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Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by delhaye, Mar 30, 2009.
Yes, and that's after you begged the IT manager and he agreed to whitelist Facebook as a favour.
Perhaps we should all read this and reconsider...
I would like to pick up the point you made about old-fashioned teaching on the continent. I went to Germany recently and the school I visited had never heard of interactive whiteboards etc. They keep writing on their good old chalkboards. I think England is obsessed with jazzing MFL lessons up to keep the little darlings happy. This obsession is part of the bubble-wrapping that seems to be taking place in this country. It seems to be more important to keep the pupils happy than to ensure they get a decent education/MFL skills.
I can see the value in using e-mails for etwinning but I am not sure the use of twitter etc. is valuable. I went to a conference recently and the lady showed us how she uses voki with her students. (Voki may be a valuable tool if used well). She told us that she gives the students 10 (!) minutes t
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o change hair, clothing and bling etc. of their character in voki. That's a complete waste of time because there is no target language involved in that!!!
This obsession with making MFL lessons fun all the time and using as much IT as possible means that students, when they come into sixth form, are not used to serious studying and cannot concentrate in lessons where some teachers are not into 'fun', highly interactive lessons with lots of technology.
Many thanks Aligru for your contribution to this discussion. There are a few points you have raised that I would like to pick up upon:
The "little darlings" are your students. They are the people you ultimately work for. They are also children and are entitled to learn in environment that is both enriching and fun.
My own experience with German exchanges is radically different to yours. When their teachers come over here, they are struck by our wealth of facilities such as interactive whiteboards, dedicated ICT rooms and language labs. This is generally followed by a tirade about how rubbish they think their education system is.
"Spending 10 minutes customising Voki is a waste of time" - In those 10 minutes your students would be familiarising themselves with the technology, learning about it as they go along. Those 10 minutes would serve to focus your students towards the ultimate objective, which is, presumably, to speak and record themselves using the target language. Those 10 minutes are ceratinly not a waste of time in my view.
"The obsession with making lessons fun all the time" - I don't know anyone who realisticly expects this to be true. It is our responsibility, however, to ensure our students remain motivated and engaged. Fun is just but one way. Good teaching is another.
"Using as much ICT as possible" - This stement only serves to highlight your misunderstanding of the use of ICT in the classroom. Technology should never be used for its own sake, but rather when the end justifies the means and when suing ICT offers a distinct advantage over other, more traditional means. When technology is used effectively, it is proven to raise achievement.
I could go on, but I might be accused of ranting Anyroad, it's lunchtime!
Thank you for your input.
I do not work FOR my students. The students are not our clients and not our bosses. The fact that some students and stakeholders think we work FOR the students is a problem in this country.
The German teachers may well be struck by our wealth of facilities such as IWB and ICT rooms etc. because it is new to them. The question is: does this wealth of facilities mean that our students are better at languages because of using twitter, for instance? I would appreciate references to academic studies on this since you say, rather vaguely, that technology, if used effectively, 'is proven to raise achievement'.
You may have misunderstood my point on Voki. There is a difference between customising yourself with Voki and putting different clothes and accessories on your character. The presenter was clearly referring to dressing their character up. You can pass this stage within a couple of minutes and then do proper work, i.e. record yourself, which I think is, as I mentioned in my first post, potentially valuable.
It is certainly necessary to keep students motivated and engaged. My feeling is that we are expected to try too hard sometimes and since the focus is on us, the students are not expected to take responsibility for their own learning.
There is a real danger that by focusing on making the lesson engaging and cool by using things students are into, e.g. twitter and facebook, we may lose sight of what really matters, which is ensuring that their proficiency in the foreign language is acceptable.
I do use ICT in the classroom and I know technology should not be used for its own sake. The danger is that due to expectations from their line managers/school/students, teachers forget this and feel under pressure to use ICT more often than they should.
I hope this clarifies my points
I am being really, really thick here... can you explain to me very, very clearly - bottom set year 8 style - who exactly you do work for.
Apologies for coming across as vague, it's the last thing I wanted to be, what with having spent the last year and a half researching for a Masters in Education on this topic and reading through literally hundreds of papers which have looked into the added value that the use of ICT brings to education. I could point you towards my own research, but I gues it could be argued that I am biased so please to this list found here:
You can also try the likes of Becta, FutureLab, ALL and CILT, for whom I write the Languages ICT Outlook
Get started with those and let me know if you need any more. Happy to help
"I am being really, really thick here... can you explain to me very, very clearly - bottom set year 8 style "
I really take exception to the tone of that comment. You may write for Becta, Futurelab, ALL and CILT, but you don't seem like a very nice person if that is how you describe your students.
Shame on you.
It has been very interesting reading this thread today. Firstly I think Joe Dale is a fab teacher because I saw him at one of Helen Myer's events. Furthermore, I use his blog to inform my self about how I can improve as a teacher. Thanks !Loads of great links and just learnt how to upload my PowerPoints onto the web. Therefore, my kids can revise on their phones/ipods etc.
My point is the Internet is great for teachers and those who REALLY want to learn.However, I believe students would be more engaged with me not because of being able to revise stuff on their ipods, but because they won't get the job/uni place they desire without a decent mfl level.
I applaud and respect all those teachers with wonderful websites and I am at the beginning of trying to create my own. However, this is what we can do at the "micro" level. At the "macro" level society in the UK would have to value other languages apart from English.
derekdalek Oh come on!!!!
For the record I don't write for Becta or Futurelab, only for ALL and CiLT, albeit only occassionally.
I am very sorry you have formed such a negative opinion of me from that line you have quoted. I myself was taking exception at Aligru referring to her pupils as "little darlings". If read in context you can see I have a very high opinion of my pupils, as can be seen in post 44 in this thread where I said:
I was saying I was being thick. I never, for one moment, would refer to my pupils as thick.
So my apologies for having given you the worn impression... you can get off your high horse now..
I am the person who first replied to your original post. I am very pleased you have found thread interesting and I would like to apologise if I came across as unkind or ranty in my original reply.
Nice to see this thread is still going strong.
I would like to add a few points:
Firstly, all lessons should be engaging, and students should <u>learn</u> in every lesson whether you use chalk'n'talk or the students are building their own mfl speaking robots capable of overthrowing a small French speaking country.
Secondly, I don't think that the likes of joe, asisehace, langwitch, helen, etc. believe for one moment that ICT is the answer to every problem thrown up in any MFL classroom. Vast amounts of planning and risk taking are involved here. These people are pioneers!
Thirdly, there aren't many academic study results on whether twitter or technology improves students' language learning abilities because these ideas are brand new(ish) within teaching and learning environments. There is much anecdotal evidence though, if you are willing to follow this link: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/schools/sfl-nova-ipods-b041109sbapr11,0,2422677.story
Fourthly, sixth formers can use technology in their MFL learning. My students have interactive CDrom things and internet content with their text books and use them as part of their studies. (Web 1.0 still exists!)
Finally, for those who don't work <u>for</u> their students, I have news: Yes you do.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, guys and girls: we ICT people are essentially a bunch of nerds that are having a lot of fun – and that definitely includes me. I have been a nerd longer than most of you. I first got interested in using computers to teach foreign languages back in 1976. I was quickly hooked and have been ever since.
I soon realised that a career switch to training teachers to use ICT was (a) more interesting than teaching foreign languages, (b) offered more opportunities to travel at someone else’s expense (thank you, The British Council, the European Commission et al.), (c) put my name up in lights (Google for Graham Davies), (d) helped me make quite a bit of money and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle for many years. And now, as a pensioner, I have accumulated a host of ICT skills that keep me entertained and help prevent premature senility, as well as keeping me in touch (using email, Skype, various forums and blogs, Second Life etc) with my relations and hundreds of friends and like-minded people all over the world.
Did you know that the over-65s (e.g. me) spend around four hours per week online than young people aged 18-24? See University College London, CIBER Project, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (SLAIS) (2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future, CIBER Briefing Paper: London, University College London. Available at:
Yes, ICT can help engage learners, but I don’t belong to the Marc Prensky school that believes games are the panacea. ICT is just another tool. Use it if you think it works. See this article by Jamie McKenzie entitled "Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions and Digital Deprivation". It's highly relevant to this discussion - a counter-attack on Prensky:
But see also these two articles that paint a positive view of Second Life and Social Networking in education:
Thanks for the links! I'm looking forward to reading the literature.
I work WITH the students, not FOR them.
I followed the link you recommended, Sam. I use my iPod to learn new foreign languages. At the end of last month I went to Valencia - partly work, partly holiday. Prior to my visit I logged on to iTunes U and downloaded the Open University's "Portales" listening materials, which are all about Valencia and accompanied by printable PDF transcripts. I then transferred the materials to my iPod. I listened to the recordings on the flight to Valencia and in my hotel room. It helped sharpen my listening skills, I think.
But ask the average school pupil or university student if they have ever thought about using their iPod to learn something - and I'll bet their eyes go glazey.
I see what you mean now
As a non native speaker of English I often worry I am not expressing myself correctly, so I sympathise when what you really mean to say does not come across on forums (fora?). This is one area in which ICT, in the form of asynchronous communication, such as this forum, has a lot to catch up on real personal interaction!
Excuse me, but you DID write that you wrote for all of those organisations. And you WERE referring to 'bottom set year year 8' as being 'thick'.
You might regret it now that it is out there for all to see and that is fair enough. But don't try and get out of it by accusing me of being on my 'high horse'.
As a teacher of a few bottom sets, I took exception to your comment. You were out of order. These students have enough 'negative press' to overcome (especially from people in high places who would like to see them taken out of MFL classes altogether) without their teachers calling them nasty names.
Well all I can say is that you're very lucky to have pupils who are prepared to use their heads and think and work
When I'm working until 10.30pm every term time night, I'm certainly not working <u>with</u> my pupils, but I'm definitely working<u> for</u> them. I'm certainly not working for myself (there are many other things I'd much rather do) and I'm not working for the big cheeses at school. So you can see how the misunderstandings arise.
I think you should 'come on'. Asisehace was out of order. Simple as that.
He said: You can also try the likes of Becta, FutureLab, ALL and CILT, for whom I write the Languages ICT Outlook
I believe he meant he writes the Languages ICT Outlook for CILT, not that he writes for all of those institutions, though you could make a point for more precise grammar, I agree.
He was referrring to himself as being a bit thick in a colloquial sense that we might use amongst friends but never of course to or in the company of bottom sets -and you know that as well as I do; you have just got a bee in your bonnet.