miércoles, 25 de enero de 2017

Discover New Resources to Teach Students
How to Write Well in a Foreign Language
                                                          By Enrique Rojas R.

There is always been the feeling that teachers are not being very successful in instructing students to write properly and effectively even in their own language, let alone in a foreign one. Naturally. It did not come as a surprise when Steve Graham and Dolores Perin, after a careful study, concluded that some of the methods used in teaching writing were more effective than others. Now technology has revolutionized teaching in many ways. What does it have to offer in the instruction of foreign language writing?

One of the most important points is that technology can be the magic wand to turn slothful, apathetic greenhorns into eager and motivated writers. One of the reasons learners are not very willing to make the effort to produce written materials is the usefulness of the endeavor. They know that only the teacher (and then hopefully) will come in contact with the product of their work and perhaps translate it into a grade and that will be the end of it.  A very different story would be if they knew their work was going to be published and read by other people. Then they could be really proud of the work they have done.

Up to a few years ago, the only chance of giving that written work some form of life was posting it on a bulletin board within the classroom or, in the best of cases, on the hallway, where it could be seen –and perhaps read— by other students. Now, with technology the possibilities of having those pieces of writing published for other people to read are very real. Now writing can be done for a reason, to serve a real purpose, to express opinions, to communicate an issue, to draw attention to a particular concern.

One way to do that is through a school website or blog. Also there are sights that offer different options. For instance Google Drive and Zoho Writer allows the teacher to turn a writing assignment into a webpage and Yudu and Issuu lets convert them into a newsletter or e-book.

There are also programs that teach students how to write and aid teachers in the arduous task of grading papers. TeachThought, an international organization and platform that seeks to support the implementation of innovative learning, advises us: “Increasingly complex and comprehensive programs are available to help students fix errors in their writing, and can offer feedback during the writing process, when it matters most… While programs like these are still evolving, they will undoubtedly become a go-to tool to help educators teach students writing in the coming decades.” An additional advantage is that students can take advantage of the feedback to make changes before handing in a paper, thus gaining in guidance and sense of achievement. Countless people learn all kinds of things through tutorials and there are also many to help students learn grammar in an easier way. Grammar is the basis for good writing. And new software is coming out that can help students as they write, “addressing grammar issues as they happen.” Another type of software can help teachers to keep an eye on students’ progress, or lack of it.

Perhaps better known is Google Drive, a file storage and synchronization service created by Google, which permits students to work together on a project or to provide each other feedback that can be exceedingly beneficial in the writing process. Another point is that students may learn to write fluently using a keyboard instead of pen and paper, which is what they will probably have to do often in their professional lives. Teachers can find themselves many other ways to use technology to enhance their teaching writing and make it into a much more agreeable task for the learners.

10 Ideas For Using Technology To Teach Writing. teachthought. http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/10-ideas-for-using-technology-to-teach-writing/ Retrieved Jan 23, 2017.

Graduated in Journalism at the PUCP, Peru, Enrique Rojas R. holds a M.A. in Journalism and a MA in Inter American History from Southern Illinois University, USA; an M.A. in Literature from University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico, all the coursework for a MA in TEFL at Universidad de Piura, Peru and B.A. in Education from Universidad Federico Villarreal. He has also obtained Certificates of Proficiency in English both from Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and the Diploma for EFL Teachers from Universidad del Pacifico. He is an Oral Examiner for the Cambridge University exams and has been awarded the title Expert in E-Learning from Asociacion Educativa del Mediterraneo and Universidad Marcelino Champagnat. He has worked as a professor in universities in Peru, Mexico and the United States; as a newscaster and a producer in radio and television stations in the United States and Mexico, and as a writer and editor in daily newspapers of the same countries. He has been in the staff of CIDUP for 18 years teaching English and Spanish specializing in International Exams, English for Business, ESP and Teacher Training. He is a member of the Research Area of Centro de Idiomas de la UP.

miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017

Is it a Must to Teach Grammar? 
Elucidate What to do or not to do

                                                         By Zarela Cruz 

When it comes to grammar, students’ (and even teachers’) reactions can be quite diverse: from enthusiasm to boredom. It should not necessarily be like that. Students do need grammar to speak and write correctly.  Without that knowledge, they may be fluent, but not accurate.

As teachers, we must keep in mind that grammar should be contextualized; otherwise, any grammar point we teach will end up as a set of rules that form a pile of information for the students to memorize. Needless to say, this is not a bright prospect for any learner, regardless of their level.

So, how could we teach modals, for example? By teaching functional language, that is making polite requests, giving advice, giving orders and so on. How can you teach and contrast the present perfect and the simple past? By preparing a list of “Find someone who…..” and adding information questions to clarify students’ answers. You want to teach regular and irregular verbs? Play bingo! Do you prefer action? Sit students in circles and throw a small ball to a student while asking the past tense of a given verb. It the student does not know the answer, they have to leave the circle. If they answer correctly, they will throw the ball to another pupil and mention another verb for the receiver to come up with the past tense, and so on. You are not allowed to make such a fuss within the classroom? Well, “noughts and crosses” is another option.  Have you ever tried “Change your place if....?” You may use this activity not only to practice grammar, but also to reinforce new vocabulary.

Not your best choice? Then you may want to use pictures from famous people and ask students what they know about them using for example, simple past, or future with will to make predictions, or make hypothesis. You may also want to compare two by using comparatives, or mention more elements and look for superlatives. The list is endless. And remember:


Now your turn:
How do you make your students feel eager to learn grammar? or Have you already given up?
Let us know by leaving a comment!  Your colleagues will benefit from your experience! Peer support is always a plus!


Zarela Cruz graduated from Ricardo Palma University as a translator.  She also finished her masters studies in Linguistics and took some specialization diplomas in English and Spanish. She has also completed a number of online certificates:  Teaching the Working Adult, Online, Hybrid and Blended Education, among other self-study courses. She has taught different courses, programs and levels and has been a teacher trainer, a lecturer and online instructor. This article aims to reflect on the teaching of grammar

viernes, 13 de enero de 2017

Mobile phones in class: a Friend or a Foe?

By Mayra Yaranga.

Mobile phones are part of everyday life, and teachers can take advantage of their many features to help students improve their speaking skills, whether in or out of the classroom.

Mobiles can provide an effective resource in accuracy-based speaking activities. For instance, they can be used to practice different pronunciation features by having students record themselves shadowing an audio recording. Later, the recordings can be shared through WhatsApp for feedback from the teacher.

As for fluency work, m-learning can become a very useful ally for teachers. First of all, it can supply the lack of background information that students may need for a speaking activity such as a talk or a debate. Preparation time for such activities could include some kind of webquest* with the help of students’ phones. The fact that nowadays people store photographs and videos in their mobiles can give them immediate access to these materials in class, so that any speaking activity (a talk or conversation) set by teachers can gain from the visual stimuli stored in the phones. Tasks which involve students reporting current or personal events can also be recorded and shared, and students can add comments if a common WhatsApp group is created by them. This provides a sense of describing real things, real people, and using real communication.

In conclusion, it is sound to regard mobile phones as useful tools to develop speaking skills, provided that this is done responsibly and with effective monitoring to avoid any distractions from our actual goals.

 *WebQuests are activities, using Internet resources, which encourage students to use higher order thinking skills to solve a real confusing problem. WebQuests are a sub-set of Problem-Based Learning (PBL). (http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/whatis_awq.asp)

Now it’s YOUR turn
Have you ever used mobile phones in class to develop speaking skills? If so, what were the results?
Azabdaftari, B.; Mozaheb, M. (2012). Comparing Vocabulary Learning of EFL Learners by Using Two Different Strategies: Mobile Learning vs. Flashcards. The EUROCALL Review, v20 n2 p47-59
Jung, H. (2015). Fostering an English Teaching Environment: Factors Influencing English as a Foreign Language Teachers' Adoption of Mobile Learning. Informatics in Education, v14 n2 p219-241

Mayra Yaranga (1985) has completed Doctorate studies in Education at UNIFÉ; she holds a Master’s Degree in Media, Culture and Identity from Roehampton University (London)  revalidated by PUCP, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from UPCH and the Professional Title of Licenciada from IPNM. Currently she works as IELTS trainer, Cambridge Oral Examiner and Member of the Research Area for Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacifico. She is also ESP coordinator and Pre-University Centre Director at UNIFÉ. She has published papers in the fields of English Language Teaching and Cultural Studies.