Teaching and Learning EFL

Teaching and Learning English as a Foreign Language has been my main occupation for many years and that is why I believe I have some things to share with other people who may be interested in doing the same thing. We can learn and grow together.
Welcome to my new blog to develop teaching and learning EFL issues!


Highlights of the seminar on Strategies for Teaching with Technology by Mr. Gordon Lewis

Some of the ideas Mr. Lewis mentioned in his presentation are really important since they guide future technology for education users in how to make the most of it for a more effective use. Here is a summary of some of them.
·         One of the key things is to turn personal behavior into educational practice. This is that if you are not computer literate or a technology user, it will be difficult to teach using technology.
·         Unlike the traditional class preparation where you prepared material that was expected to last and be used several times, when using technology we should think that there is no such preservation so we must be ready to leave the material and move on.
·         Teachers and students are empowered by the use of digital technology. Furthermore, students will get more of what they want and less of what someone else believes they need.

·         One drawback of using technology is the lack of strategy and planning. Many times technology is used as a fancy trend with no real place in the syllabus and this is because technology has not been integrated in the classroom plan.
·         The goals we want to achieve by using technology should have specific characteristics :
Specific and Strategic (the use of technology for differentiation, assessment, planning or communication)
Measurable ( the effects of the use of technology should be measured using clear indicators of its effectiveness)
Attainable ( to introduce technology is not only to use laptops or i-pads but to plan how these would be used, by who and for what purpose within the institution plan)
Results-oriented ( the objectives of the activity should be the key issue to provide the focus rather than the sophistication of the tools)
Time-bound ( there should be a period of time assigned to the activity and a deadline that would allow further analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the use of technology)
On the practical side of the use of Technology in education, Mr. Lewis gave an example of how to use technology for developing Writing. He suggested the following for the different stages of the process:
Brainstorming : use the Whiteboard to record and save the ideas generated in this stage
Drafting: Use ppt slides one per paragraph since it is easy to change the order of the slides to make the paragraphs work into the text
Revising: For peer-editing we can use wikis and for feedback we can use video with editing tools
Editing: Use the facilities any PC provide regarding spelling and sentence organization, punctuation, etc.
Publishing: Use Wikis or Blogs
Another thought-provoking idea Mr. Lewis mentioned was that of Community of Practice which are as its creator Etienne Winger states: “…groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly”
Mr. Lewis said that in order to create a community of practice we needed Membership, Mentorship, Orchestrated Spontaneity (Participation) and Recognition. If you want to explore more on this interesting idea go to http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/06-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf 
Last, but not least, for measuring the success of the use of Technology there are key questions such as: Did they (the students) like it?, did they learn? Are they applying it? And you can use the Brinkerhoff Success Case study methodology. You can read more about it at http://aetcnec.ucsf.edu/evaluation/Brinkerhoff.impactassess1.pdf
Speaking Practice for FCE
Early this year, I attended a conference: ELT + IT: CALL for a balance by Michael Krauss as part of the ELT+IT Conference held at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola. I learned several tools for Speaking and would like to share one that I currently use to foster Speaking practice for FCE: Voxopop.

Voxopop enables users to record their speaking for other speakers (teachers, colleagues, peer students) to listen and respond to. It amis at develop Language learning, Conversation practice and even Oral presentations. It is extremely easy to use. Yu just need to log in to http://www.voxopop.com/ and record your message.

I have started a free discussion for you on Speaking Practice for FCE. Visit and participate if you want.

You can see another example of another talkgroup if you follow this other blog: http://tettformasterintefl.blogspot.com/p/translation-and-teaching-english.html

A comment on Penny Ur´s lecture
Penny Ur was in Lima and last Wednesday she gave a lecture on Creating interesting exercises and Making boring exercises interesting. She has not made controversial statements or made any breakthroughs in this event but mentioned something that I think needs careful thought and that I have summarized below .

Interest in tasks is achieved when the attention is voluntary, the learner is involved in doing the task and there is enjoyment.
The kind of exercises that are boring for students are those which are focused in form and provide only one possible right answer. Additionally, there is very low participation of the student since the IRF pattern makes activate one member of the class at a time.
Features that some language practice exercises display that are not necessarily conducive to create interest in the students are:
Interesting topic ( topics may be interesting but students may not be interested in them for reasons such as background, tasks, possibility of involvement, etc.)
Information-gap-based communication (one student providing information to another may not necessarily make them feel interested)
Real-world relevance or authenticity (the fact that something is authentic does not make it automatically relevant for the student)

Features that are conducive to interest display:
a. Activation (activate students in production of most of the class members simultaneously)
b. Empowerment (this time it is students who initiate the interaction pattern and not the teacher)
c. Open-endedness (encourage unusual, creative responses)
d. Tasks that provide a clear outcome
e. Activities that develop HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills)
f. Personal relevance
g. Success-orientation (minimizing frustration time)
h. Game-like features (transform exercises into a game by adding an artificial constraint such as time limit, competition, etc.)
I have tried to summarize just a few of the issues presented in the lecture which created interest, was well dosified and with plenty of ideas that will help us reflect on our current practice. Thanks Cambridge for the opportunity of listening to such respected writer.

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