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Articles in this blog may be ESE news, academics pieces written by our team or events in Malta of general interest.

The Modesty of Inspiration – Getting to know ESE’s Director of Studies

Michela FormosaWe are all incredibly proud to announce that ESE’s Director of Studies, Michela Formosa has received the Inspiring ELT Professional Award 2015 at the 4th ELT Malta Conference.

The 4th incarnation of the conference was held between the 22nd and the 25th October at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, originally a 16th century hospital built by the Knights of St. John and beautifully restored in the last century, in Valletta.

The award was created last year to “recognise the achievement of those ELT professionals who inspire their peers,” in other words, there is no person it suited better. Moreover, this year the conference’s theme was ‘Creativity in ELT,’ quite apt then that Michela should receive the award, as this is the favourite part of her work, “I like the creative side of the job, writing lessons and workshops.”

I sat down with my boss and spoke a bit about her journey through English Language Teaching, “I got my first glimpse of the industry as a group leader,” she says, “I quite liked it because there were people from other countries coming and going. Every week there was a different thing happening and I like that aspect of the industry.”

Despite her mother pushing her towards perhaps a more stable and mainstream job, she decided to remain in the field and chose to become a teacher and began working at ESE in 1997. “It was a brand new school at the time, established by people who were energetic and enthusiastic. I also knew a number of the people working there,” she says, explaining why she chose to join ESE. “During my first week on the job,” she reminisces, “one of my students threw a bottle of water at one of the school’s directors.”

After three years of teaching she did her CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) in 2001 and delved deeper into the profession. She began tutoring prospective teachers on induction courses and preparing students for exams such as IELTS and the Cambridge Main Suite Exams. She remembers these times with her students fondly, “when I had students who really needed to achieve something but had everything against them – such as their level – seeing people like that succeed is a massive satisfaction. Those are the highlights.”

Wanting a better insight into teaching Business English and always seeking to develop herself, she achieved the LCCI FTBE in 2005. Later on, in 2007, she became the Assistant Director of Studies (ADoS) and a tutor on the CertTESOL course after having completed her DipTESOL, she moved further into teacher training and within two years the position of Director of Studies became vacant and she was chosen among others to take up the position. “Yes, it was always an ambition,” she says about the job, “I wanted to go further especially after trying teacher training and tutoring on Induction and CertTESOL courses.”

“Now my tasks are split between the general running of the department from an administrative point of view, writing of courses and workshops, and dealing with teachers and students,” she explains. It’s a very different job to teaching, “I do miss interaction with students, delivering lessons – interacting with students on a more direct level and seeing the impact that you have on them, rather than taking the decisions which impact students without seeing the actual outcome.”

Michela Formosa and Sarah ZammitWhen asked about the highlights of her career, she says there are far too many to mention, but pinpoints her experience delivering a workshop, along with Sarah Zammit, the Quality Assurance and Teacher Development Coordinator at ESE, in Malaga at the EAQUALS Conference 2015. She also believes there is more to come, “ESE is moving on and up, I too wish to move on and up. An ambition of mine would be to write a book.”

When away  from work, she loves spending time with her daughter, “it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”

“Otherwise, I wish I still had time to do the things I love like reading, which is another cheesy thing but again it’s the truth,” she goes on “I’d also love to own a farm, an organic vegetable farm, with few animals and none bred for slaughter, as self-sustainable as possible.”

When asked what advice she would give her peers, “positivity breeds positivity,” she exclaims. “I seriously believe – and I’m not fooling around here – that teachers need to surround themselves with people who inspire them,” she continues “If you are with a group of people who do not challenge you to change your opinion and see things in a different way, you won’t get anywhere.”

“To teachers – think of your students first – what engages them and what excites them because then they find their motivation. Something that engages students can be something that they never thought would excite them.”

Michela received the award on the 23rd of October however, the date happens to be much more important to her – her daughter’s birthday. She was unable to attend the conference on the day, leading the Minister for Education Evarist Bartolo, to comment that “her priorities are in the right place.”

A special thank you from her goes to all those who have inspired her in her career, her tutors and mentors, the European School of English and its directors for all their encouragement and opportunities, and most especially to Sarah Zammit, “who ensures the fire never goes out.”


Focus on Fluency

inspiring (adj) – to make others feel creative/to motivate others

incarnation (n) – edition

peers (n) – colleagues/classmates

apt (adj) – suitable/appropriate

glimpse (n) – look/idea

reminisce (v) – think of good memories

delve (v) – to go

cheesy (adj) -predictable and expected

bred (to breed) (v) – create, produce

engages (v) -to attract someone’s attention



Benjamin Charles Cassar - ESE Malta Author: Benjamin Charles Cassar


About the Author:  Benjamin Charles Cassar is the Academic e-Resources Coordinator at ESE.   He has taught a wide range of ages and levels since joining ESE in 2011 and enjoys travelling, reading and writing when time allows.

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Articles in this blog may be ESE news, academics pieces written by our team or events in Malta of general interest.  Please feel free to write to us with any comments, suggestions or any articles you may have written and would like to share with us and our students.