Natavan Badalova, an English teacher from Baku, is an active participant of the European educational programme eTwinning Plus, which Azerbaijan joined in 2013.
Funded by the European Union, the programme aims to modernise the school system in partner countries by sharing experience and best practices through a single online platform. All programme participants have access to it.
The platform allows schoolchildren from Azerbaijan to conduct joint classes with their peers, for example from Spain or Greece. This helps children learn more about the culture and traditions of other nations and about their lifestyle too.
"We conduct joint research after choosing a specific topic that is relevant and interesting for children from different countries, and then they make their presentations. Our schoolchildren can ask their friends from other countries questions and answer their questions in return," explains Natavan.
"Such a live and interactive communication is very important for children. They learn to think and improvise, acquire the skills of spontaneous communication in a foreign language," she says, adding that the working language of the project was English.
This year, the Lyceum named after Heydar Aliyev, where Natavan teaches, will mark the graduation of the first class to join the programme five years ago.
In Azerbaijan, in the past five years, 408 schools and 996 teachers have been involved in more than 900 projects as part of the eTwinning Plus programme.
The eTwinning Plus programme is useful not only for students, but also for teachers. They have the opportunity within the international network to take professional development courses, acquire new knowledge and skills in teaching methods and adopt new approaches to the learning process. All this is done without interrupting the work process.
One of the innovations that Natavan actively applies is the gradual transition from the academic approach to the educational process, in which the focus is on memorising facts, to a more creative approach, which motivates children to make sense of the information they receive and teaches them to draw their own conclusions.
"The world does not stay in one place. And for a modern teacher it is very important to work on themselves, get better and keep up with the times. And eTwinning Plus is a great help in this," says Natavan, who is one of the national ambassadors of the programme in Azerbaijan.
Author: Elena Ostapenko