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The world is full of magical things

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

Bertrand Russell

My recent life adventures

“Do not complain, make a change” –  I’m sure that many of you recall this really good tip for teachers given by Scott Thornbury at the K0TESOL International Conference in South Korea this year. I’m also very sure (although I didn’t attend the conference) that he did not mean such a change I wrote about here describing my life adventure, but, I somehow found these Thornbury’s words very apt for starting my post.. 🙂

After eighteen years of teaching English to secondary school students at the Aviation technical school in Belgrade, I decided that it would be very cool to try something different.

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Aviation academy, Belgrade

And so a few months ago I started to work at the school library. The change was not very easy at first, and I have to admit that I was feeling dizzy because of a lot more work than I had expected and many new things I had to learn about the job, but I’m really very happy now about my decision.

Aviation academy library is one of the most beautiful school libraries in Belgrade. As the school is situated near the Kalemegdan Park and the zoo (the old and most picturesque part of the town), I enjoy a nice view from the library window of the greenery, and an elephant walking and greeting the visitors with his trunk every day.

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I think that library is a paradise for an English teacher (like me 🙂 ). I have more time now for writing coursebooks/workbooks on Aviation English (only for the students of our school, though, because our school is unique in Serbia and only our students learn aviation English). Then, I can devote much more time to my writing and editing work for the school magazine “Vazduhoplovac” (or “Aviator”, in English), since I am a member of the school magazine editorial team. I also enjoy working with the students who love English (through some extracurricular activities), sometimes I work as an interpreter when foreign guests come to our school, and, all in all, I have a lot more time for reading blogs, Twitter and books, for pleasure.

The job in a school library demands such a wide range of skills: a very good knowledge and love of literature, interpersonal and organizational skills, good knowledge of educational psychology because you should know when/how to give students advice, or when/how/which book(s) to recommend to students/teachers. Knowledge of languages is a real asset in this sort of work, especially in our school during the visits of foreign guests (EASA / ETIHAD Airways, etc. representatives with whom our school cooperates).

Working in the school library is really one of the most exciting jobs for an English teacher. A lot of students and teachers coming to borrow books or asking for information, help, or advice,… there is never dull moment…something is always going on, no two days are the same. I feel every day as if I were on a mysterious journey, exploring and finding some new fascinating books and things (I’m surrounded with more than 12,000 books, so many great minds and so much wisdom at one place!!).

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I love that specific smell of old books, and I was amazed the other day when I found “Shakespeare’s Works”, a stunning book from the beginning of the 20th century, with the pictures of the actors playing in London theatres of that time). And there are so many other great books waiting to be read!

A lot of friendly talk with students, and their happy faces while talking about the books they love reading, about their experiences… (because, wow, there’s no grading!!)  The relationships you can form with the students as you try to make them love reading for pleasure and strive together to maximise their learning through are quite amazing.

You can read more about the library on my library blog 

My Twitter adventure

My Twitter adventure is a mesmerizing journey through WonderKnowledgeLand. 🙂 I really enjoy exploring Twitter and discovering some great people and things and learning something new every day.

I was very glad a few months ago to read that Professor John Wells, a renowned British phonetician, had joined Twitter. I was lucky to meet Professor Wells at the BIMEP 2010 (Belgrade International Meeting of English Phoneticians) which took place at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. Since I had been teaching Aviation English (i.e. English for Specific Purposes) to secondary school pupils for more than ten years then, I had chosen to write about Language-Related Miscommunications and Misunderstanding in Pilot/Controller Communications for my MA thesis (language/mostly phonetic analysis of ATC phraseology and language-based misunderstandings that lead to air crashes). The meeting took place in March 2010 just when I had finished my Master thesis and my mentor Dr Biljana Čubrović, who organized the meeting and knew Professor Wells very well, invited me to attend the meeting as a guest, which was a great honour, and a really wonderful experience for me.

I enjoyed Professor Wells’ plenary and was very fond of John Wells phonetic blog where I found among many other very interesting things related to phonetics, a joke about the confusion between the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabet. (Both alphabets are used in Serbia, and, the confusion is the basis of numerous jokes).

“Foreign visitors in Serbia, when they want to eat, tend to ask for a [ˈpektəpɑː], because they see the inscription РЕСТОРАН written above restaurants. But native speakers of Serbian have no idea what the visitors are talking about, because this is actually Cyrillic and reads simply RESTORAN (restaurant), pronounced [restoran].”

My Poetry adventure

I love reading Oxford Dictionaries where I found lately:

Literary words and quiz (I particularly loved the metaphor:  “Ship of the desert” – Camel)

Weird and wonderful words (I have never heard about the “mouse potato” before :)))

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This gorgeous autumn sky (I took the photo through my window a few days ago) inspired me to write a short poem (“tanka”) myself.

Clouds dazzling butterflies

dancing joyfully

in the rhythm of October sky

sound of your voice

restless ocean of thoughts

Reading or writing short poems or fiction is so exciting and you can enjoy reading about “tanka” on the fantastic Kevin Stein’s blog. I also recommend reading his wonderful short stories: short fiction for ells. Enjoy!!

Thanks for reading my post, I hope it was interesting 🙂

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About ljiljana havran

English language teacher (General & Aviation English), passionate about learning and teaching. Curious, adventurous, a lifelong learner. Love: good books, music, lots of dance.

7 responses »

  1. I love the upbeat tone of your post. Congratulations on your new role. To be honest, I wouldn’t have imagined working with the library to be terribly exciting but you describe it so beautifully, as a position that’s full of untapped opportunities. I can just imagine you running innovative book weeks, book quests and all sorts of library games! And thank you for linking to Kevin Stein’s Tanka post – I missed that one.

    Reply
    • Thanks Adi for your heartfelt comment. The change I made was not at all easy because I was in love, and I’m still in love with teaching English (and that’s why I went on reading blogs about reflections on teaching/learning, and attending seminars and conferences related to ELT).
      I just want to promote the idea that school libraries and librarians should have much more significant role than they usually have, and especially now in the digital era. I really mean that it is a very exciting job, and I have a lot of ideas about organizing some activities (group visits to Belgrade theatres, bookfares, city libraries and galleries etc.). I’m going to ‘steal’ some interesting ideas for library games from some really fantastic blogs I love reading (like yours, for example, and your new blog title “Immersivities” is fabulous).

      Thanks so much for following my library blog 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hi Ljiljana,
    I completely agree with Adi; you make working in the library sound fascinating. I really enjoyed reading about your new job. Do you still do any teaching? The description of how the elephant greets the zoo visitors made me smile. I was in Belgrade only once, a long time ago, and would like to visit again. When I do, I’ll make sure to check out the zoo! 🙂
    I also think it’s an interesting coincidence that just as I’d graduated I was offered a teaching job at the aviation school in Zagreb. It was a really good opportunity as it was a full-time job and I was just starting out, but I turned it down because I was terrified at the idea of working with high school students.

    Reply
    • Hi Vedrana,
      I’m really glad you enjoyed reading about my new job, and that my description of the lovely elephant was funny. I was in Zagreb once a long time ago, too, but I’ve been to beautiful Croatian islands Korčula, Brač and Hvar so many times (the most beautiful islands in the world, really!).

      Teaching English (and Aviation English) to high school students is exciting & difficult at the same time. I especially love aviation english and have written two aviation coursebooks so far. Now I teach English to the students at school who need help with the language, and I also have a group of students who are very good at English (I enjoy speaking English with them and I’m currently making a plan of creative activities – “creativities”; it would be very interesting to have them make their own blogs, etc.). Unfortunately, there are not many teachers and students in Serbia who learn and reflect on teaching/learning through blogging, Twitter or webinars.

      Thanks so much for your comment, and I’d love to meet you if/when you come to Belgrade again 🙂

      Reply
      • I’ll make sure I let you know about any plans to visit Belgrade; I’d love to meet you too.
        I was also more than a little taken aback, when I started being more active on social media (quite recently), that not too many Croatian teachers of English blog or use Twitter. Even fewer students do, I suspect. From what I can see, they’re more active on Facebook.
        I did come across anglozine.com recently (they’re on Twitter too) and from what I can see they promote blogging among students at the University of Novi Sad – are you familiar with their work?
        Finally, yes, Brač and Hvar are lovely (and I’m sure Korčula is too, though I’ve never been), but you should definitely see Vis. 🙂

  3. I think that here, too, teachers and students are mostly active on Facebook, but i’m not sure they talk and reflect so much on teaching/learning…

    Thanks a lot for the link anglozine.com, I haven’t heard of them before, I’ve been exploring the blog and it seems very interesting to me.

    I’ve never been to Vis but I enjoyed your photos from Vis on Twitter very much, and I’d like to see the beautiful island sometime. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Lessons Learned in 2014 (…as a homeroom teacher) | The Other Things Matter

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