s English teachers towards their vocations.
Thank you to the Organisers
Thank you also to those who organised the event so well. Special thanks to Giovanni Rotura of Gallery Teachers, and Valentina Holubeva, Vladimir Dyubkov; to the charismatic trainers Thom Jones and Sharyn Collins who enlivened the day for us so much. Thank you to our co-sponsors Oxford International, so wonderfully represented by Lyudmila Anuchina.
Atlantic Language was delighted to be a sponsor of the event The Truth of Teaching English in Minsk, Belarus. We were represented by Purva Srivastava, ESP Instructor, and Robert Hanley, Academic Manager. Their recollections on their trip are as follows.
Purva’s Story (IBA Minsk Visit)
When I got to know about the teacher conference in Belarus, the first question I asked my marketing team was who would be attending this conference. I was told that I’d be talking to a room full of teachers. At the time the only question I asked myself was – what language could I speak to these teachers that will help me connect to them?
No sooner had I asked myself the question than I found myself face to face with the answer – the language of our students. And so, began the endeavour of collecting a few narratives penned down quite diligently in my teaching journal. Narratives that had made us look at language pedagogy through a student’s point of view.
I feel that my attempt at making the teachers aware of the omnipresent gap that exists between the pedagogical agenda of the teacher and that of the students, helped me to reach out to all the teachers as they could almost instantly identify and associate with the stories. Another narrative which brought home the important point of how ‘noticing’ target language could play a key role in converting any given Input into Intake gave the audience some serious food for thought.
All in all, my experience at the conference was one of professional enrichment and fulfilment. Everyone we met greeted us with warmth. From the staff and teachers at IBA, particularly Ina Brayeva and Valentina Holubeva, to the lovely lady Nadia who had the arduous task of changing PPT slides for us, the venue and all the arrangements were top class.
“The Journey changes you…”
In the end, at the cost of sounding trite, I’ll say that this may be our first visit to Minsk, but it is by no means last. As Anthony Baurdain once remarked, “The Journey changes you, it should change you…you take something with you, and you leave something good behind.”
Here’s hoping that we at Atlantic language have left behind in Minsk- what I’d love to call, ‘the beginning of new beginnings.’
Robert’s Story (IBA Minsk Visit)
Our intention with sponsoring this event was to get an opportunity to meet in person some of Belarus’s English teachers and consider how best we could meet their needs as English learners, as ELT non-native teachers and as academic professionals. On that note, we found the event hugely informative and enlightening. It became apparent to me during our IBA Minsk visit that Atlantic has a role to play in professional development opportunities available to English teachers in Belarus.
The level of professionalism, knowledge, and passion for teaching that I witnessed at the event is always a joy to be around. It is a resource that combined with our talented team of ESP instructors could work wonders. The opportunity to provide a methodology top-up, some advanced General English fluency building, a chaperoned Junior short-stay group, or a teaching methodology bespoke course and provide relevant aspirational professional development for the teachers we met are ventures we would love to take on. The reaction and discussion following Purva’s ‘sneak preview’ of how we teach suggested to me that there is a meeting of minds between Atlantic’s student-centred ethos and Belarus’s ambitious teaching professionals striving to enable their students to get ahead in a world where English is essential to their academic and professional growth.
On a personal level, I hugely enjoyed the weekend. In particular, listening to Thom’s entertaining and hugely inappropriate stories, debating ELT philosophy and the vagaries of life and football with Sharyn, getting the very best of Minsk hospitality and insider info from Ina, Valentina and Vladimir, sampling far too much local chocolate; all within the warm embrace of Giovanni’s exuberant organisation skills. We certainly won’t forget our IBA Minsk visit.
We’ll meet again soon.