Monday, December 6, 2010

Mod.12 How do I use podcasts in my classroom?

I would like to introduce a website, “BETTER AT ENGLISH” as a useful tool for English teachers in terms of its usefulness as a material used in an English classroom and for enhancing teaching profession.
For example, when you look up one post titled “Real English Conversations: Telling time in English 1” on the website, you can download a sound (MP3) file that talks how differently American and British people read an analog clock.
As a material, I can have my students to listen to the sound clip by themselves (as many times as they want to), and accordingly, have them to write a summary of it in a grammar or speaking class. By using the material, I will be able to help students enhance their listening, writing, pragmatic and metalinguistic skills. Furthermore, since the conversation is transcribed (, and some key words are bold-faced), the students can also read it and understand the content even when they could not understand the conversation on their own. These factors can also help enhancing students’ reading skill and building vocabulary learning.
As for teaching profession, this post  (and also other posts on this website) looks useful  for non-native English teachers who are living outside English speaking countries since it tends to be difficult for them to find native speakers of English, especially when they want to know a various ways of saying same thing in (various types of) English. By listening to those podcasts day by day, non-native English teachers can learn many aspects of English and will be able to teach their students more native-like and well-organized information by connecting it to topics important for them to learn, such as; how to use dictionaries effectively, how to make presentations, how a specific grammatical item is used in a real world, and so on and so forth.
In addition, any readers of this blog can write comments on the posts in order to correct some errors in the transcripts (if needed) and recommend other readers to access other related or the latest resources as well. Not only this website, but also many other podcasts I have explored so far seemed to be useful for language teachers as resources used in class and for enhancing teaching profession.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mod.11 How could I use ePals in my ESL class?

The most useful feature in ePals seems that teachers (and, of course, parents also) can monitor how students (and children) are working on tasks and communicating with ePals online. Often times, a privacy issue is raised as an important concern with this type of social network (communication) tools. However, if teachers are to search for another teacher who is searching for ePals instead of having students to do so on their own, it might be easier to control the students’ activities and protect their privacies. In addition, since teachers’ profiles must be completed and approved to send and receive emails to/from ePals, they will feel secure in contacting each other.

In ESL classrooms, I would use this website to make students be able to 1) write well-formatted and well-organized emails, and 2) understand and imagine lives of ePals who are living in different ways from the students. More specifically, in a culture class (I can say this is an ESL writing class which is based on cultural contents), I will use the tool for having students compare and contrast (similarities and differences between) the students’ lives and their ePals’. I will first divide the students into some groups each of which explores one country with the members, which means the group members ask an ePal/ePals to obtain information about their lives.  The activity gives the students many chances to carefully think what questions they need to ask, and what type of register they will need to write in when they ask questions. After collecting information and summarizing it, they will give presentations and upload their written work on the website so that all classmates can share the information.
ePals looks a wonderfully useful tool for teachers in finding online friends for students while protecting their privacies, monitoring their work, and motivating them to study by themselves.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mod. 9 post #2 How would I use Flickr in class?

I found Big Huge Labs is an interesting and useful website for language teachers. Many applications have been developed not only for Flickr users but also guest users, and most of them are easy to use. For example, students can create a pop art/movie poster, a mosaic, a magazine cover, a map, an ID card, a calendar, a billboard, a CD cover, and many more others, with only one step.
Mod. 9 Activity Sample
By combining these tools with language learning activities, you can make your class more enjoyable. For example, I would use “Captioner” application, which you can add funny comic style captions to your photos for an assignment in an English class.
In my lesson, I will have students pick one picture from their photo folders (a digital picture, of course) and add at least one sentence in a thought bubble to their pictures, which must include a target expression of the lesson. In my sample picture, I used “I was wondering why…” as a target expression in the lesson.
The interesting thing about the application is that students can share the pictures with your friends through Flickr or facebook. So, it is easy for teachers to look through your students’ work at once. Plus, you can also have students post comments on classmates’ work (moreover, students might be told to include “I was wondering if” in their comments as well.)
This activity is less stressful than having them improvise a sentence promptly in a classroom especially for lower level students because they can spend as much time as possible for thinking how to use the expression in a real world. What is even better is that they can use authentic materials, and more than that, it’s just fun!
You can use these tools in many ways for your language learning activities in order to add entertainment to your assignments. I really enjoyed using these tools, so our students must enjoy it as well!

Mod.9 Post #1 What is Creative Commons license on Flickr?

You, as a Flickr user have choices of how you upload and offer your pictures under a Creative Commons license, in terms of copyright. Therefore, you need to understand, when browsing others’ work, that many of pictures on Flickr are under these conditions as well. For example, sometimes you are required to make clear to others the license terms of the work under a Creative Commons license by using and distributing the work with a link to the owner’s web page. Flickr uses mainly following four types of license:

Leica M7 Camera at Wonderland
Photo by Mr.T in DC
Attribution: You allow others to copy, share, display, and perform your copyrighted work, and derivative works as well, only if they give you credit.
Noncommercial: You allow others to copy, share, display, and perform your work, and derivative works as well, only for noncommercial purposes.
No Derivative Works: You allow others to copy, distribute, display, and perform, only when it is not tampered.
Share Alike: You allow others to share derivative works as well, only under a license which is exactly the same as the license that governs your work.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mod 7. How might I use microblogs for teaching?

I registered for Twitter more than 3 years ago, but within a week after registration, I have stopped using it even in my first language. The reason was because I had to check overwhelming amount of updated posts every day and could not keep up with the speed of posting.
In class activities, teachers can use micro-blogs for taking a survey simply asking if students think yes/no or multiple choices. In addition, if students need opinions and comments from outsiders for completing projects, they might use the tool effectively.
Honestly, I do not think using micro-blogging for classroom activities is highly beneficial, because tweets might be mere piles of shallower-thought posts than blogging.  If you compare these two tools, blogging would need a certain consideration and elaboration for publishing our thoughts. On the other hand, micro-blogging might not have to be such a thoughtful post because hundreds of tweets appear and disappear in an instant; or rather, ‘quickness’ of posting and reply might be a key characteristic for any activities using micro-blogging. Therefore, there might be some problems when you use micro-blogging in class activities. For example, if some people in a class have smartphones and some do not, those who do not have ones need to sit in front of a computer when they want to access it; otherwise, they will miss opportunity to join a conversation.
Two articles I have read for writing this post (1) "Can we use Twitter for educational activities?" and 2) "7 things you should know about microblogging") also discussed both advantages and disadvantages of micro-blogging. I would focus on bad points here; for example, microblogging might make students, especially who can access it via smartphones, addictive to the Internet. Since they do not know when new information arrives in their devices, they need to check their teacher’s micro-blog many times a day. It will not be an appropriate use of technology because the purpose of using technology in a classroom is to make them smart users of technology not technology ‘geeks.’
I guess it is difficult for micro-blogging to survive as an excellent learning tool in the future because it does not have many advantages when compared with facebook, Voice thread, or blogging, because micro-blogging originally aimed at communicating one’s thoughts or state to others privately not publicly such as social networking. Just like you might not want to read teachers hundreds of private tweets only for finding deadline for submitting an assignment. In this case, e-mail would be a better tool to send the message to students. Teachers should be careful for making proper use of the useful tools.
On the other hand, as for professional development, yes, you can meet many people online through micro-blogs who you could not have met otherwise. You can build your community and ask questions to your followers or other users there. This is a wonderful tool!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mod 6. My favorite blog post

I like the blog named "TEFL" Especially, when I read a post “Lesson plan 64: World Water Facts” which was posted on July 2nd, 2010, I found this post was really useful for ESL/EFL teachers who look for teaching materials. Teachers can make use of this video clip in a content-based lesson or simply an English teaching lesson. Since this post (most of posts actually!) suggests language level and learning type of students, furthermore, lesson plan and handout are also attached to the post, you can easily adopt them in your classroom only by adjusting the difficulty level of handout based on your students’ ability. I will definitely recommend future colleagues to read this post and facilitate teachers' work!!
(You also might need to add some comments on the video clip while playing it in order to make it not only instructive but also interesting to your students!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mod 4 Post #2 Join in “EFL Classroom 2.0”

After inputting “ESL, EFL, teachers” in a search box on Ning website, I found “EFL Classroom 2.0” was the biggest group (more than 17,000 members in it) which applied to the categories I was searching for. Most of the members are teachers all over the globe, and you can find and share lots of sources you can use in class, e.g., stories, games, quizzes, video clips, audio, software, flash cards, and more others!  Furthermore, you can also ask questions on a forum board online. This must be a useful tool for especially new teachers, like me, who do not know helpful colleagues and seniors who can advise them.