My name is Ljilja Bajić and I was born on the 12th of November 1987 in the town of Banja Luka. I am a highly experienced and qualified English language and literature teacher with over twelve years of experience teaching adults and children. After graduating from the Electrotehnical high school “Nikola Tesla“ in Banja Luka (2006), I enrolled at the Faculty of Philology and the University of Banja Luka. I graduated with a BA degree in English Language and Literature in 2010.
While at University in 2008 I started working in a private language school called “Marco Polo“. For six years I worked with adults and high school children. After graduating I worked as an English language teacher in both primary and secondary schools in Banja Luka. In 2012, after successfully passing the state exams, I became a qualified English language and literature teacher.
For the past four years I have mostly been running my own private classes, mainly in the form of one-on-one and group classes for children and adults of all ages. At the end of April of this year, I started teaching online on my own platform for learning English and am still doing this now.
In the meantime, I have been working on my Master’s Thesis entitled: “Facilitating Second Language Learning to Adult Learners- A Case Study”. I have been following the progress of one of my students as they complete their A2 level course using various methods, approaches, techniques, error analysis, multiple intelligence and so forth. I am interested in teaching, life-long learning, foreign languages, travel, media, online marketing and camping.
I heard about EPALE from NSS Bosnia and Herzegovina. It immediately stood out to me as a unique approach to adult education.
I signed up on EPALE in 2019. However, I have been actively following the EPALE on my Facebook profile for the past twelve months. I think EPALE is very important as it provides us with a wealth of new information regarding new developments, trends and techniques in adult education.
I used to give a lot of one-on-one classes before the COVID-19 outbreak, but, as has happened to most people, I have been left feeling hopeless and dismayed because of the new situation we face as a result of the pandemic.
First, adults and children stopped coming to my classes and most of these did not want to even try the online classes. They thought that the new situation and subsequent declared state of emergency would pass quickly and that everything would return to normal shortly. Second, some of my students, mainly adults, were worried about the possible changes regarding their financial situation and consequently decided to take a temporary break from learning English. Also, some of the students, mostly the children, temporarily moved back to their home villages where the Internet connection is relatively poor. This has caused many to give up on the online classes.
However, several students have given online learning a go and have been really pleased with the classes from the outset. Yet even so, the number of students attending the online lessons is still relatively low and September seems far off.
In the light of the above I started thinking about how I could overcome this gap, knowing that I could not start with a lot of one-on-one classes, because of my permanent students. I realised that this situation calls for us to help ourselves, and not to wait for help from others.
One night I decided to research tentatively the best platforms for learning a language. I soon decided to design my own “platform”, or in other words to create the online group courses the way I wanted them to look.
Nonetheless, that excitement and enthusiasm immediately started to wane when I realised that it was too much work for a mum with a toddler who still has online classes and who is babysitting almost all day. Then, I thought about asking my three close friends from the faculty to help me, or in other words, to join me in this “project”. That is how I came up with the idea of forming a group of four English language and literature teachers who want to help other people to learn English by simplifying and making learning fun, easy and accessible for everyone.
Using an innovative ECLECTIC method (a combination of different methods, approaches and techniques), we have created a course that suits everyone by taking account of personal characteristics, multiple intelligences, aptitude, motivation and individual learning styles.
The four of us (Sanela, Slavica, Tatjana & Ljilja) studied together and all graduated in English Language and Literature from the University of Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Currently, we are living in four different cities across three different countries, but our shared passion for the English language and love of teaching has lead us to create a unique course that can help people of all ages regardless of their previous knowledge of the English language.
First, together with my friends I came up with the concept for the courses. In my opinion, learning a second language requires four learning skills – reading, writing, listening, and speaking – and four categories of knowledge – grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and cultural understanding- not just grammar! Second, I decided on the most suitable application for conducting the online classes. Zoom is regarded as being among the most popular ones nowadays and consequently we opted for this.
Then I decided the number of the students for each group (eight) and to conduct a free online/trial class for anyone willing to try learning English online. Once we had these basic elements in place, we started advertising our courses through social media, on Instagram and Facebook.
At first, people’s reactions were very positive, they “liked” the posts, commented on them and shared them numerous time. However, it took a lot to form the “high beginners” (A1/A2 level) group – eight adults, and the other group “Intermediate Conversational course” (B1 level) currently has four students. In short, online teaching may seem “easy” and “simple”, but it is actually quite difficult and tiresome. Nonetheless, we have only had three free classes so far and the course is about to start next week (in May). The feedback from the students after the trial classes was very positive; they reacted well to the concept of the course. My overall impression is that these online course are a valuable journey but there is still a long way to go.
The positives of online teaching are:
- it saves time for teachers
- innovative and contemporary
- attractive for extrovert learners
Some of the possible drawbacks, in my opinion, are:
- the atmosphere is less relaxed than in a conventional classroom
- probably not the most attractive way of learning for some middle – aged students who do not use technology very much
- online group conversational classes will not attract a large number of “introverted” learners. For example, some of my permanent students are too shy to even try the classes.
In conclusion, when this situation is over, I will be more mindful of online teaching and will seek to take greater advantage of it.
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