Showing posts with label eflclassroom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eflclassroom. Show all posts

Monday, May 30, 2016

Selfie Videos as a Tool for Language Learning


photo credit: Körsbärsblommorna i Kungsträdgården 2016 via photopin (license)



Being a teacher for some time, I have seen first hand the impact the adoption of technology has had in teachers' and in students' lives. Having that in mind, one cannot deny that it is important to adopt technology for teaching. In line with this premise, I would like to share something I learned in one of the many interesting presentations at the 2016 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo in Baltimore, USA. This practice-oriented presentation (by Loni Thorson, Kyla Masciarelli, and Christine Discoe) was entitled "Using Selfies to Promote Language Learning."

What the presenters pointed out was  that technology is what students want. Linking the drive to communicate with the technology available to us, selfies are a trend in the world today.  One point in favor of using selfies, the presenters argued, is that video chat is a growing trend. This is really true and the proof for that is that if we look around, we will see people making either video or picture selfies almost all the time. Besides that, video chat through Face Time, Skype or other channels are quite frequent among learners young and old. Educators have to admit that this is a sign that people in general are comfortable with this technology. This brings us to the first argument they presented in favor of using selfies as a means to learn a language: classroom  comfort.

Classroom comfort informs us that in order to have effective and authentic tasks, students need to be comfortable with the assignment. We observe that students are very comfortable with their cell phones. Actually they are uncomfortable if they don't have them. Social comfort is also important. Students need to be comfortable with the technology (cell phone).  Being digital natives, students are used to seeing themselves in videos. They want that image to be curated. We want students to want their image to look good., they want to sound good, their pronunciation to be good, they want their image to look good. We teachers want students to want their image to look good. So, they have a natural desire to self-correct in terms of how they sound and how they look.  This is exactly what we teachers want.Video chat is a comfortable environment for them.

When people make a selfie video, they generally explain their surroundings and they give an update on what they are doing, they also explain if they are having a problem or if they are sick. All this updating creates a one to one interaction and, as a result, it increases comfort between students and viewers. A comfortable relationship with the teacher is created through this open communication channel. Besides that, it also creates comfort between students as they see themselves and their classmates in the videos. As time goes by, students that might  not have been happy with how they looked or sounded, feel more comfortable seeing and listening to themselves. Some report never have listening to or seeing themselves before. As they report feeling more comfortable doing that.

Why are selfies important?
Some reasons that make us convinced that using selfies in the language is useful relate to comfort and attention. There are two types of attention: inward attention and outward attention. They are mutually exclusive and you cannot have the two going on at the same time. Why is it important to understand this concept when making selfies videos? While making a selfie video, students do not only direct themselves outward, but they also have to direct themselves inward to see what is happening to themselves. They correct themselves during the video and sometimes after the video. This kind of attention works as meter against which they evaluate their performance, and as a result, they record multiple times just to make sure they get it right. They are aware of their own self-presentation and they make more selfies as assessment or a class task, they get more confident of their performance and become more confident and fluent speakers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Positive Psychology applied to EFL



Here I am again to talk about Positive Psychology and its application to our classrooms.  In 2006, a little before I began my Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Brasília, I heard that I should think twice before assuming such a decision because a Doctorate was a long term commitment and that it involved a lot of suffering.  Also, some people would come to me with stories of doctorate students losing hair, putting on many kilos, or even falling into a state of depression. Nevertheless, I was determined to be a candidate and if accepted, to carry on with my goal.
It turned out to be that I was accepted and very soon, I began to feel guilty for not suffering at all. Actually, I cherished every single moment of my being at University, doing research, having contact and discussions with knowledgeable people, and learning, learning a lot. So if you ask me what my story has to do with Positive Psychology, I will tell you that it is the very essence of this area of Psychology. Learning cannot and should never ever be related to suffering. Learning is discovering, expanding, flourishing. Then let´s see how Positive Psychology may be applied to EFL teaching and learning. Below, I will suggest three exercises I have already carried out with success, and I invite you to try with your own classes.
Gratitude
Research shows that gratitude can be trained and increased. Interventions may result in a positive state of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy. So I got my teen students into a circle to discuss the idea of Thanksgiving. Not everyone actually knew how and when it had begun and what individuals did in such a celebration. After showing them a video from YouTube, I asked each one to write a short paragraph about a person who has had a positive impact on their lives and who they were thankful to. When they had finished, I asked volunteers to telephone the person they had written about and to read the exact words on the paper. That´s when the magic occurred. There was a lot of emotion and tears involved. One of the girls preferred to write about a peer who was present in class.  As she read her beautiful and revealing statement, the whole class was involved in a unique and memorable exercise.

What went well ? Living positive education.
General well-being—how much positive emotion, how much meaning in life our students have is fundamental for the generation of success. Learning to value must start early and can be practiced in any educational environment. Students should have opportunities to speak about themselves and to open their souls and hearts to others. It provides synergy among class members a sense of togetherness, engagement and happiness. Finally, teachers should bear in mind that academic success is not only a function of academic knowledge or cognitive processing. Success is a function of the connections to self, others, and the world that shapes our brain.

The magic ball-making compliments
Students should be standing in a circle. Then, the teacher should start and throw the ball at a student and make a genuine compliment at him/her. The students would carry on with the activity until everyone has had the chance to throw the ball and hear impressions and compliments. The activity involves emotional strength, when students recognize the relationships, and applaud personal accomplishment.


So dear teacher, remember that teaching in joyful and supportive ways is the best means to learning. Thus, I am here to invite you to try differently and practice the conditions that nurture strengths that enable students to self-regulate. I invite you to assure students can find their own meaning in learning and distinguish between achievement and accomplishment. Build your students capacity to flourish

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tips for Helping Adult Students Blossom in the EFL Classroom



It is our role as teachers to instill a fruitful learning atmosphere. However, how can we build a learning environment in which adult students will lower their affective filter, generate rapport and blossom? Here are my top beliefs. 

1.    Personalize your classes by giving examples using what you know about your students. Instead of saying, “John wakes up at 7.00”, why not change John for the name of a student in class? Much more meaningful and inductive, besides showing they are important for you.

2.    Believe your students can be fluent. They are there because they believe and when they believe they work harder. So do you. When you believe your students can make it, you will start thinking of ways to help them improve their learning process and this might make them trust you.

3.    Provide students with meaningful feedback on how they can improve their English or the best practice for them to be a successful language learner. Show them you care.

4.    Praise your students even for little achievements. Show them you’re taking their improvement into account. Tell them you know they can do it, and when they get there, make sure you point it out. This way they will see that you are attentive to their progress.

5.    Be a Role Model for your student. Students usually look up to the teacher, so don’t speak Portuguese. The moment you resort to Portuguese to explain something, you’re allowing them to do the same. Challenge students to understand and communicate using the English they have.

6.    Sympathize with your students. It’s not easy to learn a new language at adulthood. It takes a long time for you to be in control of your life, and then when you start learning a language, you don’t have a voice. How frustrating is it? Show understanding and encourage them to keep on track. 

7.    Share your story too. Let your students know about yourself. Illustrate an explanation with examples of your life too. They want to feel you are approachable and, luckily, there can be some interaction too.

8.    Value their expertise – let your students show their expertise in their field. It can be something simple like explaining how easy stand up paddle is, for example, but let them feel valued and show they can collaborate too.

9.    Lighthearted classes are fun, time flies and you want to be there again. Make your students have a good time with the right mix of responsibility and humor. A friendly atmosphere engages learners.


10.  Add your tip here so we can make 10.



Thursday, May 07, 2015

TESOL 2015 - Kahoot: A Game Platform to Spice Up your Classes

TESOL 2015 - Kahoot – A Game Platform to Spice Up your Classes

Just another thing I discovered in TESOL International Conference in Toronto. Actually, my colleague Ana Cristina Gerin had used it and mentioned it in one of our EdTech meetings. I was a bit busy with other projects and did not have time to try it out, though. So, while in the last TESOL conference, I had the chance of attending a 25 minute session in the Electronic Village in which I had a hands on experience with the tool. Back to my routine, I decided to give it a try and my students and I just loved it. Kahoot is free and it is in its own words is “ a classroom response system which creates an engaging learning space, through a game-based digital pedagogy.” To use it you will need internet connection and a device (iPad, smart phone) for each pair of students. So, let me explain to you how it works.

Create your own 

First, you will have to join Kahoot. After you create your account, you can create your own games (called kahoots). You can create three kinds of activities: quizzes, discussions, and surveys. To create a new kahoot, you will have to click on “new” and add your questions. Once you are done, it will be saved to your account and you can play it as many times as you wish. Besides that, you can also share your creations with your friends if you happen to know their user names.

Find other Kahoots

Once you are in, you can also use one of the thousands of public activities you will find for free on their site. To do this you will just have to use the search feature, find the one or ones you are looking for and check them to see if it suits your purposes.

Play the Game

Now that you are in, it is time to use it in class. You should first log on to your account and choose the game you want to play. Next, you should ask your students to open their device’ browser and search for Kahoot. The search will give them two results. Ask them to open the Kahoot it link. Once they do that, the platform will ask for a game pin. This is when you will have to launch the game by clicking on “play.” The next step will involve students choosing their nicknames, which can be a combination of the paired students’ names. Once everyone joins the game you can start playing. After each question, the platform gives a score ranking students as first, second, third, and so on.

A Gift

I have created two games for my Teens 7. So, here they are,

What did she say?   A quiz on reported speech.

What's the correct answer?  A quiz to test will and going to future.

I really need to work on tagging and creating names that will help others finding my quizzes.

A Tutorial

Here is a tutorial to help visual learners to grasp it a bit better.



Friday, February 14, 2014

On Wearing Two Hats: Teaching & Responding to Writing


This morning I had the opportunity of engaging with quite an interesting and energetic group of bright individuals as part of our institute's training of newly-hired teachers. The goal was to discuss the teaching of writing to our EFL learners, what it is that an effective pre-writing lesson should entail, as well as ways of responding to students' writings. It was a hands-on session, with some initial discussion and brainstorming of lesson stages with a specific writing prompt in mind, which was then followed by their response to and correction of an authentic writing sample. The idea was to familiarize teachers with the kind of response to writing that we believe to be in keeping with the principle that writing is a recurrent process, non-linear in its creative nature, and the very expression of one's voice.
Roll up your sleeves and let's get down to business
Teachers worked in smaller groups and were asked to respond to and provide corrective feedback to a first draft sample of a five-paragraph essay written by an upper-intermediate level learner. Along with the sample, they received a copy of our correction and proofreading symbols, as well as a scoring rubric by means of which they'd grade that first draft. They immediately set out to accomplish the task, industriously reading the piece, red pens in hand, and... Stop. Wait a minute. Do you feel an urge to begin crossing out and underlining spelling mistakes and wrong verb tense use? You do, don't you?
Step away from the red pen
Before you unleash your full corrective-feedback-giving potential, put on a different hat. Be a reader. Respond to your students' content and ideas as a real person. Familiarize them with that sense of having an audience. We use language to communicate, be it in spoken or written form. Let them know that you are truly listening to them. Try to find at least a couple of aspects in their writing that are worth a compliment. Relate to their ideas, share a little about your own experience by commenting that maybe you once felt the same way as they did facing a certain situation in your own life, and that you know how wonderful or how difficult it must have been for them to go through it, as well. Empathize. Connect. Engage. 
Respect individual stylistic choices
It's always a challenge to provide corrective feedback without stifling the writer's voice. What I mean is, are you (over)correcting to the point of forcing the student to write as you would have if expressing a similar idea in written form? Of course there are instances of L1 interference that must be addressed, such as word order issues to name one, but we teachers walk a fine line between pointing our students in the right direction and simply imposing our own style on them. Keep an awareness of the fact that your students are experimenting with language (a foreign one, as a matter of fact), and that they are, knowingly or not, in their own quests to finding their voice. Cherish. Allow. Enable. 
Sounding curious as opposed to judgemental
Instead of saying something like "this paragraph is too short. Please develop your ideas here." how about offering something more in the lines of "I wonder if you could tell me more about this experience/situation." or even "how did you feel?" and "what did you do next?" The point is that by asking a simple question, you may elicit just the response you want from a student, instead of making a direct comment that might come across as judgemental, in that it is an affirmation made by you, the teacher, who is supposedly the knowledge authority on all subjects language-wise. Don't point fingers. Ask more questions. Provoke. Entice. Foster.
This set of guidelines sprang up from this group's engagement and reflections during our training session, so that gives you a pretty good idea of how lucky we are to have gathered such a great collection of curious and avid learner-teachers. Thank you all, Casa newbies, for inspiring me to write this piece.
Welcome aboard, guys!

Clarissa Bezerra

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

In the EFL Classroom: Simple mLearning Activity that Works with Beginners


On the second day of class, I was supposed to review the verb to be to talk about a third person (This is Ana. She's a teacher. She's 36 years old. She's from The United States). 

We practiced questions/answers in pairs and played a guessing game about Brazilian celebrities. I had planned to use the I-pads after this practicing, so students could share some curious facts about different international celebs. However, I had no idea what tool to use in order for the students to, once again, practice the structure they had learned and share that. 

So, I called Carla and she suggested that I use the students' cell phones instead. It would be simple, practical and fast because students were already acquainted with their devices, so they would quickly know exactly how to perform the task at hand, which was search for information about an international celebrity. 

That's what I did and the result was fantastic! Thanks to Carla. I'd NEVER have thought of using the cell phone. I was appalled it hadn't occurred to me! 


Activity: Google a Celeb

1) Hand out slips with names of international celebrities. Here are a few:

Bruce Willis 
Keanu Reeves 
Nicole Kidman 
Mila Kunis 
Martin Lawrence 
Natalie Portman
Emma Watson
(Late) Audrey Hepburn 

2) Explain that students will search for the following: Their name, birth place, age and occupation. 

3) Ss search for the information and take notes using the verb to be.

4) Ss in small groups share their findings by showing their cellphones screens to colleagues and saying, "This is... He's ... years old. He's a…He's from…"

5) Monitor Ss' errors in pronunciation/structure. 


TWO THUMBS UP!

It was great to see how students enjoyed the authenticity of such task and their reaction to their peers' findings! Some were very surprised, so they would say,  "Oh really! Interesting! Wow! I don't believe it!"  In sum, they had a lot of fun, and I was glad with the result.





Thursday, December 12, 2013

What do You Think? Questions in the EFL Classroom


“What do you think?” For most students, there is no question more enervating than this one. In reality, Fernando is thinking about Natalia’s rear end, Leticia is thinking about red shoes, and Amelia is wondering if her hair should really be so pink. The teacher is referring to the North Pole, to a week in the desert, to a flight to outer space. “What do you think?” Think what?!


Teacher In Classroom

Let’s get more specific. Look at the paragraph on page 94. “Most people start a diet on the first day of the week.” So, asks the teacher, on what day did Mary probably start her weight-loss program? Monday, teacher. Great! Is that enough thinking for the day? How many minutes are left in this class, anyway…..
Is it hot or cold in the Amazon? Hot, teacher. Is Florida north of the equator; yes or no? Yes, teacher. What do you think about the architecture in Brasilia? Think what?

Questions that are too broad or too narrow are really a dead-end with regard to inducing extensive thinking or communicating. “Thinking” is usually best fueled by substance, in the form of reasoning, figuring out, relating to experience. For example, among the classes which are a requirement for people wanting to obtain a driver’s license, there is one session devoted to small-group discussion of contentious traffic situations  described by the teacher on printed handouts. In this case, “what do you think” sparks a heated exchange between persons who have experience these or similar situations, who know others who also have, whose speculations and opinions are percolating with reciprocal mental energy in the buildup of accelerating reactions among the participants. This is thinking.

Yes/No questions, queries which ask for a fact or statistic, all have their place in classroom work, in the daily constructs of communication. But they do not usually result in the extent or complexity of thought – hopefully, expression – which the teacher has in mind when he envisions students in the process of interested reaction to stimulation of thought. Some questions inspire furtive, repeated attention to the movement of the minute hand on the clock on the wall. On the other hand, effective thought-provoking strategies can open up fields of mental/verbal exploration that will result in looks of surprise and slight frustration when the bell rings. Already, teacher?   


Katy Cox