TOBELTA 2014 Session Archive

The TOBELTA Online Conference was a collaboration between BELTA and TSOL Toronto. The theme of the 2014 conference was 'Reading & Writing'. Using two virtual rooms - the BELTA Adobe Connect room and the TSOL Toronto Blackboard Collaborate room - three plenaries and eight break-out sessions were presented over two days - 9 and 10 August 2014.

Here are the links to the various sessions. Below the links table, you will find a description of each session. Please note: the links in the first column take you to the BELTA Adobe Connect room and the links in the second column take you to the TSOL Toronto Blackboard Collaborate room. Additional software may need to be downloaded to access the recordings.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Session Descriptions:

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Plenary: How to integrate extensive and active reading to creative writing

Reading literature is an excellent way for students to make progress in English. It exposes them to exciting plots, interesting characters and authentic dialogues as they learn the language in context. In spite of these benefits, the wrong approach to reading literature can make it a boring and frustrating endeavour. In this presentation I aim to reflect on extensive reading, mainly the use of readers in the EFL classroom and how I integrate them to creative writing. I'll show how I negotiate with my students what they read and how creative writing can be integrated to reading as an effective way of giving feedback and practice new language.

Roseli Serrais an educator who works as an EFL/ESL teacher, ELT consultant, materials writer, Cambridge examiner and e-moderator in Brazil. She’s also a psychologist and a blogger. She has a post-graduate degree in Applied Linguistics and is currently doing long-distance MA in ELT at the University of Reading, UK. She blogs on

Past the 5 Paragraph Essay

The genre-based writing method allows students to produce complex, authentic texts by analyzing model texts for key features such as audience, purpose, organization and language. Unlike the five paragraph essay model which forces students to cram their writing into a one-size-fits-all model that is often inappropriate for the text they are writing, genre analysis helps students understand that different texts have different forms because they have different purposes. In this presentation, participants will be led through a short sample genre-based writing activity where they analyze a text and use that analysis to prepare to write a similar text.

Walton Burns is a teacher and materials writer from Connecticut. He has taught in Kazakhstan and the South Pacific as well as in the US. Currently he write ESL materials including writing textbooks and assessment materials and also blogs at

Visuals: a text’s (and learner’s) best friend

From simple status updates on social media to more complex texts used in university courses, visuals can be a learner’s best friend. We all do it: we connect words with visual representations of them; we relate ideas with images we’ve seen on TV, in movies or just creations from our brains. This visual aspect breaks up the monotony of text-text-text, and helps readers understand intended meaning. Unfortunately, not all texts include visual cues. In this workshop, we will explore how incorporating both teacher- and learner-sourced visuals can dramatically improve textual comprehension and promote language use to discuss meaning.

Tyson Seburn specialises in EAP and has a passion for social media. He founded #EAPchat/#tleapand leads the academic reading circles (ARC). His main research interests include critical reading, and social media for professional development. Tyson is currently president of TESL Toronto.

Tools for adapting authentic reading material

Research says that we should be using authentic reading material in our classes, but sometimes authentic material can be daunting for our students. This session will explore tools and procedures we can use to adapt reading material. Using the Cambridge exams as a benchmark, we will explore the appropriate readability level of authentic material and how we can alter that level without affecting the content.

John Arnold is an American who lives and works in Belgium. Presently he teaches 2nd and 3rd years students in the Secondary Teacher Training programme at Thomas More University College. He has presented around Belgium on EFL methodologies and approaches and has recently presented at the RATE conference in Cluj, Romania. He serves as the Event Officer for BELTA.

The secret passageways of writing

There is no doubt that writing is one of the most difficult skills for L2 learners to master. The difficulty lies not only in generating and organizing ideas, but also in translating these ideas into an intelligible text. In this session I'm going to present an activity of reading/writing based on "The Shadow of the Wind", and show that the teacher is responsible for translating all the writing principles into practice and should constantly record, ponder and analyze what they have done in the classroom, and use their reflective experience as a basis for improving their practices.

Malu Sciamarelli has been working in Brazil for over 20 years as an English teacher, materials designer, translator, consultant for publishers, Cambridge English Language Assessment speaker and speaking examiner. Currently, her main interests are writing and using her own short stories and literature in her Creative Writing classes.

Plenary: Writing--Preventing common mistakes learners make at the exams

Developing writing skills is not something that happens overnight. Yet, even though many teachers start working with their students from day 1, the latter often face unpleasant surprises when they receive the results because of mistakes they make on the exam day. This web-workshop highlights the commonest mistakes, their roots and suggests remedies and practical activities to prevent them. A range of tasks found in the most popular tests as well as indicative students' pieces of writing will be used during the workshop and the audience will be invited to contribute with their comments and experience.

Dimitris Primalis (2013 LT SIG IATEFL scholarship winner) has been teaching EFL for more than 20 years. He is interested in Project Based Learning, Learning Technology and exams and he shares his experience through workshops at international conferences (IATEFL, TESOL France, ISTEK). He has a column in the BELTA (Belgian English Language Teachers Association) Bulletin and has also written articles and posts for the IATEFL Voices, ELT News, Lingua Franca and Microsoft Partners in Learning blog.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Making the most of student journals

I've used student journals with students from all over the world, and have found that they are intensely rewarding for both the teacher and the student. In this session, I'll share ideas for how to set up a journal writing system, how to encourage students to join in, and how to use the resulting writing. I'll also share my experience of writing a journal as a Russian student and what I've learnt from it.

Sandy Millin is the Director of Studies at International House Sevastopol. She is very active in the online community, principally on Twitter @sandymillin. She also has a blog at, where she writes about life in Sevastopol and what happens in her classroom.

Oral feedback on writing composition

This presentation will look at the defining characteristics of recorded oral feedback on written composition in an EAP context. Using up-to-date research, this presentation will argue that oral feedback has a place during the feedback cycle of student composition. Implications for EAP student composition will be discussed.

James Pappleis an Academic Coordinator at Brock University and has an MA TESL. James started his teaching as an advanced EAP writing instructor and as a speaking coordinator has maintained an interest in oral feedback on written composition.

Academic writing: plagiarism

This session focuses on teaching academic writing and in particular helping learners avoid plagiarism. It will present ideas on how to get learners to understand what exactly plagiarism is by using videos and Q&A flashcards. This session will also identify productive and fun ways to help learners develop strategies and skills like paraphrasing and summarizing, synthesizing information from various sources as well as citing correctly so as to avoid plagiarising. Tips on online resources teachers related to plagiarism which any teacher can use when teaching academic writing will be given as well.

Joanna Malefaki has almost 16 years of teaching experience in various contexts. She runs a language school in Crete, Greece and teaches Business English online as well. During the summers, she teaches EAP courses in the UK. She holds a M.Ed In Tesol and has almost completed her Cambridge Delta.

Is anybody reading this? Making writing interactive through the use of blogs and Edmodo

Nowadays we recognise the importance of audience for writing – indeed, writing tasks are devised to encourage learners to keep their audience in mind as they write. However, in many cases, the real “audience” of students’ writing will be the teacher. This session will look at the opportunities inherent in collaborative platforms, such as Edmodo and blogs, to expand a student’s audience beyond his or her teacher, while encouraging autonomous interaction and skill development. It will also explore different ideas and activities for using these platforms with students and discuss how these can be adapted to suit different contexts.

Lizzie Pinard completed her M.A. in ELT and DELTA at Leeds Metropolitan University last year. This summer she will be working at the University of Sheffield, before returning to International House, Palermo, for another contract in the autumn. She enjoys making learning materials, doing classroom-based research, blogging/writing of all kinds and conferences

Plenary: From grammatical mistakes to lexical opportunities

When marking ESL students' writing teachers are naturally drawn to mistakes in grammar. However, very often a grammar mistake masks a gap in learners' vocabulary knowledge. We will explore how error correction can be given a more lexical focus and how a more integrated approach to reading and vocabulary can stimulate better lexical production in writing.

Leo Selivan has been involved in ELT in various roles: teacher, senior teacher, examiner, materials writer and e-moderator. He currently lectures in second language acquisition and pedagogy to pre- and in-service teachers. He has written for the British Council - BBC website Teaching English, Modern English Teacher and The Guardian Education.