KOMELTA Activities and Materials
WHAT IS KOMELTA
Komelta is the association of ELT teachers of the Republic of Komi, uniting university, college and secondary schools professionals, interested in new ideas and technologies, open-minded and creative. It was set up on February 5, 2007 on the basis of the department of Linguistics and Cross-Cultural Communication in Syktyvkar State University. The main goal of its foundation was to meet the needs of a fast changing society, to support those who want to innovate and to teach English effectively.
The President of KOMELTA is Olga Minina, the head of the department of Linguistics and Cross-Cultural Communication in Syktyvkar State University.
The official address is: 167000, Syktyvkar, ul. Kataeva, 9, room 113.
The main mission of KOMELTA is
– to coordinate educational, scientific and methodological links, as well as international contacts;
– to improve the quality of English teaching;
– to inform the ELT community about new trends in teaching;
– to provide training in new educational technologies;
– to share resources and innovations;
– to organize seminars, trainings, lectures, presentations and other events;
– to organize summer and winter camps for school children;
– to cooperate with ELO in Moscow;
– to cooperate with the ELT communities in Russia and abroad.
SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS
From March 25 to March 27 the Department of Foreign Languages for Humanities welcomed a lecturer from the USA, Ms. Danai Long. She held a number of workshops and presentations for English language teachers of the Komi Republic and University students.
The workshops dealt with American Potpourri, Interactive Listening Lessons using Voice of America Special English, and Methods, Materials and Ideas for Incorporating Culture in the English Language Classroom.
The presentations were devoted to American Educational System, American Holidays, and Washington, DC.
The students of Linguistics, International Relations and Political Science Departments took part in organizing the cultural program for Ms. Danai Long.
From April 6 to April 8, 2009, KOMELTA and the department of Linguistics and Cross-cultural Communication hosted a Senior English Language Fellow from the USA, Mr. John Scafidi.
KOMELTA provided a great opportunity for EFL teachers from Syktyvkar, Ukhta, Vorkuta and other parts of the Komi Republic and also University students to participate in workshops and presentations delivered by Mr. Scafidi.
Our guest gave a number of Power Point presentations covering the following issues: “Martin Luther King’s famous speech “I have a dream” and Barack Obama’s speech”, “Academic Writing in a Global World”, and the American film, “The Pursuit of Happiness” followed by a discussion of some American values mentioned in the film.
The workshops Mr. Scafidi also offered to EFL teachers dealt with “Teaching Students How to Listen”, “Cooperative Learning in the Language Classroom, Overview, Strategies and Techniques”, and “How to Write a Statement of Purpose”. Along with training workshops, participants met the expertise and enthusiasm of our guest and realized a really good exchange of teaching experiences.
The feedback from the participants, as well as KOMELTA, the organizers of three day training program, was very positive.
Svetlana Tutynina, Secretary of KOMELTA
“SYKTSU UNO MODEL – 2009”
During December (3–5) Syktyvkar State University hosted the 3D annual political game “Model United Nations – 2009”. The organizer was the Chair person of Linguistics and Cross-Cultural Communication.
“UNO Model" in SyktSU is not a simple conference, it’s the exact copy of the UNO, where the corresponding rules are observed and the working language is English. This event is held to give the students a chance to get acquainted with the work of the most important international political body, practice their language and public speaking skills. Moreover, it gives the young people the opportunity to broaden their outlook, get involved into solving urgent political problems, develop their own position and ground it on in fierce debate in English.
During the game the delegates of different countries present their position papers accompanied by Power Point presentations, ask questions, work out a resolution and work at amendments as real diplomats. And as real diplomats they are to follow the rules of the procedure, vote and solve unexpected problems (as for example kidnapping of some delegates last year, when other delegates had to negotiate with terrorists).
This year the work of two main bodies of the UNO was modeled, Security Council and ECOSOC. The topics under discussion were the Iranian nuclear program and the problems of migration respectively. Professional and very fierce debates, especially in the Security Council, were so interesting and the delegates argued in such a professional way, showing deep knowledge of the subject, that it was impossible to leave sessions even for a minute.
Despite the fact that the game was held after classes up to 6 p.m., almost none of the delegates left the hall. The result was the happy feeling of victory, deep satisfaction with the work done, friendship and certainly awards for the best delegates. And a feeling of work in the team of partners, having the same values, interests and ideals! It was a team of delegates, journalists, engineers, chairpersons, secretaries – students, schoolchildren and teachers.
All of them are the people who perceive all the events in the world not in the way mass media present, but have their own position, non standard thinking and creativity.
O.G. Minina, Secretary General, Head of Linguistics and Cross-Cultural Communication Chair
The 3rd of December was the first day of “SyktSU UNO Model – 2009” on the topic “The Iranian nuclear program”.
At the Opening ceremony speakers were the vice rectors, A. U. Timofeev and G. N. Dorovskikh, who wished the best regards to the participants of Model United Nations.
The key speaker was I. V. Minin, who touched upon the problem of the Iranian nuclear program and the problems connected with it.
The Secretary General O. G. Minina spoke about the main problems of the agenda in English.
Then the delegates moved to the halls, where their bodies were to work and the chairpersons of the Security Council (Ann Bunina) and ECOSOC (Olga Yepova) started the round call. The work began.
There were 13 countries taking part in the Security Council: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdomn, United States of America, Costa Rica, Croatia, Iran, Austria, Mexico, Turkey, Japan and Vietnam. All the participants commented on their attitude to the nuclear program of Iran and made their counries position presentations. Not only students but schoolchildren (delegates of Vietnam and Costa Rica) took the floor.
The ECOSOC was represented by 46 countries which also presented their positions on migration.
The event attracted a lot of attention. Students of historical, humanitarian, philological faculties, Puskin gymnasium and School №38, as well as lecturers were present.
Both meetings were informative and intelligent. All the delegates introduced their countries in a proper way, did some constructive work and were advised to think on resolution projects.
Some special thanks are due to the delegates from the USA, Russian Federation and Iran for very their interesting speeches, debates and good answers to questions.
THE SECOND DAY
The 2nd day of UNO Model was devoted to the resolution projects. The delegates were given half an hour for the informal debates including discussion and revision of their projects.
In the Security Council all participants divided into two coalitions. The first coalition, with the USA, France, Croatia, Bolivia and Burkina Faso, insisted that Iran should “stop producing and processing uranium within 60 days”. Iranian authorities “must declassify their works on creating the nuclear weapon”.
The opposing coalition included the Russian Federation, China, Japan, Turkey, Costa Rica and Vietnam. They were against the resolution of the USA and France, asserting that 60 days are too short a period of time to make such a decision. And this coalition was against imposing sanctions on Iran. After a long and emotional discussion, both sides didn’t come to a common conclusion on the given question. Therefore the Secretary General took the floor and decided to postpone the meeting till the next day.
At the ECOSOC there were 3 resolutions presented:
the 1st from Poland. (“For” – Greece, United States of America; “against” – Uruguay)
the 2nd from the Russian Federation, France and the United Kingdom (“For” – Algeria, Netherlands); nobody was against.
the 3rd from China (“For” – Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein; “against” – the Russian Federation)
After voting the majority of votes were given to China’s draft resolution.
THE THIRD DAY
The 5th of December was the third and last day of UNO Model – 2009 work. It was devoted to the resolution acceptance. After informal debates and voting, both the draft resolutions were accepted. Then there was a process of introducing amendments.
At the end of the session, the Chairpersons read the accepted resolutions and summarized the work of their bodies.
After that, the awarding of winners took place. According to the results of voting, the best delegates were recognized: a delegate from the United States of America (Julia Skupchenko) and a delegate from the Russian Federation (Faina Usova). All the delegates who presented good position papers and took part in the debates were given certificates and prizes.
O. G. Minina, N. V. Nesterets, A. Shchelkanova, V. Sazonova, R. Shmidt, R. Bliznuk
TEACHING VISUALLY-IMPAIRED STUDENTS ENGLISH AND HELPING THEM INTEGRATION INTO THE GLOBAL EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
Educating children with disabilities is a priority of the national project “Education”. Nevertheless, the technique of training people with disabilities essentially differs from methods of teaching healthy people, especially if it is not pathology of the support-locomotion system, but that of vision and hearing. To educate such students we need a special system of methods and specific didactic materials.
This complex of methods includes both the technical equipment of educational institutions and the development of special training courses for teachers and other students to develop their interaction with the disabled. Moreover, to facilitate the adaptation process of children with disabilities in educational institutions, special programs are needed. However, there is no developed system of education for such children in our country, as it is shown by the analysis of the problem. The law theoretically guarantees their right to study, but sometimes it is very difficult or impossible to realize it due to the absence of specific methods, materials and equipment. Therefore, to solve such problems we have to be guided by foreign experience.
In foreign countries, the development and introduction of a package of regulations helping to promote the educational opportunities for people with disabilities have been conducted since 1970s. In modern educational policy of the United States and Europe there are several approaches, including increased access to wide participation, mainstreaming and integration, which have been developed together with inclusion.
“Mainstreaming” implies that students with disabilities communicate with their peers at festivals, and in various recreational programs. “Integration” means bringing the needs of children with mental and physical disabilities in line with the educational system, which, as a whole, remains unchanged and which is not suitable for them. “Inclusion” implies reforming schools and remodeling classrooms so that they meet the needs of all children without exception.
The system of inclusive education involves educational institutions of secondary, vocational and higher education. Its purpose is to create barrier-free environments in education and training of people with disabilities. Such a system, for example, effectively works in the University of Minnesota and some other universities of the U.S.
In our country, the first inclusive educational institutions appeared in the 1980s and early 1990s. The school of inclusive education, “The Ark” (№ 1321), appeared in Moscow in 1991 at the initiative of the Moscow Center of Medical Pedagogic and a parental social organization.
Since autumn 1992, Russia began implementing the project “Integration of people with disabilities”. As a result, experimental sites for integrated education of disabled children were set up in 11 regions. According to the information, given by the Ministry of Education and Science, in 2008–2009 the model of inclusive education was introduced as an experiment in educational institutions of various types in several regions of the Russian Federation: Arkhangelsk, Vladimir, Leningrad, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Novgorod, Samara, Tomsk and other regions. In Moscow there are more than one thousand five hundred secondary schools, but still only 47 of them use the program of inclusive education.
In addition to inclusive education, there are other options for teaching disabled children in Russia: special schools and boarding schools, and residential homes system of social protection, in which various educational programs are conducted by social trainers. However, such homes are not educational institutions de jure and can’t issue a document about education. Other options are corrective classes of secondary schools and home education. In the last case, teaching is usually carried out by teachers of the nearest educational institution, but there are specialized home-based schools for children with disabilities in Russia. Home education can be conducted on the basis of general or auxiliary program, which was created, taking into consideration the abilities of the student. At the end of study a child is given a certificate of school graduation with indication of the program according to which he was trained.
Distant learning is the most modern and convenient approach. It is a complex of educational services for children with disabilities, which are carried out with the help of a specialized informational and educational environment based on the means of information exchange at a distance (satellite TV, radio, computer networks, etc.). For realization of distant learning, special equipment is required (a computer, a printer, a scanner, a web camera, etc.), with the help of which the child will stay in touch with the teacher or the center of distance learning. In the training process, the teacher and the student communicate online, the student then does the assignment sent to him/her by e-mail and sends the results to the examiner. Today people in Russia can get not only secondary but also higher education as well with the help of distant learning.
However, distant learning techniques can be applied mainly for teaching people with disorders of the locomotor system, because materials of the courses are similar for both healthy people and people with disabilities. The problem lies in the fact that all people with disabilities are different: with different disorders, different levels of background, different social skills, and different personal experience. So we should speak actually about individualized learning. But this is a remote ideal.
The practical problem was posed in the following way: to teach visually-impaired students (with a good level of schooling) professional English language so that they could communicate with their colleagues on professional topics, work with scientific literature (in audio format), have the skills of business correspondence and also continue their distant education at any university in the world, if they wish.
As analysis shows, there are few materials for teaching blind students English in high school or they are unavailable. Therefore, a group of teachers and students from the Department of Linguistics and Cross-cultural Communication began to develop their own method of working with such students, based only on audio material. The texts, exercises and other materials are recorded several times in a certain sequence with pauses for repetition and parallel translation, leading the student to actually learning the material by heart and taking part in the discussion. As a result, step-by-step audio-lessons on specific topics are being made.
During this work, a number of problems were revealed: not only the absence (or unavailability) of specialized narrow methodology of teaching blind students foreign language, the lack of suitable audio materials, but also the absence of an open informational environment, permitting the exchange of techniques and resources, bringing together teachers who work at the problem and certainly experience a real “information hunger”. The lack of such network is certainly connected with the general mood of the society and the official policy of “unnoticing” disabled people in our environment. Obviously, this happens because of the complexity of this problem and, as a result, actual rejection of its solution. But the paradox is that the problem can be solved though creating training materials for such target groups, but it may require more time and resources, because such groups of people with disabilities are diverse and specific. But people with disabilities socialized in the society in the right way can be as useful to this society as most of the healthy people.
All of us know the phrase that the welfare of any society depends on the attention the state pays to the problems of the socially unprotected groups of population. But only a few people take care of the lives of disabled people and the rest are just scared even of that word. But this should not happen in the civilized world! We must make every effort so that children and young people with disabilities do not feel destitute at the very beginning of their lives.
We will welcome any responses on the matter. Please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Used list of sources:
N. Rocheva, E. Konevskaya, O.G. Minina, Syktyvkar State University