Aspire to Inspire training – trainers

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The team of the following trainers are looking forward to working with you

Your trainers – skilled, diverse and highly committed

Robert Koch

Born in Ontario, Canada, Robert Koch obtained his doctorate in Social and Political Thought from York University in 1992. Moving to Germany, he taught at the English Seminar of the University of Cologne from 1993 to 1998 before taking up a position at the Chair of Applied Linguistics at RWTH Aachen University. From 2007 to 2022 he served as director of the RWTH Language Center. During his directorship, he oversaw an enormous expansion of the Center that tripled its budget and staff and made it a key player in the University’s overall strategy. He represented the Language Center in the German Association of Language Centers, in the Language Center Roundtable of the TU 9 German Universities of Technology Alliance, and is part of the Wulkow Group.

Elisabeth Paliot

Elisabeth Paliot graduated from the University of Saarbrücken (D) in Biology and French and holds a Master’s degree in multilingualism from the University of Fribourg (CH). She has been working as a German teacher in Switzerland for more than 20 years: at bilingual primary and secondary schools, international Schools and multinational companies. After three years in an international insurance company as a management and communication trainer, in 2009 she joined the University of Lausanne Language Centre as a German teacher. She then became head of the Language Centre at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), where she remained until 2019. Elisabeth presently works as lecturer of Business German and is language coordinator at the School of Engineering and Management (HEIG-VD) in Yverdon-les-Bains.

For more than 15 years she has been active in national and international associations and networks and is especially interested in intercultural communication, sustainable leadership and effective learning strategies in multilingual and multicultural environments. She is a member of several working groups involved in developing further training for teachers.

Sabina Schaffner

Sabina Schaffer has been the Director of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich Language Center since 2005. She holds a Teaching Diploma for French and Russian in high school education, a doctorate in Russian Literature from Freiburg/Fribourg University and a Master’s degree in Coaching and Organisational Development from Northwestern University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland.

Born at the (language) border in Basel, Switzerland, Sabina has always been deeply interested in transitions and in switching between languages and cultures. She is fascinated by people’s stories and passions, and loves supporting personal development. Before taking up her current position, Sabina worked as a French and Russian teacher in high schools, as a project manager in a teacher training project in Poland and later as a lecturer in Polish at the Slavonic Department of the University of Basel, and as a teacher trainer and head of the Life-Long Learning Section of the Academy of Adult Education in Lucerne.

From 2008 until 2018, Sabina was Co-President of the Association of Language Centres at Swiss Higher Education Institutions SSH-CHES, and since September 2019 she has been the President of CercleS (European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education).

Sabina is a member of the Swiss professional association of coaches BSO (Berufsverband für Coaching, Supervision und Organisationsberatung). Along with her managerial job at the Language Center, Sabina has worked for advisory boards of European language centres in Higher Education and as coach and trainer in higher education. Her research and networking interests are language policy, organisational and quality development, and leadership and coaching in higher education.

Libor Štěpánek

Libor Štěpánek is Assistant Professor in English and Director of the Masaryk University Language Centre, Brno, Czech Republic. He is also a researcher and teacher trainer in the area of Creative Approach to Language Teaching (CALT), and author of a number of materials, online courses and publications. His versatile interdisciplinary style of work is based on his formal academic background and informal educational activities.

Since 2015, he has served as director of the largest language centre in the Czech Republic, where he has created a complex quality management programme and a continuous professional development programme for the Language Centre staff members. Libor also encourages close cooperation of research and teaching, and supports teacher autonomy based on personal professional responsibility. Outside of the Language Centre, he has been an active member of the Wulkow Group and the CercleS Focus Group on Management & Leadership, has established an informal collaborative platform for managers of Brno’s six public university language centres, and has worked as a consultant for EUI Florence’s management on the formulation of their language provision policy. Libor is also the president of the Czech and Slovak Association of Language Centres (CASALC CZ).

A significant achievement he is truly proud of is the organisation of the CercleS International Conference in the middle of the pandemic in 2020 in a then-pioneering hybrid format.