lunes, 2 de abril de 2012

reflections on week 7

The ability to publish freely to the Web means the possibility to broaden the choices to practice the English language with their classmates in and outside the classroom setting. It also brings an opportunity to be creative in terms of what the students may publish and how to publish (e.g. the design of a blog, layout, etc.). Another relevant feature is that they feel free to express their opinions on different subjects without any limit. Indeed, this is a powerful tool that allows thinking in the English language. In the interaction between the author of the blog/teacher and the students a chance is given to improve the use of English in different contexts so that writing is demanded to be employed regarding the topics depicted. In addition to that, the blog can provide pictures and photographs that help to make a relationship between image and text, and videos work as tools that foster listening and speaking skills. Anyway, teachers should be able to manage students’ footprints by working as a manager of the blogs and being able to access information of users so that  teachers know what information is displayed and what relevant information is necessary to have at hand in case students forget them.  As a result of this, the lesson could be carried out without any important problem that could affect the achievement of the aims proposed. In the end, the teacher has to make students responsible on how they work and what information they publish to the Web. In the end, publishing to the Web enables the students and teachers to the use of language through the skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading) , so as learners are exposed to different kind of material that brings about new content, vocabulary and different grammar structures in actual contexts.

sábado, 31 de marzo de 2012

Reflections on week 6

I think that using Word and Power Point in the classroom for a whole class accounts for helpful tools that trigger off students to work actively in the different assigned tasks in the classroom setting so that they can interact with each other. In this way, the learning process can be seen - figuratively speaking- as if it consisted of a bridge that lies between students and teacher, who control it by providing a useful way of learning.  In this respect, the teacher can elicit all the knowledge provided by them, and the mistakes made can be corrected with the support of all the class. Planning the activities and supervising that the students carry out the tasks properly are keys for the success. On the other hand, the participation in such kind of activities  foster better understanding of group relationship as they participate by giving their opinions, improving listening, speaking writing (by means of grammar and spelling Word/Power Point tool for this purpose), and reading skills.  The use of a document with a friendly layout and an attractive presentation (vivid colours, not too many words on them, appropriate size and theme font, etc.), keeps the attention focused on the activity and avoid making unnecessary efforts to get the concentration on the task.
For instance, I would use an activity similar to the "Olive Oil" proposed in the course, as it it related to learning the passive voice in present simple tense. In the ESP field, it is very common to read material with such grammar structures because it is used to describe a process in a general way and for stating general technical and scientific truths. On the other hand, the use of connectors are often found in these kind of texts and help to understand not what an author is trying to communicate, but also provide hints about how students can write an academic text with cohesion by means of using connectors. In the end, ICT has been integrated to the syllabus of ESP.

sábado, 10 de marzo de 2012

Reflections on week 3

As teachers, we should be able to interact with the search engines in a useful way in order to save time and be more efficient when the research is carried out.  In my opinion, this module has helped to develop new ways to do this task and take advantage of the support we can get from the search tools while writing words in the query to start a web search. We have to know the “how” search engines work so as to specify “what” we are looking for; then, we need to start using simple language, as well. In addition to that, the use of descriptive words related directly to the search push us to go straightforward to the topic we need to look at.
Before reading the information provided, I was not aware of such tools. As an example, I used to write some words that did not fulfill my real demand of knowledge in the field. There, I wasted time when writing again the query until I found the information needed after so many times trying to grasp it.  On the other hand, when at last I made up my mind to write fewer and more specific words, I didn’t take into account the words more likely to appear on the web page as well as the use of brackets, so maybe a relevant webpage could be missed.
English teachers are familiar with certain editors of English books or ESL material (Oxford, Longman, Cambridge, Heinemann, etc.).  This is an advantage. As a result of it, we can find documents within a specific domain. In my case, it can be very useful to use the colon -into the brackets- when having  the query;  for example:[ elt technology language: oxford ]. It is helpful to do it when looking for exercises to students in English for Specific Purposes in ELT, either in the business or the technological area. To sum up, learning the searching techniques may help us to focus on the search in order to save time and mental/physical effort.
Similarly, it is a need to know the copyright laws that rule the way teachers can use the material available on the web. This is due to the fact that we could be sued for breaking the law without being aware of it. Similarly, we can respect other's work and ideas by not making plagiarism but using them to the teaching/researching process. In fact, it makes sense that we shouldn't violate copyright regulations so that everyone's works can be recognized by society.
      Many people and web editors get their living through the income from their creative work in arts, science and technology.  Then, it is obviously a necessity to contact the webmaster in order to use their material: it includes any change to the layout, letter font or editing of the text. For me, changing these external aspects does not alter their content in the end, but these are legal matters to be considered. We can’t play music in the classroom.  However, music is a motivating resource to learn pronunciation and the culture of an English speaking country. Instead, we can also use videos in its original format for educational purposes so that it can be helpful for learning the language as well.  And videos are powerful resources which can activate the listening and writing skills. It is advisable to contact the editor, author or webmaster to make use of material of their own.
    Then, the knowledge of copyright rules makes us to be more conscious about a responsible use of the material we can find on the Internet, or about the ideas constructed by our students when using different platforms and information available on the URLs. This can also help our students to be aware of using somebody else’s ideas just to create something new and different on the way to learning the English language.
In the end, there shouldn't be any problem about using the songs (lyrics), and especially golden oldies or classics, so that students can learn and enjoy listening to music as well as practising pronunciation. The use of music is a tool of teaching English through literature as lively language for language learners and teachers. Then, the question to be raised is: 'are we using upon the potential market' (making money through selling CDs or videos to students)? the answer is, evidently, no; then, there is no problem, indeed. Anyway, the English classic songs are just that, classics that already belong to the world. What we are doing is making use of the song for educational purposes and that our intention is not to copy such material and get profits for them.

viernes, 2 de marzo de 2012

Reflections on week 2: integrating the Web

    There are many factors that the English teacher should consider while planning a class session. Considering a lesson plan, I’d rather say that all the areas of the syllabus would benefit from integrating the Web.  Actually, it provides a very dynamic interaction from which students can check their classmates’ tasks so that they can give feedback each other. In this way, the process of improving the development of different skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) are carried out more efficiently under the stance of the English teaching.
    In addition to that, the selection of the Web sites has an essential importance in the development of a lesson plan. The session will flow smoothly or not, depending on  the appropriateness of the Web sites for the purposes of the lesson plan. The usefulness of the website is given by some relevant features, such as its validity in providing reliable and authentic material, information shown in a friendly format, and display of interesting topics for students and teacher.
    It depends on the teacher of ESL to make a relationship between the websites learners are used to looking at, and the objective of the lesson plan. Learners would feel more confident and comfortable when working with a topic that is familiar to them.  On the other hand, the objective cannot be too ambitious in terms of syllabus, though.  It needs to be strong enough inasmuch it reflects that the teacher has set out the areas of language acquisition to be achieved. In my opinion, I would ask myself the following questions: 
What do I want students to learn in the session class?
What relevance does the website have from the communicative approach?
Does the website look attractive for students?
Does the topic seem engaging/interesting/ challenging  for students?
Does it demand the recognition of real language, grammar structures and demanding/varied vocabulary? Why? Why not?
     As a consequence, the knowledge about how to look for useful available resources and the application of a convenient methodology are keys in the work out of the design of a lesson plan. This is the pillar on which the learning process is founded.  

martes, 28 de febrero de 2012

Reflections on the evaluation of a website week 2

When we -as teachers- are searching on the Internet for educational purposes,  we should consider many aspects that are not clear to most of people who have access to the IT.
In my personal case, I used to write in or the topic I was interested in, and most of the time I was spending my time trying to organize or adapt the material to the class session. In the end, I had to get rid of such material due to the fact that its content was not well structured, or maybe because it had a mixture of different levels in the same set of exercises or theoretical aspects explained in it. I rarely paid attention if a website was updated or not, or about what its host computer name was.
What happened next is that I would eventually find a material from a common library that satisfied my needs in a much better way before searching again on the web.  To be honest, I had become skeptical about online educational materials that could help me to sort my troubles out. However, after reading the aspects that we should consider to assess a website, I have realized that it is relevant for it to provide facilities so that we can find information in a logical structure; it implies that there must be sets for contents for adults and children. For example, the menu displayed in the website of learning English of  the BBC (  allows the reader to go straight ahead to the content needed on the left side of the page. In fact, the content for children has been divided into subsets according to the different high school grades of the National Curriculum.
     In addition to that, it is significant to establish a difference between facts (objective information) and opinions (subjective information). In the specific case of the education field –and the teaching of English embedded in it-, there are a lot of interested people who give opinions and provide information –from politicians to parents associations- as if they were authorities in the area. As a result, we could be caught by trusting in not qualified websites without taking into account this consideration.  Then, we need to check out if the website has a known publisher and authority in the field. Last but not least, the layout or organization of the page is important for students and for us.  Even though I don’t pay too much attention to the visual design, it has a lot of influence on students’ motivation towards learning, as well as the different choices a student has to learn English, regarding his needs or preferences: listening, speaking, writing and reading.

martes, 21 de febrero de 2012

Reflections on week 1

The Learning Technologies are powerful tools that may enhance the process of learning and teaching of the English language. They provide an exposure to real world language and encourage students to look for material that, in the end, help them to use the language from a communicative approach in their everyday lives. As a teacher, I can get closer to my students in the session class from different alternatives: providing resources through technology, creating an essential framework from which the teacher and the students can share common and different points of view in the analysis of technical texts; and, of course, looking for creative and more efficient ways to develop the different skills of the language (reading, writing, listening and speaking). For example, we could assess writing drafts/analysis so that students can have a feedback before coming up to the class session, or simply give hints to students about how we are going to work or what the materials available are, in a way that students figure out what are the possible tasks to do in the class session. The possibility to access to different teaching and learning resources is an advantage we shouldn't miss. As far as we can see, technology spreads out an almost infinite set of opportunities to develop the learning of the English language. It can just be done through the integration (but not imposition) of the learning technologies to a new teaching approach.