Saturday, June 18, 2011

Video Created with Window Movie Maker (Session 7)

Videos in the EFL class. (Session 7)

My First Movie Maker Video

Videos in the TEFL Classroom
I have always believed that one of the most motivating resources for the language classes are videos.  The experience of watching a video (a film, a music video,  a documentary) always awakes a lot of mixed feelings in  those who see  and listen to them . 
 Videos are often created with  varied purposes  and one of those purposes  is expressing and communicating  ideas, feelings, messages   that may not  be clearly expressed  with just words .
The actractive aspect of videos, in my opinion,  is  that they can trigger imagination.  I just imagine that our mind functions like a video camera, and our memories are recording of our experiences.
Research (Canning-Wilson, 2000) has revealed    that  students like learning language through the use of videos.  Those studies suggest that learners really enjoy  action, entertainment films .  So why not taking advantages of them for our classes?.
But videos should not be used in the classroom just for the sake of amusing our students. They should be implemented with a  pedagogical purpose of course.  And we teachers must be clear about setting our objectives before using  them  .  There are some questions that language  teachers should answer before using videos in the classroom. For instance,  How the language learner will benefit from watching videos, or how students and teachers can develop language skills based on videos (Canning-Wilson, 2000).
Once we are clear about the purpose of using a video which may be  the hardest part , we should then  devote ourselves to the design of the video material to fulfill our teaching goals. Videos are great tools to mainly teach and test listening skills. But the other skills  are not kept out of the benefits of them.    I have indeed seen and used videos to teach English micro-skills such as grammar, vocabulary and even intonation.
The various  times I have used  videos in my English classes , They have been borrowed  from the internet. YOUTUBE, I think , is a great source of videos. Many of them show really authentic situations.  What I have done so far  is downloding them to my computer with  RealPlayer program and keeping them in a video bank for future uses.   Some partners at work  also use videos a lot and we sometimes  interchange them.
Now I am really happy because  creating my own videos using the Window Movie Maker program is now an option.  This program is so friendly and easy to use that  I am just thinking of the possibility of having my current students create their own presentation videos before this semester ends.   Hopefully, that will  be a very meaningful  English learning  experience for them.
References: See reference page

Saturday, June 4, 2011

PODCAST (session 6)

One of the advantages of using the Internet is that it gives us wide possibilities to easily access genuine resources and material. Such resources can have a big value in the EFL class as they may be used for many purposes, for instance, developing great and interactive classes with activities such as debating, discussions of topics, work projects among other motivating tasks.

A device that has become a great source of authentic material to use in listening activities is the podcast. Podcasts have a number of advantages because of their authenticity and suitability. Language teachers may create them to suit their class needs.
Podcast is a blended word formed by the combination of the I-Pod (audio player) and broadcast from TV and radio. It is a computer radio file. The most common file is MP3. (Sharma & Barrett, 2007)

For downloading a podcast we need a broad band internet connection. And, though they take authenticity (real life) to the class, to create one is not a task for an elementary computer user(Sharma & Barrett, 2007). Fundamental items of equipment are required. Two of those items are a sound card and a microphone.

Podcast formats vary. They may be presentations, monologues, interviews, dialogues, etc. As it has been stated before, teachers may choose their formats based on their class needs.

In the TEFL field there may be a lot of reasons to use podcast. First, podcasts provide listening practice that is tailored to the learner’s needs. Second, they can benefit learners who are more aural than visual in their learning styles. Next, they can provide with models of pronunciation and accent for those who do not have opportunities for foreign language exposure, among other reasons.

The experience of creating a podcast in the ICT in TEFL course has been somehow daunting . Authorities that support the use of technology in education are right when they say that creating such type of file is not a task for elementary computer users. Actually, just looking at the panel of programs such as audacity and the like may be a little intimidating. One may start thinking that this is a task for a sound engineer. However, once we start experimenting with the features of the program, we find out that creating a podcast is not that difficult. I indeed got excited to the point of wanting to create my own sound files for my ESP classes. Of course, I am still in the process of experimentation with the panel of audacity.

My first Podcast

My Podbean blog

WIKIS (session 5)

The use of technology in the TEFL field offers a lot of opportunities for learning progress and improvement . To work with tools like computers and the internet ; for instance, may become a motivating learning experience as students may feel excited, stimulated and inspired if they realize the advantages and benefits of using such tools in their learning and practice of the target language.

Language learners may also feel stimulated when working with authentic material and participating in collaborative tasks. In this sense, a very useful tool that allows students to participate in collaborative learning tasks is “WIKI”.

A wiki is a “website on which pages can be constructed and edited by its creator as well as by its users”. (Sharma and Barrettt, 2007). Wikis have many uses in the language learning field . When students are learning a foreign language, they actually need a context that gives them the possibility to interact and use what they have learned. Therefore, participating in the process of creating and editing a wiki may be that perfect context.

According to Sharma and Barrett (2007) some of the benefits that wikis offer to the language learning are that they propose opportunities for learners to create bonds between them which may facilitate their learning. Wikis also make learners develop a sense of responsibility and respect when they realize that they are creating a project and that they are the authors of it.

In addition, teachers benefit from using wikis as these tools can facilitate some teaching tasks such as monitoring students progress, keep a record of how students are doing, observe what difficulties they may be encountering, among others .

The use of wikis in education, and specifically in the TEFL field has become the latest trend among teachers who love using technology in their jobs. Personally, I think that this technological instrument possesses great features and offers a number of possibilities that may contribute with the effectiveness of the teaching /learning process. At this regards, based on the premise that working cooperatively and collaboratively really contributes with meaningful learning, then wikis (because of their features and devices) will continue to be very efficient teaching/ learning tools.