It’s nearly June which means it’s time to meet another IATEFL BESIG member. This week, we are meeting Sloboban Kelecevic, a relatively new member who is full of enthusiasm. Read on to hear about how he found out about IATEFL BESIG, his views on online teaching (having started before the pandemic) and also about why professional development is so important in the twenty-first century.
Bio: Slobodan is an EFL teacher, BE trainer and language coach working online since 2015. The majority of his students are based in Germany. He believes that going above and beyond can support and stimulate learners to become life-long learners. He thinks online education is here to stay. https://consulteng.online
Being based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, how did you find out about IATEFL BESIG and what prompted you to join?
I’ve known of IATEFL BESIG for about 10 years but didn’t know much about the organization and its activities. Then, in 2019, Marjorie Rosenberg was the plenary speaker at an EFL conference in Bosnia. I approached her and after a quick exchange, she told me I should join IATEFL BESIG and that everyone is welcome. That seemed like perfectly good advice, so I started following IATEFL BESIG online and on social media, and this year I became a full IATEFL member.
If I had known how friendly and supportive the community is, I’d have joined years ago. I feel more welcome here than in any other professional organization I’ve been a part of.
Tell us about what led you to become a business English trainer.
It’s not something you dream about as a child but, I guess, as many others, I slowly grew into that role. Working as a teacher has its good sides and rewards. However, it started to feel a bit restrictive and I felt a gradual change in my approach and attitude. The turning point was when I started to work online as a BE trainer in the German corporate sector. This was in 2018 and it has been getting more and more interesting by the day. Professional development, personal growth and amazing new experiences all fuel the drive to go forward and not stay content by where I am right now.
Who are your students and what do they typically want to learn?
The majority of my students work in German medium-size and large companies but they really vary in level, age and profession. At this stage, I don’t have a BE niche. Honestly, that is part of the appeal as it’s fascinating to work with such diverse students. On some days, I feel that I learn more in a session than the student did!
In general, they want to be more confident when using the language in a business setting. That is a vague statement but that is what we start from. In many ways, my approach is learner-led, or at least guided. We will explore their language interests, and base the curriculum on their input.
As a teacher who only works online, what are the advantages and disadvantages for you personally?
The advantages are numerous and I won’t go into them all. Let me just highlight the greatest two. Firstly, the ability to work with anyone in the world – a student’s location is no longer a barrier. The second great advantage of working online is how much digital technology and online resources are readily available – they are literally at our fingertips. I honestly believe the online dimension of education is here to stay, gaining more ground over time and so becoming more and more important in the entire learning process of both children and adults.
There are disadvantages as well, let’s be realistic. However, downsides such as not seeing someone’s full range of body language or an occasional internet/equipment hiccup are dwarfed by the multitude of benefits that the growth of online education has given us.
You’ve done several courses on various aspects of language teaching. Why do you believe professional development to be so important?
Isn’t professional development just another way of saying that we need to continue to grow and be life-long learners? In all likelihood, there will be a strong need to do this for the rest of our lives. I am no expert on the subject, but CPD is truly necessary to experience something new and exciting in our professional life. Curiosity is what fuels my CPD and I would like to develop in many directions before settling into one field and specializing in it in the long-term. Like most of us, I started as an EFL teacher and, now, I believe BE training is the direction I’d like to go more into in the long-term. I am also exploring language coaching and implementing those tools in my training practice.
You’ve written some articles for various publications. What did you learn from this experience?
The process of writing all of those articles has helped me realize how important good preparation really is. No matter how knowledgeable we are on a topic, we still need to keep everything on a very professional level. All the research I did in the process and connections I made with people definitely expanded my professional horizons. As Joubert’s quote goes: “To teach is to learn twice.” In this case, writing about a range of topics got me more interested in some of them and, honestly, I’m benefiting even today from some lessons learned and people met back then.
What tips can you give trainers on teaching business English in 2021?
We should keep our ears to the ground because the pace of change is stunning. When everything settles down and the moment comes to get back to “how we did things before”, I am sure a new stakeholder in the ELT market will emerge – a completely remote and online-only body of TEFL professionals. There’s nothing to fear; they will not take our jobs, but they will not disappear either when the classrooms reopen. So, we must stay in tune with the direction the market is headed and keep up.
Our best course of action, I believe, is to stay prepared for more changes and try to adapt. No one could have predicted 2020 would be the way it was. I believe flexibility, resilience and CPD will take us to the true 21st century of education.
Questions by Mandy Welfare
Editing by Christopher Chandler
12th of May 2021
MEET A MEMBER is available to IATEFL BESIG members and non-members alike but only features our current members. Another reason to join us and “BE with BESIG.”