June 17, 2013
That time of year with exams all around. Hope none of you doing them get suspended!
I have been suspended on another front: yes another birthday but to keep you all addicted to the blog I refuse to tell you how old … just keep reading. Have been reflecting, however, on teaching (surprise, surprise). I still remember getting off the school bus and waiting for our first TV aerial on the roof. And that was B/W! My favourite teacher of all time was still allowed to hit us with a drum stick: but he taught me everything I needed to now about Franco. Those were the days.
The technology keeps changing and with it education but I remain a firm believer in the power of the teacher. Recently I have become addicted to massive online courses such as those offered by www.cousera.org but it fascinates me how important the role of the lecturer still is … it may be a video but their personality still wins you over.
Likewise, in our increasingly IT influenced classrooms, us teachers remain the key point of reference. Here is a fine blog post discussing the whole area stating very clearly that we need to put students not stuff first and it will be the teacher who makes that difference.
If the blog is still running this time next year I may confirm my age. Or maybe not. The joys of cyberlife: it never ends, they won’t let you quit.
June 10, 2013
Feeling sheepish today. Why was I so excited by a dial-up modem connection and so unexcited by an IWB in my classroom? Can I get that initial IT buzz back?
It may be the timing, or simply the article itself, but this reflection on technology and its implications for education really hits the spot for me. Buying new IWBs, laptops etc really doesn’t actively incorporate technology into education as we all know. Neither does the latest APP or social network. Over the past fifteen years I have become increasingly depressed by the idea that spending enough will bring technology into our classrooms effictively. It is much more complex and if we lose sight of teachers and students in the process, ie the essence of education, we are missing the target completely.
At the same time, one way or another, and I think often in such a subtle way that it almost goes unnoticed, technology changes everything completely. A generation that has grown up with the internet cannot be the same as one that grew up with black and white TVs. The trick is working out what the difference really is but not throwing the baby out with the modem, as it were.
Education may be changing, roles developing, but the essential pillar of learning remains the combination of teacher, student, materials and how that all fits together. Obvious I suppose, but all too often the IT budget seems more important: what can be afforded, sold, promoted outweighs the educational implications.
So, reading this blog post has sent me back to the drawing board … or should that now be back to the photoshop? Time to dye my hair and start again? Check it out for yourself here.
June 6, 2013
Child and teacher-friendly site with stories from all around the world. Great stuff!
June 3, 2013
Facebook is no longer cool. Even Rupert Murdoch says so: and he must know … has to have some inside information, a hotline to someone in the know
Facebook can boast enormous numbers of members but the time they spend online is decreasing, especially amoung the younger members of the community. In Spain, Tuenti remains the favourite amoung the youngest users of online social communities followed by Twitter. This El Pais article concludes that it seems that children are born on Tuenti, grow up on Twitter and become comfortable in Facebook.
Am I too old to start all over again and get a Tuenti account? Probably just have to leave that to the kids … but they can wait a couple of more years. Disturbingly, the article also has the statistic that 15% of Spanish kids between the ages of 14 and 17 confess to having been hassled on online social networks. I suppose, it happens all the time in school playgrounds but still not nice and of course leads us as teachers to consider our role in either using, promoting or teaching social media.
May 27, 2013
Different perspectives are always interesting. This Guardian article puts forward the idea that Modern Language teachers in Britain are leading the way in their use of tecnology in education. I have always argued that in terms of languages the new technologies, if used wisely, provide essential tools for communication between teachers, students and students and teachers and this is the key attraction highlighted in the text. Modern language teachers in Britain have a whole range of projects and also, more importantly, a strong social teaching network through which ideas can be exchanged. Be patient and scroll down the page to the comments at the end: some incisive comments here and again, for me at least, fascinating to see what language teachers are working on in different contexts.
Try this hashtag on Twitter #mfltwitterati to see some of the things they are up to. The following blog is also of interest.
May 23, 2013
Well it is the season of the Cannes film Festival but closer to home also good news on the cinema front. Congratulations to KIERAN DONAGHY, TESOL-SPAIN Area Coordinator for Barcelona on winning an ELTon Award for Teacher Innovation with his site http://film-english.com/ .
If you have ever wanted to use an interesting film clip in class this is where to start from!
More on the ELTons here http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/eltons
May 20, 2013
The question of how long it takes to learn a language has to be similar to the query of how long a piece of string is: how many variables do you want to mull through before approaching, what might be, a possible answer? Here are two recent articles from the Guardian which don’t provide the answer but do give a general insight into language learning and how complex it can be. Nothing new for those of us involved but still some salient points and also for me at least, a slightly different perspective in that the articles are written from the perspective of language teaching in the British state system as opposed to the more familiar world of EFL.
The first text deals directly with the question of how long it may take to learn a language, considering the contexts, the aims and also including the CEF as a reference point. Unsurprisingly, there is no conclusion but the article does trawl throught lots of the nonsense that surrounds the question. Also, if you do read it, take a minute to follow the links: some of them are very useful.
This second article follows the previous one to an extent by posing a further question: what is the best way to teach a language. And, surprise, surprise, again there is no conclusion. But there are some interesting points brought up and a curious introduction to task-based learning in British schools. The quote I liked most was that languages cannot be taught: they can only be learned.
Your views on these areas more than welcome.