Looking Back On 2014!

Many things have changed at personal level in the last twelve months. It’s one of those years when all the events in your life start combining and fitting like clockwork until they reach some harmony and settle down. And after a very exciting year I’ve reached a point when -I think- I can reflect a little bit on them all with some distance and perspective.

As regards work, many of the changes had to do with a deliberate and conscious quest for transformation and renewal. So, I did a couple of very interesting training courses here in Spain with EducaIntef and #eduplemooc, and even managed to complete my first MOOC: Learning to Teach Online #ltto by @Coursera.

I also joined several online chats and experiences with other global teachers. I participated in the @teachthought #reflecetiveteacher challenges and, although my blogging activity was not as productive as I had intended it to be (no excuse, but quite I was overwhelmed with classroom work and setting up the current course), I really enjoyed reading other bloggers’ posts and reflections on teaching, and though incomplete, it was a very rewarding experience. I became more confident blogging and writing about my career, plans and hopes.

That is probably one of the things I feel happier about. I couldn’t have imagined only one year ago that I would have published so many posts.  I had been a blogger for some time but I wasn’t sure of how to approach this one in particular that I started thanks to the #eduplemooc experience.

In class, I opened the windows and doors a little more to get some fresh air, but there is still a lot to do -in fact, the last couple of months I had to halt and rethink some of the strategies that I was very excited about this year.

But it’s OK. 2015 is just about to take off and surely many new opportunities and ideas will come!

A warm thanks to everyone who has dropped by, commented or shared this blog.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Feliz Ano Novo! Feliz Año Nuevo!

2015

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Visuals for Speaking

Infographics, and visuals in general, have a very strong presence in my class. I find they are a remarkably effective tool to get students speaking, comparing information and checking their previous knowledge about a topic. But, for me, the most valuable quality is that I can introduce plenty reading exposure during classroom time without having to use narrative texts or articles, which are usually more time-consuming. Of course, I will do some reading in class using magazine articles, for instance, but I think it is very convienient to use this type of visuals in class due to the time constraints and the very nature of a language classroom, where all the potential lies in the cooperation of students and creating opportunities for speaking.

In a previous post I described some ways infographics could be used in a language learning environment. And now I’d like to share some of the tasks I carried out with them in class with the actual texts I used.

1) A jigsaw activity. Level B1+. Topic: families.

Students worked in pairs and were given one infographic each. They could read about facts and figures of average British families. They were asked to search some information on their own and prepare to share their findings with their partner. Then, they had to work out the differences and similarities and also reflect on how reliable the information was considering the source and the date they were published.

2) Fill in the gaps. Level B2. Topic: Digital Technologies.

Nowadays there are loads of visuals on digital technologies and social networking. When we dealt with this topic in class I thought it would be a good idea to revise some of the vocabulary with an infographic about multitasking. I removed some of the words for students to carry out a fill in the gaps task.

3) Practising discourse markers with conceptual graphs.

Conceptual maps and graphs are probably my favourite type of visual for using helping students use connectors. Mainly because it is a kind of text that doesn’t require much time and effort from the student to understand the meanings and connections between the ideas.

When talking about health and medicine in class, a mind map like the one below from Leaningfundamentals.com could be a good aid to revise the vocabulary of the topic and also practise linking the ideas.

health-map

4) Practising numbers. Intermediate and above

There are scores of infographics cramped full with figures expressing time, money, percentages and fractions. You can easily find one on the topic you are dealing with in class, and cover the numbers and carry out a guessing game. This activity could actually take many different forms and can be easily adapted to your own teaching context. The one below is from the dailyinfographic.com and is perfect choice for this time of the year.

holidays_infographic

4) Video infographics. Level: B2; Topic: Time

For this activity students worked in groups. I asked them to watch a section of the video without sound. They took notes and then tried to express what they had just seen. It proved a great way to discuss and use the language they had learnt. This video, which is an adaptation of a Ted Talk by Philip Zimbardo, gave place to a lot of debate in class, too.