METU ELT 2012 : 11th METU International ELT Convention

METU International ELT Convention is going to be held on the dates 31 May – 02 June 2012 at Middle East Technical University Convention Center, Ankara, Turkey. The theme of this Convention is Embracing Challenges which aims to focus on identifying and addressing challenges that emerge as a result of the changing needs and growing demands of learners as members of academic, social or business communities in a globalised world.

I will be there present my action research on ‘L2 Reading Motivation’ with Asli. Our presentation will take place on Sunday at 14:15 in Hall G.

If you are interested, you can check out our abstract.

Research in L2 reading motivation has gained impetus and provided many insights into understanding the components of motivation and factors that affect L2 learners in terms of reading motivation. Although many studies can be found on L1 reading motivation, studies on L2 reading motivation seem to be relatively meager. Since action research encompasses a sequence of events and an approach to problem solving, the present study addressed to examine whether; (1) this sample of Turkish University students differ in terms of their intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation and (2) a change in methodology has an impact on the L2 reading motivation. Participants responded to a Motivation for Reading Questionnaire (MRQ) and took part in focus group interviews. Results revealed that L2 reading motivation was affected by extrinsic factors mostly and the changes in methodology and the instructional elements had a crucial effect on intrinsic and mostly extrinsic motivation, reading amount and performance. Results foreshadowed insightful methodological changes.

Many thanks to 005-03 and 005-07 students for participating in this research.

Meetings: a way of maximizing both efficiency and fun

What does the word ‘meeting’ connate? How do you feel when you first hear it? Is it something that drone on like a walking-dead zombie robbing institutions of time, productivity and joy? Or, is it the cornerstone of inspiration, collaboration and sharing?

It’s just the beginning of the week and some people are already grousing about the Monday Syndrome and the coming Level Meeting. Can we manipulate those negative connotations and perceive Level Meetings as a symbol for the beginning of nice series of events? Yes, we can!

We were a small group in PIN in the previous module. There were only 8 teachers in total (7 females- 1 male). Since Andrew had his own Level Meetings on Monday afternoons, he could not attend our meetings. Basically, it was all Ladies’ Afternoon. (You can imagine what I mean by ‘Ladies’ Afternoon’.)

Similar to the group dynamics in a class, the dynamics in work groups and the degree to which the group fulfils the emotional, social and psychological needs of an individual and enhances a person’s self identity are considerably important if you want to generate real team work. Oddly enough, in our very first level meeting we realized that we had such great chemistry and a sense of belonging in our group, which then had a substantial impact on decision making, problem solving and communication. We then thought it could be a good idea to cherish this synergy even more by bringing delicious salads, cakes and cookies. For each meeting, one instructor was assigned to prepare something for the group and we noted this as an informal action. The week we started this practice was a marking week and thanks to the food which boosted our energy level, we noticed that we were able to finish marking before the scheduled timed without any huffs and puffs contrary to those days when we were truly flagging and lethargic! Additionally, there were almost no marking errors! Can you believe it?

In short, if you want to beat the Monday Level Meeting blues, think about how you can add onto the energy and motivation level of your group. As long as we care about each other and feed each other, we can foster productivity and efficiency. What do you think?

Enriching Process Writing with Technology and Effective Teaching Strategies


Why do we teach writing? 

The process of developing effective writing skills has to be addressed in language classrooms for a number of reasons. Firstly, learners need to be scaffolded with skills and strategies for writing and have to be provided with opportunities to practise writing in the classroom, as Harmer (2004) points out ‘’Spoken language … is acquired naturally as a result of being exposed to it, whereas the ability to write has to be consciously learned. ‘’

It is furthermore essential to incorporate writing into our classrooms as it helps our students to learn. It reinforces language that they have been learning, but also provides opportunities for exploring language. In other words, ‘ …when our students write, they have a chance to be adventurous with the language, to go beyond what they have just learned to say, to take risks’’ (Raimes, 1983:3)


Different approaches to writing: Product Writing vs Process Writing

A product approach to writing is primarily interested in the aim of the writing task and the final end product. The process approach, on the other hand, focuses on the stages through which a learner goes in order to produce the writing. It can also be considered as a skills approach towards writing as Harmer (2001:257) states ‘By spending time with learners on pre-writing phases, editing, redrafting, and finally ‘publishing’ their work, a process approach aims to get to the heart of the various skills that should be employed when writing.’


What is process writing?

The process approach to teaching writing is based on the premise that people learn to write by writing. This approach reflects more closely what proficient writers actually do, which is examine their work critically and to draft and re-draft it until they are pleased with the end result (Senior,2010). Similarly, learners now have more opportunities for meaningful writing and can have experiences which enable them to develop effectiveness through process writing and thus become less dependent on the teacher. It is therefore significant to apply process writing in our classrooms since it is real to life and students will benefit from it if they successfully go through the stages.

What are the stages of process writing and how can we enrich these stages with technology?

The stages of process writing are explained below. However, there are no exact rules to how these stages should be. Each stage can be taught more effectively thanks to Web 2.0 tools which are interactive online tools because they can provide powerful instruments for collaborative writing and allow students to visualize their learning.




Smalley R. and Ruetten M. (1995) define brainstorming as a sudden insight or connection. In this stage, the learners start thinking about the topic given. This can be conducted as a whole-class activity or in groups so that students benefit from each other as well. The learners can write every idea that comes up without eliminating any. It is clearly a crucial part of the writing process as the idea-generating will guide students through the amount of information they will include in their paragraphs or essays.


Web 2.0 tools which you can use in this stage are

  • helps you create a brainstorming sheet that helps your organize your ideas in a simple and meaningful way.
  • EdiStorm is an interactive wall where you can brainstorm using sticky notes collaboratively. You can move your notes and you can play with colors. You can also create solo or collaborative brainstorms.
  • Lexipedia is essentially an online dictionary and thesearus combined. It helps you explore related words and their meanings,conduct research, gather information and select the best word or phrase to express your idea
  • CoSketch is multi-user online whiteboard that helps you visualize your ideas and share them as images.



After generating ideas, it is now time to eliminate some and organize the rest of the ideas so as to focus on a main point and develop a rough plan for the paragraph or the essay to be written. While producing the plan, it is quite normal for the learners to add or delete information. They keep adding and deleting till the final product is reached as the real writers do.


Web 2.0 tools which you can use in this stage are


  • EtherPadIt’s easy to use and no password is needed. A shared notepad that lets you store your revisions and synchronize with others.
  • Diigo is a research, collaborative research tool and a social bookmarking tool that you collect your favourites from internet. You can share your finding with highlights, sticky notes and the original url.
  • Board800 is a multi user shared interactive whiteboard with simultaneous access and drawing capabilities. It lets you add as many as you want. Users can use each page independently, and each user can see the changes on each page.

Writing the first draft


By looking at the plans, learners start writing their essays. At this stage, students should be focused on the fluency rather than being worried about the grammar or the neatness of the essay. It is an important stage because if there is a lack of focus at this stage, organising the ideas and getting the message across will become more difficult tasks. Learners can feel less nervous and be more productive if we openly state that accuracy is not that important at this point. Since the focus is on fluency, there is almost always a mistake either in the organization or in the grammar or the choice/ form of the vocabulary and this leads us to editing and proof-reading.

Web 2.0 tools which you can use in this stage are


  • Writeboard   A place to create shareable, web-based text documents. Write solo or collaborate with others.
  • Keybr helps you to learn typing faster with fewer errors.
  • DabbleBoard is a whiteboard that enables you to visualize, explore and collaborate. You draw as you are drawing on a whiteboard and you can easily share your ideas.




Editing deals with “what you write”. At this stage, learners should be able to look at their texts as if they have ‘a new pair of eyes’ (White & Arndt, 1991). At this stage, we look at the content and the organization and an essay (or paragraph) is expected to have the following basic features:


  • Is there a thesis? / Is the thesis clear? / Is there a topic sentence?
  • Are the developmental paragraphs /ideas relevant to the thesis/topic sentence?
  • Are the ideas supported well? Are there enough examples / details?
  • Are the transitions chosen correctly? Are they in the right place?
  • Does the conclusion have a summary?


Once the content and the organization of the ideas satisfy the writer, she writes a second draft and the paper is ready for proof-reading.


Web 2.0 tools which you can use for feedback are


Vocaroo helps you send voice messages


Screencast-o-matic is an online recording platform that can be used for screen capture and screencasting.




Proof-reading deals with “how you write”. While proof-reading, the paper is checked for any spelling, punctuation mistakes, lack of parallelism in the structures, flaws in the style (formal/informal), and grammar mistakes. It is better to leave proof-reading to the last since the text may change many times before the writer is pleased with her essay. It is a very vital stage for writers since they shape their essays/paragraphs to give the final draft a proper appearance.


Web 2.0 tools which you can use in this stage are


  • AnyTypos is a free, online spell checker. To check your text, just copy paste your content and you can get the results online instantly.
  • Paperrater analyzes documents immediately and provide in depth analysis to help students improve grammar and vocabulary. It also includes plagiarism detection, style and word choice analysis.


The final product


After receiving feedback on the spelling and grammar mistakes, the learners write the essay/paragraph again. This means, the same essay/paragraph needs to be written at least three times (first draft, second draft after editing, final product after proof-reading) before a final product can be reached.


When students have their final product, they can publish it.


  •  A free and open source software that makes personal publishing as easy as word processing. Make your life and your students’ life easier by keeping a classroom or subject blog.
  • Wikispaces  Create a public, online wiki for free. This is great for group assignments and class collaborations.
  • Edublogs  A free blog-hosting site for educators and students of all ages.


 What other activities can we use for process writing?


Line up/ Circle activity: Firstly, you form 2 lines of students facing each other. Students are given a set of questions about the topic to activate schemata. The students in the first line remain steady, but the students in the second line moves one step right when you clap your hands and they change partners and they start asking their new partners the questions . It is a very nice speaking activity in which the students talk to many different people. You can also get students to perform in a circle. The students in the inner circle remain steady, but the students in the outer circle move one step right when you clap your hands and they change partners and they start asking their new partners the questions.

The Cutting Jury: Show students card boards with different headings and tell them to write as many points as possible on them and state that they are going to exchange papers with the next group whenever you clap your hands. When the list gets back to its original group, stop the activity and get students to tick the ones they agree with and cross the ones they disagree. Then, ask students to choose 3 important points from the list, cut them and put them into an order of importance. Students are then supposed to start planning their paragraphs or essays by expanding these main points by supporting details and examples.


Gallery Reading: When students reach their final product, they put their paragraphs/essays onto the walls and start walking around the classroom to examine each other’s work by making corrections and writing comments. They can also put different stickers to show how they feel about them.





Harmer, J. 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching (3rd edition). Longman.

Harmer, J. 2004. How to Teach Writing. Longman

Raimes, A. 1983. Techniques in Teaching Writing. Oxford University Press.

Senior, R. January 2010 The teaching of writing ETP 66/59

Smalley, R. & Ruetten, M. 1995  Refining Composition Skills Heinle&Heinle Publishers

White, R. & Arndt, V. 1991. Process Writing. Longman.

TESOL GREECE- Ready, Set, Go!!!

TESOL GREECE: Ready, set, go!

33rd Annual TESOL Greece International Conference will take place on March 17 & 18 in Athens. This year the theme is ‘Teaching, Testing and Technology ’.I feel so happy that I can put a shiny and starry tick next to one of my action plans for this year

*Present a paper at a reputable International Conference 

My e-poster presentation entitled ‘Enriching Process Writing with Technology and Effective Teaching Strategies’ focuses on incorporating different Web 2.0 tools and activities into process writing. Unfortunately, process writing is generally neglected in the classroom since teachers and students think it is challenging and time consuming. However, with the help of technology and effective teaching strategies, we can show our learners that writing is fun and provide them with support in the process of becoming successful writers.

Among the four skills of language, it is writing that is considered as the most difficult by both learners and teachers, and it is usually the one that attracts least attention in language classrooms. Teachers are often overwhelmed with the difficulties of teaching this skill in the limited class time that is available to them, and prefer to set writing tasks as homework, rather than incorporating it into their classrooms. Similarly, textbooks tend to neglect the skill by including a variety of material for speaking, listening and reading, but having little focus on writing.

Considering these issues, I’ll do my best to explain why teachers should teach writing, demonstrate different approaches to writing. My presentation mainly intending for teachers with little or no expertise aims to underscore that teachers can help their learners become independent and successful with the use of technological tools and effective teaching strategies fostering student centeredness.

If you want to see the programme, click on the link.

Wish me luck & Hope to see you there


Friday Reflections: Reflect Reflact Refluct

When I turn back the hands of time and go back to 2006 when I first started teaching, I can clearly remember the moments when I used to complain about the fact that I had no miraculous activities to enrich my lessons. Later on, I learned several different activities to spice up my lessons and cultivate learning. To tell you the truth, they worked very well for quite a while. Students were having fun and learning at the same time (‘learning’ is a dodgy word, though).However, there was still something missing.  What was that? REFLECTION!!!

Reflection is essential to effective and transferable learning, particularly in cognitively demanding situations. Although I realised the importance of ‘reflection’ both in my personal life and teaching career at a later stage of my life and thence feel sort of guilty about this, I’ve been trying hard to compensate for it by, first of all, fostering an awareness/ a deeper awareness of what reflection is and how it works and then getting learners to habitualize it. Most of my previous students have started taking 101 and 102 classes, so I asked them to reflect on how they were getting on with Undergraduate courses and how they could link the skills they’d learned in SELI to their new experience.

I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to my students who have shared their reflections.

Here are those lovely reflections…..

Many students know that taking the preperation class in Ozyegin University is harder than the others; however, as long as you study hard, you can pass the Trace easily. When I started  Ozyegin University, I was an elemantry student. I had a great time in elemantry and pre intermadiate. I failed two courses which are ıntermadiate and upper. When I heard that I’d failed, I was very sad, but after that my mind was changing because if I had passed these courses, I wouldn’t have learnt where I had weaknesses in English.

The department is more different than the preperation class.We learn academic English in preperation class and when we start our own department,we obviously see that learning academic English in preperation class is beneficial, but we still have some weaknesses which are regarding some mathematical terms. In my humble opinion, in preperation class the teachers of SELI can also demonstrate them, such as functions, domain, range when the students take Advanced course’   Elif Aydogan

‘Dear Ms.Sirin,

To begin with, Students who are in different levels in SELI need you. When I consider old days that we were in advanced level, I recall how many things we learned. I wish one day you came back for advanced students.

We have great teachers here, too. They are all cheerful and have a good relationship with us. We continue from where we have left. I utilize our earlier notes in class and complex sentences. Moreover, we have begun to write summary – response essay. In point of fact, i’m planning to use these sentences in my essays in order to take a good job by Mr. Gerald.:)

I see all my classmates but generally I spend time who is student of business school. Our lectures are very intensive but I don’t complain about it – even I like that. I wonder what I’ll further learn and read. All courses attract my attention.

In my opinion, I have received a good education in SELI. I can overcome reading my schoolbook. I’m learning many different words such as academic terms but since the book explains them clearly and have some examples about it I can understand new terms. That’s why English schoolbooks seem easier.

All of my teachers who are young and dynamic have a great education. They have academic career in the most prestigious schools around the world.

Thanks for everything Ms Sirin, see you soon.’

  Ugur Gürer                                                            


When I remember my days in SELI, I can state that it was not complicated because just now I have passed the ENG101 course which is quite difficult. When I was a SELI student, I said that I want to pass SELI and I want to be undergraduate student. However, ENG101 course or any other course such as Math, Physic and Computer science and so on so forth is more difficult to understand. If students come to Cekmekoy, they can understand me. Nowadays, I am waiting for my courses’ score, which is exciting for m . As for my English level, I can say that I cannot concentrate on English as much as I want, but in ENG101, which is related to merely writing summary and response task, I have learnt different things. Owing to my SELI experience in particular your support; I did not have difficulty in understanding this course. All in all, SELI experiences were very helpful for undergraduate  courses.’ Büşra Uydaşoğlu

‘Higschool stage had been succesfully completed! Now, it was the time to start University stage and I’ve started the game. The life, if it is a game, University should be one of the hardest level of it as much as enjoyable. ‘I’m worried, will I able to pass this level?’ This was the question which I was asking to myself for many days and  now the answer was taking shape , by the reason having the first lesson-day in Ozyegin University of mine.
Like everyone else, I was observing the people around me. All we were trying to act like university students in the view of information which we’ve heard about it before. The most challenging thing was getting used to and having a good environment as well as in our highschools, at least for me, after a whole 5 highschool years. I started with intermediate level, that’s why I was a little bit more more relaxed than my friends who started with elementary.
Learning english and passing to the department, having good social environment, taking role in the clubs, in a nutshell being succesful, useful and gaining experiences are the missions of this game. Sometimes you will meet with heroes wich are ready to help you in the path to success, like PT.
J Sometimes you will face with evil things which are to demoralize you. Despite all negative effects and enemies, you will have more friends and I think that, you all are able to finish this part of the game. I can easily say you as a experienced player of this part. Good luck!’  Mehmet Aydın


First of all, I miss SELİ and Altunizade 🙂  when I was a student in Seli I never thought I would miss SELİ.The majority of student in Özyeğin complain regarding Homeworks, compulsory attendance, teachers, homeworks,copulsory attendance, teachers 🙂 All student of SELİ tend to get into a vicious circle like this and they continue to complain until graduated from SEli. This behaviour pattern be inherited from generation to generation in Özyeğin:) After the facts of seli I want to say something about my story. When  I came Seli I have no any idea about English. I didn’t know Simple tense, Past tense, I didn’t know nothing. I never watch movie with english subtitles or TV series. I mean that nobody in Seli had worse english knowledge than me. I tried to be engilish an indivisible part of my life and I made an effort to eliminate any my bias about English. As you know that the process of learning a new language is difficult for students who are older than 18-19, so many student have great difficulty in  the process of learning English at the beginning. Sometimes many students think that the majority of homework  is  unnecessary (in fact all homeworks J ) and they tend to  think why  I should do this homework  but they will  realize  that  homeworks  are playing a key role in  the proccess of learning a new language after Seli. If you want to achive something you have to eradicate prejudices about it and you must be part of what you want to achive. It must be empasized that Seli is difficult. I get tired  so  I  want to stay away from  ( summarize , response etc.  J )  I withdrawed  ENG101 for some other reasons. I hope so everbody  graduate from Seli as soon as possible. I fell myselfy under obligation to give  a social message  at the end of my  writing 🙂 Love Engilish Do your homework!’   Gokhan Yasar

Actually, we miss you and preparation school because preparation school is kind of highschool but now everything is different.We improve ourselves in terms of english in SELI but I’d like to improve my speaking more.Our undergraduate program is english and some students that have taken TOEFL or IELTS can not understand  lessons accurately especially in english 101 because they do not know summary or some academic articles and I think SELI is necessary for these skills.Your pin students can be pessimistic about their lengths of preparation school but they will understand like us.You have chosen a pin class.I think this can influence range of passing trace because students that receive advanced level can not benefit from your skills.Therefore, I gave my advanced notebook that include your academic sentences to some preparation students and now everyone wants my notebook to make a photocopy:D I wish you all the best:D‘  Faruk Cort

Would you like to have some candies? :)

Life is full of discoveries… Oddly enough, I’ve just discovered that I’m heavily dependent on snow to write something here. No!No! Let’s put it this way-snowy weather is the real inspiration for my blogging( Yay!).  Of course, this shouldn’t indicate  that I didn’t do anything at all for this little baby when the weather was relatively better. I tried to come up with a couple of bright ideas and hopefully make them real in a short time. Stay tuned people!

After a week of so-called rest, it was our first day at school. I call it as a so-called rest because I mainly overburdened myself with reading additional articles and analysing data for my action research on L2 reading motivation.  I shouldn’t be weeping here endlessly over it because that’s what most instructors do and to my surprise, for those celestial instructors married with children ( mind you, hyperactive kids) it is just a routinised action. Arrrgggh hate this!Let me change the focus before I get super aggresive. As I said, it was our first day at school and I’m quite happy today because I’m teaching PIN this course. Jolly gooooood! Having taught ADV for the last four modules, this will be a great change and I’m hoping to create quality time for other areas in my life. ADV kids shouldn’t be taking this personally because I had great moments teaching them, but honestly enough is enough! We, teachers, get bored teaching the same things over and over again although we decorate and polish them before we start. It’s somehow scary to say goodbye to my comfort zone  in ADV, but I don’t want to torture those poor kids teaching archaic words  anymore:) Let’s see what is waiting for me in my new zone and I hope this process will be mutually insightful as the new module progresses.

Upon receiving the good news, I decided to change  the theme and background of my blog. Although it might be fiercely criticized for being too pinky, I should note that I’m totally against colour- coding and therefore you shouldn’t assume that it’s pink because it’s the colour of a girl! Rubbish! The reason why I changed it is the yummy candies, which also symbolize the taste of sweetness and pleasure. Whenever I have candies, sweeties or taffies, I definitely share them with the people I love and care for. 🙂

So would you like to have some candies???





This is the end of the road…


On this lovely (a problematic word choice for the ones in traffic) snowy day, I’m finally taking a moment and trying to put my thoughts into words in a vain attempt. With the car horns in the background and people rushing, I’m looking out of the window in a comfortable and breezy manner. Where are these people going?  Do I really care? NO! But, what happens when the ones that we really love in a short time have to leave us? I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days because it’s the heartbreaking demise of the module and it’s time to say goodbye to my dear students and the warm smiles that used to greet me. I really hate this because I’ve truly got used to teaching these people. On one hand, they’ll all hopefully pass the proficiency test and commence their studies in their departments (let’s keep our fingers crossed), on the other hand  I have to meet new people and try to discover who they are and what they want/need, which I really find quite challenging and demotivating. I really wonder whether there are other teachers who find it extremely difficult to adapt themselves to new students and expectations and who could happily teach the same kids forever. I know I’m not a risk taker, but quite aware of the fact that this new challenge might bear gifts and opportunities .

Anyhow, I’ll terribly miss those lovely people in M3 ( 14 weekers) and M7 ( 7 weekers)




Goodbye Teletubbies 🙂

May the force be with you….










Hello world!

Hi there,

My name is Petek Sirin. I’m a 20+ dedicated EFL instructor working at a private University in Istanbul, Turkey. Having completed my BA in English Language and Literature at Hacettepe University in 2006, I’m currently working on my MSc studies in TESOL at Aston University. I hold Cambridge ESOL CELTA and DELTA qualifications, as well. Even though I’ve worked with various age groups, the greater portion of my experience lies in teaching EGP & EAP to young adults.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never ever thought of creating a blog for myself because I’ve never had a real motive to do so. Basically,doing an online course on Technology is the bedrock reason behind this abrupt decision. With zillions of questions on my mind, I can’t truly work out what I’m expecting from this practice or how I can get the most out of it. Finding an answer to my questions which are directly underscoring my utilitarian approach towards blogging, I may simply try to work through the challenges of blogging and then hopefully enjoy every minute of this hands on experience.

Would you like to join me ladies and gentlemen?