The Plenaries

Our plenaries this year will all be speaking on some aspect of the human brain and its role in learning and teaching.

Anna Jančová

Anna has been teaching English for 23 years. A member of SKA, she taught most of that time in secondary schools in Puchov and Považská Bystrica. She also worked for Metodicko-pedagogické centrum in Trenčín where her interest in new approaches in education arose. In 2016 she founded Enjoy School – a private language school in Považská Bystrica where she tries to implement new scientific findings into her teaching. She is a graduate of Komenského inštitút – a programme for progressive teacher leaders in Slovakia. Her presentations on the implementation of John Hattie’s research into teaching practice were very well received at the Učíme pre život conference in Poprad and the Cesty k dobrej škole conference in Bratislava. Her first workshop at an international ELT conference was at the 25th IATEFL Slovenia conference in Terme Topolšica were she spoke on techniques to cultivate memory and learning skills in language learners. She believes that teachers should, above all, provide their students with lifelong learning skills and a positive attitude to learning.  Knowledge of the subject comes later.

PLENARY: Can research change my teaching?

Have you ever asked yourself, “Do the things I do in my class really work? How do I know they work? Do my students make progress thanks to my teaching efforts or in spite of it?” The extensive and in-depth research of Australian professor John Hattie provides answers to those teachers who sometimes have doubts about how effective their work is – or is not. Which findings can be implemented in Slovak schools? What is and what isn’t important in learning process? In this plenary, I’ll share what I’ve learned from Professor’s Hattie’s research and what I think can make us all better teachers, and perhaps our students better learners.

WORKSHOP: Forget Alzheimer’s

We all know that the development of our students’ higher cognitive skills should be at the top of our priority list. What we often forget, however, is that to build these skills, one needs strong foundations consisting of general knowledge and a good memory. In this workshop, we’ll learn some techniques that help cultivate memory and learning skills in a way which is appealing to 21st century students.


Fiona Mauchline

Fiona is a teacher, trainer and materials writer, and is now based in Oxford, after 28 years in Spain. She is the co-author of several courses for secondary education, including ‘Motivate’ and ‘All Clear’ (Macmillan Education), and has written materials for several others, including ‘Straightforward’. She is also the author of the Macmillan online guide, ‘Using Graded Readers in the Classroom’. She has a love of writing, theatre, photography, and art, but her other passion is teacher development, and she is co-editor of the IATEFL TDSIG e-bulletin. She also tutors on a teacher training course in Devon each summer and is the co-founder of the EVE: Equal Voices in ELT initiative. Fiona is being sponsored by Macmillan Education (specifically, by Macmillan SK). fhmauchline@gmail.com, 

PLENARY: Keeping the brain in mind: designing activities for teens and adults

In the last 15 years or so, the use of MRI scans in research has led to a rapid increase in the amount of information we have on the workings of the human brain. How much do you know about how the brain (and the mind) works, and how does it influence what you do in the classroom? And why should activities for teens be approached differently from activities for adults? This plenary will give you a min(d) of information related to the brain and a look at some of the opportunities this new ‘brain knowledge’ presents us to create engaging, motivating, efficient and memorable lessons.


WORKSHOP: Melting barriers: teaching teens with adolescence in mind (workshop)

Teaching teens can be stressful; that’s something we all know. But being a teen is stressful, too, and learning or speaking a ‘funny’ language can be the most stressful thing of all. If you push a teen too far out of their comfort zone, the learning stops, the resistance starts, so how to break through the barrier? In this highly interactive workshop, we’ll try out some activities that avoid triggering resistance and maximise learning and engagement. We’ll look at support and prompts that motivate and generate, and we’ll work our way into the teenage brain and help the learning stay there.


Rachel Paling


Rachel Marie Paling is the creator of Neurolanguage Coaching® and the founder of Efficient Language Coaching, one of the only companies to offer a certification which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation.  She trains teachers around the world and of any discipline in this new approach.  She holds a BA Honors in Law and Spanish (with distinction in spoken Spanish), University of Sheffield (UK) and a Masters in Human Rights and Democratization (EMA), University of Padua, Italy and Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. She continued her studies and qualified as a UK Lawyer in 2003, but instead of pursuing a career as a lawyer, she combined her teaching experience (from when she taught EFL to adults over 30 years ago), her languages, her specialization in business English and her legal knowledge to coach top executives across Europe as well as develop the concept of Neurolanguage. She holds a coaching diploma, brain based coaching certificates and is an ACC ICF credentialed Life Coach. She is dedicated to bringing language learning and education into a more brain friendly delivery style and frequently speaks at conferences on this theme. She published the book Neurolanguage Coaching in 2017.

PLENARY: Neuroscience in Language Learning – Understanding the emotional triggers

Learning to speak a foreign language for many people can be emotional turmoil. Freezing, stuttering, even confusing words can all result from a fight, flight, freeze response at any time when speaking a foreign language. Social and emotional pain can also cause language blocks and hinder the speaking flow. From the neuroscientific research, we know that just one drop of cortisol can affect the learning process. As educators the more we understand this, the more we can become skilled at coaching our learners around these emotional triggers. What are the potential triggering situations? How can we identify them? Skilled coaching conversations will bring awareness to the learner, so that the learner is able to understand what is in fact happening and then the coach will guide the learner to find his/her necessary steps and actions to overcome the triggers.

WORKSHOP: Neurolanguage Coaching in action

How can we detect negative learning memories or negative mindset and coach learners on the spot to instantly alleviate and shift learning blockages? This practical workshop will introduce you to some techniques to detect and spontaneously coach some of the triggers that may affect the learning process. Experience how to steer and manage triggers through coaching conversations.