Thursday, April 30, 2020

Teaching with videos

There are many reasons why watching videos is a valuable teaching tool. Firstly, some people are visual learners, so they learn by seeing. Secondly, a great advantage of watching videos is that it provides exposure to authentic language. In that way, students have the opportunity not only to hear language, but they can also observe it (Harmer, 2001). Videos show students a broad variety of communicative situations, and helps them to get a general idea of the culture of the target language. Furthermore, it is clear that non-native speakers of a language rely more on visual clues to reinforce their understanding (Çakir, 2006). In this way, students become aware of different cultures, and Harmer (2001) has illustrated this with an example: “... if students want to see, for example, typical British ‘body language’ when inviting someone out, or how Americans speak to waiters” (p. 282), video is a great tool to demonstrate this. 

Students can use cameras themselves, create their own videos and this kind of task stimulates their creativity and imagination and helps them tremendously in their language learning (Harmer, 2001). 

TED Talks, TED ED, Voice of America learning English, BBC English provide resources for videos on every walk of life. Teachers can assign videos to students in a way that can integrate the skills. Before watching the video, students can predict the content in pre-watching discussion. Difficult vocabulary can be taught. Students can watch a video and summarize and comment on the content via  writing (writing skills is enforced via writing) or create voice notes (speaking skills are enforced via experimenting with the language). Students may answer questions related to the material they listened to.

What about you? How do integrate videos in your English language courses?  Do your students like them? Have you an idea about the videos resources mentioned?


Çakir, İ. (2006). The Use of Video as an Audio-Visual Material in Foreign Language Teaching
         Classroom. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 5(4), 67-72.
         Retrieved from

Chapelle, C. A. (2008). Computer Assisted Language Learning. In B. Spolsky & F. M. Hult
         (Eds.), The Handbook of Educational Linguistics (pp. 585-595). Oxford: Blackwell 

Gruba, P. (2004). Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL). In A. Davies  & C. Elder       
       (Eds.), The Handbook of applied linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell

Harmer, J. (2001). The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Pearson Education.

LeLoup, J. W. & Ponterio, R. (2000). Enhancing Authentic Language Learning Experiences 
         Through Internet Technology. Retrieved from

Scrivener, J. (2005). Learning Teaching: A guidebook for English language teachers. Oxford:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Nurture vs. Nature


  In a discussion with colleagues, the idea of  nature vs. nurture debate as well as the age effect was discussed, i.e. how much does the learning preferences of a person change over time and how does upbringing, culture- at least up to teenage times – play a role in education. 

Teenagers need as little authority as possible; variety input from diverse sources. This was my case. With increasing age (and perhaps freedom), this changed to a personal mode of learning more at the level of thought and actual behaviour. What has been missing, though, was an opportunity (or better to say tools) to put my own learning mode and preferences into words beyond phrases.  I studied in a typical school environment. There was a lot of influence of teachers and textbooks on my learning and my parents also took keen interest in my progress. But now I love to learn and I enjoy learning and leading training at the same time.


Scholars denote that people ways of learning differ from time to time and as teachers we should draw our students’ attention to this idea to make them aware. Such awareness will empower them.  Adult learners should be self-ware, know what they are interested in, and have the opportunity to choose what and how to learn. “Simply stated, Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) can be defined as the search for and study of applications of the computer in language teaching and learning” (as cited in Gruba, 2004, p. 623).  In other words the goal of CALL is to “improve the learning capacity of those who are learning a language through computerized means” (cited in Gruba, 2004, p. 623). Moreover, both learners and teachers have each had to adapt to the demands and opportunities afforded by a range of new technologies. As such, more and more learners are required to design and execute their own computer-based activities (Gruba, 2004). While some educators consider technology as the solution to problems, there are those who see it as a distraction from the real aims of education (Chapelle, 2008).

Over the last few decades the Internet has had a major influence on Computer Assisted Language Learning owing to its ability to connect people on a global scale. Not only does it enable communication between language learners hundreds of miles apart, but it also contains a huge amount of resources and information useful for enhancing the quality of language acquisition. Both teachers and students can benefit from the use of the Internet in terms of various tools and programs which they can use for different language purposes. More specifically, teachers can integrate email-based activities into their curriculum that would allow students to correspond with their colleagues and native speakers of the target language (LeLoup & Ponterio, 2000). The rapid development in technology has dramatically expanded the utility of distance learning for language instruction (Chapelle, 2008). For instance, an online class can enable the connection of four people who are interested in learning the same language at one point in time despite the fact that they are scattered across different countries (Chapelle, 2008). Extensive language and cultural material can be found online via the World Wide Web. Search tools specifically designed for language study, such as dictionaries and translation programs, can also be used by students who seek answers to linguistic questions (Chapelle, 2008). The advantages of the Internet when it comes to language learning and teaching are indisputable yet certain measures of precaution should be kept in mind because not all the content found on the Internet is credible.

A great advantage to coronavirus spread, is it made online learning a reality everywhere. Teachers who have access to computers and the Internet, whether in a separate computer lab or perhaps with single machines in the students’ normal classroom" (Scrivener, 2005, p. 354) were committed to continue the syllabus online. Some teachers used programs designed for class activities like Microsoft teams and Google classroom. Unfortunately, many students were not prepared to this. Harmer (2001) enforces on the relevance of students’ preparation to online education. He states: "When we encourage students to use search engines to find information on the Internet, we should prepare the ground beforehand” He explains that  if we did not do so things would be diasterous, students will lose a lot of time, and will dislike the experience feeling it is inconvenient.

So once we return back to our schools and universities we have to dedicate time to help students find their way on various e-platforms, familiarize them with tools that enhance their  learning experience to make it a better one and prepare them for their educational and professional opportunities. 


Monday, March 2, 2020

The Adaptation of HIV/AIDS Literature in American Cinema

The Adaptation of HIV/AIDS Literature in American Cinema
By 2019 the number of Americans living with HIV/AIDS reached one million two hundred case. From the late 1980s American literature presented and documented the tragic history of HIV/AIDS. In poetry, fiction, and plays, writers reckoned with one of its definitive events and the result was a body of work that educates even as it confronts such topics as shame, stigma and silencing.These writers continues to inspire writers worldwide, and their contribution to American literature is cherished as it documents the AIDS crisis and raises people awareness worldwide.
Cinema always adapted successful literary works. The adaptation of Adaptation of HIV/AIDS literature in American cinema started in the early 1990s was for cultural awareness reasons with the movie Philadelphia (1993) and continues to adapt HIV/AIDS to shatter stigma, silencing and create a supportive society. The adaptation of HIV/AIDS literature exhibit how literature and film fruitfully support one-another to create a better society. Throughout the movies, directors and scriptwriters try to present the dilemma of the characters infected with HIV/AIDs. The treatment of illness is unique to each character, varying in how the individual’s life is impacted, and in how society reacts to such a chronic illness.
The diverse treatments of HIV/AIDS in American cinema are unified by the representations of the protagonists’ illness as a metaphor for marginalization and social exclusion.The presentation discusses the way AIDS literature is adapted in American movies and how American AIDS cinema shattered a world taboo.  Questions and sharing views are encouraged throughout the session.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Inquiry and Critical Thinking

Inquiry is a skill that prepares students for life and helps students become active learners. Many ESL teachers abide to traditional ways of teaching and the customary use of textbooks for fear of not covering the curriculum. This hinders the development of critical thinking, inquiry and meaningful learning. Reading techniques namely concentrating on fundamental concepts and discussing essential questions promote inquiry. They also do not take a lot of time and can be assigned as homework.
Via concentrating on fundamental concepts and discussing essential questions in reading texts students can develop the skills they need to find connections among concepts, assess their relevance, and then use them to inquire and think critically about a wide variety of concepts, principles, ideas, and questions.

Nosich (2005) defines a fundamental concept as one that establishes other concepts. Nosich describes fundamental concepts as ones that can be used to think about and reason through a large number of questions and causes. Keeping fundamental concepts central to reading instruction helps students see the big picture of the reading topic, make them interested to read more on the topic with open eyes and minds, an aspect that enhances critical thinking.

Essential questions
Another way to facilitate critical thinking and meaningful learning is to help your students use fundamental and powerful concepts to reason through essential questions of a course. An essential question of a course is a question that the course is trying to answer. How does literature enrich life? How are moral arguments justified? Essential questions help students identify the relevance of studying a particular discipline. Wiggins and McTighe (2011) define essential questions as those that:

Cause genuine and relevant inquiry into the big ideas of the core content.
Provoke deep thought, lively discussion, sustained inquiry, and new understanding as well as more questions.

Require students to consider alternatives, weigh evidence, support their ideas, and justify their answers.

Stimulate vital ongoing rethinking of big ideas, assumptions, and prior lessons.

Spark meaningful connections with prior learning and personal experiences.

Naturally recur, creating opportunities for transfer to other situations, refer to “core ideas and inquiries within a discipline” and help “students effectively inquire and make sense of important but complicated ideas and knowledge.” (p. 73)

In educational psychology, two essential questions are how do students learn and how can I teach to support student learning? Assignments based on these questions could include analyzing lesson plans from different theoretical perspectives to determine if the lesson plan will facilitate learning, and analyzing case studies of classroom situations from multiple learning perspectives to solve problems.

In ethics an essential question can be how are moral claims justified? Assignments based on this essential question could include comparing how much weight is to be given to statistics, narrative, tradition, or logical reasoning in justifying a moral claim and then comparing that across several moral issues. We could ask our students to think through why statistics or narrative matter more in one case and not another. They would leave the class with the skills required to assess the different elements of a moral argument and the ability to explain how those elements can be used to justify a moral position.

If students memorize concepts but cannot think critically using those concepts, then the concepts are meaningless to the student and will soon be forgotten. Additionally, if students cannot determine which concepts within a course are fundamental and powerful as opposed to less important, their efforts to learn are undermined by a lack of focus. Students can leave your course with a strong grasp of course content, and the ability to think critically within the discipline if you 1) explicitly identify and teach them to understand deeply the fundamental and powerful concepts of the course, and 2) create tasks and assignments that require them to reason about essential questions of the discipline using those concepts like professionals in the field.

Nosich, G. M. (2009). Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum (3rd Ed). Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Wiggins, G & McTighe, J. (2011). Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High Quality Units. ASCD, Alexandria, VA.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Social Media

Social media is the interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media can also be said to be a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of internet that allows the creation and exchange of user-generated contents. Social media technologies take on many different forms including:
         Magazines (Wikipedia)
         Internet forums (Facebook)
         Vblogs (You Tube, You Tube Channels)
         social blogs (blogs)
Most often the terms social Media, social networking and e-learning are used interchangeably by teachers but it is important to stress the point that these three terms are very different from one another in terms of nature and functions. Social media is the interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media can also be said to be a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of internet that allows the creation and exchange of user-generated contents.
Social media differ from traditional or industrial media in many ways, including quality, reach frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011.
A social networking service is a platform to build social networks or social relations among people who, for example, share interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections. Social networking is the hottest online trend of the last few years. Not only do social media sites provide a way to keep in contact with friends, but they can also offer opportunities for professional online networking.
Social media provides an easily accessible tool for helping students to work together to create their own meaning in academic subjects, social contexts, or work environments. Social media can lead to breadth of knowledge as it is now easier than ever to know (or find out) something about almost anything in the world through connected media. Extensive use of public social media sites that support the creation, sharing and commenting of content, as well as the co-creation of content, enables learners to co-create and share their own content within their own work in teams.
Extensive use of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc where individuals have built a personal network of trusted friends, means that they are using similar approaches to build networks of trusted colleagues (both internally and externally), as well as power team workspaces and internal communities of practice.  Social networking makes it easier than ever to keep in contact with old friends and colleagues. The professional networking site LinkedIn even allows users to request introductions to business people who are known to their contacts.
The disadvantages of using social media include distraction, pressure to conform, creating a culture of avoidance, and promoting shallowness. Social media produces momentary distraction of an isolated text message, and the way in which social media involvement provides an acceptable diversion from intellectual pursuits. Students also give the main reasons behind their 24/7 connection is a fear of not keeping up with peers or appearing “like a loser in public, thereby lowering their self-esteem. Social      media engagement supports a culture of avoidance which operates in direct        opposition to the idea that students need to take risks and fail in their academic endeavors in order to become successful innovators. Social media does promote a kind of intellectual and social shallowness that could have long-term negative consequences for learners.
The primary disadvantage of social networking is that most people do not know how to network effectively. As a result, the few benefits they get from their networking activity are not worth the time invested. The best way to avoid being disappointed in this way is to decide on a strategy for using social sites, and stick to it. For example, if you are going to use Twitter to draw attention to exciting new content on your website, then resist the temptation to waste time tweeting about unrelated topics. Stay focused on what you want to achieve and do not let yourself get distracted.

Social media can be an instruction tool. Facebook, WhatsApp, and You Tube   can be used in instruction and extending the learning behind the walls of the classroom. Unfortunately, teachers think it is unprofessional and they only use it for announcements. Social media can also act as a forum where students can start discussion, experiment with the language and have a say. Students can also ask and answer questions. Also, social media increases the level of communication between teachers and students and create another venue for learning. Teachers can send links to articles for students to read and comment on. The chat feature can act as a forum for students to discuss current events. So do not be afraid and use social media in instruction.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Global Goals as a Literacy Resource

For this update I choose to write about the Global Goals for Sustainable Development as a resource for innovative learning. They were defined by World Leader members of the UN adopted Agenda 2030 in 2015 and they are consisted of seventeen goals for a better world by 2030.

On the internet there are videos, icons, pictures, texts in many different languages and these goals can be connected to projects and learning sequences. A teacher can choose one of these goals and develop literacy using the various available resources and even create more such as videos, short texts, illustrations, and the like.
I believe a teacher could start with the situated practice or experiencing in order to activate learners’schemata, and then plan activities to cover the other areas. As the Global Goals and their targets relate directly to real life, it is possible to think of campaigns or the creation of texts for meaningful purposes for the Transformed Practice part.

I have developed a project aiming at raising my learners' awareness to the importance of adopting animals instead of buying them and, learners wrote short texts about cats for adoption. These texts were published on the Facebook page of the shelter and it was shared with families and the whole School community.

To sum up, the Global Goals have presented us with numerous resources and it can be an innovative learning resource as lesson plans can be developed with different kinds of media, learning can be reflexive and contextualized. Moreover, we can actually change the world and help our learners become critical citizens, reflect on the world around them and use this knowledge to help build a better place.

Reference: accessed on July 27th, 2019

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Texting and Literacy

Texting and emailing are new social practices in everyday life as well as in the work place. With that becomes almost a new language of some sort. Adults have learned how to separate the texting language from formal language and communication skills in the workplace. According to Ashley Campbell, “ Many of those text messages that are sent often contain textisms. 

The use of textisms is starting to become more accepted among the younger generation. There have been suggestions from both media sources and educators that texting may have a negative effect on the literacy skills of students. Perhaps that biggest problem is that students do not distinguish between times when they need to write formally without using textisms, and when they are writing informally and the use of textisms is acceptable. With more long term studies on the same group of individuals, it may be possible for researchers to determine if the use of textisms does indeed have negative effects on literacy.” 
Children and teenagers some times struggle in this area and can become a hindrance to their writing and speak because of the abbreviations and codes that are used in texting and emailing. There is some research that says it has had a positive effect on communication in that it encourages students to engage and communicate with written language. Students need an opportunity to develop in multiple languages modes so that they are able to communicate and develop multiple literacies. 
“TIME” magazine claims that texting and other means of electronic communication have positive effects for introverted teenagers. Texting allows teenagers to say things they might be uncomfortable bringing up in person, helping introverts better reach out to others and express themselves. I believe that as long as students have the opportunity to express themselves through formal writing as well as informal then their communication skills won’t suffer.