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The RO-HU Regional ELT Conference: Remembering our Favourite Moments

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On the 12th of November 2022, I took part in the 3rd edition of the Ro-Hu Regional ELT Conference, organized by my colleagues from Eurolingva Examinations Centre in collaboration with Partium University. The conference brought together educators from different parts of the country, as well as experts from different ELT fields, all of whom enjoyed sharing their experiences in the classroom and learning about the new developments in the field of English language teaching in general, and Cambridge exam preparation, in particular. More than 140 people took part in the event, making this edition our most successful yet!

The day began on an enthusiastic note, with English teachers from near and far being welcomed by the Eurolingva team as well as a group of hard-working university students, for many of whom, this conference was an opportunity to take part in the organization of a large-scale event. The beginning of the conference was marked by an opening address by Eniko Maior, the vice rector of Partium University, who, amid wide smiles and rampant applauses, thanked the participants for attending and announced the organizational aspects that needed to be considered, including the numerous and highly attractive prizes that the attendees had the chance of winning at the end of the day. The prizes thus consisted in books and book sets (offered by Eurolingva), a paid yearly subscription to an educational website (offered by our guest from Planet Pop), as well as a fully paid spot in the Pilgrims Teacher training course, brought to Romania by Eurolingva in collaboration with Pilgrims Teacher Training, and worth more than 250 euros.

The first speaker of the day was Chaz Pugliese, the director of Education and Teacher Training at Pilgrims Global. Eurolingva and Pilgrims have been collaborating for years to bring quality teacher training courses to Romania, and as a result, Romanian teachers have been able to take advantage of the experience and expertise of the Pilgrims teacher trainers close to their homes, rather than being forced to travel abroad. Mr. Pugliese’s speech, titled “Taking stock: What I’ve learned from Teaching”, was centered upon placing the student at the center of the educational process. He discussed the importance of understanding the students’ feelings, and taking their mood as well as one’s own mood into consideration in the classroom, so as to make the lessons successful and effective. He was also kind enough to sign the book copies that the participants purchased during the conference, much to the delight of the buyers.

Ms. Aniela Bușilă, a teacher and teacher trainer, who has been a Cambridge English educational consultant since 2009, gave a comprehensive presentation on Cambridge language exams, complete with the most recent updates, preparation materials and online learning resources. Many of the attendees are teachers who prepare students for Cambridge exams, and we have always been committed to helping them obtain the best possible results, while remaining up to date with the latest news from Cambridge. This was followed by another ‘get to know us type of presentation’, this time provided by my colleague Irena Vasiu, an educational consultant at Eurolingva, who described our work in the field of Cambridge exam administration, book distribution, mock tests provision and described ‘our mission and our role’ to help English teachers in Romania prepare their students.

Following a short coffee break, Ms. Sarah Ellis, a Senior Manager, Assessment Services Europe for Cambridge University Press and Assessment, delivered an extremely interesting presentation on “Developing and assessing writing skills at B2 (and C1)”. During her speech, she talked about how students can develop their writing skills and explained how writing tests are assessed at these levels. Moreover, she gave examples of activities that can be used to foster learners’ autonomy and self-efficiency, thus creating better writers. I can say that I make a point from listening to Sarah Ellis each time I have the chance, because I feel that all of her presentations touch directly upon my needs as an English language instructor, and this was of particular interest to me, as developing my students’ writing skills is always a major concern.

Zoltan Rezmuves, whom we have had the honor of receiving on our floor in the past editions of the conference as well, educated the audience on the particularities of 21st century learning, with his characteristic humour and charm. He reminded the audience of the strong affinity that generations Z and Alpha have with technology, and explained how their knowledge of the digital world and the easiness of forming worldwide relationships, as well as their strong opinions on important world issues, influences the way they learn. His examples and personal stories were incredibly relevant because either as parents or as teachers, I think many of us face the same challenges trying to teach and even parent the young generations.

I was then extremely enthusiastic to listen to the speech given by first time speaker Vaughn Elliot, whose newly released Cambridge test books for A2 and B1 levels are a credit to their author. His experience as a seasoned and highly appreciated item writer for Cambridge exams meant that he was able to give us essential exam preparation tips as well as fresh ideas of fun activities for the classroom. A bonus for the participants was the fact that they were able to buy the author’s books during the breaks and have them signed by him, which Vaughn enjoyed very much! I also couldn’t help myself but ‘question’ him on all the things I had been curious about regarding the process of developing and writing a Cambridge test, which seems fascinating as well as tedious, I must confess!

This edition of the conference also gave me the opportunity to get to know Sandra García Fernández, the Marketing Assistant of the CEO at Vision Education. Vision education developed Planet Pop, a learning platform aligned to the Cambridge English curriculum. This learning method combines video, music and textbooks, and Sandra has kindly shown the participants at the conference how to use it efficiently in the classroom, to remove the stress of language learning which sometimes takes over our students. Prior to the conference, Eurolingva trainers had begun to test the platform in the young learner classrooms, and the feedback had been positive, so we were happy to be able to bring it to the attention of our guests, as an innovative teaching method. At Eurolingva, we have always supported and encouraged teachers to adopt the newest teaching ‘tools’ on the market, and we continue to test and recommend different equipment and software that we believe to be useful to teachers.

Finally, Peter Bodri, from Converzum, introduced the teachers to junior language travel, and the benefits of learning English where it is spoken. The presentation focused on language travel opportunities for students under 18. It looked at potential destinations, the features of different packages and different aspects that parents tend to consider before booking a language holiday for their children. This presentation introduced us to a novel type of holiday for students who want to learn English and the testimonials and different pictures and videos did illustrate effectively all the ways that students can have fun while learning English from native teachers and peers.

At the end of the day, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the conference as much as I did. Its enormous success was confirmed by the stellar feedback that we got, in the form of direct praise for my colleagues’ efforts and my own – although I must confess I did not do much beyond filling their complimentary bags with customized pencil cases (appropriately named “teacher survival kits”) and books in English). We also wanted to know what we can improve next year, so we collected feedback forms which were almost unanimously positive and this made us think about taking the conference even further and making it even bigger!

So, stay tuned and prepare to be surprised by next year’s event, as we are determined that, together with our steadfast partner Partium University, we will continue to help teachers remain up to date with the most innovative language methods. The RO-HU Regional ELT Conference has definitely become the event that you do not want to miss if you are an English Teacher!