In English Digital - 3

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IED In English Digital February 2012

Special Feature










The British Council magazine for teachers of English in Lusophone countries !
























Graphic design, layout and additional photography: Paul Driver






Editorial Fitch O'Connell

Focus: Mozambique Overview Fitch O'Connell

Focus: A Teacher’s View Johannes Magombo

Focus: The Future of Education in Mozambique Marcus A. Nhapulo

Focus: A Student’s Perspective Orlando Mário Chissano

Focus: I Want To Be a Drum (poem) José Craveirinho

Focus: Literature in Mozambique Marcus A. Nhapulo

Focus: Glimpses & Thoughts Dírio Rodrigues Dambile & Tanguene

Think On: Critical Literacy in the 21st Century Lucia Bodeman

Hands On: A poem is a little path Celeste Simões

Hands On: What’s in a Word? Fitch O’Connell

Hands On: The Irony of Gamification Paul Driver

Think On: Learning with Diversity Alexandra Sobral e Costa

Think On: Navigating the Environment Alan Maley

Think On: SWOT Carlos Eduardo Souza

Hands On: Nothing but the Board Robert Grant

Think On: Content-based Teaching Cristiane & João Carlos Lopes

EDITORIAL In this, the third edition of In English Digital (IED), we invited colleagues from Mozambique to share with us some of their 'snapshots of life as teachers or learners of English. What shouldn't be remarkable is the exuberance and vitality that is displayed through description, observation and poetry, and a sense of positivism against a difficult background of provision and resources. This is something that is shared with teachers from East Timor who were visiting Portugal on a training programme and is a timely reminder of the core values that should underpin our profession. These values are encapsulated by veteran ELTer, Alan Maley as he helps us in Navigating the Environment. As before, IED offers a variety of thoughts and practices from teachers of English in the lusophone world and combines theory with practice and reflection with action. It also aims to bring some cutting edge thinking in the development of educational practice: for example, Paul Driver delves into the world of gamification, Lu Bodeman brings us up to date with key aspects of critical literacy and Cristiane and Jo達o Lopes bring us a detailed look into content based classroom materials. Combining all the articles in this magazine is an ethos of creativity and a belief that teaching is not a static craft but a combination of dynamic, chameleon-like art and probing science. Good teachers are pioneers every working day of their lives. To help sustain the effort is the knowledge that there are many other good teachers 'out there' sharing ideas and experiences wrought from a broad range of backgrounds. This magazine aims to help share this knowledge.

Fitch O'Connell Editor





Contributors o


Fitch O’Connell

Paul Driver

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Johannes Magombo

Alexandra Sobral e Costa,

Maputo Province, Mozambique

Loulé, Portugal

Marcus A. Nhapula

Alan Maley

aka Mon Ami Mozambique

Kent, UK

Orlando Mário Chissano

Robert Grant

Maputo, Mozambique

Coimbra, Portugal


Cadu Souza

Maputo, Mozambique


Lucia Bodeman

Cris0ane da Silva Lopes

Recife, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Celeste Simões

João Carlos Lopes


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hand Illustration: Paul Driver






71.4 percent of the Mozambican population living in many small settlements located in areas that are difficult to access due to a poor transport and communication n e t w o r k . T h e o f fi c i a l l a n g u a g e i s Portuguese and this is the only language of instruction. However, this language is spoken by only about 30 percent of the population, mainly those who are resident in urban areas.







By Fitch O’Connell The Republic of Mozambique is situated in the south eastern part of Africa and covers an area of 799 380 square kilometres. The country was a Portuguese colony from the fifteenth century until it attained political independence in 1975 after 10 years of a bitter armed struggle. Peace was interrupted once again during the early 1980s when the country experienced a civil war which caused the loss of many lives and left in its wake a trail of destruction. As a result, a lot of infrastructure had to be rebuilt. Peace finally returned to Mozambique in 1992 and since then, the country has undergone rapid socio-economic development. The country is divided into 11 provinces namely Cabo Delgado, Niassa, Nampula, Te t e , Z a m b é z i a , M a n i c a , S o f a l a , Inhambane, Gaza, Maputo Province and Maputo City. The capital, Maputo City, comprises about 6.1 percent of the total population of Mozambique. According to the 1997 census 52.1 percent of the population were female. The population density was about 20.1 inhabitants per square kilometre. The gross illiteracy rate was 46.9 percent, and the overall illiteracy rate among the female population was 60.7 percent. Mozambique is a multicultural and multilingual country with 18 main Bantu languages and many dialects. It is predominantly a rural country, with about

There is a Provincial Directorate of Education for each of the 11 provinces, and this directorate falls under the command of a Provincial Director. Below the Provincial Directorate there is the District Directorate headed by a District Director. There are 146 districts in Mozambique. Below the District Directorate there is the school which is headed by a School Director. Curriculum development for general education (primary, secondary and preuniversity) and teacher training (basic and intermediate) is carried out by the National Institute for Educational Development (INDE). In 2000, the Ministry of Education initiated the process of decentralising curriculum development and monitoring. This system allows 20 percent of the national curriculum for basic education to be the “local curriculum”, implying that this portion of the curriculum was to be developed locally. This is one of the major innovations of the “Basic Education Curriculum Transformation in Mozambique” It is expected that the “local curriculum” will provide for the specific learning needs of the learners.

Duration of compulsory education: 7 years Starting age of compulsory education: 6 years Ending age of compulsory education: 12 years

© 2011 SACMEQ Further information:


Teacher Profile

Johannes Magombo


IED Interview


IED Spoke with Johannes Magombo, a teacher from Maputo Province in Mozambique.

Teachers at Boane

IED: How long have you been a teacher? JM: I have been working as a teacher since 2006. That means I have been teaching for five years, yes, five years moulding students. IED: What is your job title? What qualifications do you have? JM: I have never thought of a job title before, but many of the students call me teacher or ‘stor’. I think that 'stor' might be my job title. I am a holder of a ‘licenciatura’ in English teaching obtained at the Pedagogic University in Maputo. IED:

What age are the students that you teach?


Most of my students are teenagers.


How big are your classes usually?

JM: My average class is very big, if not extremely big. I have an average of around 60 students in a

class. However, in a normal day I might only have little more than half of the students in a single lesson. IED:

Where is your school exactly?

JM: The school is situated in Boane, which is in the Maputo Province. It is over 500 kms north of Maputo city - about 7 hours drive. IED:

Tell us a little bit about your students

JM: The students have different backgrounds but most of them come from middle class families who work on farms. They are very eager to learn English. Most of them really want to speak the language they view as the money making language. I think this enthusiasm is due to the fact that English is used in most songs and films. This somehow motivates them and creates room for the desire to learn English. IED:

What are the challenges for lesson planning?


JM: Lesson planning is one those things that a good teacher should be able to do as flexibly as one can be. I try my best to be as flexible as I can but every year, and sometimes every lesson creates room for a challenge in planning. These challenges make the planning difficult but even so I always opt for flexibility when it comes to lesson planning. IED: Do you regularly use course books? If so, what do you think of them? JM: Yes, I often use a course book but the problem is how to rate them. I believe that every course is good as long as the teacher knows how to use it properly. Most of the course books are good. I am proud of the new grade ten English course book (Inglês 10 – Plural Editoras ), which I wrote and which is my first book. IED: What supplements the course book - even your own? JM: I am proud of the English Corner - a club which helps interested students to use English in their day to day life through poetry writing, singing and debates. The club meets every fortnight. This is not enough but it has helped most students to improve their English. Many of them now speak confidently and use English daily. An unforgettable moment was when one of my students helped a tourist find his way to the capital. Though he was not fluent, he managed to communicate with a native speaker. That also encouraged others to join the club. IED:

What difficulties would you point out?

JM: There are so many things, but the most frustrating is the way some other teachers view us. They think we are lazy and spend most of our time cheating instead of teaching. Some people have a very inflexible way of thinking how teaching should be.

IED: Are there any particularly amusing moments you remember? JM: One of the funny moments was my first day at school as a teacher; most of the students were adults and I kept telling them that I was their teacher so they had to respect me despite my age. One them ended up making fun of me ‘you are scared of us teacher!!!!’ of course I was and I trembled until the bell rang; saved by the bell!!! IED: Is there any especially satisfying moment you remember? JM: Teaching the future perfect progressive to adults. That was a million dollar task. When the students finally exclaimed, ‘oh we got it’ I felt so relieved and happy. IED:

What would you like to see more of?

JM: I would like to see more young English teachers being creative and using their energy to teach and help our nation. I would like to see more Mozambicans use English in the same manner they use Portuguese. IED:

What would you like to see less of?

JM: I would like to see fewer students in class. I would also like to see healthier teachers. Our professions has many problems caused by AIDS, drugs and alcohol. It is a serious matter. IED:

What is your hope for teaching English?

JM: English teachers are like any other teachers and the fact that we speak English does not mean we are foreigners. Respect us and treat us like the others. Also, it is time that schools stop buying course books simply because they are cheap. They should ask the teachers which books they would like to use and then buy them.


The Future of Education Overview of the Education System in in Mozambique Mozambique Marcus A. Nhapula (English Lecturer at Eduardo Mondlane University)

PUBLIC It is widely known that Mozambique is a multicultural and a multilingual country. Here, we have more than 20 Bantu languages and Portuguese, the official language, is learned as a second language, and English is learnt as a Foreign Language. Bantu languages were introduced in the Education system and they are currently being taught from the primary to the university level. Portuguese is the official language and, from a linguist’s perspective, may be considered as a national language, given that there are many Mozambican words in it and there is even a Mozambican dictionary which shows that there has been language change since independence in 1975. In the colonialist environment, education was mainly concerned with training people to

“In simple words, the phenomenon consists of selling knowledge.” serve the government's goals. That is the reason why some educated people before independence would even believe that they were “white” people, while Bantu languages were only used in the family settings. In 1964, FRELIMO, the ruling party at the time, adopted Portuguese as the language of wider communication in Mozambique, as it was the only language used for uniting people speaking different Bantu languages. After independence in 1975, English was first taught at secondary schools, given that Mozambique started to take part in the

Southern African Development Community SADC - and, later on, in the Commonwealth. Since then, English has been taught in many public and private institutions. The problem is that Mozambique has always faced some problems in terms of the quality of its education system: lack of qualified teachers, limited teaching materials, limited library access and low salaries for teachers. These problems still affect the quality of our Education system itself, students and even researchers. The quality of the institutions themselves, classrooms and the number of students (more than 60 in one classroom), old desks and poor blackboard quality, corruption in enrolment processes and in exams, and many more problems are amongst the many negative factors that galvanize low quality in the education system. Nowadays, there is a new and growing phenomenon that has to do with the privatization of the education system. This can be observed when we look at the number of private institutions, which is more than the number of the public institutions. In simple words, the phenomenon consists of selling knowledge. That is, the quality of education is sometimes better at private institutions than at some public ones. This is because teachers, who are teaching both at the public and private schools, give more attention to private schools than the public ones, because the private institutions pay more. What about the poor student? What about the loyal, qualified teachers?



Another aspect of privatization has to do with the increase of post-graduate levels, which has to be paid for by those wanting to improve their academic status. This creates some internal problems that we do not need to explore in detail here, such as organizational and financial problems within the Departments in which Masters and PhD are taught. While the facts abovementioned do not mean that there is no qualified teaching in Mozambique, it does mean that the quality itself is endangered by poverty and the eager search for money in what in Mozambique is called “turbo”, which means a teacher who works in more than one schools or university. The reason why teachers do this is the low salary they get in the public education system. In so doing, they end up having more than two salaries and this enables them to support the “expensive” life challenges in the socalled world economic crisis.

“The reason why teachers do this is the low salary they get in the public education system.”

So, within this context, there are many recommendations to be taken into consideration:

๏ Bantu languages have to be taught in adult literacy so that adults, who did not have the chance of going to school and who do not speak Portuguese, may easily move and communicate throughout the country. This will also enable the revitalization and standardization of bantu languages; ๏ Portuguese has to be taught by experienced teachers, now that students are using both the so-called standard Portuguese and the Mozambican one, the one with new lexical items borrowed from Bantu languages. This needs attention on the teacher’s side, because s/he needs to grasp the students diverse cultural background and avoid the use of wrong words in the academic setting; ๏ Communicative Language Teaching - CLT is the method that has guided the current curriculum design by INDE in Mozambican ELT since 2010. So, the teaching methods should not stick only to this line, but teachers should also consider the use of different teaching methods that fit the learners’ learning strategies and styles; ๏ Teachers’ Training Programmes should involve an English Structure course so as to enable English teachers to use Error Analysis for improving their competence, for the benefit of the English teaching and learning process as a whole. ๏ The Mozambican Ministry of Education should review the level of teachers’ salary, control the Masters and PhD levels teaching process, improve the teaching material and setting quality, increase the number of scholarships for university lectures, invest in research, enable students to fortify student associations and update our libraries. Bibliography Dias, Emília P. (1998). Language Transfer and the Lack of Success in the Professional courses conducted in English Language. Maputo: UEM. INDE/MINED – Mozambique (2010). English, Grade 11 Program. Maputo: DINAME. Lopes, Armando J. (2004). The Battle of Languages: Perspectives on Applied Linguistics in Mozambique. Maputo: University Press. Nhapulo, Marcos (2010). The Role of Error Analysis in ELT in Mozambique. Folha Linguística. No 16. Department of Linguistics and Literature. Maputo: UEM.


A Student’s Perspective Orlando Mário Chissano

y name is Orlando Mário Chissano, I´m doing the 5th level of both English and French at the Institute of Languages. This Institute was established in January 1979, here in Maputo, and the current Director is Mr. José Dinis. The Institute of Languages o ff e r s E n g l i s h , F re n c h , Portuguese, Chinese languages courses from level 1 to 5 and English for young learners, which is relevant for the future of our children. Each level lasts for three months. First Certificate in English is also another course run by the IL. There are reading groups for meetings and discussion of poetry, short stories and novels. There is a need to reorganize these reading groups, so that language students may share their creative readings and in the meantime, improve their reading, speaking, listening and writing skills. These groups should be organized not only for the English language learners, but also for other language learners. We have reading strategy instruction in our courses, which enables us to read effectively. U n f o r t u n a t e l y, w e d o n o t h a v e m a n y opportunities of practising our skills, but for the students who would like to help others learn English after they complete the course there is a need to open up opportunities that would enable them to become tutors by involving them in activities that teaching skills outlook. The students should be deployed to other private language centres or in the state schools to interact with other students and English


teachers, it would depend on the kind of cooperation that the Institute of Languages has got with other English teaching institutions.. Since its establishment, the Institute of Languages has been very important for the local community. Many of the first English teachers in Mozambique who have taught English in private and state schools all over the country were trained here. It is the most renowned, highly accredited language teaching centre in

Mozambique. The IL has got 18 classrooms with good desks and air-conditioners, computer and listening rooms, although we do not have these facilities in all classrooms. I like the quality of teachers. We would like to see more innovations coming in terms of the teaching material, but this is a challenge for the whole country, we would like to learn English using texts and stories that explore our culture and environment and meaningful to us, not read stories that tell us about foreign cultures and cities. It´s great to read a story about London, New York, Porto but to read a story that explores Maputo, Beira and other local places and cultures would be more useful and meaningful. On the issue of innovation, integrating technology should be a fruitful option, now that there is a lot of material to be found online, dictionaries, exercises, as well as creative reading groups like the Maputo Reader’s Corner at the BBC/British council Teaching English website.

SPECIAL FEATURE José Craveirinha (1922—2003) He was buried in the crypt of Maputo's Monument for Mozambican Heroes. He´s the greatest poet of Mozambique and in 1991 he became the first African who won the most important literary award of literature in Portuguese language, the Camões award. Let´s enjoy together the poem Quero ser Tambor that we translated to share with you.

I want to be a drum

The drum is Me! Weary of screaming just a drum Oh ancient God of men breaking the bitter silence of Mafalala Let me be a drum Just a drum Body and soul bleeding over the batuque festival of my people Just a drum Just a drum Just a drum screaming Lost in the darkness of lost night. In the hot tropical night Oh ancient God of men Neither a flower I want to be a drum Born in the bush of despair neither river Neither a river neither flower Flowing into the sea of despair neither zagaia Neither a zagaia Nor even poetry. amidst the bright fire of despair Nor even poetry Just a drum echoing Crafted in the bloody depths of despair The song of strength and life Just a drum night and day Nor anything! Day and night Just a drum Just a drum weary of screaming Until the Batuque festival is over! Under my homeland full moon Just a drum with the skin Oh ancient God of men hardened under my homeland sun Let me be a drum Just a drum carved from rough logs Just a drum! From trees of my homeland

Translators : Dírio Dambile Francisco Langa Maria do Céu Pires Costa Marcos Nhapulo (The Maputo Reader´s Corner group)

Literature in Mozambique: a brief Overview c The first period 1925/1945-47 In this period we find writers like the brothers João and José Albasini who edited O Brado Africano. These writers had shown a new viewpoint, by rejecting the assimilated culture. That is, an 'assimilated person' is the one who was not neither a white man (in terms of culture or colour) nor a black man (in terms of culture). An assimilated person is just in the middle of both white and black people and culture, trying to serve both communities. The second period 1945-47/1964 In this period we find writers like Augusto dos Santos Abranches who became involved in the local community's problems and write in the people's voice. Some writers like Rui Knopfli have adopted both the Mozambican and the European expression, but the referred two brothers, Noemia de Sousa and Jose Craveirinha, started to exhibit their African identity. The third period 1964/1975 With independence in 1975, we find writers dealing with community problems and political issues like Marcelino dos Santos, Jose Craveirinha, Rui Nogar, Sérgio Vieira among others. The ideology here is the country's liberation. There are other writers/ poets who show distance from colonial power with books and newspapers like A Tribuna, A Voz de Moçambique, and Caliban, among others. The fourth period 1975-1985 These were the years in which people were in peace and writers had to partake of this feeling as well. Poetry was to be celebrated everywhere in lyrics, and the feeling is that of Poetry at the Pub. With the creation of the Mozambican Writers Association in 1982 the Mozambican literature has grown even broader. The fifth period 1985 – 2010 This is the period in which we have writers with a more liberal writing style, taking into consideration that there are many libraries, websites and literary exchange among writers and readers around the world. Now we have Mozambican writers imitating American, European, Asian and Australian writers in terms of topics and style. Mia Couto and Paulina Chiziane may be singled out from this writers' generation. Mia Couto is a well-known writer and he has been translated into more than five languages. He has his own style, making up new words using agglutination and juxtaposition. This is sometimes hilarious, but innovating in the Mozambican literature. In terms of topics, he is more concerned with giving us the picture of the civil war that finished in the 90s, the present and the future vision of what Mozambique is going to be. Paulina Chiziane, on the other hand, is more concerned with the third Millennium Development Goal. She also brings cultural aspects that highlight gender equality and equity in Mozambican society in general. We also have books written in national languages and some books translated into English. Apart from these, there is a group of new young writers who are appearing with new anthologies, new books and new styles and visions. Nowadays, there is a group of young writers who are aware of the international lingua franca and they are starting to write in English. These young writers are still looking for reinforcement and more motivation within the country and abroad. This group started from the former Book Club at the British Council Mozambique and grew bigger and stronger with the formal constitution of the Artists and Entrepreneurs Students’ Association- AE with its Maputo Reader's Corner reading project.

Image:Paul Driver

Marcus A. Nhapulo Maputo Mozambique


Glimpses & Thoughts Madala

The Reader's Corner

Sadly Work will accomplish Two hectares for “Macume Mambire” The years passed The world spun Madala away passed The history lived.

Your name Sounded many a Vme, It was thought of you to be so Vny. You proved, you convinced In you, there is place to keep everyone From colours to numbers! Who called you a corner? You are beyond a corner! The Reader’s Corner

(A poem by “Grupo de Estudantes Moçambicanos”) from "Livro de leitura, grade 7, edited by the Ministry of EducaFon, Mozambique. hJp://­‐ readers-­‐corner Madala – an old man Macume Mambire – Twenty Escudos (Portuguese currency that was in use in Mozambique in the colonial years) -­‐ meaning in the poem -­‐ "for a liJle money".

By: Dírio Rodrigues Dambile

My Stolen Pen “Teacher, you’ve stolen my pen” said the young student with tears dropping down the cheeks. “I have stolen your pen!” wondered the teacher, “no, teacher, I went outside for the break, and when I came here my pen wasn't here, it was not you teacher, it was not you teacher, but you’ve stolen my pen” The teacher shouted angrily “did I steal your pen? The student shyly answered “it was not you teacher, but you’ve stolen my pen”. “Did I” (whip), did I? (whip), did I? (whip), the crying student cried louder, “Shut up!” the teacher shouted again. “How can you say I’ve stolen your pen, did I?” The student sobbed lower, then stopped crying and went back home without knowing how he would have said “my pen was stolen, teacher”. By: Tanguene


C R I T I C A L L I T E R A C Y in the 21st Century By Lucia Bodeman, Brazil

It is impossible to avoid an avalanche coming your way, and even more so when there`s nowhere else to run! And in today’s world, no matter where you search, or where you’re headed, there is an avalanche of information at racing at great speed. Some of this is 'good' i n f o r m a t i o n w h i l e o t h e r information might cause either disbelief or disregard. We have reached the 21st century, and along with it, the apparent need to spread messages and ideas from an ocean of platforms where anyone from anywhere can publish t h e i r t h o u g h t s , o r r e p o r t happenings that reach out to millions within seconds. This is both fascinating and alarming to many, and to me it is a call for caution. The power to inform is not something to be overlooked. When one feels empowered to share a message, he is taking a stand. He is making a claim, a statement. And depending on how that statement is read, it can bring on disastrous results. Due to the possibility that educators in today’s world remain reluctant about discussing texts in

their classrooms, we may be leading our students to believe that what is written is always factual. That the written word

“…the apparent need to spread messages and ideas from an ocean of plaQorms…” might be 'written in stone,' therefore, a type of axiom. Readers nowadays need to look at things from more than one perspective. It is important to reconsider the written word. And fortunately, there is evidence that this is happening; as it should. The human mind is capable of retaining a n i n c a l c u l a b l e a m o u n t o f information and we are all aware that this is not the problem – by virtue, increasing opportunities for l e a r n i n g a n d i n f o r m a t i o n acquisition is something we should always aim towards, and applaud. However, when I mention the word ‘caution’ it is because it is important to reflect on what exactly is being taken in, and how this will affect us as individuals, and as part of a society. This cannot be done blindly. Thus, as educators, it is vital that we realize

just how important it is to bring in opportunities for discussion within our classrooms. It is necessary to view opposing arguments and why they have come about, when interacting with a text. Questions such as “why is the author stating this?” “what sort of a context is s/ he a part of?” “is that context similar to ours?” “who are the participants?” “whose identities are in focus?” and “do we see things the same way? … should we?” are key to advocating and practicing critical literacy in our lessons. Fortunately for us, student behavior today is no longer what it used to be. Nor is how they see the world. Due to an ever-­‐constant exposure to information online and off, it is a relief to witness a change in how they approach their education. Though some may argue, I find it not only important that they question what is being addressed to them, but opportune. It is now time for the teacher to exchange his posture and sole ‘knower’ of information and guide students towards discovery and autonomy.


It is a wonderful thing that educaVon has evolved, toward the acceptance of allowing students to have a voice. Our role is now to facilitate, to guide, and to mediate while they develop and construct their learning, through tolerance, respect and parVcipaVon in a s o c i e t y t h a t i s n o t b l i n d l y manipulated by messages that they feel they have no control over. Note I use the word ‘control’ cauVously. It may hold true that being in control over what is said and done in a classroom is what some educators may consider to be appropriate. They may not be comfortable with the idea of lefng go of their authority in the classroom for fear of chaos, or rebellious behavior – or the exposure of their own weaknesses. In the past, tradiVonal classrooms displayed the teacher at the front of the class, while students – seated in rows – passively wrote down what was wrigen on the blackboard and did as they were told. And this worked, for quite a while. Aher all they didn’t know any beger. Nor there was any other way of doing things. And so on it went. When we visit a contemporary classroom, we witness change (I hope!) The actual layout of the room is no longer the same; where we used to see rows and rows of chairs, now we see an open space where everyone is (or should be) f r e e t o s t e p i n a n d s h a r e informaVon. Students are no longer looking at their classmate’s back, but their faces. This is huge progress. Anyone is now welcome to share whatever it is they wish, and quesVon it, either the students or the teacher him/herself.

When the sefng becomes real, you can almost visualize ideas and opinions come to life. And I was eager to experiment with CriVcal L i t e r a c y w i t h a n u p p e r -­‐ intermediate group I had last year. All because back in 2009 I took part in the Braz-­‐TESOL Conference, held in Fortaleza, Ceara, and had the privilege of meeVng Chris Lima, Della de la Fonte, Jose Antonio da Silva and Inez Woortman, all of whom were acVvely involved in the Special Interest Group (SIG) and CriVcal Literacy in ELT Project for the BriVsh Council2. During the conference, Jose Antonio and Inez presented us a magnificent set of resources designed to lend a criVcal eye to what we call ‘tall stories’ – stories which exaggerate the feats of famous characters in a given context, and are agributed with having almost inhumanly strength and bravery to serve and protect the weak or under-­‐ privileged. The focus of our discussion was on the American folk hero, Davy Crockeg, “king of the wild fronVer,” who single-­‐ handedly killed a wild beast, shagered a huge boulder to pieces, and even unfroze the Earth3! N e e d l e s s t o s a y , I w a s flabbergasted by how wonderful our discussion carried on, and felt anxious to bring in an added feature: compare Davy to a well-­‐ know (anV?) hero in Brazil: Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, beger known as Lampiao, o Rei do ‘Cangaco’ (a type of wild fronVer, similar to that of Davy’s). The acVvity involved quesVoning Lampiao’s reign over the ‘less-­‐ fortunate’. Was he a hero or a villain? What was happening in the northeastern part of Brazil at the

For more informa;on, please visit: www.bri; www.cri; Mark Davy Crocke$ and the Frozen Dawn – Schlosser, S. E. Available at h$p:// retrieved on November 18, 2007. Davy Crocke$ – Available at: h$p:// retrieved on November 18, 2007.

Lucia Catharina Bodeman Twi$er: @lu_bodeman / Email:

Vme, and why did he decide to act? What crimes did he commit, and why? Are there unheard voices? What if he were alive today?? As part of our discussion, even Robin Hood came up. Since then, I have become an advocate for CriVcal Literacy, and recommend it to educators who want to fully delve into a text, exploring mulVple perspecVves – instead of the usual unilateral i n t e r p r e t a V o n t h a t w e a r e expected (though someVmes reluctant) to make. If we move t o w a r d s a d v o c a V n g t h e acceptance of conflicVng opinions, while building and maintaining a non-­‐threatening environment in our classrooms, students will feel free to express their opinions as well as learn to respect those of their peers which, in turn, will result in an enriching classroom experience that everyone will share and grow with.

A Poem is a Little Path A poem is a liSle path That leads you through the trees. It takes you to the cliffs and shores, To anywhere you please. Follow it and trust your way With mind and heart as one, And when the journey's over, You'll find you've just begun.


Charles Ghign

By Celeste Simões, Portugal

I believe that, by now, a great majority of teachers have already grasped the importance of using poetry in their classes, whatever the subject they’re dealing with. Poetry can be used to convey ideas, feelings, and opinions, for example, but, above all, it is a great means of entertainment. That’s why I decided to use this fantasVc resource also in my English Club sessions, and put my students to work creaVng their own poems. I had students from 3 different grades agending the Club: 7th, 8th and 9th graders (more or less 20 students), some more proficient than others, which posed a challenge. I had to find an acVvity that involved them all, could be easily achievable by all of them (without creaVng anguish or anxiety!), and put their

imaginaVon to work (even for those who claimed not to have one). So, the first real step was to have this session in the school library, an important ally, with all its collecVon of sources and resources. I had already researched and devised a plan and knew exactly the process I wanted to use to enable my students have fun and reach fine results. So, one step at a Vme! Having told them they were going to write a poem (What? On our own? Are we going to receive a Image: Ann_Mei/


model?), I assured them they would put everything they had to write it and so I handed out a paper with the Vtle “Five Senses Poem”. We had a short conversaVon about these physiological capaciVes and wrote them on the board: “The sound” | “The Taste” | “The feel” | “The Smell” | “The Sight”. They copied the words (the worksheet was carefully designed and was already divided into 5 tercets – blank lines of course) and wrote each sense at the beginning of a tercet, repeaVng it in the 3 lines: The sound ………………………………………………………… The sound ………………………………………………………… The sound ………………………………………………………… The taste ………………………………………………………… The taste ………………………………………………………… The taste ………………………………………………………… Then, they just had to put their imaginaVon to work, compleVng the lines: the sound of… the taste of… the feel of… They could wander about in the library, look through the window, use dicVonaries or other resources they felt appropriate in order to get them started and on the way. This is just one of the poems we got, and it was wrigen by a boy in the 8th grade. You can find other examples on my blog.

The Five Senses The sound of the silent night The sound of a waterfall The sound of the breeze The taste of honey in my lips The taste of the strawberries I eat every day The taste of an orange on a summer day The feel of your hands in my hair The feel of your lips in my face tonight The feel of your legs in my bed The smell of orange in spring The smell of peach in winter The smell of a strawberry when I’m with you

When the students realized how easy and how much fun this acVvity had been I pushed it one step further. If they were capable of wriVng about all their senses, now they could leave one of them out! (What are you talking about, teacher??) I brought the book “O Livro Negro das Cores”, edited by Bruaá Editora, and read it aloud (I didn’t have one in English and had bought this one for my son). If you haven’t read this book I fully recommend it to you, it’s meant to be experienced with the fingers instead of the eyes, and it allows sighted readers to experience colours the way blind people do, using the other senses. So, the students touched the book, felt the images, and imagined the colours -­‐the pages are enVrely black with a bold white text. This Vme I divided them in pairs and they had to choose 8 colours. As previously, they had received a handout with 8 lines and a Vtle: “The Black Poem of Colours”. The pairs wrote their different colours at the beginning of each line and then they were asked to describe it using all the senses except the sight. This could have been an extremely hard task for them to take on, if it hadn’t been for the previous experiment with the book, and the 'senses' poem before that. Here you have another example wrigen by a pair of 8th grade girls, each belonging to a different class, which agests for the importance of having Clubs in schools, also as a way of making students collaborate and develop empathy towards others. Some other poems are on my blog (same link). Yellow tastes like a ripe pineapple. Red smells like blood. Blue feels like fresh water. Green sounds like the music of the trees. Orange tastes like an orange. Black feels like the rainy clouds. Pink sounds like a baby crying. Brown smells like a chocolate cake. As you will noVce, wriVng a poem is all about observing the world inside you and around you. Other acVviVes using poems followed, but I’ll leave that for a future arVcle.

The sight of a black car The sight of a green landscape The sight of blond hair

This ar;cle first appeared in the APPI Journal in April 2011

In a corridor at work, leading to nothing more glamorous than a classroom and a staff toilet, there are framed pictures on the wall. In these pictures a number of well-­‐ known BriVsh personaliVes are embracing English words that they parVcularly like. For example, actor and writer Stephen Fry has a parVcular passion for the word quince which, he claims, sounds spicy as well as old fashioned. (As an aside, I note that a number of writers of my personal acquaintance like quince, though usually the fruit rather than the word.) Then there is the Northern I r i s h p o e t , S i n é a d M o r r i s s e y , w h o h a s 'incandescent' next to her photograph though, she says, she doesn't really have a favourite word in the language as 'all words can find their place, with skill'. She chose this one, though, because it 'lit up' a parVcular poem when she used it. Then there is that edgy arVst, Tracey Emin, who chooses the word 'docket' ("before you get a Vcket" she explains) and points out that her cat is called Docket, and that she loves her cat, so we're not sure if she loves the word because it is the name of her cat or whether the cat got its name because she loves the word 'docket'. As usual, Emin is challenging us. Then, to be different, there is the BriVsh inventor, James Dyson, who has chosen the word 'Engineering'. What is different is that he has chosen the word more because of what it represents rather than what it sounds like. ArVsts and scienVsts, eh? Who'd have thought it? It got me thinking about this division of words that people lay claim to, between what it sounds like and what it means. I have ohen told my students to work on new words that they like, because they are more likely to remember them and, more importantly, be able to use them correctly if they actually enjoy the word itself and adopt it as their own. Some students pick on words that seem eminently useful to them -­‐ perhaps because of the work they do, a situaVon that seems plausible to them or of associaVon with the translated word into their own language -­‐ while others go for words that are fun to see on the paper, or hear out loud

By Fitch O’Connell, Portugal

and which have sonoriVes that appeal. Like quince, perhaps, or o$er, or feather, or flawless. The trouble with these words is that they might not be parVcularly useful in a conversaVon over coffee, or when buying a train Vcket, or in a job interview. But then you never really know, do you? On the other hand, what both kinds of examples do give to the learner of English is a ligle lih in the personalisaVon of the language: I never Vre of saying that developing a sense of ownership of language helps students to beger acquire the language. IdenVfying favourite words assists enormously in this task and gives legiVmacy to the student's growing relaVonship with the language they are learning. It was a short step from looking at the pictures on the wall to asking my colleagues for a ligle bit of help in discovering the favourite words of their students. What I wanted to know was their favourite word in English, and their favourite word in Portuguese -­‐ the lager as a kind of control in the experiment. I also thought it would be useful to know their ages, but I didn't require any other informaVon though, in retrospect, knowing their gender might have presented another interesVng angle too. In the largest grouping, the youngest students were 11 and the oldest were early twenVes, but the majority hovered around the 16 years old -­‐ sweet sixteen, perhaps, and sweet was quite a popular word amongst this age group. A quick, iniVal trawl through the piles of four hundred words showed clearly that round about the age of 14 there was a marked shih in the apparent way that words were chosen: from its meaning to its sound. Many 11-­‐13 year olds came

up with football, friend, love, kiss and correspondingly amizade, amigos, amor and abraço. By the Vme we got to the 16 year olds, it was clear that many more words appeared to be chosen because of their sound rather than their meaning (though we can never enVrely disentangle the two). Lollipop, bubble and gorgeous were very popular, as were the fruits strawberry and pineapple (both singular), and also marshmallow and mushrooms. These same respondents also had food on their minds when it came to Portuguese, with francesinha being extraordinarily popular (for those who don't know, this is a remarkable invenVon: a toasted sandwich filled with sausages, ham and steak, a fried egg on top and cheese melted over everything and served in a hot, spicy sauce). Portuguese fruit also crept healthily in, with pêssego, abacaxi and marmelada. There's that quince again, even though this is the origin of the English word marmalade. Older students demonstrated a clear preference for the sounds of words in both languages, and demonstrated a remarkable grasp of low frequency lexis in English, and mulV-­‐syllable words in Portuguese. Amongst the English words for the 16+ age group were rancid, t w e l v e , u n b i a s e d , c r a n k y , o $ e r a n d (wonderfully) turpitude and gregarious, while the same group produced e s t r a m b ó l i c o , g a r g a l h a d a , o r n i t o r r i n c o a n d o t o r r i n o l a r i n g o l o g i s t a -­‐ which, amazingly, was the only word to be chosen in each of the age categories 14-­‐16, 17-­‐19 and 20-­‐ 25. So it was clear that choice of favourite word in both languages went about a fundamental change throughout early teens, and the funcVonal, literal meaning of good, basic words that clearly had significance for the younger students gradually transformed into words that are more recognisable for their musical and

rhythmic qualiVes, where meaning is perhaps less important than the metaphysical existence of the word, or at least in implied, sound-­‐ generated metaphor. In an earlier arVcle I discussed a quesVon posed by a poet. "Why," he had asked " if poetry is the glorious summit of linguisVc achievement in any language, does it work so well in a language learning environment? Surely this is a contradicVon?" At the Vme I had ventured an answer along the lines that poetry frequently extends beyond the actual words it uses and that sound and rhythm play a part in connecVng with the listener and the reader. Teachers of English as a foreign language noVce that certain kinds of poetry appeal to different age groups of children, and that this more or less corresponds to the kind of poetry they appreciate in their own language. Younger children work well with poems that are centred in things they know, using words and real-­‐life images they have experienced or can imagine. In ELT we have used the work of poets like Michael Rosen, Levi Tafari and Tony Migon to great effect in this respect. Older teenagers seem naturally to veer towards imagery, metaphor and soundscapes and so this discovery of the choice of individual words came as no great surprise. Indeed it reinforced what we had suspected. The sample group of much older students -­‐ those over 30 and 40 -­‐ was too small to do much with but was big enough to hint at something else going on. Do older learners revert to simple words with literal meanings and no-­‐nonsense senVments? I might be tempted to run another survey to find out. Meanwhile, I applaud the zeal with which so many young learners of English embraced words as their own. And the most popular word? Peace, perhaps inevitably, followed closely by lollipop and mushroom. What are the most popular words with your students? Do let me know.

This article first appeared in Visual Thesaurus in June 2011, and appears here with the kind permission of the editor.


The Irony

of By Paul Driver, Portugal

Perhaps I’m living in an echo chamber. On examinaVon, my PLN does appear to be worryingly comprised of mostly like-­‐minded peers and my RSS aggregators do a pregy decent job of trimming the fat by carefully curaVng the news and arVcles I encounter. Even taking that into consideraVon, over the last couple of years I’ve found it nigh on impossible to avoid the rising crescendo of gamificaVon devotees feverishly touVng the cure-­‐ all benefits of gamifying anything and everything from healthcare, business and markeVng to educaVon. Aher a brief period of iniVal opVmism, I soon found myself secretly hoping it was just a faddish neologism, but if it is, it’s proving to be an extremely stubborn one. Don’t get me wrong, I love games. Board games, word games, card games, pervasive games, digital games — I study them, play them and have even designed a few. I also frequently use games in my classes. But we’re not talking about games here, we’re talking about “ifying” something that is not a game. To “ify” something (apologies to any hardline grammarians out there for contorVng a suffix into a

verb), is, according to the Cambridge online dicVonary, “to cause an increase in the stated quality”. So, to gamify is to make a non-­‐game more game-­‐like by suffusing it with game-­‐like qualiVes. It’s not hard to understand why one would want to do this, especially in the field of educaVon. Games are fun, intensely engaging and highly moVvaVonal systems. They can also be extremely complex, challenging and rewarding experiences. Modern video games can ohen take tens or even hundreds of hours to complete. They involve acVvely acquiring new skills, making difficult choices, digesVng huge amounts of contextually situated informaVon and repeatedly applying criVcal problem solving skills to overcome what may at first appear to be overwhelming obstacles. Gamers do all of these things rouVnely, voluntarily and enthusiasVcally. Many games are also extremely collaboraVve and social, with communiVes of pracVce spanning thousands of blogs, wikis and forums produced by and dedicated to players who want to share what they know and learn from others.


What teacher wouldn’t want to imbue their lessons with more of these qualiVes? This is the siren song appeal of gamificaVon.

boost the class average. The headmaster was enthused by the project and cited bucket loads of staVsVcs revealing agendance improvements and test scores.

As with most things though, the proof of the pudding is to be found in the eaVng. And, to risk stretching the metaphor to breaking point, with the pudding of gamificaVon, the problem lies in the ingredients used, the cooking technique applied and the chef on duty. Examples of gamified systems can be found all around us. Department stores and supermarkets have long co-­‐opted the psychological power of the points and rewards game mechanic to promote customer loyalty and increased sales. Fast food restaurants rouVnely offer tokens and scratch cards which can be traded for fries and burgers and more recently locaVon-­‐based social networks like Gowalla and Fouresquare, which allow you to “check in” to specific real-­‐world locaVons and earn virtual badges, have been used as promoVonal tools by shops and restaurants who offer discounts to frequent visitors. Arookoo, and many similar mobile apps, even turn the act of walking into a game by rewarding users with points and badges for the distance they cover while being tracked by the GPS in their phones.

Another apparent “win” for gamificaVon was the focus of an arVcle in Forbes magazine earlier this year. The arVcle, enVtled “EducaVon Meets World Of Warcrah” describes a polytechnic teacher who begins the academic year by informing his students that they all have an F, quickly calming the ensuing panic by adding that they can “level up”. According to the arVcle he then, “...divides the class into small groups called “guilds,” which complete quests such as taking tests and making presentaVons to earn points and then advance to a new level. At the end of the course, he determines the grade by points and skill level.” Like the Portuguese experiment, gamifying the course led to significant performance improvements: “Ever since I turned educaVon into a game”, he says, “the average leger grade in the class went from a C to a B, and agendance is almost perfect.”


Schools and universiVes all over the world are jumping on the gamificaVon wagon to seemingly great effect. Back in 2010 I heard a radio interview with the headmaster of a school here in northern Portugal. They were in the second term of a trial which involved dishing out points, badges and rewards to their students for everything from good behaviour to test results and agendance. Classes were piged against each other to accumulate the highest number of points and win rewards such as trips and prizes. This encouraged students to put pressure on anyone who appeared to be slacking, so as to

The thing is, although many games use such points and rewards systems to track player progress, they are only the most superficial components and not fundamental to the experience of what a game is. They are but one of many ways of providing feedback to players about how close they are to achieving their goals. Of course, feedback is essenVal to learning as it helps you to keep on track and enables you to try out new strategies and see how well they work. Games of all kinds are great at providing immediate, frequent and intense feedback in mulVple ways which are not always possible or pracVcal in tradiVonal learning environments. This rich feedback may be in the form of audio, video, hapVcs, social interacVon or narraVve progression among others.


To have, or to be, that is the ques0on.

Furthermore, because the feedback is usually immediate, it is strongly situated in the context in which the acVon took place. Games are complex systems, a point which seems to currently be ignored by the majority of gamificaVon proponents. With most gamified systems and processes the feedback is provided in the form of a simple, superficial layer of points, badges and other rewards that are not contextually integral to the acVvity itself. In the field of educaVon, this is compounded by the fact that we have already introduced such a feedback layer in the form of test scores, grade averages and cerVficates, so in essence we are rewarding the rewards, much in the same way as parents who give material gihs in return for As. I’ll leave that argument for another Vme. Over the short term this approach may lead to measurable outcomes as students make an effort to perform beger in order to achieve beger results, or more agendance points. The unintended consequence of this is that it frames learning as being an acVon of accumulaVon, about gaining or having either material or virtual capital. The rhetoric is that of the age-­‐old carrot and sVck metaphor in which learners are condiVoned to act and behave in certain ways in order to gain certain rewards. This is the classical operant condiVoning model which externalizes moVvaVon through the promise of extrinsic reward. Image: sextoacto/

Students want to “have a degree” and “get a good grade” rather than be learners and it then becomes logical for them to ask quesVons such as “will this be in the test?”, in order to avoid wasVng effort on unrewarded content (for more on the whole having vs being debate I highly recommend Fromm’s “To Have or to Be”). This aftude is precisely the opposite of what we should be encouraging if we want to produce a society of self-­‐moVvated and reflecVve lifelong learners. To make magers worse, although renaming classes as “guilds”, grades as “levels” and beger marks as “leveling up” may manipulate learners into modifying their behaviour, it does so by reinforcing and perpetuaVng an anachronisVc industrial model of educaVon through concealment and thwarVng intrinsic moVvaVon. Prepackaged web 2.0 services like Class Dojo promise to enable teachers to: "Create an engaging classroom in minutes” by providing “instant visual no;fica;ons for your students (‘Well done Josh! +1 for teamwork!’) with a whole host of game mechanics: think level-­‐ ups, badges and achievements to unlock, in-­‐ classroom games, avatars and leaderboards. Similar gamificaVon pla•orms are popping up every day, their brightly coloured, cutesy vector graphics thinly concealing the underlying rhetoric o f i n c r e a s i n g r e w a r d d e p e n d e n c y a n d undermining intrinsic moVvaVon.

THINK ON Dewey expresses this nicely in chapter seven of The School and Society: If there is not an inherent a$rac;ng power in the material, then (according to his temperament and training, and the precedents and expecta;ons of the school) the teacher will either a$empt to surround the material with foreign a$rac;veness, making a bid or offering a bribe for a$en;on by "making the lesson interes;ng"; or else will resort to counterirritants (low marks, threats of non-­‐promo;on, staying ager school, personal disapproba;on, expressed in a great variety of ways, naggings, con;nuous calling upon the child to "pay a$en;on," etc.); or, probably, will use some of both means. ...But the a$en;on thus gained is never more than par;al, or divided; and it always remains dependent upon something external —hence, when the a$rac;on ceases or the pressure lets up, there is li$le or no gain in inner or intellectual control. Such instrumental learning may be easy to implement and convenient for administrators to Vdily quanVfy into grades and staVsVcs, but we need real change in educaVon, not merely a shih in percepVons. Games can help us achieve this if we respect and embrace their complexity and refrain from stripping them of their intrinsic power to moVvate and engage learners on mulVple levels. Educators can and should use games and game mechanics in different contexts, but they should do so reflecVvely and unravel their underlying rhetoric. Games can serve as excellent examples of how acVve and sVmulaVng learning environments can be created for the purpose of learning, as good

g a m e s a l r e a d y e m b o d y m a n y o f t h e characterisVcs of good learning principles (see James Gee for more on this and John Hunter’s World Peace Game for a real-­‐world example of a gamified learning program that embraces the rich complexity of game dynamics).

Comple0ng tasks in order to achieve an extrinsic reward is more akin to how we describe work in its most aliena0ng form. So the problem of gamificaVon is, somewhat ironically, that in the majority of its current implementaVons, it is not game-­‐like enough. By overlooking the depth and breadth of the potenVal games have to empower and moVvate learners and create meaningful experiences, and instead employing only a myopic and superficial game mechanic, popular gamificaVon is doing a disservice to both learners and educators. CompleVng tasks in order to achieve an extrinsic reward is more akin to how we describe work in its most alienaVng form. One of the many things commonly missing from gamificaVon is playful freedom. Playful freedom allows learners to take risks and test new strategies in an environment protected within the “magic circle” of gameplay, that is safe from real world consequences. An environment in which failing at challenging tasks is as integral a part of learning as succeeding, and the reward is the learning that takes place between the two, and what that skill or knowledge might empower you to do or be in the future. If you would like to share your views on this theme I invite you to post a comment on my blog.


Learning with Diversity Alexandra Sobral e Costa, Portugal

We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no ma$er what their color” Maya Angelou

Throughout human evoluVon there has been the

race can no longer be used to argue extreme ideas

pernicious and pervasive idea that some races

of superiority or inferiority.

were superior to others. As a result, racial segregaVon, hosVlity and even genocide have been perpetrated, not only because there were differences but because those differences weren’t allowed to exist. The twenVeth century showed us that Charles Evans Hughes was right when he said When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free. Many people lost their freedom and died because of their idenVty: the genocide of the Jews carried out by the Nazi regime; the Rwanda genocide of the Tutsis lead by the Hutus or the ethnic cleansing in Srebrenica by the Serb army; the poliVcal and ideological 'cleansing' of the Red Khmer in Cambodia…. the list goes on.

Students all are different, unique and

diverse. Their internal diversity is complex; it’s built through choices, goals and ideas throughout their lives and their idenVty is conVnuously changing and schooling has an important role in this transformaVon. As a teacher I deal with different students. They are different, not only because of their disVncVve characterisVcs, but due to their upbringings. More and more we receive in our schools students from different countries, cultures, beliefs... More and more we have to accept the differences and embrace them in order to lead our students to success. We must all embrace Malcolm Stevenson Forbes’ idea: “Diversity is the art of thinking

The discovery of the human genome in

independently together” and this not only enriches

2000 changed human understanding forever. Our

our schools but improves its essence: to educate

ideas about human idenVty were altered when we

and form human beings through knowledge and

discovered that all humans share 99, 99% of their


genes. So, we can conclude that the concept of Image: Kokhanchikov/


I agree with Jeff Cobb’s definiVon of learning:

As Ainscow (1994) menVoned inclusive educaVon

Learning is the lifelong process of transforming

implies a conVnuous process (…) and school

informaVon and experience into knowledge,

needs to promote all students’ parVcipaVon and

skills, behaviors, and aftudes because it’s done

learning. Schools need to be in constant change in

by each individual, it never ends, it’s a social

order to be commiged to receive all children and

process and it involves acVvity by conveying a

give an adequate answer to students’ diversity.

change. (Drummond and others, 1989)

There is not just an answer, one way; there are

We know more about the process of learning and

many paths that can be taken.

foremost about what is intelligence. Howard

Two years ago I undertook a

Gardner’s theory of mulVple

voyage with my students. I took

intelligences challenged all the past

part in a Comenius project with my

educaVonal assumpVons and all

students about the Ecological

educators perceive teaching and

Footprint in many different

learning differently now. With his

countries. They have created two

theory, teachers can beger

websites where they showed

comprehend and apprehend the

vocabulary games: hangman;

differences between their students

c r o s s w o r d s ; w o r d p u z z l e s ;

in order to help them to achieve

PowerPoints; and a dicVonary

success in their learning processes.

about environmental terminology

Children with special needs have

i n t h e l a n g u a g e s f r o m t h e

o h e n s t o o d o u t s i d e o f t h e mainstream developments of educaVonal progress and thinking. Even if incorporated into mainstream schools they may not have had the same experiences, frequently having different curricula and had special means of assessment.

c o u n t r i e s i n t h e p r o j e c t . Aherwards, we went to one country, Italy, and there they met their colleagues face to face. It was a marvellous experience: human and pedagogical.

With the DeclaraVon of Salamanca, born a new

Now, I have started another project: ConnecVng

concept for inclusion:

Classrooms with the BriVsh Council and unVl now

a) Learning should be ac0ve; b) Learning should be prac0cal; c) Existence of a con0nuous assessment should be given by the teacher’s feedback; d) Goals should be nego0ated.

it has been very posiVve. The aim is to know more about ourselves and about others, in order to understand diversity and embrace it as a construcVve concept and reality. MulVculturalism is a reality, not only in Portugal, but also in other developed countries throughout the world.


We, as teachers, should draw our students’

door to the unlimited world of partners and

agenVon to a more tolerant posture concerning

clusters. However, it is a tool that must be used

others because they are going to be the next


generaVon and if they’re now more open-­‐ minded, there won’t be space in the future for prejudice and discriminaVon. CooperaVon through teamwork can be the answer! These projects lead us to overcome barriers which prevent us from becoming beger and achieving excellence! In my opinion, these projects are incredibly important for my students’ improvement, not only as human beings; European ciVzens, but also as students. They make beger use of their skills when they’re devoted to the project’s development. At the same Vme they are involved in the project’s tasks, they increase and enhance their oral and wrigen skills and IT is crucial in terms of communicaVng with the

In conclusion, I have recognized the importance

other partners and in terms of showing what

of working Diversity through this European

the students are creaVng. The internet has

cooperaVon. By knowing other realiVes, my

become a vital access that connects this global

s t u d e n t s a n d I h a v e b e c o m e m o r e

village that is planet Earth Our students, who

understanding, supporVve. We now beger

are frequently incredible techies, master these

accept and embrace others who are different

technological devices, such as Skype, Facebook;

from us. Diversity shouldn’t be considered a

Wikkies; Twiger and we can and should learn

barrier; it must be seen as part of the huge

through them. Our projects become so much

tapestry that is Humankind. This tapestry is full

beger because of their talents and skills

of colours and threads, but all can be connected

Other important tool that has helped me to put into pracVce our ideas was the e-­‐twinning pla•orm. E-­‐twinning is a Pandora's box, an open

to build a whole piece. We are all pieces of a colossal puzzle, all different, but all equal in terms of rights and duVes!

Painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527–1593)


Navigating the Environment. Learning involves a ‘something’ to be learned and a context of circumstances in which it takes place. It is this rich texture of factors, ranging from the material to the ethereal, that I want to reflect on in this arVcle. Clearly these factors intersect and overlap in complex and not always predictable ways, but I shall nonetheless agempt to separate out the following six strands for discussion: ~ Physical, material, economic factors. ~ Socio-­‐poliVcal and religious factors. ~ LinguisVc factors. ~ Philosophical /educaVonal factors. ~ Family and peer group factors. ~ Psychological, relaVonal, affecVve factors. 1. Physical, material and economic factors. On the face of it, it appears obvious that material circumstances have a massive influence on the effecVveness of learning. In the 1960’s I worked with primary schools in Ghana. Many of them, parVcularly in rural areas, lacked even the most basic faciliVes: no desks or chairs, few books, blackboards piged like baglefields…Classes were crowded into classrooms as hot as ovens. Children had someVmes to walk long distances to school aher performing early morning chores such as foraging for wood and collecVng water. Many were under-­‐nourished or suffering from malnutriVon.

By Alan Maley Poverty, disease and malnutriVon are the daily reality in many educaVonal sefngs worldwide. They are certainly not confined to West Africa. Neither are they the exclusive reserve of rural communiVes. However, I want to suggest that such deprived material sefngs can someVmes – all too rarely but someVmes -­‐ be overcome by affecVve and relaVonal factors. I have seen some of the most joyful and creaVve educaVonal moments of my career in just these

There is oaen more varia0on within socie0es than between kinds of classrooms: an improvised puppet show using old newspapers to make the puppets and a table on its side as a stage, with the kids performing a play they had themselves wrigen; an art exhibiVon of collages made from the clippings of the seamstresses’ stalls in the market… I do not suggest for a moment that such deprived environments are in any way desirable, but we should not assume that material circumstances are everything. I have seen some of the most lacklustre, deadening lessons given in classrooms with ergonomic furnishings, designer lighVng and with all the technical equipment one could desire. The material circumstances are important but not always decisive.


2. Socio-­‐poli0cal and religious factors. These factors can exercise a negaVve influence on learning when, for example, the belief systems in place exclude (or downgrade the importance) of women in educaVon. There are also cases where certain secVons of the populaVon are given privileged access to educaVon to the detriment of other secVons, as, for example in Malaysia or India. Or the system may take a non-­‐scienVfic stance towards science, as in the CreaVonist approach in the US, or view science as a fixed body of experVse to be used for poliVcal objecVves rather than as an open-­‐ended pracVce of inquiry. They clearly affect the way geography or history are taught. Even the Mercator projecVon, which forms the basis for many maps, has a lot to answer for. PoliVcs can affect language learning too, as in cases of post-­‐colonial resistance to the language of the colonisers, or in views of one’s own language as being inherently superior to the one being learned. Factors such as these are more influenVal and more stubborn than even material factors, partly because those who hold such views are ohen unaware that they do so. 3. Linguis0c factors. The linguisVc environment can have significant effects on language learning in parVcular. Is the society monolingual (the excepVon), or plurilingual, where it is common for people to switch between several languages, and not to regard learning another language as difficult? Is the target language being learned in a country where it is in use outside the classroom, or not? How distant are the mother tongue and the target language, and what effect does this have? (Curiously, languages which are close to one’s own are not always the easiest to learn.) What difference does it make if the language being learned is high presVge or low presVge? Because English is the major internaVonal language, are naVve speakers of English disadvantaged in their learning of other languages? How do folk beliefs about language impact on learning? (‘French is the language of culture’, ‘Italian is so

musical’, ‘German sounds harsh’, ‘Greek sounds really masculine.’ etc.). And how do aftudes toward the target language affect the learning of it? Do I resent having to learn this language, or do I embrace the opportunity? Are my most cherished values put at risk when I acquire this language? 4. Philosophical and educa0onal factors. Some socieVes accord greater presVge to educaVon than others and this clearly affects the educaVonal environment. Of course, it may also have a negaVve impact on some members of the society, who may be excluded or who simply drop out of a race they feel certain they can never win. There are also clear differences between broadly eliVst systems and ‘democraVc’ ones. Sadly, it is ohen the case that equality of access to educaVon may not guarantee equal quality of provision however. But there are winners and losers in all socieVes, and to teach or learn in an environment of ‘losers’ is all too ohen a guarantee of failure, leading to more failure in a downward and irreversible spiral. Other factors include the overall beliefs about how learning should be conducted. Broadly conservaVve or tradiVonal beliefs place high value on discipline, effort, compeVVon, memorisaVon and tesVng, and tend to view learning as something difficult and painful. By contrast, more liberal or exploratory approaches view learning as a pleasurable, creaVve and cooperaVve enterprise where the emphasis is on the quality of the process rather than the short-­‐term product in the form of examinaVon results. I am aware of the dangers of stereotypes, of course, but it is nonetheless true that generalisaVons can someVmes usefully be made. There are socieVes where the form is more important than the substance, the word than the deed. It is important however to avoid agribuVng such beliefs to whole socieVes, (claiming, for example, that the Chinese are all influenced by Confucian values, etc.). There is ohen more variaVon within socieVes than between them. Things change, and one complaint increasingly heard about young ‘nouveau riche’ Chinese students abroad is precisely that they do not conform to the expected disciplined and obedient model!


5. Family and peer group factors. The family, and in parVcular parental influence, is the learning environment. All I can do is remind sVll paramount in the environment of most myself, and you, of some of the stronger currents learners. Parents can exert posiVve influence running beneath the surface of the learning-­‐ through acVve involvement in their children’s teaching surface. Hormones, hangovers and educaVon, by non-­‐coercive encouragement, by hyper-­‐acVvity can cause havoc in any learning supporVng them in moments of crisis, and through group. The moods, expectaVons, aspiraVons and their example as role-­‐models. This is perhaps aftudes of both teachers and learners also form nowhere so apparent as in the development of an important part of the learning environment. literacy. Those children whose Just how the skilful teacher parents read to them at night, manages to harness and As t eachers, w e h ave a ll who provide reading material orchestrate the energies and of compelling interest to their experienced classes which tensions of a group, and kids, who show themselves to direct them in producVve went like a dream, and be avid readers themselves – direcVons remains one of the those children become readers, those which felt like endless g r e a t e s t p e d a g o g i c a l a n d r e a d i n g i s t h e b e s t mysteries. As teachers, we nightmares. predictor of academic success have all experienced classes that we have. Children whose which went like a dream, and parents are not like that will those which felt like endless have a struggle ahead to achieve even minimal nightmares. How to achieve the ‘flow’ standards of literacy. Most people learn more experiences of the former, where both teacher from their parents – for beger or worse – and class are lost in the ‘effortless effort’ of than they ever do from their teachers. the moment is elusive, though Jill Hadfield’s book, Classroom Dynamics gives Arguably, they also learn far more from their valuable signposts. Nancie Atwell, in The peers, both posiVvely and negaVvely. The Reading Zone, also gives some guidance in pressure to conform to group norms has how to harness the energy of a group in never been stronger, supported as it is by an the shared and powerful experience of aggressively consumerist ethos. How they reading. And the ‘flow’ bible is, I guess, sVll look, what they own, how they speak, how The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy quickly they can adjust to the latest change Gallwey. As teachers we need to be of fashion – all are subject to the unforgiving ‘present’ in the fullest sense, yet judgements of their peers. But they also simultaneously absent, so that we leave learn how to be with other people, to respect space for the individuals and the group to and be respected by them, to give and enact their learning. I have a parVcular receive understanding…and much else. We convicVon that it is the teacher’s voice someVmes forget just how much kids learn quality which is a key to this, though I have outside school: arguably more than they ever only anecdotal evidence to support my learn inside it. And this too is part of the case. But is certain that teachers’ voices wider learning environment, especially when remain with us for good or ill throughout so much informaVon is so readily available on the our lives. The immediate chemistry of a class, Internet. requiring split-­‐second decisions by the teacher is unlikely ever to be completely anatomised, yet it is 6. Psychological, rela0onal, affec0ve factors. this which ulVmately overrides virtually every other factor I have discussed. Good luck! An arVcle of this length can scarcely do jusVce to the mulVtude of personal factors which pervade

Atwell, Nancie. (2007) The Reading Zone. New York: ScholasVc. Gallwey, Timothy. (1974) The Inner Game of Tennis. London: Pan Books. Hadfield, Jill. (1992) Classroom Dynamics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Management A nd T he Classroom

It is undeniable that educaVon has recently undergone a huge number of changes and gone are the days when teaching was something poeVc. Of course there is sVll poetry and romance in teaching, but one can hardly deny that the number of schools in the market offering increasingly customized services, thus making it more customer orientated, mulVplies as we speak. But I am not here to talk about what we can do to make our schools more compeVVve; I am here to share the idea that we, teachers, can learn from big corporaVons how to beger manage our classrooms – or at least have a beger insight of what things are really like. Aher gefng an MBA in Management, I decided to apply some of the techniques I had studied to my teaching repertoire -­‐ and one of them is the SWOT Analysis. The SWOT Analysis consists of examining the external and internal factors that might boost or hinder your business – in our case, our lessons. The SWOT Analysis, developed by Albert Humphrey, enables us to gather the informaVon available – internal (Strengths and Weaknesses) and external (OpportuniVes and Threats) – and beger understand the scenario our business is in, and create a plan of acVon. But how does it work in pracVce? First, we should collect as much informaVon as possible about the group we teach and want to work with. Obviously, with the passing of Vme, more informaVon can be added to our analysis, which is great and, therefore, we should take advantage of it. It is paramount to remember

that any informaVon available should be taken into consideraVon, be it posiVve or negaVve. Once you have a certain amount of informaVon, arrange them in a template, such as the one below, where you can beger visualize them. Internal Factors

External Factors



Cadu Souza, Brazil




S x O

W x O


S x T

W x T

STRENGTHS These are internal factors, things that are available to you. Take notes of all the strengths you, your school, your group of students (or any student in parVcular), your classroom, etc, may have. If they are not available to you, they are weaknesses! Ask yourself what advantages your school has and what you do beger than others. Also, idenVfy what people in the same area see as your strengths – ask a fellow teacher. Examples of strengths can be: • Excellent rapport with students; • InteracVve white boards in all classrooms; • Students arrive on Vme for the lesson (Yes, it is a strength!); • Academic department willing to listen to teachers’ suggesVons and adapt material, if necessary.



These are also internal factors. Take notes of all the weaknesses you, your school, your student(s), your classroom, etc. may present. If you think of something negaVve that you – or your school – have no control of, than it is a threat. It is a good idea to ask yourself what you could do to improve and what you should avoid. Some examples of weaknesses are: • Teachers do not know how to use the technology available in the school; • There are way too many students in your group and they do not feel like agending classes because they do not believe they are producing as much as they should; • The classroom is too hot or too cold; • The classroom is small; • There are too many students in my group, say, 25 students.


These are external factors as well. A threat is anything that might prevent your students from going to class or enjoying it, and you have no power over. Mind you that if you noVce something that might prevent students from going to class or enjoying it but you can change (you have power over), than it is a weakness! Think about the obstacles you face, what your compeVVon is doing, if technology (or lack of knowledge of it) is threatening your job, etc. Here are some examples of threats: • It is winter and many students have got flu; • Students’ school teachers are assigning a lot of homework and they need the Vme they would be in their English class to cope with their assignments; • One of their parents may have lost their job and they cannot afford their children’s course; • There’s another course at the same Vme that they may find more interesVng – or important! TV, Internet, computer games, etc.

These are external factors. An opportunity is everything you realize your group can profit from and that is not available for you. It is an opportunity because the use of it will help you do your job beger. Be aware of the opportuniVes facing you and interesVng trends you might be aware of. Take notes of them. Some examples of opportuniVes are:

Once you have listed all internal and external factors, it’s Vme to analyse how they can influence each other and what you can do to change any negaVve aspect that might be making your students drop out or not enjoy your lesson.

• Students take their cell phones or tablets to class – it might be disturbing if they use them when they should not, but they can also be quite sVmulaVng.

✓ course available (external -­‐ opportunity), do it.

• InteracVve white boards – if your school does not have one. • Training for teachers – if related to the age group or level you are teaching.

S x O – How can strengths (internal) be used to embrace an opportunity (external)?

✓ Students love music (external -­‐ opportunity) and there is an interacVve white board with internet connecVon in every classroom (internal -­‐ strength) – or in some of them. Prepare some lessons with music clips, trying to adapt to the syllabus which must be taught. W x O – How to use the opportuniVes (external) available to reduce the weaknesses (internal) present?


ü Teacher doesn’t know how to make power point presentaVons (internal -­‐ weakness) and there are many places nearby that offer computer courses (external -­‐ opportunity). ü The school doesn’t have a lot of extra material to be used in class, or computer/internet technology available (internal – weakness), but it is in a place where teacher can take students for a walk and show what is being taught in pracVce (external – opportunity). S x T – How can threats (external) be fought using teacher's strengths – or the school’s (internal)? ü Some students prefer to stay at home and watch TV (external – threat). T e a c h e r c a n g a t h e r i n f o r m a V o n a b o u t s t u d e n t s ’ l i k e s a n d dislikes to have acVviVes that might be more e n j o y a b l e f o r t h e m (internal – strength). Even beger if teacher can make use of computer technology. ü Students have a lot of homework from school teachers (external – threat) and are missing class for this reason. Teacher can arrange with students to assign less homework or try and have a more producVve lesson, where part of the English homework would be done in class (internal – strength) – relieving students’ burden. ü W x T – Of all four scenarios presented, this is the one we should be most worried about. There is a threat hovering and this is a weakness for the teacher or the school. The idea here is to be aware of what is going on not to let it become worse and deal with the mager when possible – as soon as possible. ü It’s summer and it’s very hot (external – threat) and the school doesn’t have money to buy new Image:Stuart Miles/

air condiVoners (internal – weakness). Arrange some extra fans unVl the school can afford buying air condiVoners. ü Teacher is not very creaVve or does not know how to make good use of resources or technology available (internal – weakness). As a consequence, students prefer to stay at home, either using their computers or watching TV. If the school can’t invest in a course for this teacher or the teacher him/herself can’t do it at the moment, maybe a soluVon for the Vme being would be to arrange for teachers to work together planning the lessons, so that beger ideas could come up to moVvate students to a g e n d c l a s s e s a n d parVcipate more. The example above shows how a SWOT analysis can be used to idenVfy the scenario the teacher is in. It’s quite important to noVce, though, that not always it is going to depend on the teacher to solve the problem and that many Vmes the school or the academic department will have to be involved. Other Vmes, however, it will depend on the teacher alone to outline a plan of acVon and work things out. You certainly noVced that some of the examples dealt with things that we cannot change, such as the size of the classroom or lack of money to buy an air condiVoner. Use the SWOT analysis not only to idenVfy areas for improvement, but also to create soluVons to the problems idenVfied using the tools you have. Many schools and teachers already do it – intuiVvely or not. The important thing here is to raise our awareness of what can or cannot be done in order to make our lessons more interesVng and use this understanding in our favour.


Nothing but the board: communicative oral practice with a minimum of resources

Robert Grant, Portugal

One of the things we want most in our classes is to get our students talking to each other -­‐ in the target language -­‐ in pairs or small groups. And whenever possible, we hope that there will be some real communica0on going on. In other words, we h o p e t h a t t h e y w i l l b e exchanging real informa0on: facts about their lives, their opinions, their likes and dislikes and so on. But as every teacher knows, it isn't easy. For students -­‐ especially those who are sVll at a relaVvely low level of English -­‐ to talk meaningfully to each other, it isn't enough for us just to say "Go on -­‐ have a conversaVon", or 'Talk to each other about your likes and dislikes". This is a recipe for stony silence! Of course, it is up to us to provide a structure which will guide the students and give them confidence to speak. Ohen we do this by means of paper

handouts -­‐ quesVonnaire grids, handouts of the "Pairwork A and 8" sort and so on. While these can be very effecVve, they cost money and of course they take a lot of Vme to produce. My aim here is to present some ideas for sVmulaVng oral communicaVon in pairs and groups without having to use paper handouts. For all these acVviVes -­‐ which are intended for beginners and elementary learners -­‐ the board is the central focus as it is used to provide the prompts for speaking. Just occasionally you will need a visual aid or some recorded music -­‐ but nothing that requires complicated preparaVon

Guessing games Guessing games are a good way of pracVsing quesVon-­‐forming. especially if the answers are restricted to yes or n o . T h e y c a n b e d e s c r i b e d a s communicaVve in that the students' communicaVve aim is to win the game.


Try this one with first-­‐year learners: Tell the students that you are not a teacher but an animal. Have a picture of the animal face down on the desk (this is to show the students that you aren't cheaVng!), and tell them they have to discover what it is. Now the point is that they are not to guess wildly: in other words they can't just say "Are you a monkey? A giraffe? A horse?" If they do this and the guess is wrong, the teacher wins the game. Another way to limit guessing is to set a limit to the number of quesVons asked. I use the board to give the students the structures needed: Have you got…? Can you…? Do you…? The answer:

Walkabout Survey In this type of acVvity the students walk around the room asking all their classmates for one piece of informaVon, such as their birthday or telephone number. Students copy the form from the board: NAME


(One row for each child in class or group)

They can then be asked to get up and walk around asking other students unVl they have everyone's birthday. Once students have the informaVon they can use it for follow-­‐up work, such as drawing a graph. Board ques0onnaires Instead of preparing and photocopying quesVonnaires and grids. you can have your students copy them from the board. This will save Vme spent on preparaVon, money and paper and will help to involve the students in the acVvity. However, if you want to do this q u i c k l y a n d e ffi c i e n t l y , i t i s w o r t h remembering a couple of important points. • It's a good idea to use the board rather than an OHT, as you can control the order they do things in -­‐ and demonstrate how quickly it can be done! • If it is a grid, tell the students how many lines or boxes there are . • Make sure the grid they draw is big enough for what they will have to put in it • Single-­‐word prompts are more efficient than full quesVons, e.g. 'place' rather than Where did you go on holiday?' • Walk around the class while the class is copying the grid and make sure that they're doing it the way you want them to! When the grid or quesVonnaire is ready, you will probably want to check that they know the quesVon form and perhaps drill it. A good way to do this is to have the class ask YOU the quesVons before you let them start to work in pairs/groups. You should also check that they know how they should record their answers, e.g, '8.00' rather than 'She gets up at eight o'clock' or 'Paris' rather than 'They went to Paris'. Again, look to make sure that they are not wasVng too much Vme wriVng.

Nothing but the board: Here is an example. Your class has been working on past tense quesVon and affirmaVve forms. The lexical theme is "holidays". You want to pracVse quesVons and answers. Ask the class to copy this list of words from the board -­‐ as you are wriVng it up -­‐ on the leh-­‐ hand side of the page: Place: When: How long: Accommodation: Activities: Souvenir: Remind them that they have to ask each other about their last holiday. What tense will they use? So what is the first quesVon? "Where did you go?" Another topic suitable for an even lower level would be "daily rouVne", pracVsing quesVons with 'What Vme do you ... 1" and using prompts like these: get up start school have lunch finish school do homework have dinner go to bed At this point you may be wondering why we bother to write this down? Wouldn't it be quicker simply to have them read from the board and then ask each other quesVons? Of course it would be quicker and ohen we will want to do it that way. But the advantage of wriVng the informaVon down is that it can then be used for further work, especially in the form

of wriVng (based on models which the students will already have seen): My friend Miguel went to the Azores on holiday last July. He stayed with his uncle and aunt for two weeks. He went horse riding and he swam in natural pools. As a souvenir he bought a "Peter's Cafe" Whether or not you choose to have the students write will depend on whether the speaking is a "stand alone" acVvity or is to be integrated with other skills work. A and B To add variety, you can use the board to create an "A and B'·∙ acVvity where the students work in pairs but each has different quesVons to ask. You put up two sets of prompts and each student only has to ask his/her own set and reply to the other student's. Do you like ... ?






vegetable soup

'Big Brother'

science fiction films

horror films


A: Do you like dogs? B: Yes, I love dogs Do you like cats? A: No, I don't. Do you like ice-­‐cream?(etc) These are a few ideas for gefng more speaking out of your elementary students without spending long hours preparing materials.

This arVcle first appeared in 'In English' magazine, autumn 2004.


Content-Based Foreign Language Teaching: An Analysis of Instructional Materials for English Language Teaching

Cris0ane da Silva Lopes & João Carlos Lopes, Brazil

It is common sense that the integration of various levels of knowledge constitutes a positive factor for the learner development. Instructional materials can have inter-disciplinary content as a means to help the learner to develop a critical view of the world and to articulate diverse knowledge live in society. This article aims at analyzing the interdisciplinary character of course books for teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) by means of an investigation of the claims made by their authors in their covers, introductions, notes for teachers and blurbs in contrast with a detailed analysis of a number of lessons from each course book within the corpus. This in order to reveal degrees of consistency between what is claimed and what is actually done in material design.

In Brazil, the instrucVonal material, especially the course book, has been the predominant source of informaVon on which teachers and learners can base their classes. They depend on the course book to obtain knowledge required either for the acquisiVon of contents or in the process of literacy, preparaVon to act in society and cultural development. This i n v e s V g a V o n a i m s a t a n a l y z i n g t h e

instrucVonal materials for EFL teaching in order to reveal which aspects related to EFL learning are valued. Our main objecVve is to study the teaching of contents from other disciplines (sciences, mathemaVcs, History, among others). The corpus of analysis consists of three course books for EFL teaching within the context of elementary educaVon in Brazil.

EFL teaching and the communica0ve approach in Brazil

(1981, 1982, 1985), in his turn, claims that the learning of a foreign language (FL), or second language (SL), requires similar condiVons to those in which first language (L1) occurs, i.e., providing comprehensible input and opportuniVes for communicaVon.

Ellis (2005: 3-­‐7) discusses three approaches for the teaching of a second or foreign l a n g u a g e : O r a l -­‐ S i t u a V o n a l , N o V o n a l -­‐ FuncVonal, and Task-­‐Based. * Table 1: Three approaches for language teaching – Theories of learning (adapted from Ellis ibid, p. 7)

T h e N o V o n a l -­‐ F u n c V o n a l a p p r o a c h i s considered as a basis for the origin of the CommunicaVve Approach. Within this perspecVve, Hymes (1970) argues that the knowledge of a language involves both the knowledge of grammaVcal rules and the command of rules of language use. Krashen

FL teaching has received special agenVon in Brazil since the poliVcal freedom in the 1980s and the consequent opening of the naVonal economy to internaVonal markets. There was an important demand for professionals who mastered at least one FL. Coincidently, in the same decade, researchers and teachers engaged in the elaboraVon of curricula aiming at pracVcing the CommunicaVve Approach principles on language learning as the expression and negoVaVon of meanings. * The tables accompanying this arVcle can be downloaded here.


Evalua0on of didac0c materials for FL teaching McDonough & Shaw (2003: 59-­‐72) propose two stages for the evaluaVon of a course book. The first stage is the external evaluaVon (or macro-­‐evaluaVon) and focuses on the cover, blurb, introducVon and notes for teacher, and the contents table in order to verify the principles towards FL learning to which the authors subscribe. The external evaluaVon serves as parameter for a selecVon of materials for the next stage, the internal e v a l u a V o n ( o r m i c r o -­‐ evaluaVon). The essenFal issue at this stage is for us to analyse the extent to w h i c h t h e a f o r e m e n F o n e d factors in the external evaluaFon stage match up with the internal consistency and organizaFon of the materials as stated by the author/publisher. (2003: 66-­‐67)

Both authors recommend that a minimum of two units or lessons should be analyzed in order to invesVgate quesVons such as: In what ways are the four skills addressed? How are the contents sequenced? Is reading being addressed in texts that are relaVvely long? Analysis of course books The analysis of the course books chosen as corpus of this study follows the criteria developed by McDonough & Shaw (2003). The internal analysis involves the three first units or lessons of each book. The external analysis of book 1 reveals that the objecVves alternate communicaVve funcVons and the memorizaVon or decoding of lexical and grammaVcal items. In the introducVon, the authors claim that the teaching of contents is addressed.


The external analysis of book 2 revealed that there is not a systemaVzed addressing of contents. There are acVviVes which present contents but require only knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. In contrast, there are other acVviVes which enable an extension to the students’ previous knowledge and the personalizaVon of informaVon. The authors of book 3 claim that quesVons such as preparaVon f o r c i V z e n s h i p a n d t h e development of criVcal awareness are vital in the m a t e r i a l d e s i g n . I n addiVon, interdisciplinary themes and the teaching of contents are essenVal c o m p o n e n t s o f t h e acVviVes. The internal evaluaVon addresses the occurrence of acVviVes focused in the teaching of contents in the first three units of each book. The analysis of book 1 (see table 2) revealed that, despite the authors’ c l a i m , t h e t e a c h i n g o f contents is incidental. The units analyzed in book 2 (see table 3) revealed that, although a number of acVviVes involve contents from other disciplines, they require only the knowledge of grammaVcal rules and vocabulary. There are acVviVes addressing contents that enable the use of previous knowledge and personalizaVon of informaVon. However, there are others in which the teaching of contents is restricted to obtaining informaVon and vocabulary decoding.




The external evaluaVon enabled us to understand that the authors do not agree in terms of the relevance of the teaching of contents via English language. Book 1 authors claims that their material contains “acVviVes that relate the English language with other disciplines”. Book 2 authors do not refer to teaching English based on contents in the lessons evaluated. Finally, book 3 authors claim that the interdisciplinary themes are essenVal components of their material and that the teaching of contents is paramount in the acVviVes proposed.

ELLIS, R. Instructed Second Language Acquisition:

The internal evaluaVon enabled us to contrast the claims about the methodology and characterisVcs of each book with the acVviVes analyzed. Book 1 focuses on the teaching of grammar and vocabulary through translaVon and the relaVon with synonyms. Therefore, quesVons such as the development of the four skills are ignored. Similarly, book 2 seems to disregard the teaching of contents via English language. Book 3 presents acVviVes which seem to reflect the concern with contents of the essenVal curriculum of elementary educaVon. The item observaVons in the tables 4, 5 and 6 present objecVves addressing comprehensible input, the target use domain of the content, the sensiVvity to the culture and subjecVviVes of the learner, and the acquisiVon of literacy. On the other hand, learning structures and vocabulary are sVll present in the quesVons addressing contents. In summary, EFL teaching via interdisciplinary contents does not seem to be the objecVve of the materials under analysis. The teaching of foreign languages in Brazil follows the needs of the market, i.e., learning the four skills. In this manner, the approach suggested by book 3 could be an alternaVve since the focus on the four skills and the learning of grammar and vocabulary in that material provides opportuniVes for the design of acVviVes related to the acquisiVon of contents.

A Literature Review. Report to the Ministry of Education: Research Division, Auckland UniServices Limited, Wellington, New Zealand, 2005. HYMES, D. H. On communicative competence. In J. Gumperz and D.H. Hymes (eds) Directions in Sociolinguistics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970. KRASHEN, S. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. KRASHEN, S. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1982. KRASHEN, S. The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. London: Longman, 1985 MCDONOUGH, J. & SHAW, C. Materials and Methods in ELT. A Teacher’s Guide. 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishing, 2005. PARÂMETROS CURRICULARES NACIONAIS: Orientações Curriculares para O ensino Médio. Linguagens, Códigos e suas Tecnologias, Capítulo 3: Conhecimentos de Línguas Estrangeiras, Brasília, Brasil, 2006. RICHARDS, J. C. & RODGERS, T. S. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching: A description and analysis. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1986. The Corpus: Book 1: GOULART, Alcides João A. & DA SILVA, Maria Ângela. It’s a New Way 1. 3ª edição, Editora New Way, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 2003. Book 2: MORINO, Eliete C. & De FARIA, Rita B. Start Up Stage 7. 1ª edição, São Paulo, Brasil: Editora Ática, 2004. Book 3: FERRARI, Mariza T. & RUBIN, Sarah G. English Clips Book 6. São Paulo, Brasil: Scipione, coleção English Clips, 2001.

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