Cactus reveals the winner of the 2011 Cactus-to-Conference IATEFL Scholarship

Cactus is very pleased to announce that Camilla Heath is the lucky winner of the 2011 Cactus-to-Conference IATEFL Scholarship.  Camilla’s scholarship entry was the clear winner out of the dozens submitted and she’ll now get the opportunity to attend the conference next year, become an IATEFL member and promote her teaching career.

The Cactus-to-Conference Scholarship was created in 2009 to enable one new EFL teacher the opportunity to become a member of IATEFL (the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language), and to attend the yearly conference.  While all EFL teachers are eligible for IATEFL membership, in reality it’s not something that a newly qualified teacher can afford, so Cactus’ scholarship offers a unique opportunity to network and gain greater knowledge about the ELT profession.

Scholarship entrants this year were asked to draft a short article about their experiences of their best lesson.  Camilla’s winning description of a particularly good day at work caught the judges’ attention and explained concisely the hugely rewarding aspects of the job.

My Best Lesson

My best lesson still makes me smile if I think about it: it is absolutely necessary to remember the good times in order to counteract the bad ones! At the end of the lesson, I smiled at my learners and the whole class – all thirty of them – grinned back at me: we had all learnt something during the 150-minute lesson.

I had decided to make a role-play game to get the whole class speaking English together. Every learner had received a character card from me with their new name on it and the details that they would need in order to find a partner in the class. I had organised the class so that the desks were in twos and facing each other. On my desk I had a bell which I would ring at regular intervals to get the learners to move seats if they had not found a partner and look for a new one using their personal character cards.

My learners are between 14 and 15 years old who all have artistic talent and are accepted into the school on the assumption that they will go on to do something creative in their lives. The school is a Co-Ed Montessori school in Amsterdam that was founded in the 1960’s and is unique in its approach to learners and education.

The class came into the ramshackle Portakabin room and sat at their desks, grumbling about the arrangement as they were all out of their comfort zones. On the desks were their cards that they all immediately picked up and started reading. The characters are all very varied in every respect from age to profession to likes or dislikes. Some of the learners asked me how they were supposed to get into a character who was 104 years old and blind or a five-year old. I said that if they met the right person, it would probably be automatic. I explained the ‘speed-dating’ idea and gave them two minutes to sit at a table and talk to the person opposite to see if there was a match or not.

After ringing the bell to signal the swapping around of learners, I realised two things. Everyone one of the children was speaking animated English – trying to find their partner – and that some of the learners had already paired up. I interviewed the already formed couples and asked them why they liked each other so much. The answers that came back were varied: liking the same food was important or having the same pastimes but mainly because they literally spoke the same language – they communicated enough to be able to find out about each other.

At the end of the lesson, we talked about what had worked. The learners said that they enjoyed being able to use the language that they already had learned and I saw the one thing that they really wanted to do – socially interact.

If you are interested in being considered for future Cactus-to-Conference Scholarships, please find more information here:

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *