Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Idea for Using Podcast for Your English Class

   Usingpodcast for language class has many advantages. One of the most important features of podcasts is that students can use it outside of class when they feel like doing it.
   I am going to give you an example of using podcast for your English class. The podcast I am going to use here is:

ESL Podcast Episode 169 Describing People (if it doesn't open, click below URL)

  Like many other podcasts in ESL POD website, this podcast contains a short dialogue and explanation by native speakers. English curriculum in my country has specific functions that students are expected to perform in English and among them are describing people or things in English. So, when we cover this communicative function, we can use this podcasts as an assignment.

Let’s say we had a lesson that covered various adjectives describing people’s look such as “attractive, bald, chubby, beautiful, blonde, fat, fit, gorgeous, adorable, slim, skinny, fat, curly, tall, muscular or ordinary.” You might not want to just explain the adjectives in your book; you also want your students to explore many other words that can be found in authentic situation. (Here are more adjectives to describe people’s look) So, after learning some of expressions that you can use to describe people’s appearance, you can have your students to listen to the podcast and find many other adjectives and expressions to describe looks. According to their level of proficiency, you can make some variations such as “listening to the podcast and finding 5 more adjectives from the dialogue and 5 more expressions from the explanations.”  Once they finish their work, you can listen to the podcast once again in your class to check their performance.
Model dialogue used in this podcast
Gilles: Hey, what are you looking at?
Nora: Oh, these? They’re pictures from my trip back home last month.
Gilles: Let’s have a look. So, who’s this?
Nora: That’s my sister and that’s my cousin Keira.
Gilles: Your sister looks nothing like you. You’re fair and she has dark hair and dark eyes. Now, you look much more like your cousin.
Nora: Yeah, that’s true. Keira and I both have heart-shaped faces, thin lips, fat cheeks, and bushy eyebrows . Gorgeous!
Gilles: You don’t give yourself enough credit. Why do you think every one of your guy friends is interested in you? Hey, who’s the little girl?
Nora: Oh, that’s my cousin Adriano’s daughter. She’s seven. She’s very pretty as you can see and has the most beautiful wavy hair. That’s her baby brother who was just born in April.
Gilles: Oh, man, he’s so cute. That pudgy face, curly hair, and big eyes! He’s adorable.
Nora: Yeah, I think he looks just like me.
Gilles: Hmmm…I think I’d better stop complimenting you. It’s going straight to your head.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Using E-pals for “The Way We Are Project”

When I was young, the way I became interested in English language for the first time was through pen paling with a Canadian friend. The letter we meant here was not emails but real letters. We would write and get letters over a year, which gave me some special feeling of using English. Looking back this feeling was “feeling connected” to the rest of the world.

However, I have been a bit skeptical with using email to be connected to someone you do not know because it could be superficial and does not last long unless you find something interesting enough to keep talking to each other. I thought E-pals was just another site that link you and someone else so that you can send emails and pretend to make a friend for a while. It was not!

The most surprising feature that I found was that there were many global projects going on. The Way We Are is just a kind of the projects. It is an Epals-National Geographics collaborative   project where students will engage in a collaborative learning experience to know a diverse of culture and people of different part of the world. Through email exchanges, students will build friendships and learn about the daily lives and characteristics of the local environment of students who live in another region of the world.

I believe this project could help students to improve their writing skills to exchange information with each other, to develop collaborative skills, and raise sensitivity to other culture while they share the purpose of communication.

I strongly believe motivation is the single most important element of language learning and this kind of projects can provide language learners with something other than just language – being connected to other people using the target language.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Using Animoto for Your Reading Class

A picture is worth of thousand words.

  You may have heard this line many times. But what if the picture is moving? This shows the power of using video clips for your teaching and learning purposes.

As a language teacher, I would like to use Animoto for my pre-reading activity. Have you seen yourself feeling curious about movies after watching a short movie trailer? My idea is to make a trailer for reading. Look at my work first.

(If you can't see the video clip, press here for YouTube link.

I want to use the video clip to check the sequence of story and to encourage students to retell the last part of the story. The video clip was created by based on the text and pictures related to the story with the last part unmentioned. Pictures aid comprehension and recall of texts and students perceive the text more positively when it is presented with relevant pictures (Rathet 1994).
Rathet I. (1994). Engligh by drawing: Making the language lab a center of active learning, TESOL Journal 3 (3) 22-25
 The text I want to use with this video clip I created is here.

While stuck at traffic lights at a busy Sydney intersection, I watched a very elderly, frail couple crossing the road in front of me. The lady was using a walking frame and, with the help of her male companion, was walking rather laboriously across the crosswalk. The concentration was etched on their faces as they tried to beat the light's change to red. When they reached the adjacent footpath, it appeared that the step was too high up for the lady to lift her walking frame, and her companion was too frail to help. At this point the traffic lights turned to green and I could see the distress on the old couple's face. Very near to me, a young guy jumped out of his pickup truck and halted the traffic. At the same time the driver from a big truck raced across the road and lifted them both to the safety of the footpath. There was not a single sign of impatience from the long line of waiting vehicles. In fact, as the good Samaritans got back into their vehicles there was a very loud chorus of congratulatory honks.

Using Voice Thread for Your Language Class

The two Voice Thread tasks that I participated were these.

Zhilli Yao’s Talk about Movies

I believe Voice Thread (VT) can be great discussion tools that interests learners. The purpose of using VT can be to reduce class time devoted to hear all different stories of the students. Suppose you are sitting in a classroom of 30 students. You can not physically let your students tell their own stories. By using VT, you can manage your class time effectively while you make sure that everyone has an equal chance to express their opinion or ideas. One of the effective methods that can be used to measure the others’ understanding is asking to illustrate the understanding or giving examples.

In that sense, the task in Yu Xie’s Language and Culture Classroom was very interesting because she asked everyone give examples based on their understanding about how cultural connotation can vary in terms of symbolic image of animals. By giving my own opinion with the examples, I could elaborate my understanding on the concepts of ‘connotation’ while I become better aware of many examples of cultural connotations about animals.
 Another advantage of VT is that your answer can be more personalized. Online discussions using your typing produce the same format of answers – another text. But when you make comments using voice recording, all answer is unique since no two people have same voice. Using this advantage, Zhlli Yao asked the students to comment about the movie that they saw. Expressing personal experience is one of the most distinct features of Communicative Language Teaching.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I want a puppy. How about you? - Using ‘bookr’ for your storytelling lesson

Good language learners are eager to find many opportunities for communication. By using learners’ own information or by having them to express their preference for the topics they are familiar with, teachers can motivate them to communicate. For example, everyone has his or her favorite animals or pets. Especially, young learners love animals. Whether they have a pet or not, they certainly have their own preference of pets. Just let them express the idea using pictures since good storybooks mostly have beautiful pictures in them. Here is my sample work. With the beautiful pictures and beautiful ideas, bookr can make the language learning more active and meaningful. Students will be interested in showing both their own ideas on pets and others pet stories.

The lesson objectives can be like these:
1) Pedagogical Objectives: Students will be able to compare more than two animals and express their love for animals.
2) Language Objectives: Students will be able to tell the differences of pets and tell why they love the pet using pictures.

daydreaming vs dreaming by cappuccino_iv
daydreaming vs dreaming, a photo by cappuccino_iv on Flickr.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's Your Story? - Using Digital Storytelling for Writing Class

Storytelling at West Lothian libraries by Scottish Libraries One of the features of communicative language teaching is the use of authentic material and communication with learners’ own information. Before 21 century, authentic material typically meant realiasuch as pictures, books, magazines or newspapers. However, now, the meaning of authenticity should be redefined since our pictures, books, magazines, and newspapers appear in digital format. How many photos do you have in paper? What about in digital images on your computer? How many tapes recorded with your happy memories do you have? What about movie clips? Using your digital “memories”we can make your story more interesting and vivid.

Digital Storytelling means using digital tools to tell stories. Like traditional .storytelling, most digital stories deal with something interesting to your listeners. However, unlike the traditional way, digital stories usually contain some mixture of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music. (learn more)

Now, what is your story? We want it fun and authentic. Here is a tip to make your writing class more interestingly using digital storytelling techniques.

Lesson Topic: My Precious Thing

Aims: introducing his or her most precious thing in life with story

Introduction Step
1) Think of precious thing in your life
2) Choose one thing you want to introduce to class
3) Bring as much information as possible related to the precious thing

Development Step
1) Answer these questions:
What is it? / How did you get it? / What it looks like? / Why do you think it is special? / How long have you had it?
2) Put the answers into one paragraph and read it.
3) Decide what information you need to show it effectively and interestingly.
4) Polish your draft and think about the way you present it with the pictures, text, or video clips. (the teacher plays the consultant role here)
5) Record the story with pictures or videos along with the text you want to emphasize. (Students can use video editing programs such as Animotoor Windows Moviemaker. To learn more about them, click here. )
6) Show off your“digital storytelling” work to the class either online or offline.

Discuss which story is the most interesting. (You can upload it on YouTube to see which one gets the most recommendations.)
By making a digital story about the most precious thing, students can have another treasure that they will keep.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to use a Serious Game for Learning: focusing on the Garbage Game


   A serious game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics. (source: Wikipedia)
Garbage game is a typical kind of serious game, focusing on environmental issues including recycle and reuse. The game contains large amount of information with various graphics. Focusing on playing the game, learners will have to make decisions based on the information provided with graphics. The game is inherently educational. However, what makes this game notable is its value for enhancing the learners’ reading skill: the game process requires active reading, which is why I chose the game. I have played the game only twice but I can clearly know how the game could help many learners in both their language learning and environmental education.

Active reading is an interactive process that helps readers to achieve better comprehension and recall of their reading materials. These are the features of active reading that you can use while you playing the garbage game.

1. Applying Prior Knowledge
2. Critical Response
3. Making Prediction
4. Problem-solving
5. Summarize  -- summarizing can be used as an assessment, too.

Language learning objectives could be
1. Familiarize the vocabulary related to the environment such as reuse, landfill, plastic bottle, unsorted garbage, recyclable, discard, residential waste.
2. Read and reflect on their waste habit to make green campaign.
3. Discuss and make UCC to change people’s waste habits using information given in the game.

How to Assess the Achievement - Using Contents as a Text
 The game contains vast amount of information regarding dispoal of garbage and the learners should make decision step by step. Even if a leaner did not get the answer, he or she can not miss the explanation about the correct answer while playing the game. So, it makes sense to test some of the knowledge they gained during the game.
The format of evaluation might be:
1) multiple choice questions or T/F questions
2) writing a paragraph on garbage issues
3) making summary of the most interesting facts from the game
4) evaluating group work - UCC or posters - for garbage campaign
5) debate based on the information from the game

How to Use the Game Il Destino for Your English Class


 Gamification is incorporating game elements and mechanics into non-gaming websites and software such as educational course work. Especially, it can be used to enhance learners’ language use in more exciting environments. (refer to '7 things You Should Know about Gamification")

  Il Desino is a point-and-click game in which you explore the car show room and find objects which interact with each other and solve puzzles in order to get the sports car out. I have played this game three times because I love cars and games and found it very interesting. The topic of this game could appeal to boys especially for the same reason. To play this game you will have to use the decent amount of reading skills to read the walkthrough. Basically, the game can be played as a reading activity with the walk through. However, you can use it more various format including this activity:


Reading Race 

1. Students will be able to read the walk-through text and follow the directions when they listen to the text.
2. Students will be able to speak and write imperative sentences using the verb: get, find, zoom in, get, walk, turn off, open, pick up etc.  

1. Divide students into groups of three or four.
2. Provide the group worksheet
3. Put the full text of the Intro page of the game on tables in the back of the room.


1. In a group the students answer the questions on the group worksheet using the text in the back by scanning strategy but one member of each group can go back at a time. The member is not allowed to bring the group walk sheet.
2. One by one, they answer the the question by going to the back and be prepared to play the game.
3. As soon as they complete the worksheet, they can start to apply it for the game. It’s a “listen-and-do” format basically. When they do this, one member is sitting in front of the computer while another member is sitting the other end of table facing the gamer. Teacher gives a sheet of the walkthrough only to this member. The other members can help them communicate well.
4. This is team competition based on the problem-solving task on the game Il Destino.

 Teacher’s role
Other than the controller, facilitator, and group organizer, the teacher in this lesson has the following roles:
1. The teacher develops the group worksheet by making several comprehension questions about the Intro page of this game.
- If the students are not familiar with the scanning strategy, the teacher explains and show how to use the strategy.

2. The groups can ask the teacher up to three questions regarding the walkthrough.
3. When they struggle with technical problem, the teacher is expected to help.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Using Twitter in Classroom

Nowadays, Twitter is not just a social network where people get to share their lives to a new-dimension of learning and teaching platform. If you are a teacher and interested in using twitter for your class, the following article will help you a lot because it contains both what to do with twitter and how to do it well: <Teachers Guide to The Use of Twitter in Classroom>

Here are some of my ideas and why they are meaningful about using twitter for teaching.

1)     Enhancing learner autonomy, cooperation and negotiation by sharing the questions.

Many times, students are reluctant to ask questions or answer questions in public – the whole class. Print material or website can typically be one-way but twitter is interactive inherently. Using twitter allows students to ask questions more freely than classroom environment both because it is easy to raise questions and they can have time to prepare questions or answers when they work individually on twitter. Of course, teachers can monitor and help the question-and-answer process. By doing this, learners can seek their own knowledge just they would do in their outside-of-classroom environment.


2)     Facilitating group projects through twitter.

Sometimes, students cannot actively participate the assigned group activity because they physically cannot get together or they are not ready to work together. Using twitter allows them to share various types of data and their opinion more easily than off-line group work. Keeping track of what they have worked is also easy and, thus, lessons some students’ work load to record their work.


3)     Communicate with peers and experts on twitter.

 Several years ago, I joined a teachers’ community to share class material and opinions on our class. However, using the website was not simple because there are too many website that we have to keep up with on a regular basis. By using twitter as a social bookmarking, we can communicate or follow with other educators more freely without having to check different website. In addition, sharing information with other educators can be much meaningful because much of today’s class material contains video or sound media and you can just click the link on twitter.


Monday, October 1, 2012

EFL Classroom 2.0 - Useful Social Network for English Teachers

Check This Out, English Teachers !

EFL Classroom 2.0 - Useful Social Network for English Teachers

  As an English teacher, I sometimes google for good lesson plans or activity sheets for my class. But many times, it ends up with finding some commercial material or a piece of material, not the whole, on some inactive websites.

  Things you can do from this social network group are
  - get latest information about language teaching including games, activities and lesson plans
  - get links to various educational media materials including video clips for your class
  - ask and answer questions regarding different topics on English teaching
  - share your ideas with other teachers through Teacher Talk Webminars
  - explore useful tools for your English classes
  - get a great deal of stories for your class
  - view some inspirational tips as a teacher

So why don't you check EFL Classroom 2.0

Plus, one of my favorite video clip that made me stop for a moment and think about my own career as a teacher : Teachers Matter - Brian Robertson

Learning is like a giant invisible elephant, a learner is like a blind needing to work together.

I was seven years old when I first saw a REAL computer. That was a black-and-white monitor with huge body. It was the only computer of my school so it was kept at a “sacred place”, where only one teacher can access. That night, I was imagining what I can do with computer. One of the fascinating expectations I got was that it could serve as a Mr. Know-it-all; whenever I type something I want to ask, the machine would give me the answer. It was wrong! The reality was different. To get the answer A, I should program to get the answer A, which means I should know the answer before I get the answer and it’s not what I was expecting.
How about the computers and various web tools now? Do you still need to know the answer to get your answer? No! You just type your question and you get it. I, now, have three computers including my smartphone, where have nearly all answers I might be curious about. How thrilling! Computers nowadays are Mr. Know-it-all practically. How about the learners today? Unfortunately, they learn almost same theory and knowledge in a slight different way – using more graphics and other tools. Since the intuition learners have is fundamentally different, education and learning theory should be approached the fundamentally different way.
George Siemens, in his note at You Tube (The Conflict of Learning Theories with Human Nature), mentions the way we externalize our thought is fundamentally different in that the core of learning in the previous generations focused on mainly language while we, now, see the connection and network as a primary way to externalize thoughts. Learners today live in the knowledge-based society where new information is continually being acquired and the capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known. George Siemens said that sometimes the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe: Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. In today’s world, a learner is like a producer-consumer in a market because every learner acquires knowledge on certain areas through information technology and they make contribution to help others find out or get the answer they are searching through the technology. Therefore, teachers and educators must ask themselves this question constantly: am I dealing with it enough HOW to gain knowledge outside their organizations as well as WHAT to know from the textbooks?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What an Educational Blog Post Should Be Like


  Last weekend, my son asked me why leaves of trees are losing their green, which I couldn’t answer in a way he could understand well. All I had to say was just ‘to prepare the winter.’ I could look up my encyclopedia to find the terms and explanations but the problem was the terms and long explanations were not something he was wanted. What he really wanted to know was what the colors have to do with preparing the winter and how trees can feel the winter is coming soon.

The post entitled “Why Do Leaves Change Color? Video and Graphic” seems to show exactly what my boy was seeking. It was so valuable to me for the following several reasons.


1)     The post contained some the carefully selected links to videos and pictures with terms, which you don’t have to create your own version because there are so many. Instead, the blogger just browse and selected the best material for its educational purpose for his viewers including teachers and learners.

2)     The post was short and interesting, adapted to its viewers. Yes, this is another aspect we should not forget. Sometimes we encounter very long posts that discourage you to read on screen. When you, as a bloggers, browse the Internet, long and complicated posts are more likely to fail to interest your viewer. There are a variety of viewers of your blog. If the blog are to contribute your educational purpose, your posts should be simple and clear. Long posts do not guarantee that you are smart.

3)     The content was very timely. Another important advantage of using blog for educational purpose is that it could provide information that learners need right away, which regular textbooks or handouts cannot give.

  There were so many blog posts related to education and technology but this impressed and taught me the most. It did not contain much information on how to use technology as an educator, but it just showed me how we can use blogs in a meaningful way both to me and to my son.

Monday, September 17, 2012


When was the last time you used a pay phone?
     – many things that we don’t realize about students

When was the last time you used a pay phone? And the last time you sent a film to be developed? This video shows a lot of things we, as educators, might miss about the students and society of today. This was originally to promote the educational changes the New Brunswick Community intend to make but it also has many significant points for any educators in the world.

The first unique impression of this video, compared to the video clip “A Vision of K-12 Students Today” that has similar message was that this one uses more delightful way to show the message including bright music and active animated images that interest its viewers. It contains many meaningful messages include:

-Changes in our society
-Changes in class in relation to using modern technologies
-What the modern schools should be like
-How the modern learners uses technology to gain, create and share knowledge
-What changes we can bring about to enhance young learners’ learning and knowledge-based activities online
-What important skills the 21st century learners needed for their career
-How we can provide the technology-rich environment for students
  The message it shows was quite simple and well-supported by various data and images. As I mentioned above, the best part of this video was how they approach to the topic. Considering the topic they deal with in the video, using creative design and images along with various animation effect and bright music seem to work well to many viewers. Whoever sees this video might feel what is needed clearly, I believe.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Teach Me to Think ...

Teach Me to Think

      Review of Video Clip “A Vision of K-12 StudentsToday

  Many people around the world argue that education needs to be changed. But not many people seem to have the answer of how it should be changed. This video clip seems to have at least one way of the change.

There are many teachers who feel using technology in classrooms could be dangerous since it distracts students’ attention on what they REALLY studying and I was one of them. This video mainly shows how important the information processing skills are important in the society the students will live in and the society they belong to today showing the statistics of modern kids.

Even though we live in an information society where processing and creating information is our primary condition of all social behaviors, many educators might feel the knowledge in their textbook is the bible they should stick to and, therefore, reading should be recommended than any other activity using various technologies. They seem to miss the point that the students today spend more hours per week playing computer game, texting, blogging, and involving other form of information technology than reading books. It is not about how you can be benefited from using this technology. Rather it is about how we have our kids think, communicate and create using various technologies because, whether we like it or not, technology has become an essential part of the life of today’s kids.

Considering the amount of time they spend online, the variety of work they do or will do, one of the main roles schools are endowed to do is teaching students how to use technology properly because that is what schools are for. This is the message that the video clip is trying to tell to people, especially to educators. As long as we regard technology in education as taboo, the message a child was holding in this video -- “Teach me to think” will never be put down.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How can you use blogs for your writing classes

1.     Using blog posts as a writing assignment

In an EFL situation like Korea, the students are not provided with many chances to practice the language they learn in class due partly to the class size and to the lack of needs to communicate in the target language. Considering this situation, using blogs that allow students to post class-related further writing as their assignment could add the variety and interest for learning. Since virtually all writing genre in EFL countries involves web-related information such as writing e-mails, submitting online application or sharing opinions, this could be particularly helpful for the development of students’ writing skills.

-       The standard met:

#4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

#8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.



2.     Using blogs as a cyber writing center: providing grammar games, publish writing examples or group writing works, providing writing correction on demand  

Teaching writing inevitably involves much practice by individual learners as well as individual work. By using blogs as a cyber writing center, teacher could provide much experience for students to use their writing skills. Specifically, students can use grammar quizzes or games related their writing course work, while the teacher can publish some of the writing examples or students’ work. If needed, students can get help from the teacher or other students to improve their writing by sharing questions online.


#11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

#12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012