Category Archives: General

Reflections on a Course: Post 1 (Week 2)

When teachers start to think on their next school year, there are a couple of things that quickly come to their minds: What to do and how to do it.

There are many ways to find how. Nowadays, we can find resources and ideas in a massive list of sources: Doing searches in search engines (google and many other), following tweets related to ELT, or ELT blogs. We can also follow curated sites ELT-related (Through Scoop.it, for example, or delicio.us referitories.

Workshops give us ideas on methodology and innovative approaches… experienced teacher trainers and colleagues provide with lots of fresh ideas on how to achieve our goals and how to do it in a motivating way…

But all these ideas, suggestions, tools and experiences would probably be worthless if we did not know why, where, and when to use them. That cannot be achieved if we don’t know what we want to achieve, what we want our students to learn.

Those so called didactic goals have dramatically evolved along the years. Time ago we had many professionals whose main goal was to ensure that students can take in as much grammar as possible… I suffered that in my childhood French lessons. later on, we moved into reading… we wanted our students to be able to read English texts… big deal! When it came to speaking, many of those students were not able to ask how to get to the nearest tube station in London.

Fortunately, things evolved and teachers began to realise that the only way to say that students succeed in learning a language is when they are able to use it in a communicative way. Most (I repeat… “most”, not “all”) teachers try to elicit our students speaking and listening abilities… and that has become a key element in the goals of today’s ELT.

In order to establish clear outlines about the previously mentioned “WHAT”, once we assume this communicative approach is paramount, we must be able to establish those goals, those objectives that will allow us to set the pace for a proficient achievement in our students’ learning process.

The ABCD model has turned out to be a good example of how to set those objectives as we prepare our schedule for our groups. The guidelines and information we find in Penn State Learning Design Community Hub page give us a clear overview of this approach on the Audience, Behaviour, Condition and Degree elements that make up for the ABCD Objective definition methodology.

We must also consider the adoption of the “Competential” approach used by many other colleagues. It is really valid when it comes to establishing communicative goals, as it sets the objectives that define the skills and abilities a student must achieve when he/she becomes competent in the use of a foreign language. The competential approach could be very well related to the establishment of degrees of linguistic skills by language users as seen in CEFR in Europe or ILR in the U.S.

What, how… interrogative elements for a single answer… our students’ success.

photo credit: Foxtongue via photopin cc

Reflection… Still so much to do!

This article from la Vanguardia dwells on the permanent issue of using English in the classroom… why should it still be an issue? If we deprive our students of one of the possibilities to increase their imput of English language (In most cases the most relevant), what are our expectations as professionals? I still learn about cases where the teacher constantly uses his/her native language to teach… English. Sometimes they justify themselves by saying many/some/most/a few students do not understand… and they will stay like that if we don’t give them the chance to get in contact with the language!!! And even though those students had those problems of understanding… what about the rest of the class who eventually understands what the teacher is saying. I don’t understand what process these pseudoprofessionals have undergone which does not let them see the plain truth: Oral imput is paramount in the communicative language acquisition process. Of course I say “communicative”! If we only try to teach them how to differenciate past perfect from simple past and how to say all irregular verbs by heart (nice drill to help them find their way in the middle of London), then why bother?

Still so much to do!!!

Welcome Back!

Holidays are almost over, and a new schoolyear is around the corner. I’ll be ready to post new ideas and thoughts that may help you in your lessons.

Here’s a video for a start: Vicki Davis, a teacher in Georgia, USA, talks about the way she uses new media and new 2.0 applications in her classroom. It’s a short video from Edutopia, really worth watching. She’s not an English teacher, but she shows us the way into using all those tools and applications in our lessons. I would specially point out what she says about teaching these new tools: Sometimes she’s learning from her students as she’s teaching. This give-and-take concept can’t be neglected nowadays when it comes to building new projects. We can’t expect our students to ellicit everything out of inspiration or sheer practice, many things will still be in the teacher’s hands, but we can’t escape the fact that the future of project work in education and knowledge acquisition will be also based upon the process whereby teachers and students share the experience of learning.

Have a nice summer!!

Posting will become scarce in the following weeks… summetime has come!
Here’s my last post, just to show you that we still must work really hard if we want this country of ours to show some reasonable level in the use of English… and still harder if we want it to show some style and good taste!!
Bon estiu!!

ghoa-paquirrin

A Counterpoint… Always Welcome!

This video from the Escapist portraits the negative effects of a too-game-biased environment. Everybody talks abouts games in education (I do!!!), games in everyday life, serious games, alternate reality games… maybe it’s time to stop and see the drawbacks as well! No need to mention that it is only a warning to over-users!! Games are a wonderful tool for our job!

Word on the Street

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Word on the Street is an extremely good website by The British Council and the BBC.

A series of chapters dealing with everyday situations with a set of definite sections which make students learn as they enjoy these nice clips.

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The episodes are divided in sections: Those which help learners to focus first on comprehension, where we can watch everyday situations dealing with different topics.

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These are followed by sections more focused on linguistic aspects which are exemplified with parts of the previous clip.

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Some brief explanations are highlighted on the screen in order to clarify those linguistic aspects that must be learnt.

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Finally, these clips are followed by some drills to help students evaluate what they have learnt in the episode.
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This website will really fulfill the needs of those students who need some reinforcement on their listening skills as well as those who want to use some good-quality self-access material. Great production and crystal-clear explanations. for those who find it difficult, they can also see the transcript as they watch.

Tales of 20th Century London

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Sit down and relax… this webpage is a gift for all English teachers!

Tales of 20th Century London puts right in front of you 100 years of London history.  You can travel back to four different periods of 20th century London and learn how young people lived.

First of all, once you have selected the period you want to travel to, you will learn about life, leisure, food, clothes and history.


londontales2You will experience what life was like…

and questions will be asked where you will have to make choices related to that kind of life in thet period.

Learn about life in the period of WWI and WWII, life in the 50’s and the crazy 60’s and londontales3finally life in the last 20 years of the century.

Another nice activity you can do with students: Have a look at some districts in London… you will be shown a picture of that area in the past… go to the WWW and find a picture of that same area now, and post it!! Good for describing and comparing.

A very catchy website, colourful and easy to follow. Be sure your students will love it!

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