November 25, 2009

Interactive Whiteboards: Friend or Foes? by Gareth Davies

Seminar Report
Permanent Professional Development 2009: Integrating Technology to Language Learning
September, 26th
Interactive Whiteboards: Friend or Foes? by Gareth Davies

According to the presenter, interactive whiteboards are like ordinary whiteboards but with some improvements. He presented several advantages and disadvantages about them. To begin with, he mentioned the positive uses a teacher could give to an Interactive whiteboard, such as encouraging heads up activities, bringing outside world into the class, cutting down on copies and time, and the most important, motivational tool for digital natives. Within the negative aspects mentioned, we could find the fact that if not well used the can be teacher center and if overused, they become less effective. He mentioned that the use of interactive whiteboards required teachers’ training and they need to complement a lesson not determine it. The presenter finally mentioned the use of itools in the EFL classroom and demonstrated the complementing itools for some Oxford books. ( )
When googling Gareth Davies I’ve found an article he wrote recommending the use of Interactive whiteboards and itool. I’d love to share with you the following link that includes a set of tips for the introduction of this new technology into our classrooms ( Even though introducing Interactive whiteboards in the class can be really motivating for our students, we need to keep in mind that in a communicative classroom as the one we would like to foster, the active role of our learners can´t be limited just for the use o technology. It is essential that any new item introduced in the classroom, and even more with the new web 2.0 we need to make more emphasis on developing critical thinking and autonomous learning.

November 19, 2009

“Word DO come easy”… What do we think when we think about writing??

Traditionally, teacher had thought that producing a good piece of writing should have been innate in the students mind. A writing task was seen as a product required to be passed at a certain level in the English class. As we can see in Gladys Baya's presentation, mental blocking and frustration were very common feeling for our students.

There has been a movement for almost twenty years to consider writing within the learning process, and as Tricia Hedge defines in her Teaching and Learning in the language Classroom, writing became "the result of employing strategies to manage the composing process, which is one of gradually developing a text". With this change in the way writing was perceived, we will need to focus on our responsibility as facilitators of the learning process on training our students into process writing and on the new role this skill has acquired, a productive skill for real communication.

Gladys suggests us several techniques for training our students into process writing; ideas that Hedge would categorize as "helping students to generate ideas" and "providing opportunities for planning". She will go a bit further and she will give us tips for correcting and giving feedback to pieces of writing that had gone through the process. It is up to us, encourage our students writing for authentic audiences such us blog readers (have a look at Maria's students writing) or students from other classes in other parts of the world (have a look at Gladys' students interaction with other classes), the more meaningful we can make writing for them, the easier it would be for them to find the words to express themselves.

I invite you to discover all you can learn from this teacher who enabled me as a facilitator for my students own processes. Only by becoming aware of the role we want writing to have in our classes and in our students' lives is that we can change the fossilized image of writing as a static product.

Based on Tricia Hedge, Teaching and Learning in Language Classroom, Oxford, 2000
(Chapter 9)

November 15, 2009

A partner taught me more than I expected...

This is my last observation as a teacher trainee and I decided to observe a friend. After sharing four years, I decided to observe AdA. This observation aims to show all I´ve learnt from her not only as a teacher but also as a human being.
In my path through the Teacher Training College, I found lots of people that helped in the teacher I am now. AdA taught me to study, to learn, to live and to laugh. I decided to observe her this time, to learn from her as a teacher.
I invite you all to discover with me, how much you can learn from a partner….

Observation 7 - Level III - LCB - 2009

This time I've learnt that all teachers have something to "steal" and that I will always have something valuable to give. Today I've learnt that being a teacher means more than teaching content, being a teacher is sharing teaching and learning. Peers help you realize who you are, what you want and how to do it.
I'd love to thank AdA for helping me "survive" my Teacher Training College and for giving me a hand to be the teacher I AM.

November 03, 2009

“Two monologues do not make a dialogue.” Jeff Daly

After having fostered a Communicative Classroom throughout the year, we’ve decided to try out a new approach to the discussion of Tricia Hedge’s “Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom.” Considering that it takes two to Tango, we’ve decided to discuss speaking respecting its main characteristic: having, at least, two participants.
We will formulate possible aims for a Speaking component of a coursebook following Hedge’s categorization of successful oral communication; and then, we will compare them with the New English File – Intermediate ones.
Our book will have as an ultimate objective to foster the use of language for communication. Upon completion of this course, students will have an intermediate degree of fluency that will allow them to keep up a conversation in the target language including listening skills, taking turn skills and the proper management of interaction. Students should also be able to present information/instructions about defined topics to others in a clear, organized way and to participate in discussion groups.
In order to attain those goals, students should be able to demonstrate understandable pronunciation and an acceptable level of mastery of stress, rhythm and intonation patterns. They should be familiar with conversational skills, register and syntax. Students should have developed awareness in structure and strategies used in meaningful true-to-life conversations.
After establishing the objectives for the Speaking component of our ideal coursebook, we invite you to take a look at the actual ones in the above mentioned book:

Now, let’s have a look at a randomly chosen set of activities taken from the same book, do they actually match either their or our objectives?

Speaking Activities - NEF Intermediate - Methods2 - 2009

As far as you can see in the activities, the book is coherent with its objectives. It provides a wide variety of speaking, listening and pronunciation exercises that pay the way for successful completion of set goals!
What this well-known coursebook proposes is to give students the necessary tools for them to be able to speak fluently, accurately but, most importantly, confidently. Considering the variety of activities that we selected from the coursebook, it can be said that students are provided with interesting topics that will motivate them to speak (mobile phones and money) as well as useful phrases and to-the-point guidelines for them to have a starting point from which they can start to speak more freely. Each speaking activity (as well as the listening and pronunciation ones) is organized in several steps which, in turn, gives students enough time for them to organize what they are going to say.
Another useful tool provided by this book is that students are given opportunities to practice and improve their pronunciation in terms not only of sounds but also stress and intonation, which are two of the most essential aspects for a student of English to learn so as to become an effective communicator.
All in all, it is important for us, as English teachers, to keep in mind that speaking cannot be taught as if it were an isolated skill that can be improved only by means of working on grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation. We must show our students that speaking is an essential tool for us to be in contact with others. Speaking, as a tool for communication and social interaction, must be dealt with in class following its most important characteristic: interacting with others. There must always be a coming and going of messages in speaking and, therefore, we should give our students as many tools as possible to help them face that thrilling challenge of interacting with others in a foreign language. Our students need to be able to speak both fluently and intelligibly and for them to achieve such an objective we must provide them with a balance of grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and listening activities as well as a wide range of opportunities to develop communication and negotiation skills.
Our students must be taught pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary not because we want to form language experts but simply because they are the tools they need so as to become efficient communicators.

Based on Tricia Hedge, Teaching and Learning in Language Classroom, Oxford, 2000 (Chapter 8)

November 01, 2009

May I speak???

After having observed this lesson, I feel more confident about implementing free speaking activities in my own teaching. This activity observed served two main purposes, one of recycling vocabulary and the other one, of fostering communication working on language systems as a milestone for putting a message across.

I invite you to have a look at my experience as an observer in a Speaking class... (If you can't see the whole of the Scribd document, just contact me and I'll email you a copy :))

Observation 6 - 2nd year - Colegio P - Methods2 2009