Communicative Skills for Secondary Teachers http://ced.cele.unam.mx/englishforteachers
Program developers Escuela Nacional Preparatoria No. 1 “Gabino Barreda. UNAM Ma. Elena Delgado Centro de Enseñanza de Lenguas Extranjeras. UNAM Leticia Martinek Karen Lusnia Eréndira Camarena Dulce Ma. Gilbón
Online tutor Adriana Alcalá Juárez
CONTRIBUTORS Name Aguilar Bibian Miguel
Aguilar González Juan Carlos
Alcalá Burgueño Eunice Elizabeth
Arguello Licona Irma
Estado de México
Ixtlán del Río, Nayarit
Castro Carrillo Juan Ramón
Chavarín Rubio Enrique
Ciseneros Saldaña Juan Fernando
Delgado Pérez Oscar Alberto
Díaz Velasco Perla Olivia
Flores Ibarra Alicia Judith
García Villalobos Ma. del Consuelo
Hernández Peña Judith
Hernández Zapiain Izella R.
León León Edwina Beatriz
Nava Magaña Rafael
Pérez León Adriana Carolina
Pérez Pérez Juan Manuel
Valle de Stgo., Gto.
Rubio Sifuentes Erika Isabel
San Pedro, Coahuila
Sámano Gordillo Francisco Javier
Vázquez Romero G. Misael
A 120 hour online teacher development program was prepared for English language secondary school Mexican teachers. Free access sites were carefully
chosen in order to facilitate their improvement of language skills and grammatical competence as well. Seven modules were designed to reach this objective.
Would that program be an appropriate response to that populationâ€™s needs? At the end of each module, teachers were asked to reflect on their own learning process in the different contents: learning to learn, the four linguistic skills, teaching strategies and the use of ICT.
As a final project of the afore mentioned diploma, the participants are required to write a report. This volume includes the reflections of the second group participants who share their enthusiasm, surprise, stress and even frustration struggling with new technologies during their learning process, but their willingness to face the challenge as well.
The compilation of these extraordinary essays your are about to read are part of a process that, in my opinion, needs to be explained in order to be fair to each and everyone involved. Almost thirty professors from all over the Mexican Republic were summoned to this group number two. Some wanted, some didn’t, but in the end they all took the risk. Some just about to retire, some coordinators, others feeling overworked and underpayed, but most of them enthusiastic and nervous. The first obstacle they found was their own cybernetic “illiteracy.” These teachers, including me, are part of a generation where computers started as an expensive gadget and ended up being a tool in the classroom. We all know how to use word processors and perhaps we can surf in the net, but online study required more. The second important obstacle was time management. Many events happened in the way: sicknesses, death of loved ones, exams, and house movings. We all learned in the process that time could not be taken for granted and deadlines were an unavoidable issue. The third important obstacle was the resistence to change. Teachers started feeling desperate, they didn’t understand what was going on, they thought it was their fault not knowing how to use technology perfectly well, that they were not capable to fullfilling the goals of the course. In the process they discovered some truths about online learning: machines and systems do fail and you can’t fool yourself when it comes to self-study. Little by little some deserted, but the remaining got tougher. Their English level increased significantly, they commented objectively others’ assignments and were always willing to accept feedback. They even shared very intimate and important thoughts with the rest. All of them entered the course being one type of teacher and finished it being a totally different person. Besides the significance of the process and feedback in this type of course, it is important to state that teachers came back to be students again. Hopefully, they’ll return to their classes feeling renewed, willing to adapt and
change to a different kind of generation of students; knowing that they’re able to cope with it and that their background is still valuable and rich. And even more, having stood up in the other side of the desk, they’ll be more understanding. They all should feel proud to accept the challenge and be coherent enough with their commitment so as to finish it. To accept that there is still too much to learn and that our teenagers need teachers commited to their times. Finally, this microuniverse we wove together, this “battles” we fought in the middle of the night chatting, or this awe towards discoveries are part of what learning is all about: Enjoy the essays and cheers to everyone of you! “A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.”
Alicia Adriana Alcalá Juárez
1. English language learning awareness 2. Cultural learning awareness 3. New teaching strategies discovered 4. Reading teaching strategies 5. Listening teaching strategies 6. Speaking teaching strategies 7. Writing teaching strategies 8. About ICT tools 9. Lesson planning
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Rubén Aguilar Bibién English Language Learning Awareness During the development of this course I’ve learned different skills that I didn’t know and I could remember some others that I had forgotten. The structure which this course has been designed, has given to me the opportunity of to know a different way of English language learning through the internet. At the beginning of this course it was a little difficult for me, get involved in a different system of learning was new but the effort have given me more abilities in the acquiring and improving of the English language. Over all I’ve learnt how to learn in order to teach. Simple but important things as read correctly or make a comprehension reading, to give the correct intonation to my words and having coherence between what I say and how I say it, are some of the examples about what I’ve learnt. I’ve seen a lot of strategies in the web sites that I’ve worked. Several of them could be used with my students, in this way could improve their learning too. In general I’ve learnt that in English language I need to be looking for new strategies and put them in practice. Adapt the new skills to my daily work with the students and keeping my attention and effort to become a better English teacher every day.
Cultural Learning Awareness The knowledge that I have acquired during this course has been really helpful for me. The contents that we saw in every single module I’ve tried to adapt it to my classes. In some cases the access to a computer in my school has been the restriction, but I’ve adapted some exercises from the web pages and became them in printed exercises. Sometimes I have downloaded the listening exercises to my computer and I have record them in cds that I play in my tape recorded to my students. Obviously, I have looked for them in the web sites that the course gave us. The practices always are according to the English level of my students. The writing exercises have been the easiest to apply in my classes, because the websites offer a lot of them but these sites besides the exercises, give some pieces of advice in order to create your own material according to your necessities. I have practiced the speaking exercises in order to improve my intonation with my students. For example, once a 3rd. grade student asked me why was I changing the way of speaking? He mentioned that in the two past years I spoke in different way. That now with the new way of speaking he could understand more without to know the meaning of every single word that I pronounce. All this has been a big proof of the improvement that I and my work have had. Everything goes in the benefit of my students more than in my own.
New Teaching Strategies Discovered The life style that we’re living now a days demands new teaching techniques. Our students aren’t any more like the students of 10 years ago. We must be “21 st. century teachers”. The human is no perfect and as teachers we neither are. That’s why we need to be in a constant development, making use of all the tools that we have around. We are leaders, but as a leader we need to give the best example and create interesting classes using whatever. We already know that our students are able to hand whatever tool much better that we do it. So it’s necessary to be updated about anything. It’s very important to have at least the minimal idea of the topics that our students are interested on. When a student ask for his/her teacher about anything and the teacher says “I don’t know” The student thinks that he/she is not a really good teacher. More when we don’t know to use a computer or any other communicative device. I think that we must to be creative and innovate, but all the time thinking about our study object, the student. Reading Teaching Strategies In module 3 (Reading), the Activity 3.2 about vocabulary was really helpful for me. I had some troubles with vocabulary pronunciation. The activity offers a text and the speaking of that piece of text. This makes you to practice both skills of the language at time, reading and listening. When I was reading and listen at time I could improve the pronunciation and the ability of reading and understand what I was reading. In the other hand, I looked for some exercises according to the English level of my students and I worked them in 3rd. grade classes. They got really interested on the activities they realized that they had learned English because even they didn’t understand all the text like I did. They got the man idea of the reading. When I decide to show the activity to my students I thought they could get boring. But at the end they were giving a real use to their knowledge.
Listening Teaching Strategies The most difficult activity for me in the fourth module was the unit 5/activity 5.1. It was a dictation exercise. The task in the exercise was listening a recording and fill in the blanks the missing words that the recording mentioned. The fact was that I didn’t identify the grammatical punctuations as, full stop, commas, colon, semi colon etc. I couldn’t write the correct words and the punctuation signs. One of my problems is the orthography. Besides the words had very similar sound that was why I got confuse. Now, checking again the exercise I realize that it wasn’t really difficult or not at all. I think the problem was my lack of ability in orthography rules.
Speaking Teaching Strategies The activity that I worked with my students was the Voicethread that we worked during the module 3 unit 3. I liked because it was enjoyable and I could do it with the whole group.
Fortunately my school has a media classroom where there is a computer a video projector and audio system. I exercised with the voicethread the topic “describing people and situations”, with students of third grade. I choose some images and I projected them. The students were sitting in teams. Each team had to describe the photos. They choose a person who had to speak by microphone the description that all the members of the team had make. As the photos were changing the person who had to talk changed too. In that way all the members of the team had to speak while I was recording their voices and descriptions in my tape recorder. They were nervous because of the microphone and their pronunciation but they had really good written and spoken descriptions. At the end of the descriptions I played the recording for all of them. They got shame because they hadn’t listened their voices speaking in English before. But when we analyzed the recording the second time, they realize that some of their classmates had mistakes in pronunciation or grammar. For me this was an excellent activity which I had to spend a lot of time preparing it but the result was excellent because the students felt exciting of listen themselves speaking in English.
Writing Teaching Strategies I checked all my participations in the forums of writing module. The work that I had to do come back to my mind, it was hard! I think writing is one of the most difficult skills of the language that the learner has to improve. In this skill is very common to make mistakes: grammatical rules, punctuation, and vocabulary use. At the same time I think that this was a very helpful module that allowed to me express freely. Sometimes it was hard because I didn’t know how to begging, the ideas were not clear in my head but tried till I had better productions of what I was doing. The fact of creating my own productions as the slideshow or tell personal experiences was amazing. I know that I make a lot of mistakes that my grammar maybe couldn’t be the most perfect but at the end I’m here learning. The comments from my partners had been nice. As me they think that we’re doing our best in order to improve as English learners and teachers. I didn’t receive any criticism about my work. They have given me good pieces of advice and congratulations for my works. This experience has been amazing. I’m happy with my scores and I’m sure that the effort of be attending this course will be reflected with my students that is who I work for.
About ICT Tools During this course I have had a huge variety of techniques and tools that have given me the chance of make wider my view about the technology uses. They’re simple things or activities that help to improve our classes making use of the new tools that we have around. A computer, a cellular phone or any other device that is used for the student as a recreational tool could be taken as an important tool in the English class. For example I describe the best activities for me in the speaking module. The activities could be taken to the English class and take advantage of them: Information and Communication Technology on English Language, ICT.
In module 5 (speaking) I choose the activities: 2.1 Music clips, 3.1 Voice thread and 5.1 Videoconference. In the first one, I felt really nervous because I had to express the feelings and memories. It’s something difficult to do for me. But I learnt that I have to express my emotions and my thoughts freely. I just spoke and the ideas were flowing naturally, which made that my pronunciation and my knowledge were used. Besides when I did it with a group of students, they felt self confidence about their English language knowledge. They felt free to speak and got a new experience in the use of the language. The voice thread, as I explained before help me to have a correct pronunciation of the words in a specific topic (describing people), but at the same time this was an excellent tool that I took to make to my students to speak more in English. The activity allowed us to recognize our weaknesses and abilities in speaking, listening and grammar. The video conference was for me really enjoyable. To have a specific topic to talk was interesting because I realized that we can give a better use to the messenger. This tool could be great used with the students with educative purposes.
Lesson Planning Lesson plan is the most important part of our work as teachers. If we don’t have a correct and accurate lesson plan, all the class work will be a disaster. Analyzing the different lesson plans I decided that the Madeline Hunter´s is the most appropriated for my context. It has the entire elements that I use to include in my Official Lesson Plan. According to the SEP’s studies program. I have to plan having a clear objective about what I want to teach and how I need that the students learn. Now the teacher is just a guide of the knowledge and the student needs to be the builder of his/her own knowledge using the previous experiences and knowledge. The seven steps are well structured. Following and adapting them to the class and the students’ necessities give an excellent way of working. Not in all the cases could this work well but having it as a model we can improve some strategies and develop new ones in benefit of our work and catch the interest and attention of the students. The teachers must have a good level of acquisition of the language but after that we need to learn how to plan a class and identify the best models of them that help us to teach better.
CONCLUSION The summarize of all this work and experiences have as result that I’m more convinced of my work as teacher. Also I’ve realized that my educative process hasn’t finished. I have the responsibility of work harder every day and give the best to my students. Thanks to all those persons that were part of this incredible experience. Thanks To SEP and the UNAM for their support. Specially thanks to Rebeca Mariñelarena Estrella for her help,her good pieces of advice and motivation to my work.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE BY JUAN CARLOS AGUILAR GONZÁLEZ This online Diploma Course taught me many useful things. I was given websites, strategies and tools that can be used during lessons with students; I experienced what a student goes through during learning process; my perception about Internet was changed meanwhile activities were done; and my skills were improved and strengthened while activities from modules were made out. A better explanation is given in next lines.
CULTURAL LEARNING AWARENESS A bad or incorrect pronunciation must be avoided. You could be drawn into embarrassing, funny or trouble situations because of mispronunciation. For example, I am wary /’weǝri/ of listening to every teacher’s word. I am weary /’wıǝri/ of listening to every teacher’s word. Many words are pronounced differently by American and British people. This marked difference between them is due to a period of history they have in common with each other. Some examples, Common
English language is a reflection of English thought; they first look at and consider the characteristics of anything (beautiful yellow flowers [first, characteristics – adjectives – then, the noun]). Actually, every language is a reflection of the culture; language is influenced by the culture and vice versa. I believe English language is practical and so are they. Learning a language is learning a culture and culture is reflected in its idioms. Students should be introduced to idioms so I will give them an idiom with a picture every week. It could go within a dialogue too, for example: come to a sticky end.
NEW TEACHING STRATEGIES DISCOVERED Nowadays, 8 habits must be acquired by 21st century teachers. These habits are: Adapting. I work in a school which doesn’t have Internet service; however, most of the strategies don’t need an Internet connection. For instance, I learned that grammar can be studied and practised by watching segments of movies; a DVD player and a Television are required for this kind of activity. Being visionary. Despite the school doesn’t have the Internet tool, there are four computers where I could simulate some web pages to work out the all four skills… Taking risks. Every strategy is a risk and a challenge. Learning. Teacher must be a life-long learner and every strategy is a tool for that kind of learner. Students adopt qualities from their teachers. Communicating. Messenger, chat, and e-mail are software for communicating and this diploma course has changed my perception about their use. Modelling behaviour. Be the change! You want or not, you’re a model for your students. If you refuse to learn new strategies and use new technologies, you are losing of being part of this extraordinary change. Leading. A leader is not afraid of learning new things (technologies, strategies, tools, etc.). Actually, every habit is strongly related to the strategies but we must adapt them according to our context and resources, for example, collaborating is not possible by Internet but I am thinking about establishing a mail system inside the school. I’ve not detailed it well enough yet. Suggestions will be welcomed.
READING TEACHING STRATEGIES Third module showed me different ways to work out reading skill and a variety of websites where lots of texts are found; crisis nursery is one of those texts: CRISIS NURSERY It is a simple text. The vocabulary is basic. The text is not so long so the reader won’t get tired of reading. It’s well organized in short paragraphs. There are additional resources such as audio and video. There are some activities you can do after reading; memory game (It’s a wellknown activity), spelling (You first hear and watch some words, then you listen to those words again but this time you have to write them.), and quiz (Questions related to the text; you must click on the option that answers or completes correctly.). The audio helps us to read better, I mean, we could misread the text if we are beginners because intonation could change the intention of some sentences and therefore the whole meaning. Questions are useful to work out grammar without focusing our efforts on it, and Memory can be strengthened by playing memory game.
LISTENING TEACHING STRATEGIES Listening is an important skill; Speaking (pronunciation, intonation, and speed) is influenced by listening skill level. It demands much more practice than other skills to get better. The most difficult activity I faced in 4th Module was Activity 7.2 Authentic Listening; 4TH MODULE/ ACTIVITY 7.2 AUTHENTIC LISTENING. I found it particularly difficult because I was not used to that speed of speaking. Speakers’ pronunciation was so relaxed that sometimes I confused some words with others; I don’t mean they would have mispronounced those words, although I have read
that some Americans don’t speak English well such as the last president of United States of America before Obama. I think this activity could be easier if there were more activities related with those kinds of authentic listening. I understand it could demand more time but the results would back it up. One day I was said: “–You speak as well as you listen.” Previous exercises to this activity are definitely necessary and very important.
SPEAKING TEACHING STRATEGIES At school, Speaking has been left aside or it has been practised with poor results. Now, I can practise and help my students to improve their speaking. Many tools and strategies were used in 5th Module and the most useful for students is Voicethread site. VOICETHREAD SITE (UNITS 3 AND 7) Voicethread is a site where you speak about pictures. You can describe them, make hypotheses, or simply you can express feelings and emotions those pictures evoke. Your description, hypotheses or any other kind of speech can be recorded. You must bear in mind that your speech can be listened by others who could reply to your comments or take your speech to enrich their own. This activity makes me be aware of details; now, every time I look at any image, I describe it and/ or I make hypotheses. HOW COULD I USE THIS TYPE OF ACTIVITY WITH MY STUDENTS? Firstly, I would show them some simple pictures in order to check and learn adjectives and basic sentences. After making sure students learn adjectives and they can say basic sentences, I would show them abstract pictures. They don’t have computer and nor Internet service and they can’t go to a cybercafé as frequently, so I would show them a picture and then a student could record his description on a cassette at home if necessary. Next, another student would take that cassette home and record his speech after having listened his/ her classmate’s description; and so on… the cassette would be listened in class when every student have already recorded his/ her speech. As soon as I realize they improve their speaking in such activity, student would watch some segments of a movie. They would describe the environment and people, later they would make some hypotheses about what’s coming next. This time, they would speak to their classmates 5 minutes later; students would use that time to reflect about the scene. Every student could participate as many times as they want. So far, they would be confident to speak. Then, the next step is to speak about oneself. Students would bring a photograph of themselves.
WRITING TEACHING STRATEGIES I checked my peers’ comments about my works in Writing Module and I found out I was not as bad writer as I thought. I made many mistakes when I used to write before that Module, but now my writings are better; even so, I need to practise writing much more because: I miss subjects, especially pronouns, because I’m not used to write them, I mean, in my mother tongue, pronouns are crossed out because they are implicit in verbs; English language is different from Spanish language. My writings are confusing because I don’t jot down any outline at all, and thus I miss to organize my ideas; I can’t keep my ideas for so long, I don’t mean I don’t have short memory but those ideas turn into something different and new in a few minutes later. I know that writing an outline is a habit I should get into. I also learned from mistakes I found in my peers’ writings. When I find a mistake in others’ writing I revise my own work to check if I had made the same mistake and correct it
consequently. I didn’t send any comment about those mistakes to my partner because of two main reasons: I didn’t know if I should, and I didn’t know what was his/ her intention, meaning or purpose. I believe that the main strategy used in writing module and so in the whole rest of this diploma course has been to keep the learner in mind, that’s to say, learner’s experiences, feelings, thoughts and interests were the basis for writings. To write about our own experiences draws our attention into ourselves. Nobody likes to write about something what’s not interesting or when it’s not related to oneself at all. Write an event, we’ve gone through, let words come easy to our minds and sometimes it could be helpful to emotional health. Activity 5.2 was about writing a weird incident. It was a little bit difficult at the beginning but, as soon as I started writing, words came easy to my mind. Feelings and emotions differentiate us from the rest of animals. Love, hate, remorse, sadness, happiness, melancholy, desperate, and hope rule our lives. Writing poems is an excellent way to express those feelings and emotions which are felt by any human being. Activity 2.2 is an excellent way. Writing poems was fantastic despite I just filled in.
ABOUT ICT TOOLS When I decided to get Internet I never thought I could improve my English level by using this tool. I always thought it was just used for chatting, getting information and doing transactions. I need to improve my four skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking). My weakest skill is definitely speaking so Speaking Module was so difficult and three tools were specifically useful: 1. Telling a story. Activity 1.1 was about telling a story. I had to choose a period of my life and make a recording. It was the most difficult activity of all; I had never recorded my voice before. 2. Discussion. Activity 5.2 was about having a videoconference with a partner. It was totally different because in spite of I could make a research of the topic it would be relatively useless to plan my lines; it was a conversation and thus spontaneity was necessary. 3. Describing a situation and a place. Activity 2.1 was about describing a place or a situation. Before recording my description I had to listen to three music clips and choose one of them. This activity let me use my imagination. I loved this activity so much. Every tool used in Speaking Module is appropriate and useful for my students. However, they won’t be able to use them I’m afraid. Anyway, I’m going to adapt those tools to my reality. So, I believe these three tools will be the most useful for my students:
LESSON PLANNING Students’ characteristics, context and teaching style count at the time a lesson plan format is selected. I work in a small school. It comprises three classrooms, 2 bathrooms, a Principal’s room, and a basketball court. The school has three computers and a CD player which doesn’t work. Most of students’ parents (pretty nearly all of them) work away from home. They both come back home every weekend or fortnight.
Because of their parents aren’t at home on weekdays, students aren’t autonomous and disciplined. Moreover, students ask me to repeat the instructions so many times although instructions are not so complicated. Due to my students’ behaviour, I’ve had to fragment the activities into short exercises. On this way, I can keep an eye on first graders. Second and third graders are a little bit different. I just need to implement the objective. I mean, they don’t know what is the purpose and thus the objective of each lesson. Every Lesson Plan format is excellent but, according to my context, students’ characteristics and new teaching style, Minicycles Lesson Plan is the most appropriate. This Lesson Plan lets me fragment and activity into short exercises. On this way, I can keep an eye on first graders and give them short and simple instructions. On regards to second and third graders, I can make them work out different skills and aspects of the language such as phonetics, listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Every skill can be studied by doing many exercises; these exercises are grouped in short activities. However, there is an aspect I must include in my lesson plans: state objective(s). Unfortunately, just third graders have made a habit of independent practice. This Lesson Plan will help first and second graders to get into that habit but I will have to guide them through their learning.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Eunice Elizabeth Alcalá Burgueño Making this diploma, I had the most learning experience of my life. I was waiting for something like this, a new world of teaching and learning that help me to improve my language and my skills. Maybe it wasn´t easy, I had a lot of obstacules in the road but I have to say that it worth evey single day. This is my report of my learning experience, I hope you agree with me and please send me your comments about it. CULTURAL LEARNING AWARENESS
The most effective way to focus students to learn and study other language or culture, is showing them the differences between other places and our country, like clothes, pageants, food, music, architecture, traditions. The reading sites and graphics are a very good option to get students attention to the English language, like the British and American history; how the same language has changed, even though they have the same beginning. United States education is centered; oral discussion is highly encouraged, for Americans talking and interaction is quite important. In Mexico, we encourage reading and writing skills rather than oral discussions. It´s important that students notice that we aren´t all the same, similarities and differences are both important, there are multiple ways to reach the same goal, you just need to focus on skills, knowledge, needs and resources. READING TEACHING STRATEGIES. In the reading teaching strategies I consider an excellent tool 100 FREE SHORT ENGLISH STORIES FOR ESL LEARNERS. The site doesn´t have images but you really don´t need them. You had to choose and read a short story of the site, and then you had to answer exercises A, B and C. I like it because the readings contain cultural elements, at the end of each reading you can find vocabulary, crosswords, yes/ No questions, WH questions, Open questions, ask questions and Dictate. You can practice almost all the language skills. The activities involve grammar and reading comprehension. This kind of readings could be understandable for any grade student, may be lower students couldn´t understand the whole story but they could understand what is the story talking about.
LISTENING TEACHING STRATEGIES. In my point of view, the most difficult assignment in the listening teaching strategies I learned, Reading for teaching intonation: Ted Power: English language learning and teaching. Teaching English Intonation and stress patterns. These sites have a lot of information to assimilate in one or two studying lessons. The text length is quite long. The size letter is too small and is very tired for reading; it has many definitions on the text.
British council BBC: Teaching English; it is less long than the previous one but it´s still extensive and tired. None of these sites include a practicing part, and even if you read all the information, it needs some practice in the site and an evaluation part too. YOU TUBE 5 videos are also very extensive to watch and assimilate the whole information without practicing. It could have been easier if we select the clearest, simple and straight to the point information of these text and video selection, in order to choose those ones that clarify the subject. This kind of grammar practice could be better if the sites include practicing exercises and checking to correct the mistakes and improve our reading skills. SPEAKING TEACHING STRATEGIES. The most useful tool of Speaking teaching strategies; was Voicethreat site. This is a site where you can speak and record your speech about certain images, selected for you or for your teacher. There are a lot of learning strategies to implement in this site. First, you look at an image; then, record your speech about what you have been asked for; after that, you can hear other people pronunciation about the same image, in order to share information and knowledge you didn´t know yet. You can describe, make hypothesis or express any kind of ideas that come through your mind.As a student, is a very good option to improve and develop speaking and listening skills at the same time. As a teacher, is a innovating tool, making students try to express their ideas and thoughts about an image, they can repeat it as much as they want, and hear what they recorded and what other students recorded; giving them new vocabulary and phrases. Voicethreat could be used in any grade students, since lower levels to the highest; it depends on the kind of assignment you give them. They could simply describe, make future plans, talk about past events or any other task. WRITING TEACHING STRATEGIES. The writing module was excellent in many ways. There were activities were you just need to give the type of words to complete a tale or a poem, and through your contribution it was taking sense and you could check if it was what you were trying to express or share. I could develop the ability to notice my grammar mistakes, my weaknesses in word order writing, I could express my ideas, feelings and thoughts. I had the opportunity to read about my peers experiences and learn how I could express myself in a better way. It was a very good strategy for us like students to be aware of our weaknesses and improve our writing style, at the beginning it was kind of difficult because I don´t use to write that type of tasks. I ´m used to write planning and texts about a topic, and most of the times is from the text book, magazines or newspapers in the language. This is the first time that I had to write about my ideas, opinions, feelings or thoughts in the language and shared with someone else for checking. For me, the main strategies used in the module were the tall tale site, it was a funny strategy because you just write some words and the site help you to get the whole idea for your tale, correcting a piece of writing on Education World site is other excellent strategy to check grammar, punctuation, orthography, capital letters, commas, etc… And the quizzes of Skillswise site is also excellent to practice and check grammar mistakes for ourselves, is interesting, complete and meaningful for students and teachers.
NEW TEACHING STRATEGIES The strategies I observed in the previous modules are all related with the habits to be a 21 st. century educator. You don´t need a classroom to learn English or pass on information or knowledge; you just need the desire to discover new tools for teaching and pursue on new learning you weren´t aware of. Every single habit is related with the other, because the use of technology is adapting, being visionary, taking risks, learning, collaborating in order to communicate something that models your behavior in life, making you successful and leader. The richness of sites like the comic strip, the quizzes, the ETTC´S site with the book maker, the Wacky Web Tales, the excellent site of the photopeach, the BBC site, and movie clips has given me a lot of resources to innovate in my practice.
ABOUT ICT TOOLS In the use of ICT TOOLS, I selected the writing module because you can find many tools in this module and I found three of them very useful. The first tool I chose is WACKY WEB TALES; it has a lot of different ways to complete a poem. This site could help me to make my students notice the differences between words, adjectives, verbs, etc… The second one, it´s SKILLSWISE site, because this site has explanations, worksheets, games and quizzes about grammar, listening, reading, writing, etc… You just need to be aware of your weaknesses and go for it. This site was in two or three modules, in different types of tasks and that´s the reason I believe this site is so appropriate for my students; is very understandable, the instructions are clear and easy for them to follow. And the third one is MOVIE SEGMENTS TO ASSES GRAMMAR GOALS, because it has three of the four skills: listening, reading and writing. Each segment has exercises about it, exercises about a specific grammar point. DESCRIBING ICT TOOLS. The WACKY WEB TALES is a site where you have to select a title of the left side of the page and that is a form to complete in order to create a poem. This poem has a particular ways to be written; you just need to write certain words, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc… to complete a poem and the site shows you how it ends up. I selected because it could help me to make my students notice and reflect the differences between words, adjectives, verbs and others. The second tool, the SKILLSWISE site was selected because includes grammar, listening, reading, writing, etc… and you can get the explanation, worksheets, games and quizzes to evaluate your learning. This site is understandable, simple and clear to follow, so students could work by themselves and learn through the tools of the site. This is my favorite site. The third tool, the MOVIE SEGMENTS TO ASSES GRAMMAR GOALS, is very useful because it´s fun and interesting. You just need to select a segment of a movie from the site; each one include a grammar point to practice with exercises, students need to watch the segment in order to answer the exercises.
LESSON PLANNING. My lesson planning is almost like Madeline Hunter´s lesson plan; it´s an easy procedure to students follow, and become aware of the kind of assignments they have to realize in order to get a good grade. We plan our lesson depending on the context, subject, program, grade, and resources of our school. Maybe most of us might have a little differences but at the end of the day we must develop some competences in the students. My secondary students centered their goals on a good grade rather than on their new learning. I like to start on what they already know because sometimes they didn´t realize they know it. Statement of objectives is very important for my students. They must know where they are going to and what they have to do in class or homework; as clear as could be. Checking for understanding, give you the tips to know if they feel confident or if they are confused with the task; when you watch their faces and expressions and see doubt on them, you need to review a little more, try to give them the confident on their knowledge and capacity to learn. Guide the first practice is so important because students need a model to follow and examples to understand. You are just guiding, like if they were babies walking for the first time until they can do it by themselves. Independent practice gives you the opportunity to check if they get the new knowledge or if you need to give more time and practice to the same subject.
MY FINAL REFLECTION Most teachers have lost their motivations and desires in their professions, maybe because is too hard keep trying and trying everyday; this is the point where we must look for new tools, roads, options, and ideas to improve and innovate in our practice. We must keep studying and learning everyday, finding new goals and challenges to win, this new century is running very fast and we must try to reach it with all the resources and dreams.
LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Irma Argüello Licona This Diploma has been a challenge to me because I didn’t know how to use the Internet, but I thought that it would be a very important way to learn and to practice my English and also learn more activities to show my students that learn English is easy and fun.
CULTURAL LEARNING AWARENESS To catch students attention we as teachers have to give them the difference between Mexican and American or British culture and make them compare the beautiful our culture is. Through movies, readings, music and other cultural aspects we can show our students how English native speakers live or acts depend on the situations and compare them with our cultural aspects.
READING TEACHING STRATEGIES Reading skill is a easy way to learn about people and places that we don’t know and as teacher we can create and activity from a text depend on what the topic we are teaching. We can check grammar trough different kind of exercises and activities. I consider that the sites I saw in this Diploma about reading are useful and adaptable for our students.
LISTENING TEACHING STRATEGIES Listening is the skill that I use all the time in class, as teacher, I make my students to speak in English in order to get used to not only to speak but also to listen different kind of pronunciations. I have thought that I can ask my students to see one of the sites seen this Diploma to listen how different people speaks in a normal day. Use music to make exercises of listening and give them also some vocabulary.
SPEAKING TEACHING STRATEGIES Speaking a foreign language is not easy as everybody thinks, why I say that? Well, there are many aspects that influence a good speaker of a foreign language learning (FLL); the rhythm, the intonation, the way the words are pronounced and the words that are similar or different to the FLL mother tongue. As teachers we have to take into account not only how to pronounce the words, the rhythm and intonation but also the letters that are different in pronunciation in English, when a teacher teach how to pronounce a word we don’t pay attention in the letters that there are not in the Spanish alphabet for example th /δ/ and how it is pronounced. It is not just to speak, pronunciation is also important. I like a lot the activities in this module, I asked my students to recording their personal presentation some of them were excited and the others were afraid because they didn’t know how to do the activity; it is a different activity they liked. We can put in practice all the speaking activities and they will like them. I love Voice threat even it was very hard to me.
WRITING TEACHING STRATEGIES I don’t like writing because I am not good at writing I consider that it is the most difficult skill. In this module was very easy to write, for example the poems we just have to complete and the poem was done. The poem book, I love it because we can make many different activities with this kind of writing. There was also and explanation of how to write a story, we have to follow the steps. As a teacher I am planning to give my students some steps in order to write a biography.
NEW TEACHING STRATEGIES Teaching is changing day after day, now technology is the modern tool to make easy the way of teaching. Now days teacher have change the way of teaching because they use power point presentations, activities from internet and students like this kind of classes, students know more about technology as teachers and it is in this point that teachers have to take courses.
ABOUT ICT TOOLS In this section I select writing because is the most difficult skill to me, and the activities I consider that show how good or bad is our English and useful are: 1. A book of poems. This site can help students to write short ideas and illustrate them. They can check grammar and self correction. Students can get confidence and fun doing this activity. This is a different activity I sure they are going to like. 2. Comic strip. This activity is fun and useful because students can create a short conversation and also practice grammar, expressions and vocabulary. This is a good activity to get confidence and be creative. 3. Movies and grammar. In this activity it is practiced listening, grammar and teacher can adapt different activities from a segment of a movie and also he/she can plan with students what picture’s segment they want to see, speaking could be used in this activity. This activity is different, and fun. These activities are useful to practice grammar, some expressions, punctuation and students’ creativity. I consider that all the modules have very useful tools and it is hard to choose one or three. All of them have important information and as teacher or learner we can practice more then one skill in each.
LESSON PLANNING Lesson planning is an excellent tool to teachers to organize and establish objectives and goals. There are different kinds of lesson planning but teachers adapt it to their needs, level, groups and topics.
FINAL REFLECTION Teachers should create an environment where students are able to learn a new language; learn and use technology is a good way to improve not only in the personal but also in the professional aspect. It is hard to learn and forget old habits but change for good is better to stay behind the teachers that improve themselves day after day.
My learning experience by Juan Ramón Castro Carrillo Let me start my reviewing with some parts of the first assignment that I did at the beginning of this last module where I said that as a teacher I’m interested and concerned about how we as teachers are working nowadays, whether we are new, inexperienced or jaded ones. We have to be aware of the characteristics in all of the aspects involved in teaching. This diplomado has made me develop a different view of language and, therefore a different view of what teaching language means. It has developed in me a new range of possibilities in learning in the English skills and how this can be beneficial not only for me. Lifelong learning is a necessity for all and I can recognize the impact of the objective of the diplomado sections such as reading, writing, listening and speaking in a professional way, which is a requisite for a teacher who wishes to encourage good language learning and teaching. In order to perform these tasks, the language teacher should have access to three main types of information about his students: psychological factors, personal needs and social factors. Regarding the psychological factors, three areas are of particular importance: schemata, cognitive style and affective factors. The teacher should collect information from his students in each of these three main areas and analyze it, using his knowledge of psychology, linguistics, and sociology. once analyzed, he should call on his pedagogical knowledge to apply this information in three ways. First, he should select the most appropriate materials, based especially on his knowledge of the students needs and their cognitive level (schemata), second he should decide on the way of presenting these materials, keeping in mind the cognitive styles of his students, and finally he should create a classroom atmosphere, conducive to learning, or eliminate the affective filter so maximum learning can occur in an open non-threatening environment. The purpose of teaching English in basic education is that students gain ownership of diverse social practices of the language and participate effectively in their life in and out of school. for that purpose, it is essential that they learn to use language to organize their
thoughts and discourse, to analyze and solve problems, and to have access to different present and past cultural expressions. During the time I spent in the diplomado course I had the opportunity to learn, understand and put it into practice different aspects of reading, listening, speaking and writing that gave me orientation to develop new strategies of learning and teaching. I also found in new teaching strategies the reading eight habits of highly effectiveness in 21 st century teachers where it mentions the principal characteristics that as a teacher I ought to have, very interesting topic and inspiriting. In reading I have to take in consideration what I have learned in this course that opens my eyes to a new different way of teaching and learning reading. How attitudes and experiences and also previous knowledge are relevant to encourage reluctant readers. This course gives the classroom teacher a guide to the practice of key aspects of language teaching and to consider some of important concepts offering practical advice and suggestions on how to exploit class reader to promote language and to develop both perceptive and literary skills. Therefore, the major objective in reading should be to improve the average and skimming speeds of our students, and to help them cultivate the ability to vary their speed in reading different materials for different purposes. The task before the teacher then is to help our students to change their reading habits by teaching them efficient reading skills. In listening I had the opportunity to explore a wide variety of listening exercises, like general listening quizzes, basic learning quizzes, listening quizzes for academic purposes and language learning and life tips activities. Improved listening skills will naturally follow systematic practice: once the practice has been established, it becomes part of the learnerâ€™s repertoire of learning strategies. So the teacher has at least to provide the students with suitable listening materials, background and linguistic knowledge, enabling skills, pleasant classroom conditions, and useful exercises to help them discover effective listening strategies. In speaking, a new experience with the oral production and the interaction with electronic tools that are very useful especially with music, I only had a few opportunities to have contact with the rest of the participants and I think that you should give more fluency
activities to interact with each others. There were two activities which I really liked and they were telling a story and the influenced of a role model. We as teachers have to develop confidence as well as the ability to participate in and maintain simple, commonly encountered conversations. Many students have to overcome a psychological barmen before they are prepare to speak in the foreign language. In writing, the fact that people frequently have to communicate with each other in writing is not the only reason to include writings as a part of learning another language. I discovered a real need for finding the right word and the right sentence. The close relationship between writing and thinking makes writing a valuable part of any language course. Compared with speech, effective writing requires a number of things: a high degree of organization in the development of ideas and information; a high degree of accuracy so that there is no ambiguity of meaning; the use of complex grammatical devices for focus and emphasis; and a careful choice of vocabulary, grammatical patterns, and sentence structures to create a style which is appropriate to the subject matter and the eventual readers. They may also find that confusing differences exist between the conventions of writing in their first language and English. I also have to mention how elements of online learning were a great introduction in the conceptualization of the technological communication like the recording software Audacity and the webpage Voice thread site were very useful as a part of a language course. Talking about lesson planning models displays a variety of different authors that can help you to choose the correct one to your suitable context. Todayâ€™s language teachers must manipulate much more information in several different areas of knowledge, the emphasis in education today is on the student as the focus of learning, it must be remembered that the teacher is still the person specially trained to guide students and create a positive classroom environment. In conclusion, it is evident that the role of the language teacher today is not as simple as it once was; everyday researchers are discovering new factors that may play a part in language learning. Today knowledge of the linguistic structure of the language is only one of the requirements of a good language teacher. Teachers should also have broad
background knowledge of the social environment that influences their students, different pedagogical techniques, social and cultural aspects of the language being taught, and techniques for diagnosing psychological characteristics of learners. For a language is much more than list of vocabulary and sets of grammar rules, and language learning is not simply a matter of acquiring a system of linguistic formulas. Language is a form of communication among individuals in a specific social context. But even more than that, language is a way of thinking and of processing information. It is a symbol of a culture and of personal identity. This new, increased responsibility of language learning does not fall entirely on the teachers, however the students must also assume more responsible for the language process. Now, the students are no simply a passive receptacle, into which the teacher pours knowledge, he must participate actively in the learning process. In the final analysis, it is the learner who must assimilate the language and allow it to become part of him. We, as teachers can only facilitate this process.
My Learning experience report
By: Enrique ChavarĂŹn Rubio As a professional English teacher that I am, as a human being looking for a better way of life and to be wise in all aspects, I took this Communicative Skills for Secondary Teachers Course, because as you have already noticed it, I need to improve my level of this wonderful language in the four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. In this context, the Communicative Skills Course offered to me many ways to do it. Although I had a few time to read the texts presented during the classes, I always tried my best in all tasks that I did, and when my tutor checked out my tasks and sent them back to me to reread them, rewrite them and correct them all the mistakes that I was committing, I got angry because I had to do them again, stealing time to my family and friends, getting more stress in my daily life. However, I am at the end, like many of my partners who are real heroes, outstanding persons and professionals. Along these four months of hard working, the develop of this course has presented a lot of activities tending to guarantee the participants acquire the necessary and essential tools to learn and teach Enghish at as public as private schools, to obtain results as demanded by the educative reform, the labor needs and the professinal development. Next, I am going to evaluate some results of this magnificent course related to all modules and activities presented in them and the experiences I acquired along of it.
GENERAL INFORMATION In the first module, I learnt about the general information to work with the different activities all along the Diplomado, its objectives and characteristics about the distance course, I meant, the roles of tutor-student, how would be the communication and organization during the period. Also, it would be a colaborative learning experience and the use of the communicative and informative resources like the chat, e-mail, the forum, videoconferences and web sites. In the second module Learning to learn English through internet tools and resources, I learnt something different such as edit, reply and upload information. Even, to save changes, read and post messages, read my partnersâ€™ profiles and meet them through internet. It was good. This information was useful to me because I had never used such media.
ABOUT MY LANGUAGE LEARNING AWARENESS During this exceptional English Diploma, there have been many interesting things to learn about vocabulary, grammar, idioms, structure, intonation; stress patterns, pronunciation and learning-teaching strategies. Also, reading strategies, speaking strategies, writing strategies and listening strategies. I learnt new words that increased my vocabulary. Also, the grammar and structure improvement have prevailed along this course. In order to give informality and richness to the language, a great variety of idioms exist. When I spoke in English and even in Spanish, I used to speak flat, monotonously. But with my new stress patterns and intonation learning, I am practicing the up and down intonation in my everyday speaking using the correct rhythm when use tag questions, sentences, answers and idioms. Furthermore, I have learnt to speak and write giving coherence to the text, respecting the grammar rules and puctuation, however I have a lot to learn about the English language and its turns. All these responsibilities were realised applying the different and necessary strategies to executed the pertinent exercises pertaining to all modules.
ABOUT THE CULTURAL AWARENESS The only form so that the things change, is that you change. By Jim Rohn. It is very important that teachers involve the students in cultural awareness, which is the appreciation of the creative expressions of ideas, experiences, emotions, music, and arts. Being thus, my role as an English teacher is to help my student to adquire general awareness, appreciate what they are and what they feel about anything, that their ideas are important for the rest of the people. However, for doing so, I mustimprove myself in this important cultural aspect. All activities in this teaching strategies course, had something for me to appreciate. For instance, in the speaking module, I discovered the stress and intonation people use according to their country, I meant, the up and down rhythm of the language. In the reading module, the importance to apply strategies for a better text understanding, cannot be overlooked. I must know that these strategies are the same around the world. I think, the correct use of the language, being respectful of the local rules and ways of thinking, appreciation of the national and international awareness, are the bastions of the wise, happy and elegant persons. All exercises in the classroom have to focus on our local, national, and international cultures. Young people need to learn about everything, to cover a basic knowledge, to appreciate the art and contexts, of expressing points of view, and being respectful of others.
LETâ€™S TALK ABOUT TEACHING STRATEGIES I believe that the majority of educational strategies, and the learning itself are related to each other. They do not have to be separated. This must be applied jointly for the profit of the persecuted intentions. In the majority of the realized activities, I had the opportunity to apply several strategies that took me to adapt to the new learning. I was visionary with my imagination. Being collaborative when orientating the learning of others, I took risks in new lands from the culture. I improved my behavior, disciplining myself, improving my life and knowledge.
To adapt ourselves to changes and challenges requires we modify in all aspects of our lives. Organizing and increasing our knowledge are important tools to prevail in this globalized world of constant changes in order to survive and be successful persons. ď ś READING To extract some information from a text, it is essential to apply certain skills and strategies, due to reading is the communication between the reader and manuscript to create the meaning of a thought, a context, a mood, a feeling, a belief and an attitude. I read a text about the use of cell phones while driving and listened to the audio at the same time, and I connected my own experience with the information given to decide if I needed additional information about the topic or language of the text I was reading. I was asking questions to myself to clarify my own developing understanding, answering them and rereading the text to clarify ideas and adjust my rate of comprehension. I organized and connected unknown ideas and words to my base English language knowledge and inferred the meaning of new words to complete the context. I did other activities on persuasive, descriptive, informative and instructive text types, where I was skimming and scanning simple ones just to know what the text was about and locate specific information. On more complex texts, I used other teaching stratetgies like identifying facts and opinions, got main ideas and details, inference of vocabulary and grammar, among others. In all tasks,I was aware to find cultural elements, differences and similarities. ď ś LISTENING This module was very complex to me. The cause was that in the English language exists many words with similar pronunciation (minimal pairs), the word stress (words with longer and louder pronunciation), stress types and stress patterns, that make the English language more difficult, however interesting and exciting for a non-native speaker like me. Activity 3.1The exercise about intonation and rhythm was the most difficult to me. And it is still the most difficult to learn. The text where the author explained the rules to follow when speak the English language was too long and sometimes boring, although the instructions were very clear. I found the text a difficult reading matter, because when I read longer texts, at times, they don't stimulate my thought process enough. I do not understand them much, and lose concentration and interest in the context. It would have been nice, if it were more concise and to the point. The tasks used in this activity were excellent and precise, according to the point studied, even though the English language uses many words that have similar pronunciation but different spelling. Now, with this new experience about intonation, I am paying more attention when I talk with partners, when I chit chat with americans and when I listen to the BBC or CNN news, to get the main ideas or important information. Also, when I sometimes read the newspaper, using my imagination, I practice the intonation and words pronunciation.
ď ś SPEAKING I remember when used to listen to Americans, chit chatting in their native language each other, I tried to do it without obtained it.The speaking skill is the second most difficult ability to me, because I still hesitate when talk and words do not come easily to my memory. I think using Voice thread in the classroom, it can be a difficult activity for students, but useful. Some of its characteristics are the use of pictures and voice to describe people, places, ages, environment, mood, physical and personality descriptions, among others. Students should be better equipped to answer questions in oral quizzes, and/or written exams. Also, participants should be able to write paragraphs, complete some blanks using specific words in different tenses, using adjectives, personal pronouns and all kind of word usage, punctuation, spelling, and etcetera. This activity would be good for all grades. In a social context, these practices can be used to establish, and sustain both personal and business relationships. In establishing these relationships, it is good to learn the similarities and differences of other cultures. After this course, I pay more attention to my intonation and pronunciation since is important in the English language to vary my tone to indicate my emotions.
ď ś WRITING In general, in all the writing module, I used strategies related with grammar, punctuation rules, structure, language and word usage, in order to develop my writing skill. I think, the writing ability presents other challenges since the reader is orientated by the reading itself. Thus, a paragraph has to be coherent, grammarly correct to avoid misunderstandings and give sense to the context. there were activities that allowed develop this skill like the book review, that we do it more commonly in oral form, but in written form presents more challenges. Creating stories was a wonderful experience. My funniest tale, comic stripe file and writing a poem, all these activities allow to students to improve the wititng skill, get fun and enjoy the life.
ď ś ABOUT ICT TOOLS I believe that, with this new technological age,it has revolutionized almost completely all the processes of production, service, leisure, life and mainly the educative aspect. The course presented many chances to bring into play and learn about the importance of the ICT tools, which displayed many strategies to use and learn from them. Every module had its specific teaching strategies with different level of difficulty, but all of them were amazing. I ignored these education tools existed. Now, I can use them to improve my enviroment.
ď ś LESSON PLANNING The most of the times, organization in all aspects gives peace, security, knowledge and success to whom practice it. Teachers must plan their tasks concientiously, if he/she wants to trasmit significant and permanent learnings. Learning comes from personal experiences. I meant, the human being is constantly and actively involved in making sense of the world by constructing and reconstructing it. Bloomâ€™s Taxonomy and Critical Thinking method have the most suitable steps for my students and context, due to it is a nice place with regular students, itâ€™s clean and peaceful. Also, the kids have previous English knowledge from the elementary school. However, successful English teachers, have to be ready to include all types of teaching strategies in their lesson plannings, in order to avoid drabness, disruptions, boderom and improvisations; and reach the main goal: that the student be able to communicate in the foreign language, obtain a lifelong learning and be happy forever.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Juan Fernando Cisneros SaldaĂąa
English Language Learning Awareness. My English has increased considerably at the end of this Diploma course. During the last four months I have spent many hours working in the computer trying to figure out how to use the different tools and resources that were presented in this course. It was true, the diverse assignments needed more than two hours to be completed. Many grammar concepts like verb tenses, use of adjectives, adverbs, idioms, spelling, and punctuation were reviewing throughout the different modules. New technology was presented, a challenge to defeat, especially traditional oriented teachers like myself, who only used the computer to write the annual lesson plan, or upload grades. It has been a wonderful learning experience where the knowledge gained is to be applied in the benefit of my students and myself. On the other hand, I learnt many teaching strategies that improved the ones I have already used in the classroom. A lot of new expressions were added to my vocabulary like asking and giving opinion, agreement and disagreement, giving instructions are some examples of these phrases. I think that this has been a meaningful way to learn and develop my English language knowledge.
Cultural Learning Awareness. Knowing the culture of a foreign country is essential to understand its language. Many texts and listening activities were introduced to the culture of several English spoken countries like U.S.A., England, Australia among others.I listened news from around the world, like Asia, Europe, and America. Most of these news displayed the audio transcript for a better understanding of the listener. Diverse kind of accents listened in the different exercises, let me realize of the necessity to have a closer approach to activities related to British, Australian English pronunciation not just American. I read about CT Tower in Toronto, Terry Fox the Canadian marathon runner, The Golden Gate, Civil War, Sidney International Celebration events that takes place in January and during the whole year.I listened and watched a video about the life of Edward Kennedy an icon in American Politics. Some excellent articles were read. One that I found very interesting was foster homes where some facts I ignored were discovered, in addition, the after reading activities contained great diversity of exercises. Videoconference was another resource where groupmates met to interchange opinions and ideas of relevant topics and see and listen one another face and voice. So, studying another country culture is a form of respect its language and your ownÂ´s.
New Teaching Strategies Discovered Many new strategies were discovered throughout of the different modules. Reading, listening, speaking, writing, the use of technology tools, and lesson planning strategies were learnt at this point. One good strategy is learning to learn. It is the ability to pursue and persist in learning, to organise one´s own learning including through effective management of time and information, both individually and in groups. Communication in a foreign language is based on the ability to understand, express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in both oral and written forms in an appropriate range of social and cultural context, according to one´s wants or needs. All the strategies learnt so far, give teachers the opportunity to face the 21 st century teaching challenges in a better way in their own benefit and their students´. So, teachers must keep studying new approaches, techniques, strategies, and technology tools in order to improve their daily work in the classroom.
Reading Teaching Strategies. The first strategy presented was skimming, that is used to get the gist of a piece of a text, then scanning, that is used to obtain specific information from a text. The game that is found in this section was fantastic! Next, fact, that is something that can be verified and back up with evidence, and opinion that is based on a belief or view. Some exercises helped to practice these strategies. Circular writing was another strategy to identify different types of texts, in order to distingush the different purposes of writing, instructive, descriptive, persuasive, and informative. One way to help students to learn new words is, by reading and listening the summary and report of the different articles like Civilian Escape Fighting in SriLanka where grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation are in the same exercise. Some of the strategies learnt in the reading module were: activate prior knowledge, classify or categorize information, reread for details, compare and contrast ideas, make inferences and draw conclusions, read-revisit- reflect among others. Some stories could be listened in mp3 audio and had a video to be watched, plus a lot of activities and exercises before answering comprehension quizzes. Great module to be enjoyed and take advantage of it!
Listening Teaching Strategies. In my opinion, listening is one of the hardest English skills. It is not the same to listen to an American speaker than a Canadian, Australian, British or even a non- native English speaker. It is not the same to listen to a person speak face to face than by telephone, radio, or television. Thanks to this Diploma course many listening strategies were given in order to develop teachers´ English abilities. Pre-listening, during listening, and after listening activities were presented .
Sidney Festival and Chinese New Year Festival were two of the activities done with some questions and quizzes to be answered. Stress word, intonation, and rhythm were studied too. When people are speaking English, the word stress can change the underlying meaning of a sentence. English is considered a stress language while many other languages are considered syllabic. English give stress to certain words while other words are quickly spoken. Improving sentence intonation is one of the key elements in English pronunciation. Intonation is crucial for communication, intonation is about how we say things rather than what we say. Without intonation it´s imposible to understand the expressions and thoughts that go with words. Intonation helps create the music of the language, the melody of the speech. Dictation was another useful listening tool learnt in this course.
Speaking Teaching Strategies. The first strategy learnt in this module was story telling where sequencing words, linking words, and new vocabulary were introduced in order to write a coherence story. Johanna E. Katchen reflects about speaking skill: “ We are textbook oriented, have you ever tried teaching a course without a textbook?, using familiar pieces of music in EFL classes to give students a purpose for speaking.” It is necessary to write an outline, before record the speaking assignment. In this task technology tools were used, an audio program to be listened to, and Audacity to record a story. Voicethread was another resource to describe a picture and to speak about a famous personality of the world. A speaking rubric was given to assess our own work and our groupmates´. This is one of the reasons speaking exercises were integrated, because to assess yourself and others, listen to your own presaentation and others´ work, listening ability was needed. Many expressions were presented, like asking and giving for instructions, agreement and disagreement, giving and asking for opinions in order to improve English speaking fluency. Another form to improve speaking fluency is with chunks that are words that will often form part of an expression or fixed set of words. Chunks appear in all sorts of ways; as collocations and idioms, in set phrases such as “ I was wondering if…” and all the best. Practicing and studying all these strategies will let teachers to develop their English speaking abilities considerably.
Writing Teaching Strategies. At the beginning of the module, a lot of adjectives were given in order to have a wider vocabulary knowledge, and be ready to start writing poems. Wacky Web Tales was one of my favorites sites, because I had to think in many words to be put in boxes, then transfer them to a text with blanks and the words I thought in, were placed in this spaces making the text very funny from the original. Another good strategy was Instant Poetry Forms, because the writer needed a lot of adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verb tenses to form the different kinds of poems. Next, teachers were asked to write a book of poems, bookr, where writers had to add images to their poems and the final product is really nice. Creating comics was an activity to get fun and interchange characters to make a funny strip and a good chance to practice writing in a pleasant form. Photopeach is a resource to create a visual story with a writing caption on each of the pictures.Wonderful activity was this with the help of
Technology on the English language Learning. The use of punctuation was another subject seen in this part of the course, in order to be practiced and get a better writing composition. Writer´s model was a hard activity to be done, although teachers didn´t use technology, writing within a template is very difficult, but once the writer masters this strategy, it will become an easy task to do. Another great module!
About ICT Tools. A great variety of activities and exercises support the teachers learning and teaching process in a non explored way for many of them. Information and Communication Technology on English Language, ICT, has been a very useful tool and resource for teachers to develop and improve the use of technology in the English classroom. In every single module technology was presented in a lot of ways, for instance; in the reading section, some games were shown to practice skimming, scanning, and adjectives strategies, texts with audio and quizzes which results must have been sent to the tutor with a certificate attached to the file. Newspapers and magazines from different parts of the world, videos of important people of the world, audacity, transfer audacity to mp3, voicethread, creating a comic strip, making a book of poems, and a slideshow were some of the activities and teaching strategies learnt with the use of ICT. Amazing!
Lesson Planning. I cannot believe that many people give classes without any knowledge of what a lesson plan is. Lesson planning is one of the most important stages in education, without a plan teachers won´t be able know the correct direction to get the desired objectives. Several lesson planning models were presented to be reviewed, and decide which one was considered appropriate for my context. I selected Madeline Hunter´s lesson plan because the steps included in it are easy to be understood and carry through. All lessons plans are good because they are designed to one purpose: to achieve the goals set at the beginning of each class.
Conclusion. There are no words to describe what a wonderful experience I have had during the last four months. Sickness, technical problems, trips, hours and hours sitting in front of the computer. Fortunately, the work is done!. A great amount of learning and teaching strategies were learnt and my English knowledge is much much better than at the beginning of the course. I appreciate my course mates for their comments and feedback given to my work. My gratitude to my tutor for her patience and always was there to support me with my doubts and with her feedback. A memorable Diploma course!
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Oscar Delgado Pérez I was unconfident about my listening ability and, sometimes, I felt insecure in relation to my speaking ability; it was difficult for me to write stories and poems. I learned how to skim and scan texts, how to identify text types, how to infer the meaning of words and the definitions of fact and opinion. I studied minimal pairs, homographs, word stress patterns, stress types, intonation and rhythm, thought groups, phrasal verbs, tag questions and types of listening. I watched videos from Internet and I practiced dictation. I found out how to tell a story, how to present a short talk, how to describe situations, places and people, how to give instructions and opinions and how to express agreement and disagreement. Now I can produce detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue. I can prepare movie segments to assess grammar goals. Cultural learning awareness For me, it was very important to learn about citizens' rights and citizens' responsibilities (at the Centre for Education & Training, reading the Canadian Corner section); I learnt that politeness communication, sports, movies and music are essential in the English speaking communities. There are very beautiful places (like San Francisco, California) and you can find friendly people in tourist places. Visit English Listening Lounge on the web (http://www.englishlistening.com/filterPassages.do) and Adult Learning Activities, a California Distant Learning Project. I could focus my students’ attention to English language and culture showing maps and videos of paradisiacal sites located in Oceania. I would talk to my class about Australia’s spectacular seafood and I would project the photographs onto the screen (I watched videos from http://australianetwork.com/englishbites/episodes). I could teach some American history topics using movie segments (I would mix ideas and information from these web sites: http://www.awesomestories.com/famous-trials/amistad and http://moviesegmentstoassess grammargoals.blogspot.com/). My students and I could sing pop songs and translate them; we can use mouseovermusic.com at the school’s computer laboratory.
New teaching strategies discovered As a language learner and teacher, I discovered that I have to use Internet tools and I have to take some risks with educational games in order to improve my English skills. I must practice every day (even on weekends). It's important to follow the tips, to be constant and persevere. As a reading comprehension teacher and learner I'll keep on making exercises with readings, audio, video and interactive activities. I’ll imagine how to adapt software to assess grammar; I am convinced that theory is important, but practice is even more important about listening. I realize the importance of the correct sequence when I am giving instructions and I recognize that coherence is vital to understand topics and ideas about speaking. I am ready to collaborate and communicate with other teachers using Windows Live Messenger and e-mail. I learnt that I can write tales, poems, stories, incidents, events and news (using templates and tutorials). Reading teaching strategies I selected Activity 5.2: Grammar and Reading Comprehension, because the short English stories weren’t boring, the font size was adequate to read effortlessly and I could check immediately my reading comprehension doing specific exercises. I consider that the audio player integrated on this website is very useful for this reason: you can choose between slow speed and normal speed audio; the link to Dictionary.com makes this learning experience easier. The last story that I read was “A Life-Saving Cow” and I answered the Yes/No Questions with the correct form of “be” or “do”; I confirmed instantly my answers by clicking the check button. I like that this software indicates my mistakes, for example, if I don´t use a period or I write down a verb incorrectly, it appears on the screen a highlighted, bold dash. I had the option to show all the questions, so I could review all my answers. In the Wh-questions (what, where, when, whom and how) section, I wrote complete answers and when I was partly wrong, with adjectives and some verb tenses, the computer program highlighted the errors in my sentences (this helped me to correct my mistakes). In the Ask Questions section, I had to write the questions for the given answers; it is very important for me to understand these structures. Definitely, reading is a pleasure! Listening teaching strategies I reviewed the 4th module (Listening) and I think that Activity 7.2. Authentic Listening is the most difficult activity. I didn’t understand the instruction in relation to how authentic listenings were different than ones prepared for English language learners. On September 1st 2009, I listened to an authentic listening and took some notes about California Wildfires (the video duration was approximately 12:20 minutes); Brian Williams’ voice was very clear, but many words that he spoke I didn’t recognize. On the other hand, while I was watching people talking I could follow more expressions.
This activity could have been easier if English language learners have the transcriptions from the New York Times video, or if the video shows English subtitles (closed caption); besides, having a glossary and the possibility to slow down the video could facilitate the comprehension of this news broadcast. The previous alternative listening activities were easier than authentic listening, for example, listening for individual sounds, minimal pairs, etc. I still have serious problems with listening; however, I improved my listening skills a little more. Another option to listening is to watch movies with English subtitles (everybody can use a DVD player in home). Speaking teaching strategies I reviewed fifth module and I found out that activity 2.1 â€œHow to describe a situation or placeâ€? is the most useful for me, because my students and I have access to 25 personal computers and to an internet connection in our school computer lab. The local area network share a hard disk in the server and each student can use a microphone and headphones. How could I use this activity with my students? First, I would explain how to download and install Audacity (recording software that we can use freely). Second, I would give details about how to record, mix, play, edit and save recordings. After that, I would project a series of images in an electronic presentation with music, showing different places (beaches, deserts, lagoons, mountains, castles, cities, among others). Then, I would ask my students to record a short comment using the basic vocabulary that they learned previously. Finally, my group would listen to all the comments from their peers, therefore, we could practice at the same time speaking and listening. My apprentices could bring photographs and use Audacity to describe a friend, a relative, a celebrity or any situation illustrated in the pictures. Writing teaching strategies Using templates and reviewing the roles of the words, in order to create a funny tale, was a very good activity; in addition, it is important to indicate our students which points we are going to grade on each writing exercise. I had to use my imagination and memories to create a comic strip and a book of poems. I shared special moments in my life with my peers, showing a combination of sentences, pictures and music (Photopeach is an interesting website). My book review was brief and concise. It contains all the elements indicated in the tutorial. I used another model to write an autobiographical incident (for this task I described the situation, the chronological description, the details and my feelings during the event). In my eyewitness account I forgot to explain several technical words (I corrected this assignment later). I read my peersâ€™ writings and I am sure that they did a wonderful work. I reviewed the comments written by Juan Carlos and Eunice to my messages; they think that my assignments reflect part of my personality (I totally agree). About ICT tools I selected these tools from module 3 (Reading): 1. Adult Learning Activities (http://www.cdlponline.org/).
2. 100 Free Short English Stories for ESL Learners (http://www.rong-chang.com/qa2/). 3. Interesting Things for ESL Students (http://www.ManyThings.org). Firstly, in Adult Learning Activities, I would pick an appropriate story for my students; then, they could read the preferred basic story and click the “LISTEN” button to hear it; after that, we click the “PLAY THE VIDEO” button to watch a video. Next, we click on the “NEW WORD” button to see and hear words from the story. Finally, we can listen to the new vocabulary, type the words in a white box and check our spelling. Extra activities that we can find in this great website are The Matching Game and Pick an Answer. English learners can choose whichever of the next topics: working, law and government, family, school, health and safety, housing, money, science and technology, services, going places and nature (there are more than 450 stories!). I selected 100 Free Short English Stories for ESL Learners because my students would work with listening, grammar, comprehension, dictation exercises and crossword puzzles; I would print some crossword puzzles and students would complete them in the classroom. Interesting Things for ESL Students is a very fun study site for learners of English as a second language. I found there vocabulary lists with word games, American English pronunciation practice and quizzes (the instructions about how to use keyboard commands are precise). I really like the section Learn Songs; it has MP3 files, lyrics and notes to help my teenager students to learn songs in English. Lesson planning I consider that Madeline Hunter’s lesson plan model is appropriate for my context. I am working with first graders and most of them were studying English in primary schools that participated in the “New Millennium Program”. Actually, I count in my secondary school with the resources from Enciclomedia (a personal computer, a data projector and an interactive whiteboard) in the four first grade classrooms. With these backgrounds and resources is relatively easy to set the stage; I always tell my students in each session what the objectives of the lesson are. I try to give detailed instructions and explanations about how to make the planned activities. I dedicate part of the time to show what I say and then I review and check for understanding, asking questions and watching expressions. I
request my learners to show what they know and to practice their new abilities and knowledge. I could complement my lesson plan with the Group Work model (also known as Cooperative Learning or Equipment Learning), adding these steps to the Hunter’s lesson plan model: group work, discussion, regrouping and summary. Fortunately, I have very good students.
I sincerely feel that I have improved my English language skills. I really enjoyed this diploma course.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Perla DĂaz This is my final report about my experience as a language learner. At the beginning, I thought I was going to learn only about language, but during the course, I could learn about some other topics that help my teaching labor:
a. Use of Internet. I could get familiarized with the use of Internet as a learning tool, some contents were not new for me, but I did not have a formal instruction about them, so I could practice English besides I was learning all the terminology that involves this didactic use of the Internet. b. Language. I identified some weaknesses of my grammar knowledge. I could review if conditionals, adverbs and compound verbs. The module provides some pages for language students, so I have been solving my doubts, because time was not enough. c.
Reading strategies. During this module I could see that listening to a text while reading can be an excellent option to increase understanding. I could see that I have to pay attention on details to ensure meaning. There are several sites to continue practicing, they have excellent exercises to help understanding.
d. Listening activities. This is my weaker skill, I learned about intonation, stress and rhythm, strategies that I had been practicing in an intuitive way until now. e. Didactic speaking experiences. I could record my voice, I had never heard my pronunciation. The module made me consider the possibility to find a group of teachers who may be interested about sharing didactic experiences, so I could practice English with native speakers. f.
Writing experience. I had never written a complete text. I could see how few I know about structures and models of texts, and that I have to continue learning vocabulary. It provides good activities, too.
Cultural Awareness It was a surprise to discover that there are so many sites with information and activities for learners of this language. I could visit different sites from several countries, so, while I was learning English, I could find out some cultural aspects that I did not know. It was interesting to discover how geographical, environmental and historic characteristics form a country, and give a particular perspective of life on its population. As a consequence, topics as slavery, wars and even laws and rights can have different perspectives according to the cultural context. Another fascinating aspect was to realize that English have differences on its pronunciation and vocabulary even on native speakerâ€™s countries. And culture and history are the main reasons for that.
As a teacher, I could see cultural differences between the educative systems and curricula. Another difference is that texts in English have more characteristics, in other words, teachers give more details and a specific sequence of steps to follow in order to help students to produce them. And a coincidence: students have similar doubts and mistakes, even if they come from different countries (and different native languages).
New teaching strategies discovered While I was studying the language, I could not avoid thinking about my responsibility as a teacher. Students have changed, I thought, so we have to do it, too. We have to learn their new languages, including those from ICT to be able to establish a real communication with them, and to be part of their world. As a consequence we have to adapt the didactic strategies to use these tools and languages in a creative and motivating way. An advantage of the sites we visited as part of the strategies is that students can develop the four language skills at the same time, and they get involved in motivating learning processes. There are lots of web sites that were done for several purposes; we have to be visionary to use them for learning goals. They respond to a real world, and language is taught for the same reason, so, we have to connect the sites with learning. As we experienced, web provides opportunity to work in a collaborative way without problems of distance and time, and that’s a great tool for school strategies to develop competences, in other words abilities, concepts and attitudes. Teachers have to be a model; a model of behavior, so he has to promote social attitudes, and a leader in the use of technology in order to develop abilities. But teachers have to relax and understand that we don’t know everything, learning new strategies and using them include a risk, but a success possibility, too.
The most interesting reading activity In fact, without any doubt I can say that the most interesting reading activity was “100 short English Stories”, and I will try to explain the reasons. 1. It provides authentic stories. It’s important to give students the opportunity to read texts that were not done for educative reasons, so they can learn vocabulary and practice their knowledge on situations from real life. 2. This site provides the audio of the readings. When you read and hear at the same time, you improve your pronunciation and get some help to understand the texts from intonation and stress. 3. The site has an access to a dictionary. So, if there are doubts that were not clarified through the context, students can use the provided tool. 4. There are grammar exercises. If grammar is taught in context, it is easier to understand and to acquire the linguistic aspects of the language. 5. There are reading comprehension activities.
6. The stories are interesting, and there are a lot of topics that can be used in class.
The most difficult listening strategy A didactic strategy is formed by a determined and sequenced group of activities. Its purpose is to reach learning, and in the case of language students, this learning refers to the real use of English. Listening has been the most difficult skill for me so when this module started I was afraid. Additionally I found several sites from different countries, and although they were native speakers, their pronunciation was different, so I had to pay attention with all my senses to understand the message. In my case, the most difficult listening strategy was “The top-down listening”, and I will explain the causes: 1. The site links to some videos from Australia. People from this country have a very particular pronunciation; they have even different vocabulary and give a different meaning to some words. 2. The site offered the videos in a fast sequence, so it was hard to decide which one you prefer to observe if you cannot read the resume. 3. The strategy included a sequence of activities, but the interface of the site was too complicated, it was too hard to find the activities that I had to solve. So I could not complete it. 4. At the end, the asked summary was difficult to do because of the previous reasons. I had to read the transcript, and the purpose of the module was to develop listening not reading.
The most useful activity When you study a language, it is important to develop oral skills, and although you can share a conversation, there is not the possibility to be aware of your own pronunciation. This module gives the opportunity to hear yourself. In my opinion the most useful activity was “Voicethread”, and these are the reasons according to my experience using it in my classroom with my students: Software characteristics 1. The software can make the difference between an easy and a difficult activity. Voicethread is a software that you can use with several windows versions. 2. It is important to know that not all the students are familiarized with ICT, that is a reality in rural areas. The procedure to download voicethread is very easy. Additionally, voicethread has a very simple interface. It is easy to follow its instructions. Learning characteristics: 1. Instructions of the different steps of the activity were absolutely clear. 2. The video that shows how this software works was very useful, too. 3. The used images were attractive for students. They motivate to talk about them because they show common situations and people. They can make relations easily. 4. When you hear some others descriptions, it can give you the orientation to form your own comments. That’s another aid of the site.
5. You can record and erase your work as many times as necessary.
The main writing strategies Writing with a purpose is not as easy as I thought. I’ll share my experience as a learner during the module. • •
Book of poems. It is hard to express feelings in order to create a poem, but in this unit I could follow models and complete them with my ideas, that made it easier, the interesting situation was to discover that feelings can be showed completing a given structure. Creating stories. In fact, I didn’t like “The Comic strip file” activity, but teenagers can find it motivating. But I loved “Visual Story” activity, it was too personal and intimate, I don’t know if I am an artist (they said so in their comments), but I put my heart in my words and they read it. My first book review. I misunderstood the activity, so I had to do it twice. Finally, I wrote “Women who love too much”. It was not so easy to resume such an interesting book, but I think I did it well because some of my classmates chose it as the best. Narrative style. I wrote a personal experience in “Eyewitness activity”, it was about my home land, and in “Writing models” I wrote a short story. I have to say that it was so difficult to express deep feelings and complete sequence of facts for these texts, that I spent several days to complete the homework. This module was a great experience. I loved it.
The most useful ICT tools Oral skills are the most difficult ones to develop for language learners. In class, students have the opportunity to communicate with others, and to hear their pronunciation, but the only way to confirm that they are pronouncing the language properly and that the oral discourse they produce is correct is to hear themselves. That’s why I consider that ICT gives a great tool to develop speaking skill. •
Audacity. This is a software that gives the opportunity to record oral discourses. It can be used for individual homework and for teams. It implies a previous work to create the text they are going to record, so it develops abilities, concepts and values, I mean complete competences. The software must be download with some help, but it is easy to use when you are familiarized with it.
Voicethread. This is a very friendly site from Internet. It has very interesting and motivating images, and it provides examples that help students to form their own oral texts. The software gives the opportunity to record and erase the messages the times the students require.
Forum. Sharing the product of our homework is basic to understand that language is used to have real communication. This is an easy way to work with a complete group, and to ensure that they hear the ideas of their peers.
The appropriate lesson plan model for my context I cannot finish this report without giving a context of my job. I work for Telesecondary teachers and students. My students are established in rural and marginal areas. We have a specific learning methodology and we have books that are designed following it. English books use the Bloom’s taxonomy and critical thinking model. The main reason is that Telesecondary teachers do not know English, and they have to teach it. So, in order to have a known and systematic sequence of activities, they know the cognitive steps that they have to follow to create knowledge. The methodology contents the following procedure: •
It explains the purpose of the lesson.
It gives a context, and recalls previous knowledge.
It introduces the topic through a text and a video.
It provides a grammar explanation in case the students do not make their own conclusions.
Written/oral activities, to apply knowledge in exercises where they are asked to analyze language.
Written/ oral activities, to apply knowledge in exercises where they are asked to combine language.
Written and oral activities, where they apply knowledge in situations from real life.
I enjoyed the complete course, and I thank for the opportunity to study it because its contents were appropriate to my job. I wish to be able to continue giving my best for Telesecundary teachers and students. Thank you.
My Learning Experience by Alicia Flores Ibarra
All the time I have thought that always there is something new waiting for us, to make us grow, to help us to be better in our daily life, and I was just walking on, when around the corner a I found out the great opportunity to participate in this Diploma, in which first of all I learnt we always need new competences to master our everyday work. I learnt there is always the risk of feeling behind and marginalized because we live in a globalised world, and because the way in which we access information and services always continue to change, we are living a digital revolution every day, so it is important not only to acquire technical skills, but also to understand the opportunities, and the challenges. Thatâ€™s the reason why competences must be for lifelong learning, so I learnt I must be keeping on them for the rest of my life.
Cultural Learning Awareness During this Diploma, I learnt that Cultural awareness becomes central when we have to interact with people from other cultures. In whole Diploma I increased my knowledge about the cultural aspects from the English community, the process took place each time I read a text or saw a video from the community, and I had to involve the ability of observing different cultural values, beliefs and perceptions.
Becoming aware of our cultural dynamics is a difficult task because culture is not conscious to us. Our experiences, our values and our cultural background lead us to see and do things in a certain way, but during the modules, I learnt from the sites and readings, about French Canadians and their Quiet Revolution, about Bruce Lee and his obstacles to become in a Hollywood star, I learnt new words, learnt different points of view from the English speaking community.
Cultural awareness is more than knowing about other cultures, it’s to learn to see the world through others eyes, it’s to be more conscious about universal values, and this Diploma gave me the opportunity to interact and learn from others beliefs and perceptions.
New Teaching Strategies Discovered From The New Teaching Strategies I understood that highly effective teachers in the classrooms are required now days, it means that teachers need to be more prepared for the new challenges, and we need to know about how to learn as much as teaching about the subject area. During the Diploma I learnt that for developing skills in my students, first I need to recognize the way I learn because in this way it could be possible for me to guide students to find out the strategies that make easier their learning process. We must be able to adapt the curriculum; we must to be able to adapt software and hardware designed for business model into tools to be used, during the modules, I had to down load programs and work with a great variety of web tools that I did not know, so now I see the potential in the emerging tools and Web technologies, I think I am more visionary. I deeply believe that this is the beginning of a long way and I am ready for taking any risk, I identify this Diploma as a great goal and I would like to continue absorbing experiences, teachers never stop learning. This Diploma helped me to become more fluent in teaching process and in technologies; they have facilitated my everyday work and learning. One text I read in the last module said “leadership is crucial to the success or failure of any project”, and I learnt during the Diploma that a leader must be competitive, never stops reinforcing and never stops learning.
Reading Teaching Strategies In this course I learnt how to have access to extraordinary websites with full lists of grammar lessons, including guides, tense usage, structures, listening, readings, etc., and all of them contain very useful tools to develop different skills to increase my language learning. In the Reading module, one of these sites showed me two excellent reading strategies which are skimming and scanning. I learnt more about reading comprehension strategies too, strategies like Active Prior Knowledge which helps to build a background or to activate the previous knowledge. I understood the importance to identify the main ideas and the supporting details in a text, to make inferences and draw conclusions, and more strategies which supported my reading comprehension learning process.
I loved activity 5.1 because I am deeply sure that a good reader reads for pleasure, and I really enjoyed reading the story of the Amistad Incident. Reading this article our minds can travel through history to find the story of Sengbe's kidnap, the mutiny on The Amistad ship, and the trial that gave him back his freedom. All these in very summed up and clear way, the article is full of links that illustrate the story with maps, routes of the ship, original documents used during the trial, murals and many exciting extra information like a page in Mendi language that makes this article an extraordinary experience. The maps, documents and routes really supported my reading comprehension; they helped me to make inferences and to draw conclusions. The way that this text is developing the story makes easier to recognize cause and effect relationship. I loved to produce five lines of written opinion about the article because I could explore several strategies to retell and summarize a part of the story.
Listening Teaching Strategies In the track of the modules I understood that learning is a long process, and it is supported by different abilities, listening is an important skill in the language learning process and I had the great opportunity to work with it, listening to every day conversations. It is a site which contains conversations with different levels of accuracy, there are from easy to difficult level, I worked with all three levels, they really supported my listening skills development and at the same time I could correct some details about my pronunciation. Precisely in this module I learnt that intonation is crucial for communication, that I have a long way to work with it, but there are basic things I comprehended and they will be very useful, for example, I learnt that it’s important to recognize falling and rising patterns, because intonation it’s the music of the language, in music there are high notes, low notes and in the middle, intonation works in the same way because without intonation our voice would be very flat, with intonation we express and understand feelings and attitude, intonation goes beyond the word level. It’s a change in pitch within a group of words. It is like a long line of melody and there are two very important patterns, falling a rising. The falling pattern it’s a pattern in which your voice falls to a low pitch by the end of a thought group or statement, it communicates certainty, it’s like you are telling a fact or you just believe you are right. The rising pattern it’s a pattern in which your voice rises to the high pitch by the end of a thought group or statement. Another topic related to intonation its “thought groups”, and about this I learnt that there are natural places to pause and take a breath. Punctuation and grammatical units tell us where to pause because it’s not natural to say a long sentence in one breath. These knowledge helped me a lot improve my listening abilities and I could correct some things about my speaking.
Speaking Teaching Strategies
In the Speaking module learnt I have to work really hard with my failures, I have many , but first of all I should mention that my fluency itâ€™s not good. I found many excellent tools in this module to work with it, but I know I have too much to do. I would like to tell that the experience of recording my voice it was crucial for me; through this tool I could not only to listen to my voice but to compare my pronunciation and fluency with the others recordings, and in this way I recognized how much I have to work to improve my weaknesses.
Writing Teaching Strategies I loved the writing module, for me best of all, I learnt to express everything I think and feel in a very free way, I really enjoyed writing poems, writing stories. I created, I had fun and I published for a real audience. All tools were surprising and left in myself a great and extraordinary experience. Something that really motivated my learning process during the writing module, it was the way that small projects were implemented at the beginning of the module, those projects as writing poems, through a web page, made me feel confident to continue with the next assignments. Creating stories in a comic strip was more than just funny, because this is a very useful tool to develop the language and the imagination, all of us really enjoyed the activity and we considered this tool as a big opportunity to invite our students to the write. In unit four we practiced with adjectives to identify descriptions of various sorts, the exercises and quizzes in the web page were very helpful to develop skills, skills which were necessary for the next activities as Writing My First Book Review, an exciting challenge. It was just an adventure that invited us to travel in the language world to explore our possibilities. A Weird Incident in My Life it was one of the assignments shared in the forum, a real or fictitious story, using a model, which guided us to develop the story correctly, I had the great pleasure to read the stories of my colleagues and to choose one of them to express my reaction. I have to comment that all activities were excellent tools that motivated my interest for writing and made feel more confident to do it.
About ICT TOOLS Activation of learning process is important in order to attain high quality learning. I think that the role of ICT in activation during the Diploma was really important, because the interaction between teachers, students and knowledge is well supported through these tools. In module three â€œReadingâ€?, the web pages supported the development of my skills through interesting texts, exercises of listening and read along, comprehension exercises and reading strategies. These tools activated and improved my learning process as well as they motivated my interest to read. Another important point that kept my interest during the module was the interaction with my tutor during the feedbacks.
Module four “Listening”, presented a great variety of videos and web pages that improved my listening skills. Especially through the videos, I could get a better idea of what word stress, intonation, pause and rhythm are. In this module I interacted with other cultures through videos, audios and songs. The tools in the module developed in me listening skills as well as they developed the knowledge of how to go on improving them. Module six “Writing”, gave me the opportunity to improve my writing skills by practicing in a fun way. The web pages were extraordinary and motivating, the tutorials and templates to create my writings were excellent tools that supported my process, and overall the interaction with my colleagues and tutor in the Forums was a great experience that pushed me to work better.
Lesson Planning The last but very Important point in the the Diploma was Lesson planning, and about this I could capture the idea of knowing "how to" is far more important than knowing "about" when it comes to lesson plans, and it is one of the important markers along the way to becoming a professional teacher. Lesson plan keeps you on the track, in few words a lesson plan is a map that shows how to get to your goal for a student. I selected Seven Elements of a Lesson Plan because the anatomy of this planning shows how to draw the map step by step. We begin indicating The Objectives in the planning which is the section of our lesson plan where we write precise and delineated goals for what we want our students to be able to accomplish after the lesson is completed. Then we plan the Anticipatory Set which is the way capture the attention of our students and we start building the background, my students love to realize they have previous knowledge about the theme. The Instructional Input: the teacher provides the information needed, it is the explanation, lecture or instructions which will support the construction or discussion of previous or new knowledge. During Modeling the students construct, discuss and show or demonstrate, teacher does it showing students examples of what is expected at the end of their work, during this moment we can develop skills through strategies as compare and contrast, summarize, or problem solving. Check for Understanding through questions and checking students’ faces helps to evaluate if we go on or we replant the strategies. Guided practice is good for our students because it helps them to start practicing new skills, applying new knowledge and that make them feel confident to build the next knowledge. The last step which is Independent Practice helps students to reinforce or master the content. I would like to finish this text mentioning that this Diploma opened new expectations in my career and personal life; I realized how important it’s to devote at least two hours daily to every goal we want to accomplish.
My learning experience by MarĂa del Consuelo GarcĂa Villalobos Once you start, learning becomes an extraordinary tool to improve your life. It contributes to have a good attitude and open mind to changes. You can face knowledge problems with a different point of view. You are always willing to do better. It takes time to create a habit and feel its benefits. Our teaching method has been improved during these last months. This course has taken us to experiment step by step the changes we had to face; introducing us to use the different technologies that can make our teaching easier and meet the stated goals. English language learning awareness Learning through Internet has been a great experience. Internet has a variety of information, sites, blogs, chats, videos, movies, and so on that helped us to learn and reinforce different skills. These activities approached us to acquire a second language without noticing, becoming a natural process. I also realized that is more meaningful to learn based on daily life experience because it increases your vocabulary, shows how chants, intonation, fluency, and expressions are used. All these aspects helped increased and made my dialogue, my verbal class, or speech accurate and descriptive. To raise even more my language level, I need to continue working with different writing styles, especially adjectives, adverbs, and synonyms besides of listening to radio, TV shows, and
news. I’ve learned more by training my hearing than a written lesson, which broke the traditional teaching paradigm that I grow with. Motivation and creativity makes teaching and learning easier. Cultural learning awareness To be aware of the English cultural community, I ask students to read an American short story, focusing on how the characters do things, express them; show emotions immerging in different elements like beliefs, lexical, phrases, or life style. After a brainstorm of answers, we compared them to our own culture, finding similarities and differences. Finally we chose three things we wanted to practice during the week, like a verbal phrase, the correct usage of an idiomatic, and a research report. The responses were good, students stopped by to say that they have learned more in this class than in a week. Based on the comments and reactions, I planned a breakdown book procedure. Tuesday is now called “English Community,” where I work with videos, movies, and readings to keep on focusing on how to use their second language; leading to conversation spaces, improving their speaking and listening.
New teaching strategies discovered This reminds me an article on the newspaper that mentioned that we are facing a struggle on education due to the surrounding conditions, “schools are from the 18 th century, students from the 21st century, and teacher from the 19 th century.” The gist of the article as Churches’s researches were to encourage teachers to update in technology and look for strategies, improve learning, make it significant, and useful. The strategies mentioned can be called the steps I went through to manage, learn, break paradigms, get use to it, filter information, understand the process to acquire the skills and abilities planned for the acquisition of English and creating the habit of becoming an updated teacher in the usage of technology and strategies to facilitate students to learn in a natural process during this course. This made us aware of innumerable of ways to teach, update, and learn at the same time.
Reading teaching strategies I found useful to recall and practice the reading strategies because I started to feel its benefits (before reading, during the reading, and after the reading). What I did to continue practicing the strategies during my reading was that I tried to classify the most common strategies that would help me with the different types of writing (descriptive, persuasive, informative, and instructive). By doing this was easier to teach my students how to use them. They were more interesting in reading because we had stated an objective guided by a strategy. It was easier to link new words, understand them in the context and learn pronunciation, practice grammar structures, hook on listening better and trap on the reading. One of the exercises I liked most was reading the “BBC Learning English” because I realized that I started scanning, questioning myself, what I wanted to learn and knew about it, looking at the picture automatically engaged to what country, culture, or people I was going to read about. Stating this as background helped to focus on the reading, it was easier to understand the text. I also learned chants and vocabulary related to the context, which was so meaningful. Another important feature was to hear the report. After reading I noticed that I could relate different information, understand the topic due to the cultural awareness, and obtain new data. I learned that applying strategies motivates, keeps us focus on the topic, makes it more understandable, and helps us gain knowledge easier. Listening teaching strategies The most difficult exercise was to learn how to stress or give the correct intonation to a statement during a conversation or dialogue. This exercise made me realize that I had to improve my pronunciation, speed, rhythm, and fluency to sound as a native speaker. I had to go over and over to some of the rules in order to understand where exactly I had to make the correct intonation. It was difficult to get rid of some bad habits. A great advantage of this site, is that it has links where you can practice, find easy examples and hints to get better. Speaking teaching strategies I loved to work with the exercise called “How to describe a situation or place,” because it is a useful tool that involves thinking, writing, and producing English without noticing motivated by a melody or song. The melody or song is really a tool that will encourage students to speak about memories or thoughts, and will also help you to feedback the acquisition and knowledge of the second language. The following are the features and steps; I would follow to have students speak English according to the process I went through by practicing this tool. 1. Motivate: a. Have students listen to a melody. b. Write three things that this melody made them recall or evoke. 2. Plan writing a. Choose one theme and listen again to the melody.
b. List things that came up to their memories related to theme. 3. Creating a. Listen again to the melody and start joining the ideas into statements. 4. Producing a. Share your written production with the melody has a back sound track. 5. Discuss a. Invite classmates to share thoughts and feelings about it. 6. Plus (extra) a. Have students record it at home and bring it for the next class to share it. I consider this activity as an extraordinary tool because it joins the four language skills: listening, writing, reading, and speaking. This tool can make the difference in studentsâ€™ speaking developments.
Writing teaching strategies Writing takes time and needs to follow a plan and some strategies. The best procedure to develop the ability to plan is to organize your ideas in webs or diagrams. You state the objective or topic, then add three ideas that can support it, and some details or examples which will help it to be clear and on the track. Next, you start with the first draft, taking in mind that the first sentence has to be the introduction of your main idea (beginning), and then add details or ideas that will support the main sentence (middle), finally wrap up with a conclusion (ending). After that, start with the second draft, adding adjectives, adverbs, synonyms, and checking spelling. Also check subject verb agreement, grammar structures, and if it follows a logical order. Before writing the final draft, revise punctuation, check if each statement starts with a different word, avoid repeating words, and if it is legible. Read the final draft aloud to check coherence. Also revise if it has sense words which help paragraphs to be more descriptive. All the steps mentioned above can be included in a â€œwriting rubric checklistâ€? that can be modified depending on the written style you are using (descriptive, narrative, persuasive, and so on). These are some strategies I learned and reviewed during this module. About ICT tools The module that I found more suitable for learning and teaching was writing. The tools were challenging and at the same time built confidence. The following tools took me through a natural process of learning besides of being unusual, fun and defying:
1. Movies and grammar. This site helps improve grammar usage and mechanics by viewing a movie segments and all the activities assignments are related to reinforce grammar topics. I found it useful, different, and helpful to learn strengthen grammar in a creative manner. 2. Sharing and using your pictures. It was so exciting to share pictures of something you did, worked on, enjoyed, or feel pleased of through a combination of using descriptive language and music. This goes beyond frontiers, it allows you to express emotions, search for words that will transmit a specific idea, event, or adventure in a video clip. 3. Comic strip story. It was playing learning activity. It was exciting to choose a cartoon imagine add a dialogue to create a short story where you can express any feeling and attitude. These tools made me focus on vocabulary, chants, expressions, grammar structure, and punctuation, which improved my writing assignments. I went through a natural process of planning, organizing ideas, and self-correction. It was hard to write about a single module and its tools that can be applied to our students because each module had many good activities that can be used to improve our students’ abilities. Lesson planning I chose the lesson plan called “Seven Elements (Hunter)” which I consider flexible and can be suitable for my students. It is easy to follow, states clearly what objectives and phases we have to go through to obtain a good result. It helps you to set the environment, study possible obstacles, advance solutions, and feel confident with your display. This lesson plan focus students’ attention, states a background, explains, models, guides practice, leads to independent practice, supports to teach again misunderstandings, leads to apply an assessment, gives extra work, and ends with a closure. This lesson has a space to work in groups, which I consider a very important issue for exchanging knowledge. It also invites to class discussion where students produce the language, allowing a continuous feedback. I find this lesson plan, “Seven Elements (Hunter),” so useful and adequate for my secondary students. As I mentioned above it is a flexible, because you can add assignments or change the sequence to enrich it and adapt it to your students. The most important thing is to enjoy and transmit the passion of learning through a well-planned class and follow students’ growing development in the acquisition of a second language. Conclusion When you are aware of how knowledge comes up and the numberless of tools or hints that can help you transmit them, learning becomes a natural process. Technology can facilitate our teaching, a good lesson plan can help us reach our goals, and the motivation and creation of a suitable environment can make the difference in acquiring the knowledge.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Judith HernĂĄndez PeĂąa
We live in an increasingly dynamic interconnected global village because of the web. It expands the learning environment, which is mutually involved with teaching. As a matter of fact, it provokes critical thinking and openness to other cultures. Teachers of the future will perform the same functions they do now, but will use of technology to give students a richer, more stimulating learning environment Cultural awareness Internet offers another interesting way to look culture and it gives the opportunity to share aspects of their own cultural backgrounds, comparing and contrasting cultures make the experience more valuable. The concept of time management that in Mexico for some of us results very difficult and in some cultures they are very strict on it. What about the personal culture where we had the opportunity to share with our peers coming from Sinaloa to Oaxaca that was cultural awareness too. We had the opportunity to express our ideas, experiences and emotions. Even when I had stereotyped men that they are not sensitive, talking about their deepest feelings and personal issues. Teachers and learners should have an open attitude when we found on a site that in California exists a strong social problem with parents unable to take care their own children. Internet offers authentic material. Another cultural issue that I learned was the importance to have word stress, intonation, pause and rhythm in a successful language management.
In sum up it was very interesting for me to take some of these activities into my classroom, I could learn more about my studentâ€™s needs. As first evaluation, I made them to write a story using pictures. Most of them were very excited and motivated to write. Teaching strategies Firstly, I want to comment that in this course I have learned a lot about English teaching strategies, some of them I have started to apply in my classroom like the creating a story with the PHOTOPEACH site. On the other hand, the learned strategies are strongly connected with the eight habits mentioned in the article. The following information supports this comment: -
Adapting: Being visionary. Collaborating: Teachers should work collaboratively in order to share strategies and experiences. My peer projects enriched more this learning experience. Taking Risk: Learning: Teachers should contribute to life-long learning, Communicating: This course promotes communication among participants sharing their ideas. Modelling: Also, it promotes being critical thinkers. Leading:
I think I have applied unconsciously most of the habits in my teaching context, one of the most difficult is to accept my mistakes but I understand that I can reflect about it,, along my professional life I had to had competent preparation because some of my students have more experience than me in certain issues. On the other hand I tried to be ready having a plan B nonetheless positive attitude has been very important for me. On the other hand, I need to develop to promote on students being critical thinkers. In sum up, teachers should be responsible, well prepared, respectful, humanistic, motivated, lovers with their profession, gifted and humble. THE GOLDEN BRIDGE
The most interesting activity is the 2.1 â€œThe Golden Bridgeâ€?. It is a listening and reading activity that contains interesting information about one of the most important attraction in America. It has general details that make it more exciting. "Golden" for the
body of water that flows there, not for the orange color that it was painted. Also, I found interesting the age of the bridge that the construction began in 1933 and until now it is working!. The speaker’s voice has speed and intonation. At the end of the activity there is a question in order to read for specific information. On the other hand, the reading transports us to the place making feel us to watch that marvelous bridge. Also, make us have a view an existent contemplation about it besides, it is and easy-friendly activity that the learner can open and perform successfully. Related to the teaching strategies, it is where the user not only is able to listen and read at the same time but also he can increases vocabulary. In fact, this is an authentic text in a learning situation that I can adapt to my students’ needs; they will develop skimming and scanning according to the goals. To summarize, it is a real life communicative activity it is flexible and adaptable to my teaching context making feel the reader –listener self confident in a skill that some of my students reject. I think is a great for my blind student.
I found activity 2.2 word stress very difficult not only for me, but also for my students. It is something that I must manage very well in order to teach it. On the other hand, I consider quite important teaching it because learners should be aware about levels of meaning based on the personal word stressed. It is strongly involved culture and it would prevent them of language misunderstandings. The multicultural environment that English community has, making it more difficult for me, different accents. As a result it is hard to interpret for me the true meaning of the sentence with no culture interference. Indeed, I found difficult to understand native speakers especially some ethnic groups and if a non native speaker does not manage word stress it will affect in an effective communication. I think this activity needs to provide more audio exercises, in order to facilitate learning. Besides, it should provide images of how mouth looks when saying words. I realize that word stress is a practical skill where I need constant practice to prevent it getting rusty. My own English will be revitalized in this field and in order to make students being aware about the key to have a better pronunciation, I need to have fist-hand experience of different types of activities. As many of my peers my teaching context is hard with economic restrictions but, after doing PHOTO PEACH Project I will never underestimate my students’ abilities in spite of obstacles. Most of my students seem to be natural computer-users. They are willing to spend hours plying computer games, and doing problem-solving activities. Computers have become part of the youth culture then I will take advantage of that. On the other hand, what I found in the previous activity was that School affords computers at all and a cause of that authority did not offer any support to teachers. This course I am teaching second grade then this activity has a wide of possibilities to adapt it. On the other hand, I would like to start with a very simple exercise because some of them are afraid working with new things on computer. I will do the following activity:
Students will be able to describe orally what are people wearing, they tape and save it. Students will work cooperatively in pair and make some grammar peer correction. Finally, teacher makes a general correction on the board in order to feedback students’ performances. I think they would have fun and at the same time they would have a more relevant learning because they will work motivated as well as me. The writing section required an integration of a variety of skills, activities and thought process. For this reason not everybody may be skilled in English reading than in our first language which was my case. Sequence of tenses, punctuation, linking words and grammar accuracy were some of the items used along the activities. I observed along writing activities they were focused on accuracy, we had to follow grammar rules, also we were personally involved in order to achieve life long learning. Our tutor encouraged our participation and she expected our enthusiasm and effective learning. The message or communication was important, so we took time to express ourselves in the best possible way. For this reason, I wanted the reader to understand what I had to say. I want to enhance motivation developing these kinds of activities which is very important. I took one of them into my classroom, my students created a short story using pictures and music. Even students who are not very good at English could take part on it and they felt very proud of their results. They were critical about their own work and consulted their friends over the best words to use in their “unique” creation. Both experiences were very valuable for me as teacher and learner described perfectly the writing strategy. ICT TOOLS In spite of writing is the most traditional of the activities. It is communication and permits exchange ideas or opinions or information with another person. On the other hand, when I started to write this paper came to my mind one of the eight habits of highly effective teachers and it suggested conceiving innovations in our classroom. For this reason, I chose module six which contains the following activities: 1. Forums: They enrich activities, make them more meaningful and they might encourage students to share their ideas. 2. Movies segments to assess grammar goals: Students completes written exercises based on movie segments that they have watched before. This kind of material is authentic and it is a good alternative for teachers in order to promote motivation in learners. 3. Creating stories in a comic strip file: Some of my students like graffiti and comics, I will take advantage with this activity encouraging them to create a “unique” masterpiece. To sum up, I want to include writing in my teaching situation. I have already started with the activity of the Photo peach site. I am very proud of my students.
I consider these activities exciting and meaningful because they activate background knowledge, introduce new vocabulary and make feel students have a reason to write read and to get the feedback.
LESSON PLANNING It has been overwhelming for me trying to get the most suitable lesson plan, for that reason I pretended to work with an â€œeclectic methodâ€?. I did not know anything about adapting a lesson to incorporate multiple intelligences. Nevertheless, according to my teaching context, class length, number of students and taking into consideration most of them are keen on doing homework I selected the Multiple Intelligences lesson plan. It is mentioned in the article that there are two multiple intelligences emphasized in classrooms the linguistic and the logical mathematical. First of all would be a good idea applying students a diagnosis in order to check the higher intelligence developed. On the other hand, some of them have strong intrapersonal intelligence and some others have the interpersonal, working in teams can help students achieve the class. I selected this type of plan because it will be significant to create lessons that will benefit all students, adding of course the best ingredient motivation. Most of the times I am a controller teacher and I work with traditional methods. On the other hand, adapting the eclectic method in my teaching context has been difficult for me decipher the best strategy to the studentsâ€™ individual needs. Finally, we are immerse in a globalize world and teacher should take advantage of computers where English is vital. Through this Diploma I see the internet is offering wide possibilities to develop reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in a totally real way. Also, I had the opportunity to renew and develop my teaching knowledge. I realize the importance of significant learning using meaningful activities in order to encourage them to be critical thinkers.
Communicative Skills for Secondary English Teachers HernĂĄndez Zapiain, Izella Rebeca. July - November 2009
â€œMy Learning Experienceâ€? Every experience I had in this fabulous course was a challenge but, at this point, I must say that I am really pleased with the results. I have learned a lot and it has been worth the effort.
Language Progress Thanks to the activities, my language progress improved from module two up to the last one. Now I feel that I can deal with more situations in an area where the English language is spoken. I can describe experiences, events, opinions and plans. I can write longer and better different types of writings and I have learned how to use the reading strategies. I learned, how to focus in order to get the main idea of what it is being said; therefore, my listening ability has improved. Now I am able to notice the importance of word stress in listening as well as in speaking and because of the record activities I learned that my speech has to be concise, clear, and strong with appropriate style and tone.
I know I have to learn more. This course helped me and my language level has increased but I need to continue practicing specially with the richness of my vocabulary because even when I learned more words through the readings, listening and grammar exercises, I think my biggest weakness is that I express myself with a general vocabulary instead of using a sophisticated one. So I will be working with that, finally that´s the only way to continue increasing my English level.
Cultural Awareness Day by day we are living in a challenging world and the only way to face it´s understanding that, even when cultural differences do exist, we have as well some similarities with the English-speaking communities. This may all seem so obvious that it is silly to discuss. However my point is that we, teachers, can influence the acceptability of other cultures in our students. We can show them that language is not only a tool of communication but it also shows our behavior and our perspective of people. One way in which an educator expresses his or her educational qualities is through imagining the world during the experiences and understandings of others. That´s what I experienced in most of the activities where we read and learned about people and culture from other countries, to mention one; the story of “American and British English” I learned why are different these two languages. So, to focus my student´s attention to English language and culture, I could ask them to imagine that they are the other who now shares some of their problems, to do some research about natural disasters in other countries, to look for information in encyclopedias and on the Internet and to create an association to help victims. After thoroughly acknowledging the reality and effects of cultural similarities and differences, I feel safer in asserting my belief that many of the tools that this course offers us is and will help us.
Teaching Strategies The most useful teaching strategies I learned during this course, are all related to the habits mentioned in Andrew Churches´ investigation, first of all we, as teachers and learners, have to realize that we can use all of our resources available, methods and tools not only in a classroom but in our daily life, we have to adapt the curriculum to our students reality which will bring them a significant knowledge.
Besides that, I discovered that there are many strategies that help us to succeed in our daily job, things very simple like reading strategies, word stress, intonation, rhythm, fluency, grammar games among others. We can integrate these strategies to the topics of secondary student interests by sharing their passions in technology. In effect, we must encourage us and our students to use new technology without losing the human side, to stay current in what it is surround us, enabling communication and collaboration between them and society. Having that in mind and in order to improve knowledge, we need to be aware as well of the multidisciplinary integration to have a holistic education.
Reading Strategies From the third module I would select activity 6.2 Foster children text from Adult Learning Activities webpage, as the most interesting activity for a reading practice. It was the one I liked the most because that activity integrated several skills like reading, listening, watching a video and learning new vocabulary. I was able to connect the new information from the text to the one I already knew, I could clarify my own developing understanding because of the scores I got from the quizzes and I practiced the reading comprehension strategies I have taught in my classes like recognizing the visual items, identifying the title, relevant words and cognates and detecting cause and effect relationships. I´d like to add that I am already using that webpage in some of my classes.
Listening Skills From this module, the activity I found the most difficult was in the last unit, the one where we had to listen some stories in the “English Listening Lounge” webpage. I found it difficult because the speakers were not very clear, some were very slow or very fast, some had a “flat sound”. I know that we have to challenge ourselves listening all kind of speakers but I couldn´t note the speech functions or intonation patters that we as listeners should expect, I could even understand better my peers in some activities from unit 5 in this Diploma. I had a great grade in all the activities but in this one I had the lower so I´d say that it was because of the lounge selection, therefore to make easier this activity I would change that Listening webpage, I mean, there is a huge quantity of good places that we can pick and we can even find them announced in the right side of the “English Listening Lounge” page.
Speaking Module Voicethread is a great tool to have conversations around media, you can hold an entire discussion about a topic in just one page and the participants can give their
opinion recording their voice or writing their thoughts so, by the time another classmate finish, they´ll be working with their listening and reading skills as well. With my secondary students, I could use this tool basically in all the grades, and all the units, we can adapt it to every theme. From the first unit in first grade; introducing a third person, describing what is wearing and the place where is he or she, to the second grade where we can use it to formulate hypotheses about fragments of stories or to the third grade to make predictions. I don’t have an internet service in my school but I have already worked with this tool, I asked them to go to a cybercafé and they have already sent me their homework to my email address, so for this activity, after explained how to use this webpage I would just ask them to go the voicethread site to record and write a short talk. I would present their final product on a laptop so we could have the activity feedback.
Writing Strategies This module was hard but very productive. We have to use templates to create our own writings as well as some web pages to publish them. The main teaching strategies used In order to develop my writing ability are all associated with grammar focused on linguistic aspects of language. A good example is in the first activity in which we had to keep in mind the role of the words in sentences (nouns, adjectives, verbs) to create a funny tale. Another one that helped me to boost my imagination was through the Makebeliefs comic web page and the Photopeach one, great pages! Therefore I learned about style and different writing models in the activities: My first book review and the Eyewitness account. All the activities mentioned before are excellent but the one I am already using is the one that incorporates video clips to grammar and writing in the blog named “Movie segments to assess grammar goals”. In relation to my participations in the forums, I wrote a few comments to some of my partners and I checked the ones they left me. I really enjoyed reading all their comments, even the ones that weren´t for me, and I have to say that it was a good experience. I got to know a little bit of their lives and learned a lot from them. I found out that the forums are excellent tools to encourage our learning by expressing our opinions with our peers.
Information and Communication Technologies Even when most grownups hate the new technologies, sooner or later we all have to realize that we are extremely depending on ICT, from digital watch, to the microwave, the TV or radio not to mention cell phone and computer devices. So, if we are all surround of technology, we must take advantage of it, and to do it, I found more useful the next tools from second module: On activity 2.1 I select “Centre for Education and Training” this site it´s very interesting, it has great pages among them there is one called “Terrible teacher” where you can find exercises with incorrect sentences for the students to correct. Another one is in activity 4.2, the link is called “New Zealand Interface”, the students can go to “crazy monkey games. com”, is a fun twist on a crossword puzzle, they have to select falling images and drag them to the right spot on the crossword grid, they turn into the letters of the word. And finally I chose “Free English Study” where they can work their grammar, reading strategies, speaking and listening skills. I know that socio-economic background impacts on occasions in terms of limited access or out of school support but we can look for different ways to motivate our students to learn about the new technology even when they don´t have it physically. The effect of course is not the same, but this can help us to awake their interest in new things.
Lesson Planning “If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns” - Rita Dunn. We know that there is not one “best way” to plan our lessons and practice is the only way to see which model we may adapt at the moment of our needs, we ought to use more than one way to plan. It´s simple; effective lesson plans communicate,
ineffective ones don´t. We teachers, create our lesson plans to communicate our instructional activities regarding specific subject-matter. So, among other models, the one I consider more appropriate for my context which is in a very low socio-economic background, is Howard Gardner´s theory about the “Multiple Intelligences”. I work with 40 to 50 students each group and I know that some students are better at understanding some things than others. Gardner´s model gives the opportunity to work with several ways of knowing that are used at the same time and tend to complement each other as students develop their skills or solve problems. Regardless of the form or template, there are fundamental components of all lesson plans that we should learn to write, revise, and improve. When we are able to create our own lesson plans, it means we have taken a giant step toward “owning” the content we teach and the methods we use.
Final Reflection Adolescence is without a doubt, one of the most crucial stages of any human beings life. It would seem quite obvious from this statement that the people involved in an adolescent´s live could possibly have a gigantic impact on what he or she becomes. The teaching that these teens acquire should come from several areas, so we teachers must take advantage of all the opportunities we have to stay current in what it is surround us. This Diploma is a great example of an excellent course that helps us to develop a better teaching methodology in a classroom. Not to mention that after all; “Practice doesn´t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect” - old adage.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Edwina Beatriz León León English language learning awareness One of the purposes of taking this course is the achievement of a better language level. The acquisition of new language contents and the improvement of language performance was a great experience because I could clarify some doubts and I learnt more vocabulary and structures with the support of great tools. One of sites that helped me more to learn grammar was CET -ESL activities on line .Exercises and quizzes in “Grammar Central” page were an excellent and interesting way to reaffirm my knowledge about some irregular verbs, opposites, irregular plurals and object pronouns. In the pages of “Terrible teacher” I practiced apostrophes and confusing words. They were very helpful exercises. In “Flashed ESL”, I could reaffirm the correct use of “good & well” because I have some doubts, but with these exercises I could realize I was not wrong. Also, I understood about the relative pronouns (who, which, whom, that) after doing the corresponding activities. About structures, I practiced exercises and I sometimes forgot to put the period at the end of the sentences. Now, I do it better, I think. But the page I liked more was the Crazy English. There, I could learn more about vocabulary and expressions used in America and the U.K. The sites were really functional and attractive. It was easy to navigate around them and these multimedia contents were very enriching for my learning. Cultural Learning awareness As a non-native speaker of English, through the production, the interpretation of a variety of spoken and written texts (quotidian, academic, literary, etc), I could know about some cultural aspects of English speakers. I could construct acknowledgement on values and develop an analytical thinking and I think, with a responsible attitude towards the problems
and circumstances of the different parts of the world. Readings like “American Incident”, 100 Short English Stories and Foster Children were very impressive to me and my Students. Also, at the same time I knew about History and stories, I could learnt to use materials that you recommended in the course. Other cultural aspects were in order to recognize some differences between British an American English. For example the words meter/metre, favorite/favourite, center/centre. Other cultural facts that I could learn are in order that Americans began to change the sound of their speech after the Revolution War in 1776. Deliberately, American separated from the British. The new rules for American spelling were published in 1828. And sometimes, Americans and British do not understand each other because of the different word meanings. Additionally, I think is very important to notice that the Students like lo learn English when they are properly motivated. For example, my students learned not only a content, but also about some important people in History or about other culture. They used the Biography Maker site to write an interesting biography for teenagers. They followed the steps and created their own biography.
New teaching strategies discovered In this online course, we had the opportunity to learn within useful Teaching Strategies: •
We must be able to adapt a dynamic experience. We had to use hardware and software that I have never used. For example, I have never participated in a videoconference. So this time was the opportunity to learn and practice more English and to learn how to use modern tools.
We could collaborate and share with other people in sites like the Forums, Facebook, bookr and others. So, we learnt from other’s work, too.
We could learn on rubrics and tutorials. This is a good element of teaching. Using rubrics to establish a level or for assessment is a strategy for learning. Learners know the basis and the objectives. Tutorials could be a good teaching strategy because show how to do the activities and how to use the tools.
We could learn using authentic and excellent written, visual, and audio material in all the modules.
We could learn by communication between partners and tutors. By using the site or the MSN to check other’s works or receiving feedback from tutors.
We could look at others’ ideas and envisage how we would use these ideas in our class. It is a very important strategy because the interchange expands the knowledge and learning.
Reading teaching strategies “Amistad Incident” was the most interesting activity for my reading practice. I think it is one of the most interesting activities in the course. To understand this historical event, I used both reading methods: Skimming and Scanning. Skimming was very useful to identify quickly the gist and the main ideas in the texts. I could use many clues as possible (reading the title and subtitles, looking at the illustrations and continue thinking about the meaning of the text), because the story had a large number of interesting links. In this activity, Scanning was essential to find some specific information from a piece of a text, that was important to me, for example, dates or names: “On November 25th, 1841, Singbe and 34 captives went home”. According to the Reading Strategies recommended in the site Journey North Reading Strategies, they were a real support provided in the course. Several times I had to reread some texts when I didn't get the idea or didn't understand or to confirm an idea. Also, I used context clues to decipher unfamiliar words. I think it is one of the most useful strategies for English teachers and learners. Thus, I “scanned” many keys to make connections (from prior acknowledgement or making inferences). For example, when I read the expressions “mutiny” or “lawsuit”, I could understand their meanings by using clues. Moreover, I used Synthesize the new information, to produce a 5 line written opinion about the readings according to the Activity. Listening teaching strategies The most difficult activity to me, related to Listening, was the Activity 5.1, I think. In this task, I had to choose two dictations from an intermediate level. I chose “The Wolf” and “Emma”. I consider this activity was difficult because I couldn’t write the full text, in the case of “Emma”. The expressions that I missed were: light of ought to, ought to and ashamed. Perhaps, this is because I hardly use them. In the first dictation, “The Wolf”, I could to complete the paragraph, but I had some errors: no near than of instead of no nearer than, and there was not instead of it was not. I think I was wrong because I need more practice. Moreover, the person who was speaking in the recording, he was using the expression “full stop” to make the pause and I use to say “period”. This incident made me have many doubts at first, until I realized it when I checked the dictations. I think my selections were easy and the texts were not too length, but I had a little problem with them. Actually, now I know this kind of activities could have been easier if we practice in a much more frequent way and I also think it is very important to take dictation from British and American pronunciation to achieve a more ability to understand what we hear. Word stress, intonation, pause and rhythm are aspects in which we can focus to understand better an oral text.
Speaking teaching strategies Some characteristics that make using Audacity activities are very important in improving the speaking ability, they are mainly: We can observe our gradual improvement, achieve that improvement until we want, make several recordings until we like one to be the final recording and use this tool without we spend any money. Fortunately, in my school every teacher has a classroom. This represents the opportunity to me to use my own equipment in class: my PC, projector, etc. That is why I decided to pay for an Internet access and so, my students and I can use sites and tools from Internet, including the ones we have used in this online course. My students liked Audacity a lot and we have made some recordings. For example, in first grade, we recorded their introductions and the students of third grade are going to record some rules and regulations next month. I think this tool will be one of my best “allies” in the work with my students to learn English in an easier and enjoyable way. In Voicethread, my students and I can find an excellent chance to learn and practice our speaking. Being honest, I think it could be more difficult using this tool than Audacity, but it worth the effort. Definitely, this course has allowed me to open more chances for learning with my students. I feel better prepared for daily activities and I feel more confident in my work because I know my students will be more interested in class. Main teaching strategies to develop Writing At this point, I discovered many excellent strategies to increase my Writing. I learnt that I can raise my level if I use these tools. In my point of view, there are the most useful for me: •
The use of Templates. It is a funny way to get a piece of Writing (poems, stories, jokes) using a short list of words. Then, when we read the text, we can learn expressions and vocabulary that we can use for further times.
The use of Creating comics. I think this tool (Makebeliefs) is very useful because we can use it to learn to write short stories with specific information. So, we have to be careful with our use of expressions or productions. It is excellent to practice different tenses, grammar contents, question tags and more.
The use of Frameworks. They are useful tools because they give us the reference of how to integrate the elements of a text depending on their intention: to describe thing, and event or a person, to analyze a poem, to write a story, to tell a historical event or to write an article of science, for example. It makes easier the work of writing a particular text.
The use of Web sites. Photopeach and bookr are really enjoyable tools when a student is learning how to write. Moreover, I think people like to use them because they can use items of their interest.
All the tools we used in this online course are excellent and really interesting, but in my opinion, the most useful for me were the used in Module 5 (speaking). These tools are Audacity and Voicethread. Why? •
Audacity is very easy to use it. It permits us to hear our own voice and our pronunciation, intonation, stress and more. So, we can improve our Speaking because we can monitor our performance every time we record oral text. We can decide what will be the final work or speech. It is easy to be used by a high school student. I have used it in class and my students liked very much. Some of them have made recordings at home.
Voicethread is a useful tool. I think it is a little more difficult to use than Audacity, but with more practice, we can record without problems. If we practice a lot, we can turn out our inability into ability.
Other interesting tools were used in other Modules. One of them is the Biography Maker. It shows Students how to make a non-boring biography, according to their interests, following some steps to get a fascinating work: Questioning, Learning about the character, Synthesis and Story-Telling. It is an important way to make students to investigate according to their own questions, to write a short but interesting story and to tell the story to their partners. It is not easy for them, but it is a great opportunity. Lesson planning Current needs of education have led to an evolution in relation to the elements and terms used in designing and developing a lesson plan. However, when we look at the designs we have used previously, according to the theories of teaching and learning, we realize that we cannot put aside as being obsolete. In the competency framework in which we have built in these days, the plan of these elements correlates Seven Steps to reach independent practice (competence). Bloom's Taxonomy Plan integrates the knowledge required to analyze and synthesize (thinking skills) . In The multiple intelligences, they are integrated in a plan as a model that is based on the transversality from different skills, which is also in the design based on competences. In Brunner’s model, the basic is the collaborative learning. According to my context, I can take different elements that permit us to achieve learning. So, our plans are designed based on one or more competences and therefore, may take several sessions to do activities. Each class, then, has a specific purpose. That is why, when my students and I are going to work with a written text, we can make predictions, I can guide them, etc. like in Seven Steps Plan. If we will study some aspect of grammar, the most recommended would be the Bloom’s. If we are going to use audio or visual material, Multiple Intelligences could be used. When we work with teams, Bruner’s could be the option.
My Learning Experience by Rafael Nava Magaña My learning experience has been an opportunity and a challenge, which has made me have a different perspective of my teaching and learning manners. Frequently we continue doing the same things every class, every day, every year. We become in to monotonous people, because we think that’s the best way to do it, and why not! it has worked for us, we think.
English language learning awareness
When I began this course I did not communicate myself to other English spoken people. I just talked to my students in a basic way, because since I left the English academy, many years ago, I didn’t practice; but only the basic vocabulary and expressions. In this course I learnt that there are spaces, and places I can use to learn more and also practice with different kind of exercises. Also I had the chance of sharing information to other people. The kind of activities we did, the structures by checking the grammar exercises the vocabulary (expressions, phrasal verbs, etc) those sort of things that help us to increase our level. As a learner and teacher I discovered that there are different methods, techniques and materials we can use in order to learn and teach.
Cultural learning awareness With all the technology we have around us, it is difficult not to realize what is happening around the world. Television, radio, internet, we are in a new era; where we can share information to people everywhere. We can comment with our students about things are happening in The USA, or London, or may be in Asia. So we can see different expressions of culture almost from everywhere. Now, with all these things and the tools we have received from this course; Is our job to take them to the classroom and apply them in our activities and work on them. For example our new books are updated with some exercises of this kind, where we can find text about people from other countries, with their corresponding characters, and their activities and customs. Music is an important part of every culture in the world, and we can use it in different ways; for example the classic activity to make students to sing modern songs, etc. This manner we are more conscious about other cultures.
New teaching strategies discovered As teachers we have to adapt to the new changes in the world. The use of technology has become an essential part of our lifes, including our jobs. So we need to take advantage of it. Use it for make our lifes and work easier. We can combine this devices, this technology with our imagination to create new ways of teaching and learning. We must to collaborate with this new tool we have now, and use it to improve our jobs as well as we have to take risks by creating new activities, more interesting to our students. In every module we received many teaching strategies and techniques to follow; the use of short stories which can be understood by them (students), simple vocabulary, found in tall tales, for example are good manners to make students to read. The minimal pairs are another example of that.
Reading teaching strategies This is a very important part of every person learning process. Because, if you are use to practice this, learning the other abilities would be easier. One of the most interesting activities, was the types and the circular writing activity. If we want to improve our reading abilities and also our studentsâ€™, we need to identify what kind of activity it is about. Every text has a different purpose; for example to instruct, explain, describe, or persuade, and every one has a different sort of language. We apply our plans if we are working on text about the kind of text. What we want from that text. These can be; make inferences and draw conclusions, make and refine predictions, reading comprehension, re-reading classify or categorize information, distinguish facts from opinions, identify main ideas and supporting details. This itâ€™s just a part and a complement of the other strategies. The use of grammar, punctuation, etc. are instruments to do better our work.
Listening teaching strategies
Trying to develop this ability some times is difficult. The main reason is that we have no chance to practice with real people. We just listen the T.V. programs or movies, and most of times we read the subtitles.
In this course I remember that, one of the most difficult activity, was in “The Australian NetworksEnglish Bites”. I worked on the fitness fanatic exercise. There were no problem with that page or make it work; the real problem was that I am not used to listen to English Spoken people, and even more; Australian people with their particular accent. In moments I could not understand what they were saying, because of their pronunciation, their speed of their speech, and in other parts, I listened well, but I didn’t know the meaning of some expressions. So, there is no other manner but practice and practice.
Speaking teaching strategies
The activity which turned out to be useful for me was, how to describe a situation or place, using Audacity, because the easy manner we can use it and its versality. We can adapt it almost for every activity in the classroom. For example; if we are practicing reading and speaking, I can select a text related to our unit and topic and I can ask students to read a paragraph of the text. If they are having a dialogue or conversation the students can be recorded, too. Also if we have an individual presentation. If we are practicing writing, the teacher can ask about their classmates taking notes about some specific vocabulary. The verbs, adjectives, nouns, public places whatever. And of course all those previous activities are related to the “listening” ability where every participant can listen to him/her self. In order to correct his/her mistakes.
Writing teaching strategies
I found the module sis was the most beneficial one for the reason that there are many activities where it was interesting to work on. The tall tales in wacky website is a funny way to practice all our vocabulary. Because those exercises ask you for adjectives, nouns, numbers, body parts, colors, tec. So we can have a general vocabulary review, and besides the final product is joyful. About The Book Poem, you can use it according to your personality, we can express how we are and what we want to say, which your interests are, etc. Make beliefs, awake your imagination and every participant has the chance of create adventures, and make the characters to participate in them. If we want to work in grammar, we work on the Movie segments where we also work with grammar but in other way. And of course we could not forget photopeach, where we use our imagination and creativity, and show what we like.
About ICT tools In every module we worked in a variety of sites where we could find a large list of options of activities and exercises. But there was one I liked the most. It was the module seven where we were working our writing skills. The activity where we worked on Tall Tales was great. I think it is one of the easiest tool we can use with our students. It has a very simple manner to work with it. We can choose a variety of options and everyone has a template which makes us easier its use.
Make beliefs, here we have and other easy tool to use. We can create a very simple comic, just by electing easy and simple expressions and common words. Students can pick out a character and let their imagination fly. The movie segments, with this tool we can work grammar in a different way. Not as monotonous as we have done until now. Kids can watch that part of the movie and take the information to answer the questions about it. It can be tenses, adjectives, nouns, etc.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Adriana Carolina Pérez León CULTURAL LEARNING AWARNESS Some ways I can use to get my student´s attention and make them aware about English, are teaching them a cultural class for example about thanksgiving using pictures, bring material that they can touch, they can closely see so they pay attention to this, besides it will be definitely something new for them so that way I’m getting their attention and at the same time they are learning new words, pronunciation, structures and focusing them on the cultural aspect of the English learning. -SPEAKING The audacity software works beautifully with speaking, is a great tool to work with, because now what our students want is, to use a computer and do things, and we have to take advantage that they feel like using the equipment and learn how to manage it, so with this software my students can learn about physical description, how to give instructions, etc. well definitely the audacity can be used with all the English contents.
The audacity is excellent, i could use this always with my students, it can be motivating for them, i can imagine how happy they would be when we get to do the recording of their voices speaking English, that will be a good moment for them and also for me. My students need to get in touch with internet, computers these kinds of tools because they live in a context where it´s hard to have a computer at home, so I’m trying to use what we have at school so they know a little bit of that. -LISTENING As a language learner and teacher, I discovered that we can teach students the word stress and the importance about listening. Also it is important to speak English correctly because our students are learning from us so it is necessary to learn about pronunciation, stress intonation rhythm etc. English uses variation in tone (how something is said to indicate importance, an emotion, seriousness, irony, sarcasm, etc.), the pitch (voice going up or down), word stress, and in general a sort of melodic variation or rhythm in speaking which if it were not there would make English sound boring. -READING Definitely I have to admit that I don´t like reading even though the module made me read a little The most interesting activities for reading practice which helped me for good are: skimming and scanning, the exercise from the BBC page where you have to scan and skim for some information. I found it very fun and easy to do and not boring. About reading, listening, and at the same time watching a video I liked this in particular because for me reading is a little bit difficult, I need to really focus on what I’m reading I get distracted so easy. -WRITING In the writing module we wrote comic using templates and this activity in particular I enjoyed it very much, I used my imagination. Another writing piece was a weird incident in my life, I noticed that my English has improved because of the way I wrote and that the sentences make totally sense. I think that a good teaching strategy used to develop my writing was working with pictures and also write about something that you like. What I learnt in this course is what can I use with my students to make them learn and important, that I learned English too, and definitely I have to say that I found this program very interesting and fulfilling, I really learnt a lot, I can see it in the English I have now definitely.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE REPORT by Juan Manuel Pérez Pérez There is not a doubt; it is a fact that teaching activity demands a series of abilities and skills that not always are learnt at the School for Teachers. Effective teachers learn from a large never ending formation process. Part of an important strategy of the “Alianza por la Calidad de la Educación” is in progress. In order to offer teaching training opportunities to Secondary English Teachers, the SEP by means of CED CELE UNAM has offered a English Training Diploma to improve foreign language professional skills and this way getting the SEP English National Certification (CENNI). This report is the result of a short, instructive and even beautiful but very demanding period of learning and sharing experiences with other teachers along our country. Taking advance of free time, writing notes while waiting for the bus, thinking or rethinking while resting or spending family time are common activities along this Diploma. Everything is done in order to improve English skills; trying to become better teachers. Hoping every single minute spent, all performed effort and those nights on learning respond to expectations. English language learning awareness
Along U.N.A.M. English Diploma teachers have gotten the obligation to overcome weaknesses, especially in terms of listening skills as recognizing how important is to access and practice suggested drills in Internet. Being more familiar with IPA Symbols to infer proper pronunciation of words is necessary as fundamental consider tongue position to speak properly. In this sense recording voice in order to identify mispronounce words to avoid mistakes must be a common practice to better speak. It is particularly necessary to improve stressing, intonation and rhythm by reviewing information at suggested Internet sites, but specially taking care of Jennifer ESL quality lessons. Practicing listening becomes essential because dictation is a difficult task. Continuous practice surfing by Internet specific sites will assist to improve skills and make speech more comprehensible. Finally it is necessary to practice writing different style writings in order to develop new abilities, students will deserve it. This Diploma offers a wide variety of sites and drill to practice and improve language skills. Cultural Awareness In terms of learning through Internet tools resources is a fact that many teachers around the word share their knowledge and experiences get easier teaching process. Some countries are concerned about young people anti-social behavior as shown in British adults “fear youngsters”. They are conscious about environment and face ecological problems, and/or take care of abused children as described in “Foster Children”. Authorities, civil organizations and volunteers create programs to give assistance. A teacher task is to develop students’ interest on language and culture by making comparisons between cultures. This vision should concern everyone. Students must analyze specific related information meanwhile teachers persuaded them about the roll they are expected, mainly about anti-social behavior and family. Besides it is interesting to Learn about some cultural facts by reading a variety of texts like: “Amistad Incident” (very interesting story about slavery), “A Horseman in the Sky”, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (very interesting), The Golden Gate Bridge (descriptive reading), “Cell Phone Safety”, a reading about “Noah Webster”, “Civilians Escape fighting in Sri Lanka” (amazing news report), “A Missing Cat” (whose activities made me shake). It is remarkable to enunciate some important facts learnt on these readings, for instance: Spoken English was almost the same in America Colonies and Britain, Noah Webster established rules for speaking and spelling the words used in American English, some English spoken countries trust on police, and Asian students panic when teachers do not teach with textbook. Of course some available readings are highly instructional, for example: Twenty Thinking Strategies Readers use to Comprehend Nonfiction Texts, which introduces useful reading strategies; valuable Internet resource to take advance during learning process. English Language Learning and Teaching Andrew Churches refers about eight habits of highly effective teachers. Some of them are directly related to school activities: “Teachers must continue to absorb experiences and knowledge…” to
improve communicative skills efficiency under a permanent process and they “…must learn and adapt as the horizons and landscapes change”. Internet offers useful, worthwhile and helpful sites for English learners and teachers. Due information is not always well supported it is necessary to identify the sources. Internet and computer tools (TIC’s) have become essential to motivate students to communicate so teachers must consider them when planning, “…teacher is fluent in tools and technologies that enable communication and collaboration.” Talking about visionary teachers, Churches says “…they must see the potential in the emerging tools and Web technologies, grasp these and manipulate them to serve their needs.” It is important to use computer programs and audio-video devices in class, especially CD players, perhaps the most available technological resource in many school classrooms. In this sense he says teachers “… must also be able to adapt software and hardware […] to be used by a variety of age groups and abilities.” It is a priority to focused attention on specific teaching aspects: Making integral evaluation to avoid same mistakes in the future, inner reader reflections involved on understanding texts process or repeated scripts exposure implications, etc. Churches also affirms teachers “…must be collaborators; sharing, contributing, adapting and inventing…” which relates to these and other practical aspects. Reading about the habits of highly effective teachers set out by Andrew Churches is highly instructional.
Reading teaching strategies It is highly recommendable to explore the interactive site based on the “Amistad Incident”. Definite the best activity and supported academic article in the Diploma. The way her author takes the reader through the story, since slavers capture Sengbe and his fellow till they set them free and even at the movingly episode backing home, is extraordinary.
As said, the article has academic aims but it doesn’t seem like that. The use of links allows reader directly to surf on a sea of notes, photos, ancient documents and videos that invite reader to create an actual view of contexts. This great article makes reading an authentic pleasure. In terms of teaching strategies, visualizing when reading to create a mental picture is a helpful activity to understand the texts. This is important because new knowledge is fixed better; they call it, Significant Learning. Scanning the text features (looking for general details) helped reader to prepare for reading. At the time, asking questions before, during and after reading is a valuable strategy to clarify own understanding and to focus attention on particular or main parts of a text. Although sometimes it is necessary to reread certain sentences (Adjust Reading Rate), it is possible to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words by giving acceptable uncommon meanings according to the context without changing the sense of the text. Absolutely, by means of strategies learned during this Diploma get easier reading comprehension of texts like “Amistad Incident” and make participants feel more confident as effective readers.
Listening teaching strategies Bottom up listening is extremely demanding and difficult but fundamental for ESL teachers. For instance, Minimal Pairs at Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab is an excellent site for those ones who have not studied phonetics at all. In fact, teachers should recognize the huge necessity to improve their listening and speaking skills. Students will deserve this and more. Minimal pairs demands continuous adjust and repeating several times words and phrases looking for better comprehension and pronunciation. Some drills are quite difficult to do successfully; they require time, patience and hearing practice. Perhaps the most difficult and confusing aspect of sites like this is exploring given links which distract attention and avoid lineal readings. Make it easier is just a matter of focusing tasks. Grammar teaching is not exactly the most beautiful English aspect, trying to make it more attractive and enjoyable requires deep thought and time to design proper activities. Perhaps the best option is to offer a wider variety of sites to give students the opportunity to choose those ones make them feel comfortable. Drills at www.Manything.org are examples of this reality because looking at the teacher pronouncing minimal pairs differences on video (keeping his mouth movement) clears idea of actual pronunciation. At last, many people say phonetics is difficult, oppressive and demanding. They seem to be right but phonetics activities could be pleasant too through sites like the latter. It seems that everything is a matter of interest and practice.
Speaking teaching strategies To take advantage of Voicethread site with students it is imperative to organize them in couples to work with computer systems at the Computer Hall. At this point students have had a “brief” approached to adjectives and developed basic abilities to write short descriptions in class. With the help of a projector, teacher explains the Voicethread basic operation tools. It is necessary to choose and upload a picture from a series –previously selected- to describe it as a whole class activity. Once understood, students choose an image to talk about and/or record a description. Due class hardly takes 45 minutes long, the activity continues at home or at the “Cybercafé” where students must open the site to read a partner description and write comments about “not” evaluating” descriptions. If impossible accessing computers, the activity could be done in the classroom using cell phones. In case, students bring a famous character poster to be shown and described in class. After recording, external speakers are connected to telephones to check descriptions. Comments could be sent by the same means. Of course, it is imperative to keep a phone number registry in order to prevent and avoid devices improper usage. Students’ collaborations are evaluated too, so every comment should be saved to be played in the classroom. There are different techniques to take advance of such sites. Selection depends on the teacher style and ICTs available. Other options include the use of a VCR device but it requires TV set to show activity; or a tape recorder, but most of our digital students are unfamiliar with “old” technologies.
Writing teaching strategies Along the writing section of English Diploma, activities evoke beautiful, hard and even painful moments people write about. Writing poems and making a digital book with them, always through smart steps let writer create funny comic stripes in absolute comfort and writing a book review to invite everyone to approach into different writing styles, like the novel. By performing formal texts about “A weird Incident of my life” or “Creating a piece of writing” with the help of Model Bank templates; writing experience becomes continuously illustrative. Under grammar considerations from BBC Skillswise word site, a writer learns how to take advanced of Internet sites and Tutoring CED CELE offers to discover a completely new world of writing and improving writing skills. About a principal developed writing strategies, it is remarkable to recognize how continuous practice, analysis, writing and rewriting texts become mechanical but thoughtful processes to perform better pieces of writings on a variety of styles. Tutoring comments are valuable to improve skills and to create better writings. In this sense guidance and feedback is always precise and instructive. It is amazing how rethinking and rewriting assignments, especially when working under time pressure made writing more productive. Colleagues’ comments collaborate in this task and their words about nature, ancient cultures, friendship and family are really valuable. Perhaps the most important at all is having the opportunity to learn from their writings, sharing their projects, feelings and illusions; their life experience.
About ICT tools Nowadays teaching English is more effective than years ago if taking advantage of ICT to make easier the teaching learning process. “Speaking” Module is a good example of how important is to use technology in this process. The most suitable and practical tools to improve speaking skills in a natural process of learning are the next: Listening to the music. This is a valuable tool to induce emotions and mental images during classes by listening small pieces of music. The activity generates ideas and thoughts to write or talk about in comfort. By practicing this activity speaking abilities really improve. Certainly there is a danger if using any kind of music but there is all kind of music to capture students’ interest. It is just a matter of making a proper recordings selection. Listening to a partner recording with Voicethread is an enjoyable and useful tool to describe almost everything by using pictures and/or videos. Recording with the help of a cell phone, a CD player or a computer strongly promote talking in the classroom or in the computer hall. The most important is the possibility to give or receive peers permanent feedback. Finally, recording your voice by means of Audacity is another interesting way to record and listen to your actual intonation, rhythm and stress; in fact, it is useful to identify and avoid your pronunciation mistakes. In addition, it gives the opportunity to edit your own recordings to support any classroom activity.
Lesson Planning In terms of organizing teaching activities there is closely similitude between aspects considered in Madeline Hunter’s Planning, and my own planning. Since beginning class focusing the aim class (setting the stage) and telling students what is expecting from them at the end of class (Statement of Objectives) and beyond, according to the syllabus and teacher’s objectives. These steps enable students having a clear idea of time, materials, experiences and abilities required for the class. What she calls Instructional input is strongly related to teacher explanation and instructions: procedure, needed materials, tasks, new vocabulary and phrases, to reach goals. At the time teaching process begins teacher leads and gives guidance, demonstrates students “what” and “how” to do with (Modeling); a basic teacher task to approach the new knowledge and/or skill. Although every step is important by itself it is a fact that Guided Practice is fundamental, because it is responsible of a good performance in all students –not only the average or best ones- when practicing new skills or activities (Guided Practice). Independent Practice encourages students’ home activities under a relative autonomy, making reflections about recent experience exposition. As said, Hunter’s Planning is closely alike most teacher’s planning. Nevertheless it is imperative to recognize that the best one is not the plan made to be hand in to authorities but the one is applied and proofread, adapted and even entirely rebuilt. In addition, nowadays plans must include Group work activities and Multiple Intelligence considerations mainly due new educational politics and special education students’ inclusion into public schools. Final comments Along the previous modules conclusions of Diploma it is easy to discover how small pieces of writings become a full report, an invitation to all those teachers who could not take part in courses like this. It is a guarantee that UNAM offers a quality training Diploma. Professional development is a matter of decision and compromise, teachers need it and students deserve it. The Diploma allows visualize how wide the language field is and how far is the perfection. At the time it allows take decisions about professional future and gives teachers the opportunity to improve not only language skills but personal life too. Mental processes change; it means a transition into a newer and upper mind, definitely into a new person. Besides academic aspects, discovering teachers all around do their best to give students better tools to communicate is amazing, as important is making new friends to share experiences and support. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge and experiences for sharing your time and friendship. Tutoring comments, patience and support are always valuable, without them this challenge will never be the same. Thanks a lot.
Juan Manuel Pérez Pérez Valle de Santiago, Gto., November, 2009.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE by Erika Rubio Cifuentes Our society is changing with advanced steps with the use of technology. It is everywhere in our daily life, for that reason education shouldn’t be the exception. We need to use technology to captive our students and their attention. We all need to be prepared to face the new challenges and achieve success. We need to be update with courses like this one. This kind of courses are useful and necesary for everyone who is trying to learn a new language. Learning English through virtual courses has been a great experience to me, I’ve always studied English in a traditional way, so this new style to learn has given me the opportunity to open my vision of English class. During this course I’ve identified my grammar strengths and weaknesses. Each module we did help us to develop the 4 essential skills for communication (listening, writting, reading and speaking). I’ve learnt more about reading strategies as: skimming and scanning, that helps in the reading process. We also read short stories. It was possible to identify the difference between a fact and opinion. It was possible reflect about the different ways that a stories can be studied. We recognized the different text types (descriptive, persuasive and informative text). Through interesting sites it was posible practice with these texts. The activities related to texts allowed to learn more vocabulary and in these stories I learned how important Phrasal Verbs are, because they are everywhere.
CULTURAL LEARNING AWARENESS We could learn more about culture, we knew more about English speaking community and my vision of this society is wider. I’ve always felt a special attraction for culture in United States of America, I’ve visited this country several times, but until this moment I realize how I could focus my students’ attention to English through the culture. In all the activities we studied it was posible to learn more about culture. It will be very useful for our students to learn through any of the sites we studied in each module. All the readings we studied to practice reading, writting and listening skills helped us to learn more about other cultures. Reading a variety of texts as we did in this course helped us to be aware of our cultural differences and similarities in beliefs and attitudes. NEW TEACHING STRATEGIES DISCOVERED In each module we could experience the use of different teaching strategies that were very attractive to us, some of them could be used in our class adapting in the best way the tools and resources we have in our school. In that way our students will practice these kind of activities to learn in a creative and interesting way.
READING TEACHING STRATEGIES Reading texts in a foreign language can be quite challenging because we often encounter new grammar and vocabulary. During the module Reading we learnt some practical strategies that helped us through reading comprehension exercises. Good reading strategies help us to read in a very efficient way. Using them, we can get the maximum benefit from our reading. The readings we practiced in this course were very interesting and we were motivated to know more about its content. The first reading strategy practiced to study a reading was skimming,this strategy helps to have an idea about what is the reading about and then find specific information through the text using the reading strategy scanning. We could analize a text to know if the information contained was a fact or opinion. We could have a better comprehension through the supports, vocabulary, and explanation of some words and verbs like phrasal verbs on each activity in the units. We studied differents text types: The instructive text :in that text are explained the actions that should be done to accomplish anything, Descriptive text: is a text which lists the characteristics of something, Persuasive text: this text is used to convence the reader of a writer's idea. And informative text: This text gives information about something. LISTENING TEACHING STRATEGIES We also practiced listening skills through stories, dialogues, music, and other interesting activities that let us to practice these important abilities.
In this module we could work using interesting web pages, I found that sites like Randall’s cyber is an incredible work to help to create real situations, this sites played the role to get us out of the course and move towards our goals and objectives to speak fluently, which depends heavly upon listening and more and more practice. My goal is to find ways to adapt this kind of learning activities and help my students who doesn’t have access to this sites in that way to help my students to be able to listen, repeat, write and read and conduct conversations at the same time.
SPEAKING TEACHING STRATEGIES Skills represented a great challenge almost for everybody who is studying a new language because we often don’t have the posibility to practice it with a native speaker, that’s why I think the module speaking was an excellente space to be aware of this ability. An interesting activity for me (and I know it will be interesting for my students too) is the voicethread because in this space we habe the posibility of talk about something giving your personla point of view, then it is interesting listen the great variety of opinions derived from a simple picture. Another good activity was to record our voice, it allows to analize how good or bad we are in this kind of ability. It was understood how important is to improve our speaking skills considering intonation, word stress and rythm when we talk.
ABOUT ICT TOOLS Nowdays it’s very easy access to technology because it is everywhere, in our quotidian life we used technology to solve our needs. It is important mention that it’s not enough to have the world’s best tecnology but the way we use it to achieve our goals is the most important. Our class should improve and all we have to do is with creativity take advantages of the ICT tools we have in our hands. We read about how The 21st century teacher is and an important characteristic talk about being fluent in tools and technologies that enable communication and collaboration. They go beyond learning just how to do it; they also know how to facilitate it, stimulate and control it, moderate and manage it. LESSON PLANNING We could study different model of lesson planning, all we have to do is to adapt the best model according to the kind of students we have in class and then that situation could help us to accomplish our goals in education. This interesting course has given us the opportunity to change the vision of English classes and has helped us to think in all the posibilites that tecnology offer us to make our class better, using the tools we already practiced.
Communicative Skills for Secondary English Teachers Francisco Javier Sรกmano Gordillo. July - November 2009
LEARNING EXPERIENCE When I began to participate in this adventure, I thought I could learn how to get better proficiency in English, in order to raise my language level and so to prepare in different ways the lessons for my students. However, it was enough difficult for me, because of time, I had to devote more than two hours to review all the activities to do the assignments. It is very important for me that someone of you read this report of my learning experience and please send your comments to me, I really will appreciate it. By this time I have learnt the following: READING COMPREHENSION.- This course let me know 20 strategies to practice reading and having better comprehension, using different selections from books, news papers or web sites; vocabulary and different verbal tenses were very important. LISTENING.- Word stress, intonation, pause, rhythm and minimal pairs were the aspects I learned to use. I could listen to some interviews in a web site that helped me to understand the importance of each aspect. I also listened to some songs in order to identify the aspects related.
SPEAKING.- This was the more difficult skill to develop for me, I had to use a guide to do the exercises, like oral practice in my classroom, in a Science practice, and a short talk to present a very important person in my life. I had to take care about: coherence, word stress, intonation and the structures. (Verbal tenses). WRITING.- I learnt to use something very special: Tall tale templates, it was really funny. I could published a story book (“Las momias de Guanajuato”) and a Weird incident in my life, in this last one I had to use different elements of punctuation and adjectives.
CULTURAL AWARENESS English is a very important language that helps people around the world to get a lot of all kind of information in every area of knowledge: science, technology, history, geography, people and arts, economy, sports, nature, music, entertainment… Fortunately, now we have Internet to join web sites that provides the opportunity to access to the wide world of information, the only thing we have to do is take care of what sites we open. In this course I could enjoy some readings, videos, interviews, listening, photos… that help me to understand things that people do in their dairy lives. If I want to focus my student’s attention to English language and culture, the best I have to do is, first of all, checking web sites to find information that results interesting for them, according to their ages and that it is related to their lives and if possible to the contents of the school course and subjects, e.g. animal life, inventions, fashion, famous people, adolescent behavior, among others.
Listening to music is a very special way to attract the student’s attention, everyone loves music; in my classroom we used to sing some songs: “Chiquitita”, “Cherry red”, “Imagine”. When I use this source, I explain my students the meaning of the song and a little tale about it. Another way could be reading and writing tall tales, could be using web sites or printed templates; if it is possible, Wacky Web Tales is a wonderful site, it also includes a section called “parts of speech help”, that contents: verbs, adverbs, nouns, adjectives, and exclamations.
TEACHING STRATEGIES In this course we practiced different strategies to learn and how to teach, almost all them are related to the use of Internet as the main tool that help us to understand another way of teaching. These strategies are really related to the eight habits of highly effective 21 st century teachers, because, today we don’t have the same kind of students than the last two decades, and also the developing conditions of the global world are different, so now we need to be learning and using resources and tools that are used in our dairy life. If I don’t have or don’t practice these eight habits, my labor could be bored for my students; they are involved in a very dynamic life, with electronic devices, information and communication technologies (ICT) I should be a visionary teacher, designing and rethinking the curriculum if I want to still being a real and good guide for my students. In this busy life, parents don’t pay enough attention to their
children, and the teacher sometimes is the only model they have, so we must model the behaviors that the society expect from our students, we must be 24 hours teachers. Today the official curriculum demands the awareness of proficient students, that’s the main reason why the teacher must be a leader in the operation of projects that let the students develop their own knowledge, so the teacher must be proficient.
READING TEACHING STRATEGIES The most interesting activity for my reading practice was taken from unit 3: Vocabulary. When I reviewed the text called: “Civilians escape fighting in Sri Lanka”, I found that it is a BBC Learning English site, provided with images, summary, report, vocabulary, and a special section where I could listened to the history related and the vocabulary. This site also offers other services, like: contact us, podcast, downloads, and widget. In this activity the first thing I did was reading the title, and then I observed the image to have a general idea about the report, after that, I read the text to obtain all the information and confirm my hypothesis; I found some bold words, that showed me that I have to focus my attention on them to be sure about their meaning. When I listened to the reporter I could heard the pronunciation, word stress, intonation and rhythm that helped me to understand the purpose of the text. By this time I was thinking about my students and how to teach them to have a better comprehension reading, and I’m sure that they need to know what means skimming and scanning to be proficient in their reading. As a teacher, I should be very careful when my students practice reading, I need to prepare the materials, review the web site previously to solve any doubt and to be prepared if I have to improve something. LISTENING TEACHING STRATEGIES The most difficult activity I found in Listening, were Phrasal verbs, because it’s hard for me to know and manage a lot of phrasal verbs properly; however, in dairy life American people use them frequently. It is really difficult to learn how to use different types of phrasal verbs: when it needs a particle between the verb and the preposition, and the other one that doesn’t need it, for example: Did you check out that email I sent you last night? We took so much equipment to the exhibition that it took almost a full morning to set it all up. The web sites selected were a very well choice, with good tasks, but the only thing I think the activity could be easier is working in pairs or with partners, to practice different phrasal verbs in some situations that we could include in our plan of class, if we work in small collaborative groups, we can do a better job, identifying mistakes or wrong application of contents, from different subjects, not only English class, but English lessons. Other things I can do are: Checking at least once a week sites of funky phrasal’s. Sharing to my school partners a phrasal verb twice a week. Doing quizzes and write them in our magazine.
This topic could be easier for me if I would have been practicing with some peers in a forum, using some phrasal verbs that have links with our subjects and using comic strip stories and quizzes.
SPEAKING TEACHING STRATEGIES In Speaking, I found that all the activities are great tools; however, I consider that the most useful for me to help my students to learn to speak English, is: How to describe people. In the second course in a Secondary school, our students have to learn how to make descriptions of people about physical appearance and behavior, but we use only short sentences and some images or pictures to show them some examples, by this way they only repeat some new vocabulary but not enough to considerer that they really learn to apply it to their dairy lives. Now, using computers and in a few time also Internet, we could include people of influence from our days, for example: artists, athletes, and pop music stars, (from different web sites) that our students know them or at least have heard about them, in this way students could link previous knowledge with new information and have a significant learning. If pupils look and hear the appropriate pronunciation of the characteristics we are talking about (adjectives), they could understand better this new vocabulary, because they have both, the significant and the significance of every word we use in our lessons. When someone practice recording his / her own voice, and then listening to it, he / she could find an incentive to keep on going learning and feel really confident to continue his / her learning to be proficient.
WRITING TEACHING STRATEGIES In writing module, we knew different types of writing genders: narrative, descriptive, persuasive, mystery, poetry, biography, speech, book review, tall tales, using templates, creating a comic strip file, and a visual story that includes photos and music, that help us to improve our writing skills. Teachers and students could learn grammar structures, adjectives, verbs, synonymous, spelling and how to distribute the speech in their own textual productions, using some models from web sites that guide along the composition, suggesting different sections and how to write them; in a narrative text it is necessary to consider the following elements of language: To start the text we should use an attention – grabbing beginning, using a question, a story or a personal note that attracts our possible readers. Statement of event, to provide some background information. First event, to help set the time and place. Details (sensory), to recreate the scene for your readers. Different events (with details), to make the readers part of your writing. Importance of experience, to tell your readers the reasons you had to share your experience with them and why it was important to you. Closing, it ends the text with a personal note to the readers. I think these activities most be practicing with our peers at school, in order to have a funny way to teach our students; however, we need Internet to do it better, but if we don’t, anyway we should practice frequently using different types of writer’s models. ABOUT ICT TOOLS
It is really difficult to decide which are the more useful tools we could find in the different modules reviewed in this Diploma course, because all of them show us a wide range of possibilities, so finally I decided to talk in general about all the modules, but considering only three tools, as we know: a. Using Voicethread for giving descriptions.- All of us and our pupils, as students, can learn in an entertaining way, we can describe all kind of people, including ourselves, or situations that represent something very special for everyone. Also we have the possibility to listen to our recordings and share with others. b. Comic strip story.- It is an enjoyable tool, I’m sure my students will learn creating their own stories that could be a magnificent space to express free ideas and their opinions, using a lot of vocabulary and imagination. c.
Quizzes.- I have no doubt that quizzes are an splendid way to make a self evaluation about our learning of grammar and knowledge of almost any kind of situations.
ICT tools are very important today, they can help us to design a better plan of classes which give all of us confidence on learning, and to improve our abilities in English language.
LESSON PLANNING When I finished to read the lesson planning models I reflected in those that I have used in different times and schools, and I discovered that I have planned my lessons using some parts of Madeline Hunter’s, Discovery lesson (e.g. Lab), and Group Work (e.g. Cooperative Learning) Equipment. Finally, I decided that the most appropriate for my current context is Madeline Hunter’s, because it has seven very important steps to structure a sequential guide that let me have a clear idea about what my students must learn in every session. I need to plan at least 5 subjects per day, and this is an excellent option to have all the ideas in my mind and also on the lesson plan, besides, our current pedagogic model in Telesecundaria is compatible with Madeline’s. I try to practice these seven steps every day in my group, because I think it is necessary that my students understand clearly what they have to learn and what to do in every subject or session, if I provide them with a specific guide and support they will be able to improve their knowledge, besides, I’m sure modeling is an excellent way to show them how to do their best.
MY FINAL REFLECTION Today we are living in a global world; our students are very different from those who lived in the last two decades and they learn in other ways with another technical support, like ICT tools. Now it is time to change our teaching strategies if we want to develop autonomous learning students, so it’s time to improve our skills, using several resources and making our job an everyday exciting and a pleasant task.
MY LEARNING EXPERIENCE REPORT by Guillermo Misael Vรกzquez Romero Permanent professional development in teaching is a very complex process. It requires not only personal disposition but also opportunities. Opportunities, here, are understood as the personal and institutional conditions to access to permanent training. There are lots of teachers who need training to develop their teaching skills and are eager to do it, but for different reasons they can not access to courses that might help them to reach a higher level of instruction. Sometimes, it is a matter of personal responsibilities, some others is the lack of professional training courses, which are available and accessible. The Diploma course Developing Teaching English Skills has constituted an excellent opportunity to revise and share the personal teaching practice among a group of teachers from different regions of Mexico and to improve their command at English language as well. Along many weeks, the study of English language and teaching methodology has been developed through a variety of activities, aimed to improve not only knowledge but teaching abilities. The results of this important experience show the improvement in different aspects of language learning and teaching strategies. Below, my personal language learning experience. Language Progress. Learning a language is a process consisting of learning the different aspects of grammar -such as structures, meaning, vocabulary, pronunciation and intonation- the use and register of that language in different contexts and the developing of strategies to acquire that knowledge. In the personal case, through the Diploma, I have learnt the following:
About the content, I have enlarged my vocabulary, I have learned about stress, intonation and the rhythm of English language (for example now I know about the up and down of intonation, when using yes and no questions, or affirmative sentences, respectively); I have also learned about expressions that indicate sequencing and new adjectives, this allowed me to give some oral descriptions of people and places, to give clear and precise instructions or to tell a story; all of this respecting and following the basic conventions of language, such as basic grammar rules, coherence, fluency and intonation. There is one more thing I have learnt apart of grammar; it is that of the characteristics of different writing models, which is a very useful aid in order to help students to improve their writing skill. The way I followed to get this knowledge is through the practice of the four language skills. The diploma drove us through listening, reading, speaking and writing exercises, where I put into practice strategies such as prediction, anticipation, inference, recognition of time markers, organizing my ideas, etc. However, there is still a long way to go in the process of learning the language. I need to reinforce my efforts, especially those addressed to develop my reading comprehension, so that I can understand a text in a much more profound level. Cultural Awareness. Another important factor when learning a language is that of recognizing some cultural aspects of the English speaking countries. This knowledge is particularly important in order to avoid possible misunderstandings or the experience of living embarrassing situations, caused for the inappropriate use of words and/or expressions or because of talking about inappropriate topics for the foreign culture. For what has been said, the awareness of these differences can also help a better communication, because you can adapt your speech according to the context you are using the language in. Regarding to this aspect, I consider that the exposure to cultural differences though the Diploma, has been a relevant experience that can help me to communicate with people from different English speaking countries and to improve my teaching too. I have learnt, for example, that there are differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and life activities among Australia, England and The United States. I have also learnt that some of those variations in vocabulary come from patriotic reasons. Another example could be the importance given to written language between those countries and Mexico; believe that, in MĂŠxico, teaching gives much more importance to the oral language than in the English speaking countries. The awareness of these cultural differences can help me improve my teaching because now, I realize that I need to introduce some oral and written texts from different countries, so that my students get used to the differences in pronunciation, in order to communicate much more efficiently. Another aspect I need to reinforce in my teaching is that of offering much more help in writing. Now that I know about several writing models I can give examples in class so that my students develop their writing skill. Teaching strategies It has been very useful for our own teaching to play the learnerâ€™s role. As we solved a variety of reading and listening exercises, we found some very useful strategies that that might be included in or teaching. I found especially useful the reading strategy to improve vocabulary. It consists of a procedure that considers three steps: in the pre-reading moment, the vocabulary that students think could be related to the topic is elicited. In the second moment, students can listen and read the text simultaneously and they solve a questioner with specific vocabulary. Finally, in the third step, the vocabulary is explicated through definitions. I liked this strategy because I think is a very effective
way of enlarging vocabulary; I also discovered that it is important to make use of technology in our classes to reinforce our practice. It is under this later consideration that I find a connection between the use of teaching strategies and the habits mentioned in the text Eight habits of highly effective 21 st century teacher (Interface Magazine. Suporting the use of ICT in learning http://www.nz-interface.co.nz/articles.cfm? c_id=10&id=28), specifically with the habits of being visionary and adapting. The first one suggests that teachers must value and use the Web technologies, grasp them and manipulate them to serve students needs; the second one states that teachers need to be able to use and adapt software to be used in our classrooms.
Reading teaching strategies. I would like to tell about activity 3.1. (Identifying the different kinds of texts in order to identify their different purposes), which I consider the most interesting one in reading, because it made me use two very effective strategies. The text was Dangers of working with cement. It was about some of the main risks in human health derived from working with that substance. It provides a brief description of two strategies: skimming and scanning and some tips to practice them. As for the task, I needed to answer eight questions. In order to read the text, I used both skimming and scanning. I began taking a look of the whole page to see the information it contained, this strategy helped me to catch the gist of the article. Then, I read to the questions, because, in my experience, this is a big help in guiding the reading; I think that, if the reader knows previously what he/she will be asked about the reading, this practice helps a lot. Finally, I scanned the text looking for the answer of each question. The integrated use of both reading strategies helped me to solve the task successfully. Listening teaching strategies. Activity 2.2. Word stress was, to me, the most difficult activity in the module. In this activity we had to explore three different sites, listen where it was possible and practice changing word stress with the examples. Analyzing the activity I find, at least, three reasons that made it difficult. Those are the following: 1) Language complexity: There are many grammar rules which apply to word stress, and if they are not observed, the meaning would vary. For example, the activity elaborates on phrasal verbs and noun counter part; in the first, the preposition gets the word stress; in the counterpart, it gets the stress on the first part. The meaning of the word is different depending of the word stress. Something similar occurs with homographs, the difference in stress would determine the function of the word: verbs or nouns. 2) The length of the task. Even when the title of the activity refers to word stress, the content shown in the three sites go further: they elaborate on word stress, sentence stress and intonation. The content of each site it is shown next: a) Word stress. Explanations, compound nouns, noun+noun compounds, phrasal verbs, homographs.
b) Word stress patterns in English. Improving pronunciation, word stress and intonations. Eight common word stress patterns in English c) ESL Intonation â€“ Stress types: word stress, improving pronunciation, intonation. Four basis types of word stress that lead to proper intonation in English: tonic stress (in a word or in a sentence), emphatic stress, contrastive stress, new information stress. In the end, the content of the activity becomes too much to be developed into one single activity. 3) The way in which the topic is introduced: in the three sites, we can find examples of word stress and we can also listen to the words to get the pronunciation. However, to these clear examples, follow a large text with so much grammar explanation I would make two suggestions to make the activity easier. Firstly, a better allocation of the content, maybe in two different activities and, secondly, avoiding the use of grammar terms (compound nouns, noun+noun compounds, phrasal verbs, homographs) and rules. I consider that the examples are clear enough. Speaking teaching strategies The activity which I found more useful in speaking teaching strategies was 1.1: Preparing a short story talk about a period of my life which I remember the most. It was useful not only because I had to improvise a speech only based on an outline, but because I was provided of a rubric to evaluate my oral production; from this, I was aware of important aspects of oral language and the descriptions of their different levels. These aspects were: fluency and topic development, and their descriptions, according to different levels of accuracy, included the use of literary techniques, such as analogies, metaphors, and imagery. This activity can be worked with students of third grade of secondary school, in the first unit entitled Memories, in which they are asked to give information about past memories. If we have a media classroom, we could have our students doing their recordings and sharing them with their classmates. I guess they would enjoy it. Writing teaching strategies Written language is different to oral language. It needs much more coherence, grammar correctness, precision and cohesion, just for mentioning some of the principal aspects. Since all this, teachers need to introduce strategies and support that lead the students to write quotidian, literary and academic texts. In this Diploma course we have experienced some strategies that result particularly interesting; among the most useful are: writing a poem book, sharing and using my pictures, writing a comic strip, writing about strange incidents, and movies and grammar. Many of them are supported by effective resources in the web that make them very attractive to teenagers; they imply the use of images, photography, sound and software that simplifies the process of writing, through interaction. Children and teenagers are very attracted to videogames and movies; wherever you go, you can see them using this kind of technology; for this reason, I think that teaching should make use of this technological resources.
Not less important is the fact that the diploma offers several writing models, which represent useful aid to produce reasonably adequate written texts. About ICT tools. This course is plenty of opportunities to learn the language through the Information and Communication Technology tools. In every module there is a choice of web sites offering strategies, materials and exercises addressed to improve the four skills and our teaching strategies. In order to give an idea about these useful resources, I have selected the module five, dedicated to reinforce speaking. I am going to describe three of its most useful tools and their effect in English language learning. a) Recording oral texts. This module required the installation of audio software, suggesting audacity as one of the options and giving the link to access a tutorial for audio recording in you tube. This activity has let us know how to record our oral texts but also has been a good opportunity to listen to instructions in English. b) The use of Voicethread for giving descriptions. The voicethread site offers a tutorial to use this tool, which consists of a series of images that can be used for the learner to give physical descriptions of people and places. An effective advantage of this resource is that many students can participate giving their descriptions, which will be recorded in order to be shared with each other. c) The use of forums. One more important tool is this space to share written productions. The advantage of this space is that it fosters student’s rapport, since all the participants can read and comment the texts of each other. Lesson planning The knowledge of teaching strategies is important but, these strategies are not completely effective if they are not organized in a lesson plan. After reviewing the different models of common writing lesson plan models, I chose Madeline’s Hunter’s seven steps. The main reason for this selection is that it offers a very logical procedure to help written production. I consider that teachers frequently forget the importance of structuring help to make writing accessible to students, and that this model of planning constitutes a good option to fill in that emptiness. The procedure includes the statement of objectives, activities to grab student’s attention, the introduction of instructional input and its modeling (demonstration and explanation of language), guided and independent practice and check for understanding through the whole session. Final words It is said that a book or a text does not have a single author, but several; as many as the amount of people that read it. Since this view, this text has as many authors as colleagues and tutors from group two of the diploma, those who made suggestions in order to improve its structure and content, and shared experiences through the whole course, to make of this experience, an amazing journey to learning and teaching of English language.
The social meaning of writing is to share opinions, feelings, and/or experiences with people who might have similar or opposite positions. As doing so, the writer may influence or convince the readers or, at least, leave a clear personal position or opinion about a subject or problem. The reasons for sharing this personal experience are, on one hand, to promote a dialogue with those who participated in the Diploma about the best way to exploit what has been learnt, so that our students receive the benefits; on the other, to invite those teachers who have not taken the course, to participate in the next opportunity. I expect this report to respond to my intentions. Guillermo Misael Vรกsquez Romero October, 2009.