My Portfolio

Is the iPhone the Private Language teacher’s IWB?

Posted on August 15, 2010. Filed under: My Portfolio |

For a few years now I have been using the IWB  (interactive White Board) in my classroom and, like many teachers who have used it for some time, I understand the benefits a tool linked to the internet can bring. IWBs also contains tools to record your students and also, move and change language on ‘screen’. Apart from teaching in a private school, I am happy to say I specialise in private teaching with high level government officials of the Brazilians government.

Teaching privately is quite different from classroom teaching. 1-to-1 classes demand a different approach which is individual to that specific learner’s needs every second you are in there company. Demands placed on the teacher can be just as great as when you have 15 students in front of you. The main difference is that 1 to 1 classes are usually tailor-made and not set in a traditional classroom environment but usually in a learners office, meeting room or places such as airports or shopping centres (I’ve even given classes in a car a few times before a Minister flies off to a foreign meeting). So as you can imagine a teacher has to be flexible to say the least.

The other day, I was with one of these students and we were talking about how public administration could persuade Brazilians citizens to use public transport in Brazil. One issue came up and the student wanted to know what was ‘crenças’ in Portuguese, so i got my recently purchased iPhone out and looked it up on Babbel fish, the online translator, as i couldn’t bring it to mind át the time. After this I then remembered the Fun Theory clip on youtube which had changed peoples concept of taking the stairs instead of the escalator when they leave the underground. This was to illustrate a point of changing behaviour when using a public service. I didn’t plan these activities beforehand and kept in conversation with my student as I touched my iPhone to bring up these tools. This is similar to what I do in class with an IWB.

In my next private class I recorded the student’s voice on one of the Iphone´s application for him to listen to himself and how he pronounced some phrases. This is another option the IWB has. Of course, I still used a pen and piece of paper to note down words and corrections to give my students some visual feedback on their performance. This is just like in class when you use the IWB as a normal board in a more traditional way.The thing is, I didn’t buy my iPhone for my classes but it suddenly brought a whole new dimension to how I teach which benefits my students ‘ learning. Could we say then that the iPhone (or even the iPad) is the private teacher’s IWB?

P.S. By the way. I wrote this post on my iPhone while waiting in a car park for my next student.

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The Teaching Sensation

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: My Portfolio, Training |

I was giving a training session to a group of teachers on presenting and practicing language. We got round to practicing concept questions and I remembered when I did this how difficult it was at first and now, how natural it has become and each time so rewarding.

At the end of the trainees´ presentation, I found myself explaining what an exhilarating effect you can have when you know the student really know what you have taught and they confirm this to you. When you have checked the concept and notice how well the students respond and are clear of what they have just covered in class. It can send shivers in me when this happens and it feels me with immense pride when the students really know you have ‘taught’ them something they did not know before. I think they are also proud of themselves too.

It then made me wonder how many young and new teachers miss this essential part of the class completely. It is because they rely too much on the course book which cannot explain or teach them about this important classroom concept or teachers don´t even know the importance of checking what the students have done. Not only do the students not get an efficiently managed lesson but also teachers miss out on this fantastic sensation. It is this feeling that can drive the teacher and keep them motivated If they don´t even know how to teach this important part of the lesson they can soon become disenchanted and start to burnt out.

I noticed this change recently in two of my teachers who had come back from doing their CELTAs. They suddenly found this new sensation they did not have before and it was as if they had learnt a new language and we could communicate because we shared the same motivational experience. I watched their classes and they had at last understood the importance of taking time to plan the most important parts of their lessons such as giving instructions and concept checking.

I could see that when they carried these parts of the lesson out they had changed and know I could put my finger on what it was when I spoke to the trainees. These two teachers could clearly see what they were doing and achieved their objectives well with a positive and constant student response. It is a shame that many teachers can´t see this importance and never feel the difference it makes not only to their learners but to their own esteem as they miss or even ignore concept questions or good instructions. They miss the classroom synergy it can cause.

I explained it to the trainees as the sensation you feel in your heart when something goes well and you mutually feel this connection with the students. I may seem a bit far-fetched but I think it is true. The students all start ‘singing the same tune’ so to speak, and you know you have their confidence and the learning process is made easy.

There are fewer better teaching experiences.


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IATEFL Aberdeen

Posted on April 22, 2007. Filed under: My Portfolio |

I´ve never been to an international event but this last week I have had my chance to take part in the IATEFL conference in Aberdeen without leaving my house. Through it´s new online forums it has been great to be involved in someway and see what is going on. It has brought me a bit closer to the issues that have been raised there.

Just before the event I was asked to moderate the Teacher Development Forum on the events MOODLE. I have used moodle before for distance training with my school so wasn´t to worried about using it. My problem was dealing with so many different teachers from throughout the world but as I write this it seems to have been a painless process and I am learning a lot.

The best thing is meeting many different people online from different countries such as Egypt,Venezuala, The US, Pakistan, Argentina, Mexico Japan and the list goes on. There are similar views on most subjects and opinions seem to be well rounded and pertinent to the Forum. Some people have started strands and some I have had to start but it seems to be balancing out nicely.

There are also videos and pictures of people  at the conference and it is nice to see IATEFL take a leaf out of our Braz-TESOL event last year and take up the British Councils expertise in filming the event. It first started in Brazil and with Julian Wing now in Britain it is now happening at the Aberdeen event.

I have also been experimenting with the event in Second Life. At the moment not much has been going on in SL. I have met only a few teachers at EduNation but it has been an interesting experience. Probably though after the event I won´t use it all that much

This process now makes me want to visit the IATEFL event next year as I´m better informed about what  goes on and have found I know quite a lot of people at the event already.

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Flock test

Posted on January 20, 2007. Filed under: EVO, My Portfolio |

The last posting was an experiment in using Flock. WOW!!! was it easy. You can just highlight anything in the net and within seconds it is posted on your blog.

I think I´ll keep using this tool for a while.

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