May the fourth be with you – Idea & Good Practice Swapshop

Event review: May the fourth be with you – Idea & Good Practice Swapshop

By George Arping

Well, what a plethora of themes we covered during the HELTA Idea & Good Practice Swapshop – the force was defiantly with us! We’re hoping to make this a regular event on our timetable, two weeks after IATEFL & BESIG. Everyone agreed that this review workshop of IATEFL, encouraged attendees of the conference to look at their notes again.

Rosie Siemsen from HELTA was the first to speak and shared her impressions of her first ever IATEFL: the atmosphere, so much to do and finding ‘my tribe’ were some of her opening comments. She went on to highlight some of the many workshops she attended:

Paul Seligson – The Prolific Power of the Pause. It’s OK to be quiet in the classroom! She mentioned linear & non-linear learners. Just an aside, Paul will be coming to Hamburg on Saturday 14 September to inspire us further with his ideas. Save the date!

Jennifer Meier – Exploring natural stereotypes about Britain in German Language textbooks.

What exactly do boiled eggs, fried eggs and scrambled eggs have to do with stereotypes?

The plenary by Zarina Subhan gave her food for thought “because we’re all worth it”

Anette Igel inspired her with her talk on Universal Design for Learning, as did Vanessa Rodrigues Bocchi Barbosa when she spoke about Using Positive Discipline in Classroom Management.

Finally, she shared her own top tip for using possessive adjectives his/ her with young learners: Dogs who look like their owners


Lewis Jaquest from HELTA presented us “A brief overview of how a design thinking approach can be applied to ELT.” He talked about the ‘inside out thinking’ for problem solving. Highlighted EDIPT and how it is used not only in engineering but how it can also be applied to the ELT classroom: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. He then went on to discuss what Design Thinking is and the 4 C’s – Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Communicating & Collaborating.

He shared a short Youtube Video to explain what design thinking is.


Randy Parry from MELTA firstly complimented Vincent (quote) “on his excellent presentation at the Associates’ Day. He not only described the recent reorganization of the HELTA committee, he also clearly explained the structure of the ELTAs in Germany and its difference from that of teacher associations in most other countries. I thought his was one of the best presentations at the Associates’ Day.” Randy then mentioned that MELTA is now trying to build on some of the contacts we made at the conference, hoping to internationalize our operations through cooperative activities with teacher associations around the world — by organizing joint workshops and sharing contributions to our respective newsletters, for instance.


Vincent Wongaiham-Petersen our very own HELTA Chair-Share took us into the world of inclusivity. He emphasized that at IATEFL conferences, one tends to drift towards things you usually do so this time he challenged himself to try out other themes. Consequently, he went to Requeering Discussions by Peter J Fullager, where Peter began by showing 8 questions he’d found on the internet. They reinforced ‘Fails’, ‘Stereotyping’, ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Othering Someone’. Vincent then took us through a lesson which he was inspired to design for his students: LGBTQIA+ discussion fails lesson

Rosie Bloy from ELTA Rhine took us through her own personal overview of IATEFL. She was somewhat overwhelmed by what was on offer, so decided to focus on AI. She mentioned Course Design by Marina Gonzales, as well as Rachel Roberts, Clair Bower, Lauren Martin and Olga Covalska to name but a few.

Richard Tily presented us his new book “1000 Activities for busy teachers”, how teachers can use visual prompts to generate questions, in particular questions. There is also a section about idioms. It’s a no-fuss, low preparation toolkit for busy teachers.

Sandra Roggenkamp from ELTABB blasted us with some facts and figures to start her poster presentation of Brain-friendly learning. The brain is 2% of our body weight, but uses up 20% of the body’s energy, we can only concentrate for a maximum of 15-20 minutes, after that the brains neurons stop firing.

For me the main take away was the value of images: a slide with an image plus 1-3 words is the most digestible; the retention after 3 days is 85%, with images only 10%. Food for thought, indeed!

Sandra also stressed how important it is to get moving after 15 minutes or so, she suggested the following ‘moves’: 1) Imagine waterdrops on your hands and how it feels 2) Cross your arms over each other and massage your ears and eyebrows 3) Massage your upper and lower lip with your pinky. Here is the link to Sandra’s poster.


I presented The Goldilocks Method which has morphed from something I learnt at BESIG many years ago. It’s a positive, feel-good reading tool which shows students how much they actually know.

It can be used in both the virtual and on-prem classroom and has never failed so far! Find out more in the word document: The Goldliocks Method

Karen-Sarah Passmore from ELTA Rhine decided to focus on pronunciation skills as she works with mostly native Indian-English students. She first talked about the DIE technique: Description, Interpretation, Evaluation which she says is an invaluable tool. Show students two pictures and get them to explain what they see, eg, two offices. One of her favourite books is: Teaching Pronunciation for a Global World by Robin Walker & Gemma Archer. She waxed lyrical about Adrian Underhill ‘Speak like a Star’. You can fond her slides here.

Her final tip is the website: www.dialects

You can contact HELTA on the contact page.