Blog Archives

Fear of the unknown!

I’m writing this post in response to @kalinagoenglish challenge presented in her blog. You can read my answer to the first challenge here.

As I have mentioned in my previous post we should always have our learners in mind when we deliver our classes (even if we are using a coursebook).  Our students’ concerns, interests, desires and needs should always be taken into account. We should avoid feeding our students with units of grammar and vocabulary without considering their own learning needs and styles. Up to here everything seems fine and possible, because we are talking about the teacher’s role… But when it comes to the learners’ role, things become a bit more complicated…

Learners should have a very active role in our classrooms. They are meant to take ownership of their learning and share responsibility for what is being taught in the lesson. Language should emerge as a result of the interaction between the learners and the teacher in the classroom. As Karenne said in the quote that appears in her blog:

“If learners are supplied with optimal conditions for language use,
and are motivated to take advantage of these opportunities, their inherent learning capacities will be activated, and language – rather than being acquired – will emerge.”

It would be ideal to create a classroom atmosphere in which students are motivated to take control of their learning and be ready to interact in the classroom so that L2 emerges naturally, without the necessity to force its appearance. However, I believe that  for this to happen, students should be intrisically  motivated to participate. A lot of work is expected from them. So, what happens if they are not willing to take such a huge responsibility?  For example, those  students  who come to our classes because they have to, and not because they want to…  Will they be motivated to take such an active role? Will they be able to let language “emerge”? Are all students willing to have such an active role?

I have come across some students that expect and demand their teachers to use a more traditional approach. They like their teachers to be the ones who posssess the knowledge. Maybe, it makes them feel secure and it is easier and less demanding for them. They are used to working with language as an external subject distanced from themselves and they don’t want to change.  They are not used to student-centred lessons, and expect the teacher to provide them with ready-made “grammar/lexis McNuggets”. Too much student autonomy makes them feel uncomfortable and left uncared for by the teacher. How can we overcome these students’ antipathy for dogme? Should we overcome it  or should we respect their preferable  “way of learning”? Is it real that they prefer to learn like this or is it just fear of the unknown? I guess, we’ll never find the right answer to this.


What really matters: OUR LEARNERS!

I’m writing this post in response to @kalinagoenglish challenge presented in her blog

I have heard about Dogme very recently. Therefore, I’m not a specialist on the subject. However, I believe that some of the ideas supported by this methodology / approach (?) to TEFL make a lot of sense, as they are down-to-earth, common-sense ones.

When we have just graduated and we are teaching our first classes, we get so engrossed in trying to make our lessons as complete and interesting as possible; we are so worried with time limits and afraid of running out of activities; that we forget the most important element in a teaching-learning situation: THE LERNERS! They are the main protagonists and they are not taken into account. We don’t leave any space in our classes for them to take control of their learning and work on their interests, likes, needs and so on and so forth.

But Why do the lives of the learners matter? Reading some of the bibliography that Karenne has provided, I have came across an answer to this question that I’ve found quite satisfactory.  In the Delta Publishing blog it is said: “… Not just because they are interesting; not just because their exploration yields language that is of immediate relevance and value. But because without space for them in the teaching process, space to establish and express the identity they want to bring to the classroom (real or virtual), they will be disenfranchised. And they won’t learn the English they need…”

After all, as it is said in Karenne’s quotation “Learning is a dialogic process,  where knowledge is co-constructed rather than transmitted or imported from teacher/coursebook to learner.” The teacher is not the one who possesses the knowledge and transmits it to his/her students. Learning should be constructed as a result of the interactions between the teachers and the students. As we cannot plan in advance what the students are going to say or propose in our classes, we should leave space in our classes that will be filled with what comes out in our lessons on the spur of the moment . We should react to our students’ needs as they appear in the classroom and a coursebook cannot cater for that.  It is an indirect route to learning as the book doesn’t cater for our own students’ needs. It is not personalised.

To sum up, I believe that there is a great temptation for using a coursebook in our classes. We tend to think that it simplifies planning and we feel more secure. In general, we don’t trust so much in our ability for creating our own activities and lesson plans to cater for our students’ needs and interests. But it is unbelievable what wonderful things we can do, if we just give it a try. Believe me, once you tried it, you wouldn’t like to go back to teaching with a coursebook anymore. You would feel constrained by it.  What do you think? Share with us your opinions and experiences.

Blogs Worth Taking a Look at…

I am very honoured because Philb81 has tagged me in his wonderful blog Classroom201X as one of his 10 blogs worth taking a look at. This is a new  initiative in the ELT blogosphere at the moment. If someone tags you in their list of 10 recommended teaching blogs, you then prepare your own list of 10 other blogs you would be willing to recommend, paste the logo above into your post and link back to the person/blog that initially tagged you. So here goes my list of 10 blogs to recommend (they are presented in alphabetical order):

  • David Truss Pair-a-dimes: Great reflections on education, technology and learning.
  • ELT notes : I always find a lot of food for thought from Claudia’s reflections.
  • English Raven: It helps me to have a look at TEFL from a different perspective
  • Kalinago English: I have taken lots of ideas from this blog and I have already tried many of her lesson plans. Thanks Karene for all the hard work!
  • L_missbossy’s ELT PLayground: A great blog about TEFL for Young learners
  • Marisa Constantinides- TEFL matters: Reflections on TEFL from a teacher trainer.
  • Movie Segemnts to Assess Grammar Goals: It contains a series of movie segments and activities to assess or practice grammar points through fun, challenging exercises. Thanks for sharing Claudio!
  • Succesful Teaching: A blog where you can get some strategies and ideas in order to have a succesful teaching experience. Thanks Pat for all the inspiration.
  • TEFLclips: A site dedicated to the possibilities for YouTube and other video sharing sites in the classroom. I love using videos in my classes and this site has helped me a lot. Thanks a lot Jamie.
  • Tu remanso: A blog in Spanish worth having a look at for some good reflections on education. Thanks Cinthia for sharing your reflections.

Hope you’ve found some new blogs WORTH TAKING A LOOK AT…

Meme: Passion Quilt

I can fly
Cargado originalmente por Andrés Lázaro



I have been tagged for this meme by Liz Davis. I have chosen this picture because one of the things I love about my job is encouraging students to try and do their best; to keep trying and practising, even if the task seems impossible to achieve. It is generally said that practice makes perfection, so we’d better not give up and we may end up flying .

Here are the rules:
1) Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
2) Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
3)Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
4)Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.
Really looking forward to see what: elemenous, susant, jenverschoor, englishstudio and gsellart are passionate about teaching their students.