English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teacher
Finding a path to using technology in the classroom isn’t always easy. For Microsoft Innovative Educator Liudmyla Talashkevych, the journey started in 2009 when she was chosen to participate in the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA). This professional development program brings international teachers to the United States for six weeks of academic seminars at a host university. Participants observe classrooms and share their expertise with teachers and students, both at the host university and at local secondary schools.
“That was a great experience in building English speaking skills, gaining knowledge on IT technologies, and learning new approaches in teaching English,” says Talashkevych. “There were many teachers from around the world and I understood that the world is more globalized than I thought of it before.”
Over the next three years, Talashkevych hosted four teachers from the US. Together, they conducted workshops on different topics for her district EFL teachers. “My students had an amazing opportunity to communicate with native speakers and learn much more about the US, the school system in the country, and their traditions and customs,” she says.
Next, Talashkevych hosted a Peace Corps volunteer for two years, and thanks to her activities, Talashkevych’s school got its first computer, projector, and printer.
“All these events helped me become knowledgeable and more confident in my professional career,” Talashkevych tells us. “Never give up, learn as much as possible, look for new scientific achievements and inventions and embody them immediately – that was the lesson I took away as an alumna of the TEA Program.”
Then, in 2016, Talashkevych discovered Microsoft In Education, and her teaching changed completely. “I realized this would help my students communicate effectively, be happy and relaxed, and be involved in an amazing process of making new friends globally,” she says.
Talashkevych’s students love Skype in the Classroom and virtual field trips. They have visited 21 countries, covered about 700,000 kilometers, and participated on 121 Skype lessons. They prepare various hangouts for these events using pictures, tables, posters, and flashcards with animals, food, and numbers. Before virtual field trips, they usually work with a map, find the location of the event, and review the vocabulary. Once the event is complete, they practice feedback with questionnaires, drawings, and quizzes.
“We are active participants in the global collaboration movement,” she tells us. “Joining the projects gives my students a great feeling of being a tiny but extremely important person on our planet, concerned about the same problems as people all over the world, anxious about the same troubles. And absolutely responsible for the planet’s future.”
Talashkevych and her grade 6 students also participate in Hour of Code and Weeks of Code.
“By now, many of my students have passed some courses and have earned certificates that make them happy and more confident in themselves,” she tells us. “They also participate in on-line IT competitions that deepen their knowledge of IT and develop necessary skills for the future.”
And while Talashkevych has come a long way since those first days in 2009, she recognizes there are still obstacles to overcome. “The biggest challenge education faces nowadays is that technologies change so quickly, giving everybody unlimited opportunities, and our educational systems are often uprooted,” she shares. “Governments don’t support educational establishments with enough resources to keep up.”
About Liudmyla Talashkevych
- Educational background: Teaching English for 30 years.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Skype, Sway, Kahoot, PowerPoint, OneNote
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Love life, it is unbelievably interesting and full of surprises! This is you who can make it be so!
- Website I check every day: Facebook
- Favorite childhood memory: A sunny warm day riding a bike along the river and it seemed there was no better place in the world!
- Favorite book: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough; Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman