YALS celebrated its 25th jubilee

Reported by: Sofija Ljiljak-Vukajlović

The Association of Language Schools of Serbia YALS celebrated its 25th jubilee at the Belgrade Palace Hotel on 14 October 2023. The annual conference organized on the occasion of this jubilee was entitled 25 years of Quality Language Services in Serbia and gathered more than 60 foreign language teachers and school owners, 7 presenters, 6 guests from Bulgaria and Croatia. Several long-standing partners addressed the audience at the opening ceremony.

The event was opened by Marija Pejatović, YALS President, who greeted the participants announcing a short documentary specially filmed to mark the first 25 years of the Association. This was followed by two addresses via video link – one by the former Director of the British Council for the Western Balkans, Tony O’Brien, and the other by Lou McLaughlin, the Executive Director of Eaquals, whose organization graciously supported this event.

Three more honorary guests also wished YALS a lot of success in their future work and reflected on the cooperation between YALS and their respective institutions. Jelena Korać spoke on behalf of the British Council for the Western Balkans with particular regard to their role of the Cambridge English Exam provider for YALS schools. Veselin Chantov, the representative of the Bulgarian Association for Quality Language Services, Optima, awarded YALS with a framed congratulatory address to mark the occasion and highlighted the benefits of regional cooperation of the two professional bodies, both associate members of Eaquals. Finally, Jelena Spasić, one of the YALS school co-owners and the ELTA Serbia International Coordinator, shared a few words on the importance of professional development and many opportunities for English language teachers to network within the two associations, YALS and ELTA.

The conference participants then enjoyed the following talks and workshops. Click on the links to see the presentations.

Maintaining high academic standards: a myth or reality (Mila Angelova, Sofia, Bulgaria)

Innovating ELT through Erasmus KA2 projects (Karmen Vrhar, Split, Croatia)

Cracking the code of the adult learner (Ljubomir Vasojević, Čačak, Serbia)

Temperaments in children (Vera Vrbica-Matejić, Belgrade, Serbia)

Through the looking glass: CREDO in the classroom (Maja Gavrilović, Belgrade, Serbia)

Rather (not) go online (Jelena Spasić, Leskovac, and Nada Filipović, Šabac, Serbia)

In the same boat – classroom management (Nina Stojanović, Belgrade, Serbia)

Apart from the spectacular panoramic view of the city from the Palace Hotel roof terrace and delicious lunch at its restaurant, the attendees also enjoyed the raffle at the end of this long and fulfilling professional event. YALS is very  grateful to all its partners who had generously contributed to the raffle with select gifts (books and dictionaries, exam vouchers, stationery, classroom posters and maps, communicative activities): a colleague Aleksandra Jevtović, Blackbird School Čačak, The Tempest Bookshop and Cambridge University Press, Excalibur Exam Centre, British Council, Pearson and Akronolo Bookshop, as well as the US Embassy in Serbia.

On the whole, the audience commended the event as an extraordinarily successful conference featuring a lot of novel ideas and practical activities to be immediately applied in their classes. These are some of the comments from the participants’ evaluation forms:

A great conference! Good luck in the future!

Congratulations to the organisers and presenters!

YALS – the beacon of hope and commitment in English language teaching and learning. Keep up the good work, dear colleagues!

Enjoyable and useful.

Thank you for the opportunity to improve our teaching methods!

Great venue. Very well organised. A variety of topics.

Thank you for the great experience!

In one word – perfect!

Thank you for the great time and very useful and informative presentations.