Bulgaria - Life Skills Workshop

A workshop on integrating the teaching of life skills and the English language.

I was asked by Macmillan publishers in Bulgaria to prepare a workshop based on a coursebook, Open Mind, which has at its heart the aim to teach so-called 'soft skills' alongside the English language.
I liked the idea of a curriculum which starts with skills as opposed to lexis/grammar and agreed.
At the time of writing, we've taken the workshop to half a dozen locations around Bulgaria for school teachers and it's gaining in popularity with invitations to run it for University groups as well.

This page describes some of the content and there is a 'walkthrough' video of the workshop slides you can watch on YouTube:


(I hope you'll forgive my coughing, I had a cold.)

The agenda for the workshop was basically to give teachers the chance to explore their understanding of soft skills, or life skills. I also brought some of my own personal life skill stories to tell and along with activities from the Open Mind coursebook, I brought a number of my own activities which I felt develop these skills.

The context for the workshop, and indeed the coursebook, is a Europe with very little professional opportunity for many young people. Youth unemployment is pushing 60% in Spain, for example. At the same time, it's around 10% in Austria. 

What is it then that makes young people more 'mobile' and more 'employable'?
Well, the business community is quite clear about the skills young people need to better their chances of getting a job.

You'll notice that this top ten doesn't include any technical skills at all. In fact, other surveys show that some employers value soft skills higher than specific technical skills, which many employers feel can be taught 'on the job'.

You can add to this list many other interpersonal skills, emotional intelligences, plenty of communication skills (listening!!!!), presentation skills, critical thinking (e.g., evaluating, prioritising), not just working in a team, but being able to work independently, and many, many more.

I presented a model for intercultural communication that I'd learned as an MEd student at Manchester University:


Watch the video to get a clear understanding of what this model involves, but in short, in order to be an effective communicator between cultures, you need to be able to see things from 4 perspectives (how your culture views itself A/A, how the other culture views your culture B/A, how your culture see the other culture, B/B and how the other culture sees its own culture B/B).

Where on earth can you find educational materials which put all of that into practice?

Science Across the World (www.scienceacross.org)


This programme may be familiar to some of you if you visit this site from time to time. There are plenty of reports on FACTWorld about Science Across activities. It's a programme of free learning materials to get learners in different classrooms around the world investigating their own lives (A/A), sharing that with another classroom in a different country which has done the same investigation (B/B) and make comparisons (A/B, B/A).

I won't go into more details here. There are plenty of slides in my PPT that you can download and browse at your leisure. I also plan to do another clip which summarises the Science Across the World programme, projects and materials.

Add to this the FACTWorld email group @ yahoogroups.com and you have all the ingredients you need for putting into practice a whole range of soft skills development work in your classroom.