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IED In English Digital February 2012

Special Feature

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

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Graphic design, layout and additional photography: Paul Driver

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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

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Contributors o

IED

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

Tanguene

Cadu Souza

Maputo, Mozambique

Brazil

Lucia Bodeman

Cris0ane da  Silva  Lopes

Recife, Brazil

Rio de  Janeiro,  Brazil

Celeste Simões

João Carlos  Lopes

Portugal

Rio de  Janeiro,  Brazil

Hand Illustration: Paul Driver


SPECIAL FEATURE

FOCUS ON

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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.

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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: http://www.sacmeq.org


SPECIAL FEATURE

Teacher Profile

Johannes Magombo

MAPUTO PROVINCE

IED Interview


SPECIAL FEATURE

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?

JM:

Most of my students are teenagers.

IED:

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?


SPECIAL FEATURE

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.


SPECIAL FEATURE

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?

PRIVATE


SPECIAL FEATURE

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.


SPECIAL FEATURE

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

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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)  http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/discussion/maputo-readers-corner?page=24


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

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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://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/discussion/maputo-­‐ 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


THINK ON

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.


THINK ON

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;shcouncil.org.br/elt    www.osdemethodology.org.uk www.cri;calliteracy.org.uk/elt   Mark  Davy  Crocke$  and  the  Frozen  Dawn  –  Schlosser,  S.  E. Available  at  h$p://americanfolklore.net/folktales/tn1.html     retrieved  on  November  18,  2007.  Davy  Crocke$  –  Available  at:   h$p://americantalltales.net/index.html  retrieved  on  November  18,  2007.

Lucia Catharina  Bodeman     Twi$er:  @lu_bodeman  /  Email:  lu_bodeman@yahoo.com.br

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.

HANDS ON

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/Shutterstock.com


HANDS ON

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. http://www.visualthesaurus.com/


THINK ON

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.


THINK ON

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.”

THINK ON

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.  


THINK ON

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/Shutterstock.com

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.


THINK ON

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  

values.

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


THINK ON

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.  


THINK ON

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  

wisely!

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)


THINK ON

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.


THINK ON

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!


THINK ON

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

STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES OPPORTUNITIES THREATS

THINK ON

Cadu Souza,  Brazil

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

S x  O

W x  O

Threats

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.


THINK ON

WEAKNESSES T H R E A T S

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.

OPPORTUNITIES

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?


THINK ON

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/Shutterstock.com

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.  


THINK ON

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.  


THINK ON

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

BIRTHDAY

(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  ...  ?  

A

B

dogs

cats

ice-cream

vegetable soup

'Big Brother'

science fiction films

horror films

football

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.


THINK ON

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.


THINK ON

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.  

Image:MrGarry/Shutterstock.com

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.


THINK ON

Conclusion

References

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.


DATES TO REMEMBER Date February 11th

March 19th  -­‐  23rd  

April 27th-­‐29th  

Event

Venue

Organisers

Contact details

Country

"(Re)Valorizar as  Línguas   Goethe-­‐Ins0tut,   no  Currículo  Escolar" Lisbon

FNAPLV

www.appi.pt

Portugal

IATEFL 46th  Annual   Conference  and   Exhibi0on

Scoqsh Exhibi0on  &   Conference   Centre,  Glasgow,   Scotland

IATEFL

hgp://www.iatefl.org/ glasgow-­‐2012/46th-­‐ annual-­‐conference-­‐and-­‐ exhibiVon

UK

APPI 26th  Annual   Conference  -­‐  'Mo0vated   Teachers  Make  a   Difference'

Hotel Vila  Galé   Coimbra

APPI

www.appi.pt

Portugal

Escola Beit   Yacov

www.beityaacov.com.br

Brazil

ABRAPUI

hSp:// www.abrapui.org/

Brazil

Brazilian Immersion   Conference  for  Educators:   April  29-­‐May   '  Pathways  to   Escola  Beit  Yacov,   1st Bilingualism:  Pedagogy,   Sao  Paulo Best  Prac0ces  and   Accountability'

ABRAPUI May 9th-­‐12th   Language  and  Literature   in  the  Age  of  Technology

Universidade Federal  de  Santa   Catarina,

UK

Florianopolis, SC

If you  have  any  events  happening  between   May  and  September  you  wish  to  adverVse  in   the  next  ediVon  of  IED,  please  let  us  know   by  the  end  of  March.


IED

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Profile for British Council Portugal

In English Digital - 3  

The February 2012 edition of the magazine for teachers of English in Portuguese speaking countries, featuring a special focus on Mozambique.

In English Digital - 3  

The February 2012 edition of the magazine for teachers of English in Portuguese speaking countries, featuring a special focus on Mozambique.

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