Reflection on EAQUALS: Training for Excellence by Şule Bakırcan Yalçın & Nazlı Öztürk
EAQUALS: TRAINING FOR EXCELLENCE- KRAKOW
Annual Training event for Eaquals members took place on 22nd & 23rd of November 2019 in Krakow, Poland this year. It was organized around the theme of “Training for Excellence” and provided two full days of training on three strands, two of which attendees could choose to participate. From our university, our director Nergis Uyan and team leaders Nazlı Öztürk and Şule Bakırcan Yalçın attended the training. The training started with a plenary talk delivered by Liam Brown on “Customer Focused Working – ways of paying attention to what matters”. In his inspirational presentation, Brown focused on how to make an institution exceptional. He emphasized that the human component in business interactions should be prioritized for success. Creating emotionally engaging experiences, acknowledging the uniqueness of each customer, adding element of positive surprise rather than trying to get rid of all complaints and choosing your niche areas of strength and excel at them rather than trying to be good at all areas were a few of the inspiring thoughts from the presentation.
STRAND 1: INCLUSION AND SEN
Varinder Unlu, the co-founder and coordinator of the Inclusive Practices and SENs IATEFL SIG, and now the coordinator of IATEFL’s Global Issues SIG, presented the session on Inclusion and SEN (Students with specific Needs). The training was separated into three sessions. In the first part, Mrs. Unlu informed the participants about what inclusion and exclusion mean, and raised their awareness about their attitudes towards diversity and equality. In the second part, the participants had a chance to discuss how much they apply an inclusive approach through transforming the content, teaching, policies and strategies regarding the broad spectrum of learning needs and differences in their context. Also, the challenges and benefits of creating an inclusive environment both in the classroom and the workplace were discussed. In the last part, the participants learned how to identify and support learners with learning differences such as dyslexia, autism, visual and hearing impairments. The activities held aimed to help the audience empathize with the learners that have specific needs and therefore, this part was very thought provoking and enlightening for the participants. All in all, this training gave the participants an insight into how to embrace diversity and see it as an enrichment, rather than a problem both in the classroom and the workplace.
STRAND 2: APPLICATION OF CEFR
Peter Brown, Founder Chair of EAQUALS and Thom Kiddle, Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education(NILE) gave the training on CEFR together. The training was about a new addition to CEFR descriptors, Mediation, which was introduced in the new Mediation Scale in the Companion Volume (2018). Unlike the current CEFR descriptors, Mediation descriptors do not only focus on language competencies for communicative purposes but they also add a more action-oriented, situation-based language usage perspective. This new scale gives language teachers and curriculum developers a chance to integrate language development and workplace soft skills (skills needed for intercultural communication, customer services, business meetings, etc.) It also adds the quality (how well) component to the scale in addition to its current quantitative (how much) perspective. The presentation shared a sample study which was conducted using a customer-based needs analysis with the new mediation scale and discussed the future possibilities that this new scale might open up in terms of language teaching. The participants also got the chance to plan a lesson based on new descriptors in groups. The training gave a very eye-opening and innovative perspective about language competencies in 21st century, a time when communication can no longer be thought separate from modern world soft-skills.
STRAND 3: TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Alec Pearson, founder of Pearson Communication, currently teaches ILM leadership, management and professional skills programmes to students at The University of Glasgow. In the training, he focused on Transformational Leadership in language institutions. As language training sector is a highly-changing field, he emphasized the responsibility of leaders to guide their teams in times of transformation. In the first part of the training, Pearson introduced the basic concepts of change management, the qualities of successful leaders, the tools to create new mind-set in the teams. In the second half of the training, the participants found the opportunity to join group discussions about the challenges and experiences of transformation in terms of language teaching. The discussions gave the participants an opportunity to hear about experiences of change from their colleagues who work in diverse contexts.
THE CHANCE TO CONNECT
The Eaquals “Training for Exellence” event was not only a well-designed training programme but a well-planned social gathering that united members of EAQUALS from all over the world. We got the chance to meet the board members, delegate members, inspectors and collaborates of EAQUALS in the sessions and in the event dinners. The dinners gave us a chance to experience the unique culture and taste of beautiful Krakow. We would like to extend our thanks to EAQUALS for this amazing experience and our university and our director Nergis Uyan for providing us the chance to take part in it.