#8: MOBILE ASSISTED LL

What is Mobile Assisted Language Learning? What can be considered MALL? It actually means using your mobile for teaching and learning purposes. Personally I as an English teacher use different applications on my phone, but my favorite one Mirriam-Webster dictionary.

Why to use phones when you have a computer and a tablet? Simple. Phones are small and can be carried anywhere. Besides, you carry them with you anyway regardless of your intention to use them for language learning. Official numbers say that much more than the half of Armenian population outside the capital have mobile phones connected to the internet.  So they can make use of this for education purposes. MALL can be used to supplement a language course, to make shots of texts, access dictionaries, use as a tool for distance learning. For more complete information visit this link.

QR codes was something new for me and here you can get some interesting ideas how to use them in teaching English.

So get the fullest of your phones and also help your students to do so.

 

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#7: 3D VIDEO GAMES IN TEFL

You have probably seen people sitting before a PC with their headfones on and murmuring something into the mike. If so, most probably they are playing a simulation game such as Second Life. If you have played such games you know that it is a three dimensional space, where each player has their avatar and is able to interact with other players while completing tasks and missions.

When I downloaded the software, registered, chose my avatar and started to play the game the first thing I wanted to understand was how people felt when finding themselves in a virtual reality. You probably experienced the same: it is a strange feeling as you start identifying yourself with your avatar from the very first second on the game and when you fail in the game you percieve it as personal failure, and when you fly in the game you feel like you are flying. When you interact with people and talk to them this is the same as you met those people in real. The only difference is that there you are safe: say, you will never get drowned for real if you sink to the sea bottom in the game.

Well, how to relate it to teaching? No clues? I had none before I read an article about the virtual reality classroom!!! This is something so strange and unknown for Armenian reality. So, let me tell you what it is like. You meet your students face to face to get to know each other and to explain what they are supposed to expecet and to do in the vidtual classroom. They meet in the space at the settled time and conduct their lesson, only they have their avatars instead on themselves. This can create unlimited opportunities for many different academic subjects. For instance the teacher and the students may travel to different countries, find themselves in the WHite House talking to the governement member, take different professions and work in different places.

I have a wish to implement this in English teaching. But before that there is a lot of work to be done, starting from exploring all the opportunities that the game creates and finishing with getting studensts to effectively use this yet not completely explored educational tool.

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#6: VIDEO GAMES IN TEFL

Are you in favor or against computer games? Do you believe they can create a generation of dumb and antisocial people, or quick-witted and creative ones? A poll conducted several years ago says that  97% of children aged 12 to 17 play video games. They are here to stay want we or not. So we need to make good use of them for educational purposes as well. Here are some ideas for you to reflect on.

I won’t believe to find a single child who doesn’t like computer games and I have never seen a kid who’d pass by people playing a game without staring at the screen for a while. Some of them are so addicted to one or another game that they may spend sleepless nights before the PC or another device. So this gives rise to the thought  that there should be something “magical” about digital games. Indeed, there is.

So what is a digital game? if it is played on a computer or a gadget, has rules and seeks to accomplish a mission, and has roles that the games take.

Let’s see why children prefer games above their school lessons and how they can be implemented in learning to yield better results.

One of the important factors that makes games so engaging is that games are meaningful: that is you have your avatar in the cyberspace and all the things he/she/it does you identify with yourself. Or, in case of other types of games, you directly play the game. So you want to perform well as the game assesses your performance on an ongoing basis and give immediate feedback: you perform badly you lose points, you choose the wrong action and your life in the game is terminated. You need to start all over again. If compared to conventional education, we see that the things are really different. The assessment and feedback sometimes may arrive when a student has totally forgotten what assignment they are for.

So why should anyone want to play a game where they can lose? Simple as that, just because is a safe environment for failure: you can try it as many times as you want and every time you “die” in a game you are reborn, just like e phoenix 🙂 . You can’t take the risks in real life just the way you can in a game. And especially don’t try to practice this at school. If you submit a full of mistakes assignment you will probably be penalized with a terrible mark just like your work. And especially don’t try to misspell every single word in a dictation for the next level to know what are the correct versions just like you sometimes may be doing in a game. Remember, after your teacher sees this, there may not be a second time for you …

What games to choose? There are long lists of “Serious” games that tap on different skills and aspects of learning of a student. The teacher or a parent needs to scrutinize the game to see if it is level-appropriate, user-friendly, if it targets the topic or point to be taught or fostered. Choosing the right games needs thought and time on the side of a teacher and a parent taking into account the students’ opinion as well.

What about violence that these games feature? Report says that more than half of COT (commercials off-the-shelf) games have elements or violence in them. Yes, no one argues. but they are just more that half on the games. The other half is still there!!! On the other hand, there is no reliable evidence of violent games pushing players to aggressive actions in real life. They may prove to be just limited to players’ feeling aggressive and  irritated internally.

So as a parent, an elder sibling or a teacher, you need to reflect on how to make the most out of COT games for your younger friends, how to thoughtfully integrate them into curriculum, how to help students apply the concepts and skills learnt from games in real life, how to make them autonomous enough to make the right choice of games themselves… Can you just take any game and use it to educate? My answer is NO. You think it’s a lot of work? Well, no pain, no gain.

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#5: DIGITAL VIDEO PRODUCTION IN TEFL

Let’s have a look at  Digital Video Production and how to use it in English teaching. All of us have made videos in their life, and hundreds of them. The content ranges from wedding parties to our or friends’ children babbling and toddling, sleeping friends to live concerts of famous stars. However, what we shoot is far from being a movie.

Why to integrate it into teaching? It helps learners use language in content and connect it to real life. It fosters creativity and imagination. It enhances digital literacy. It taps on student autonomy. Though they are really time taking.
Many of us like watching movie, but we seldom give a second thought about how much work goes into the movie, not to mention in each scene. If we as language teachers are able to properly integrate it into our teaching it can  work as a great motivator and also hone all the four skills while drafting, redrafting, editing, shooting, memorizing the script, etc.

Here is some advice to give your students when you introduce movie making in an English class. First, the content of the movies needs to be  moderately intense; not too overloaded of events and ideas, however, every good movie needs to have a hook, a sort of an attention gainer. Let the end of a movie be somewhat unpredictable.

Where to get inspiration, you’ll ask? Experts say from anywhere, from the street, from another movie, from a household situation. And in order not to “lose” your ideas you can follow a movie maker’s advice and make small and neat sketches in a notepad.

To ensure that your story has a logical sequence of events and you know where to start and end each scene, you can use a storyboard. In simpler words a sheet of paper with middle size boxes all over it, in each of which you will draw the start of the scene, mention the position of the camera, and the development and the end of the particular scene. This will be kind of a plan that you’ll follow.

Another important thing is less likely to make a high quality film all alone without a strong crew. You need many brains that will produce different ideas and each will be good in their field. So try your best and you will be blessed to see the final product!!!!!!

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#4: DIGITAL STORYTELLING IN TEFL

In this post we are going to look at digital storytelling and its perspective as a language teaching tool. Practically most of us have done at least once, when creating a birthday wishes video for a friend. The process is to upload photos and videos, add music, special effects and record your narration. Here you  can have a look at some sample digital stories.

Digital storytelling can be a valuable tool as integrating it means keeping up with the time and making the teaching and learning process as authentic and meaningful as possible.
Research into using new technologies shows positive results in terms of motivation, authenticity of tasks, and suggests that integrating new technologies should not mean shifting from what was accepted and trying drastically new techniques.

I tried to create s digital story. This is how I felt about the whole process. Right after the reading I took up the marker and drew a girl on my classroom board. It looked like me. And I took a photo of it. Then I drew me with my son, then with my glasses on, then with my books, and my bike, then more and more. I added a random ringtone from my phone. It took me 20 minutes. I liked the experience. I will definitely try this in teaching.

This tool will definitely be used in my teaching, and most probably at my next class I will already introduce it. The reason is it gives you authenticity, it respects your interests, it gives way to your creativity and critical thinking. Even more, it taps on your technology related skills. You cut, you edit, you change the show time of each picture. Also audience awareness makes you do your best to produce a high quality video. 20151002_120458-1

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#3: WIKIS IN TEFL

Wikis??? Wikis…. Wikis!!!!!!!!!
When I heard this name I thought it was the name for individual Wikipedia entries… or… maybe Wikipedia moderators :). So I googled first (as usual), then read an article.

So wikis are webpages mutually connected to each other and easily editable by other users. They give the users browser- based access, that is no software or  webmaster is required to operate the pages.

So I tried editing a piece of writing compiled and created by my classmates. This gave me a somewhat distinct view of the concept of wikis. I liked the experience of being able to change the content the way I thought was more appropriate. Though I didn’t feel ablidged to contribute as I saw a big test already there.

Research  shows opportunities that wikis give and potential drawbacks they have. The reason to implement wikis for education purposes truly sound solid: they are a great platform for collaborative writing, they may develop critical thinking as editing others’ work is not an easy task, they also provide all the necessary tools for communication such as a massage box.

Using wikis you should know that a number of factors may determine how beneficial the use of this tool will be. These may be the type of the task, the students’ willingness to work in a team, and also the instructor’s attitude towards the process. What is more there seems to be considerable positive correlation between using collaboration scripts (in simple words assigning each group and individuals within the group special roles and imposing certain responsibilities on them) and the quality of final project, as well as the amount and quality of each learner’s contribution.

So my main advice is if you decide to use wikis for collaborative writing in TEFL consider implementing “collaboration scripts”. Give your students a clear outline of what they are expected to do. Leave them space for creativity, but make sure they are not lost.

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The New Experience

Through the years of my tutoring experience I had students with different needs for English: some were university applicants and needed grammar prep, others needed ESP such as English for banking, bookkeeping, economics. 80% of all the students I have ever had have come for general English. Basic communication skills, this is what they sought for. But the only feature that all these people shared was they all were adults or people in their late teens.

SO when my friend who has a 10-year-old boy suggested starting a group for early teens I was doubtful. I feared it more than anything as I thought I could not handle it. Not me! I have always got along with my older students but I have always thought that early teens are tough to deal with. Mainly because I still remember me and my classmates at school… and how we behaved… and how sincerely we didn’t care about what our teacher was talking about… and how we looked at our watches every 5 seconds with the hope that the class would draw to its end al last!

I just didn’t want to be the person making all that boredom and speaking words and ideas that would be ignored. So after two months of doubting I accepted the challenge and set up the group.

There are only three people there at this moment. But much to my surprise they like it! How do I know they do? The second time we had a class they refused to leave my room, claiming that the 1 hour was not yet over. They just wouldn’t believe it they were in my office for already an hour and a half. When I pointed to the watch they were just astonished.

Here are several photos from our classes full of fun and enjoyment both for me and my young learners.

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20150922_17135720150922_171424I attribute my success to my univerity and my department in 20150922_171857particular.

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