Saturday 25 March 2017

11 April - World Parkinson's Awareness Day

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1994. I was 16 years old then, right in the middle of my turbulent teens; a self-absorbed adolescent preoccupied with my own needs and wants. I cannot really say I wasn’t of any help – I provided immediate assistance whenever it was needed, but I don’t think that was enough to call me supportive. A classic teen, I don’t think I ever got into the trouble of trying to understand how my father felt when he was struggling to make his feet move faster or to control those shaky hands. 

He is long gone and the time for me has come to pay my long overdue debt. 

11 April is the birthday of Dr James Parkinson who was the first to describe the symptoms of the disease. Let’s all #UniteForParkinsons and do something with our students around that day, the World Parkinson’s Awareness Day. 

Without Her” is a one-act play written by our dear colleague, Despina Karamitsou, in which in a humorous way she presents the causes, symptoms and ways of dealing and living with PD. The play has been translated into several languages and I was more than happy to translate the play into Polish (Except for the original Greek version, there is also a Turkish version available so far). There is also a file with plenty of ideas to choose from if you decide to talk to your students about Parkinson’s. 

The recording of the performance is available in Greek with English subtitles.

I would like to thank Despina for giving me the opportunity to get involved. Her work has showed me that Parkinson’s disease does not have to be a curse if you don’t treat it as one.

Wednesday 1 March 2017


I have always tried to teach with a twist, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that there was a conference for people like me, a TWIST Conference organized annually in Warsaw. I got intrigued by the unusual concept of the event; as the conference organizers put it, TWIST is all about promoting “extraordinary 'ordinary' teachers who take the stage to share their success stories!”

Personally, I tried to contribute to the event with a session on the use of Silent Discussion, my personal teaching success :), a technique especially useful to tackle “difficult” topics in class.

Photo by Małgorzata Warmińska

Silent discussion is a collaborative learning strategy which helps students explore a topic in depth, but most importantly, it allows each student to work at their own pace and engages even the most intimidated students. It first takes form of written self-expression and exchange of ideas, and ultimately turns into a verbal discussion. The instructions need to be very clear: the participants are not allowed to talk for fifteen minutes and the only means of communication among them is a long stretch of big wrapping paper and markers. My session aimed to prove that silence can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can open up space for productivity, creativity and cooperation. When held in silence, discussions on even the most controversial topics resonate loud and make a deep impact.

Here is my follow-up article which appeared in the latest issue of The Teacher

Friday 27 January 2017

ELT for Social Justice – Addressing the Issue of the Holocaust

The article ELT for Social Justice – Addressing the Issue of the Holocaust which I co-authored with Mark Andrews and Adam Janiszewski and was kindly published by the IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group is a fruit of international collaboration. The issue of the Holocaust viewed from various perspectives: our own, but also through the eyes of Mark's students in Hungary, Adam's in Poland and mine in Greece.

Happy reading.