IATEFL Birmingham 2016

Hello, readers!

 

I take time of my busy life to tell you I will be blogging about the IATEFL Birmingham 2016. It will take place between April 13 and April 16.

Do not hesitate to follow the Blog, AND make sure you can be part of the IATEFL conference virtually.

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Workshop

Intense work we had during the three-day workshop in collaboration with the British Council Mexico, Buró-Buró and Laboratorio para la ciudad.

 

It was all about Mathematics, English and Technology. In multidisciplinary teams, we developed some prototypes of apps to teach Maths in 5th and 6th grades in the Mexican Public Education System.

In addition to the inclusion technology to the teaching of Mathematics, we had to include the teaching of English, so that at the end, students and teachers would take advantage of technology to teach and learn both Mathematics and English Language.

After three days three different prototypes were selected; all the work was done by a group of at least 35 people from different backgrounds and perspectives. Teachers, PhD students from British universities, Graphic Designers, Programmers exchanged ideas about the critical situation of the Teaching of Math in the country to integrate their ideas for the app.

After three days of hard work, the workshop came to its end, the prototypes were selected and I gathered lots of new knowledge, many friends, and a Great Experience working in multidisciplinary teams.

Next time you see a Maths app, it might include some of the ideas we provided to their development.

See you soon!

 

 

Learning a language (how long does it take to learn it?)

Hello!

I just want to share with you some important facts about learning another language no matter if it is as a Second or a foreign language. It is important to mention that this has been my experience.

 

There is no magic when learning or even teaching English Language. Thus, there is no course that will teach you a language within 8 days; moreover, it is impossible to learn a language in the same period of time. Just check the spam attention average for an adult and a kid.

 

If you consider that 4 to 8 months are enough to speak a new language I cannot prove you that it is not true due to different aspects such as the ability of the person to learn from oral interaction or the context in which the individual lives the process. What I can say is that speaking a Language is not the same as learning it. Learning and specially teaching a language have to go through different stages. It is very important to know not only the oral utterances but also the other aspects of the language, which include the semantics and morphology as well as the pragmatics of the language.

 

Coming back to the period of time spent learning a language,  you might know that it is very big. Let’s analyse the phenomenon in the mother tongue -the language that people first learned and use because of their context.

It takes children about 12 years to learn properly their first language. Even though they have spent 12 years learning their mother tongue, it is impossible to say that they have learnt it all. If it were true, specialised courses on the topic wouldn’t exist and everyone would be expert and would have the possibility to teach it.

 

The time used in learning a second language  is not that much as in the mother tongue. Thanks to our developed consciousness we can learn a language in a shorter period of time. Let’s say that we spent 6 months learning how to speak a language, this gives us a great advantage when we try to learn the other components of the language. It would take us at least one more year to understand the basics of the morphological and semantical aspects of the language. Remember, it isn’t just the grammar or lexicon. This gives us a year and a half in the best cases to understand a little better the target language.

 

I would like to add some information about the way the CEFR evaluates language proficiency. The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference of languages: Learning, teaching, assessment has a 6-level proficiency scale. The CEFR includes different areas including competences and skills.

 

These are just some facts about learning a language, imagine know all the pedagogical and technical aspects regarding to language Teaching! This is considerably more worrying. Fortunately I don’t want to talk about it here.

I would like to ask you as a future teacher of languages. Is it possible to learn a language in four-month courses? Moreover, is it possible to dominate it?  Would you feel confident to teach it?

 

 

Constructivism: easy or difficult?

Recently, I was talking to my classmates about Constructivism in the Language Classroom. We mentioned different aspects of this theory through psychological and educational approaches and during our hour of intense discussion we could not define why many teachers do no take advantage of this theory.

 

It seems that for all of us this theory is not difficult to understand but there is something that stops the practice of it inside the language classrooms, and in general inside any classroom in Mexico.

It has been seen that a great amount of teachers proclaim that they teach using the most recent theories in Education, but the reality is that those proclaims are just that, declarations and affirmations that lack on facts that support them.

It is our essential concern to know what happens here in Mexico – and in some other countries if it were the case – so we can work on some strategies to help teachers to consider Constructivism as an alternative to their actual methodology.

 

We identified three main questions that might help us understand this situation. Is the Constructivist theory so difficult to understand and thus we guess that we know it? Is it, in fact, easy but teachers do not know how to implement constructivist activities in their classrooms? And the last and most worrying one, Do teachers know and understand the Theory but they prefer not to change their methodology just because they are so used to the way they teach and changing may imply more effort?

 

Comments and opinions are welcomed!

Academic Sunday

Hello, I am collaborating with these guys. They are hard-working teachers.

Mextesol Chapter Michoacán

Academic Sunday

The end of the school year is close, students are getting more and more excited, teachers have lots of work to do, parents are afraid of having their kids all day long at home, and we, we are working hard to give you a great academic event.

Work at the end of the school year may be exhausting, but teachers have to get things done. We think we must get together and reflect on our work, and then prepare ourselves to start the new term with enthusiasm and full of energy to do our humble job.

We share you this link  and these images to get further information on the Academic Sunday “Closing Together: Reflections and Resolutions for Another Year.”

 mextesol

mextesol2

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Break a leg; it will cost you an arm and a leg

Before the event in which I gave a talk, one friend of mine told me “break a leg!” I thanked her and thought a little bit on that idiom.

There are many opinions on the origins of this idiom according to different contexts and times. Above all, the most frequently explanations of the origin are the ones which say that it was superstition the reason for this idiom.

I could mention and give further information on the origin of idioms. But what I want to express here is not the origins of idioms or their uses. What interests me is the use of idioms among English, specially in Academic contexts.

I do understand that idioms are part of the culture and enrich the language.

But, how often are idioms used in academic contexts?
Are idioms a colloquialism use of language? Do people use idioms to avoid formality?

I have these doubts and some others. I will appreciate if you could answer some of my questions.

On the Anglo Forum Experience

…So we arrived in time, rather a little late. As soon as we received our packages and checked in, we walked towards the first plenary session.

Simon Brewster was there giving his speech. Soon his words made us to look at each other. Surprisingly, he was talking about the same things we were going to say in our introduction. Then was Paul Seligson who said something related to our topic. -That’s not a big deal, the forum is on one topic and so many presentations might be related to each other.

We, 1st time speakers, were anxious and didn’t know what to expect. -Why our proposal was accepted?- At first we thought many unpleasant things. But suddenly, after the first plenary, we knew that we had something interesting to share. We got more confidence after Paul Seligson’s plenary. Our presentation perfectly fit the content of the forum…

By the time our participation finished, satisfaction filled our souls. But that, that is another part of the story.

gafete

Questions

How do you answer a question?

Information questions inquiry for specific information, some of them have to be answered with prepositions, others are more flexible or rigorous. Easy-to-answer questions are the ones that seek for an affirmation or a negation; in those cases a Yes or a No is sufficient to answer a question. Inquiring is not bad, it is necessary and is the way some people get knowledge.

However, there is a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable question that people avoid.

Have you ever suffered when you have to give reasons for this or that situation? Does anybody have disappointed you because of his or her answer? How often do you hear excuses instead of reasons?

I know this question is uncomfortable. If you ask me why do I know it, my answer will include facts, reasons or thoughts.

But, Is it bad or good to ask it? I don’t know, I have had many problems and I have been in trouble many times, though.

Is it good or bad to ask for reasons?

Do you like to answer why-questions?

Is asking why-questions helpful for your students?

Please, help me answering the above questions. And the most important part, WHY do you think so?Image

What is your opinion?

ImageParallel structure in English Language  writing helps writers to save words and to avoid sound repetitive. It is very useful when someone is writing a list or a series of words from the same class; verbs, adverbs or adjectives, for instance.

In any case, the writer starts the sentence as if it were a simple one, then he writes a comma and the following words separated by the necessary commas.

It is easy and useful, isn’t it? But, what happens when you have this structure for 3rd graders in the beginning level of English Language?

Is it right to use the parallel structure when you are teaching to 3rd graders the uses of “want”, “need” & “wish”?

I would rather not using it, at least not in the first and only lesson & activity about it.

Write your comments, your feedback is very important.

1st steps on Linguistics.

Hello reader(s).

We are one month away of the Anglo Forum in Mexico city; as you know, I am giving a workshop in the forum.

What is relevant here is that I am a novice, I am just a teacher whose experience is not more than 18 months, an English Language Teaching student who aims to get a MA in Linguistics. I am an unknown guy trying to say something to all those experts in methodology.

But, what really frightens me the most, is the fact that I will be sharing the title ‘speaker’ with David Crystal, the famous British linguist. Am I ready to do this? Will I meet the expectations? Is this step going to be the first of many more? Will I reach my goals?

Linguistics, The Anglo Forum is the beginning, I will get you. Then I’ll say: this is a small word for lexis, but it is a huge sentence for me.