29 Jan 2009

Get Fun with Your Digital Camera in the ESL Classroom

Not only is technology fun and motivating for our students, but also a powerful tool for learning. Teachers in schools and high schools should give their studens as many chances as possible to use technologies integrating them into the curriculum because they would get better results than with traditional methods. One of these opportunities could be using digital cameras in class.

Ideas for using them in your ESL classroom:

1. For the first class or when teaching Countries and Nationalities, you can ask your students to divide in groups of six people. Then, tell them they have to imagine they don't start school in Spain but in England where there are many students from other countries. They have to write a short play with questions for the first class day, such as "Hello, how are you? My name is... And I come from ... Where are you from?" "I am from... but I have lived here for ..." "Oh, that's great! Are there many shops, museums or theatres in the city?". Then, they have to record their play with their cameras, using imagination.

2. Another idea is to do the same activity but collecting friend's photos, England photos, looking for information about England, timetables, subjects, food... and make a presentation in class. For this task students can use Movie Maker to create a slide show which they will use in their presentation. After that, they have to talk about their first day of class in a British school or a trip to London. Here you will find an example made by university students, you can adapt to your students level.

3. Students can also use digital cameras for creating TV commercials. Two students are the reporters, others the Sports journalist who has to talk about sports and interview famous players; the national reporters who have to talk about events in the country; the international reporters in different parts of the world; culture journalists to tell about cultural events, shows in the world and interview famous writers, singers..., and the weather reporter who has to talk about the weather in the world. They have to write the stories, try to memorize them and create a short play to recorded later.

4. If your students are beginners, you can help them to perform a song. Watch here a cute example.

You will find more ideas in the following link. I hope these ideas are useful for motivating your students to learn English.

Web 2.0 tools for ESL/EFL teaching

Nowadays, our students are digital natives, that is, "children who were born into and raised in the digital world", children who spend a lot of time surfing on the net, chatting with their friends, playing computer games... This is not learning, but what about changing this? What about teaching them to use the tools they can find on the net to learn English?

I am sure that if every student could use these tools in order to learn English and acquire knowledge, not only at school but also at home, anywhere, his language would improve very quickly. The teacher's role is to help students to be more independent, to reach their goals in their learning process and this can be done teaching them to use web 2.0 tools in an appropriate way because this is the new 21st century literacy.

16 Jan 2009

MOODLE, WIZIQ and more- new ways of expanding your physical classroom boundaries

Nowadays, we are exposed to a wide range of Information Technology in our homes. Citizens of the future who lack technology skills will be at a severe disadvantage since confidence with Information and Communication Technology is part of the New Literacy for the 21st century. Teenagers spend more time surfing on the net and are fond of it. Therefore, teachers has to rethink their ways of teaching and adapt to the new social changes because Internet has brought a revolution to teaching and learning.

But, how can technology help in the learning process?

One of the possible answers is through Moodle. Moodle is one of the most used "virtual learning environments" to teach online courses or as part of on-site education all over the world by 1.851.889 and 26.745.838 users. It was developed by Martin Dougiamas to help to create a social constructionist approach in education and a new way of learning. This platform, which has be
en used since 1999 can be useful to interact with your students who live in the same place or who live in different countries. Besides, Moodle is an open source course management package that is free.

What are the advantages of using Moodle?

I have not used Moodle as a teacher but I discovered its advantages as a student, in one of my literature subjects at the University last year, and it helped me a lot in my learning process.

1. The teacher can enroll all here/his students.

2. He/She can upload tasks to develop in groups or individually at any time and in any place. You can choose the last date to upload the task to the platform. For example, in my class, the teacher uploaded some poems and the students had to write a literary essay about it. I think it is very comfortable since when you have finished it you can send it to the teacher in just one click. Besides, students can access safe materials in a personalised environment.

3. He/She can include a chat to discuss some topics explained in the class, wikis, podcasts or group discussions for collaborative activities.

4. He/She can upload documents or videos to help students in their learning process.

5. A forum can be also included for different questions. The whole class had to create a glosary with 18th century literary terms.

6. Students do not feel so shy, at least in Spain, to contact the teacher as they do in class.
7. Students can contribute to whole class initiatives.

8. Teachers can also include news about interesting topics related to the school, high-school, university or to the subject.

9. Teachers can follow their students' progress, how much time do they spend on the platform, what places have they visited in the platform, when they upload an assignment or post a comment on the forum.

10. Moodle offers
students the opportunity to instant message other friends in the class, edit their own profile, add their photos, create their blog.

In this
link you will find moodle tutorials to learn how to use it and a book called Using Moodle written by Jason Cole and Helen Foster.

what else can Moodle offer to teachers?

As Manish Verma said "Moodle is an asynchronous tool", I mean, Moodle is a platform where the teacher can u
pload Word, PDFs documents or online learning resources to make easier to the students the information access. However, there are many other tools, like Wiziq (free software), which allow synchronours cooperation, that is, which allow teachers to share text, audio and video with the students in the virtual classroom and viceversa.
These tools provide integration with moodle and this is what makes moodle to be a real VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). One of the advantages which Wiziq provides to Moodle is that you can "use features like live audio and video communication, text messaging, whiteboard with drawing and writing tools, PowerPoint, PDF and Flash file sharing and privileges to transfer control to any participant independently"(1) what can be more interesting for younger students. Learn how to do it!

What are the advantages of using Wiziq in the Moodle platform?

1. You can use it to view public sessions given by experienced teachers on a great amount of topics or interact with other teachers or students in a live discussions via online conference.

2. You can upload your own Power Point presentations.

3. The sessions are recorded, therefore if you cannot be on time you can follow them later.

4. Teachers can view other teachers lessons to know what other teachers are doing and take ideas to improve their own ones.

But there is also one
disadvantage since using just the Moodle platform you do not need to be on the computer at a particular moment but with the Wiziq tool you have to be there. Besides, it is only in the beta version.

For more information about Wiziq you can visit its
blog or watch this video:

As for Moodle, there are also tutorials for learning to use Wiziq. Another live e-learning software is Elluminate which was created in 2000. Here you will find information about how integrate it into the Moodle platform .

But there are more tools like
DimDim (free web meeting service based on the open software platform is another web 2.0 launched one year ago). Here is the guide to integrate it with Moodle.

If you are interested in similar tools:
tutorom, iknow (for languages) or Yugma (not free).
Some teachers are still reluctant to integrate new technologies in their classrooms? Why is so difficult for some teachers to accept this change?

8 Jan 2009

ESL UNITED - A Great ESL, EFL Community

Today I got an email from Chad DeBolt, the creator of the ESL United website. This amazing site is a mixture of Facebook and Monster, that is, an ESL social network where you can upload your curriculum, write blog posts, upload photos, videos, chat with other ESL community members, participate in the forum and groups, create your own group to interact with other peers. Therefore, teachers, schools, associations... are welcome!!!

Here, you will find everything you need to know about the ESL world. In addition, as it is starting volunteers are needed and you can contribute to make this site your own one. If you miss something in the site you can join to the ESL United Website Volunteers and make your proposals. Therefore, what are you waiting for checking out the site?

2 Jan 2009

Perfect English?

For more than two decades academics and publishers have propounded theories on pronunciation acquisition and training since in a global world, communicating properly with other people from all over the world has become a must.

The communicative approach is a product of the dissatisfaction of educators and linguists with the audiolingual and grammar-translation methods since these methods are not useful for learning the whole language, the real one. With the communicative approach students learn to communicate in nearly real situations, or through games and other communicative learning activities in lower levels such as dramatizacion, singing songs, tongue twisters and so on. Everything sounds great, but when you put this approach into practice there are some problems.

One problem is, how and when to correct our students mistakes? What mistakes should be corrected? If we correct all our students mistakes, we run the risk of our students do not want to speak anymore. What is more important: preserving the communicative process of the interaction or providing corrective feedback? These are difficult questions which depends on many different consideractions related to the learner.

Besides, I wonder how perfect pronunciation sounds like. Does it mean that the persons sounds like a native speaker? If the answer is affirmative, what kind of speaker: American, British, Australian, South African? What is more important: speaking like a native who makes grammar mistakes, inarticulate some sounds and make themselves hard to understand or a non-native speaker who has a lack of vocabulary but can express his/ her ideas in a clear way? Is there a 'perfect' pronunciation in any language all around the world?

Watch this video called
21 accents and think about it.

An interesting article about this topic Study Calls For New Approach To Teaching English As A Lingua Franca (July 20, 2009)

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More