jueves, 27 de diciembre de 2012


I would like to reflect about the whole course. What I have learned, what has been helpful for me in my own personal and professional development as an English language teacher and what I feel I still want to work on.

During the course I have learned many things. Among them is the networked teacher, and here includes the PLN/PLE. I have learned to work with Symbaloo where I add my resources that I usually use, and I created a blog where I wrote my own reflections. In this way, I develop a habit of reading, reflecting, writing and documenting on a regular basis in English, all related in my personal development as an English teacher.

Furthermore, I have learned the characteristics of the Student Centered Classroom, what it is and how to work it in a school. I have also met the suitable classroom management that includes the assessment, the dialogic teacher and how to keep kids engaged. 

Finally, I have learned how to create a CLIL. For me, this has been the most important, helpful and useful learning because from my point of view this is the best way for children to learn a foreign language in the school.

In conclusion, I feel I have learned a lot on this subject but I wish I could have the opportunity to attend classes as my learning would have been more significant.

lunes, 17 de diciembre de 2012

Is there an ideal age at which to start learning a second language?

In my opinion, there is not an ideal age to start learning a foreign language. I think that always, regardless of age, anyone can start learning a new language because from my point of view, what is most important and relevant is to feel prepared, confident and motivated.

Some people believe children are the best second language learners because they are like sponges and learn everything they hear. In fact, studies have shown that adolescents and adults are in many ways better at learning a foreign language than children, except in the area of pronunciation. This is probably because they are already literate in their first language and can use some of their knowledge about language and language learning when learning the second language.

Also, some specialists in language acquisition claim that the sooner a child starts to learn a second language the better. It certainly seems to make sense that the earlier you start, the longer you will have to learn. However, there is evidence that this is not the case, particularly if the second language comes to take the place of the first language. One researcher talks of the dangers of double semi-lingualism for early learners of a second language. That is, for example, a child that does not develop full proficiency in either of the two languages. And as mentioned above, it has been found that adolescent and older learners of a new language are more efficient learners, so they may need less time to reach the same level of proficiency as younger learners.

To conclude, the answer of the important question, according to current research, is early adolescence, so about 11-13. And the more motivated the child is to learn the new language, the more successful he will be.

sábado, 15 de diciembre de 2012

Reflection of the article “Developing CLIL: Towards a theory of practice” by Professor Do Coyle

This article talk about what a CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) is and how we can do prepare and practice it in a school class. In my opinion, the most important ideas in this article are what is CLIL, the 4Cs Framework, the trainee teachers and the communities of practice.
Regarding the first point, Do Coyle says that CLIL encompasses any activity in which a foreign language is used as a tool in the learning of a non-language subject in which both language and the subject have a joint role. That is, CLIL consists of using a foreign language in a non-language subject.
The second issue, the 4Cs Framework are developed by Coyle that is used to support CLIL pedagogy. The 4Cs Framework takes account the content, communication, cognition and culture, that is, integrating learning (content and cognition) and language learning (communication and cultures). I think this is very important to have an effective CLIL.
According to Kelly & Grenfell, and I agree, the trainee teachers should fulfil some characteristics of CLIL for that an effective CLIL takes place. Some suggestions are that trainee teachers should have the chance to teach in local bilingual using CLIL methods, should practise CLIL teaching in methodology seminars and workshops, should be aware of the body of research into CLIL approaches to language teaching and finally, should be able to benefit from more cooperation between teacher education institutions and local schools.
The above leads to the fourth and last point: the communities of practice. From my point of view, it is very important that teachers have a feedback from partnerships that are working with CLIL methodology. This may take place if teachers work together in a cooperation and a collaboration way.
To conclude, there are many ways in which you can give out the CLIL feedback, for example, blogs.  

miércoles, 12 de diciembre de 2012

An ideal teacher and classroom

My ideal teacher…
  • Motivates his/her students.
  • Is patient, helpful and understanding.
  • Know his/her pupils very well and easily adapts to their needs.
  • Is creative, dynamic and enthusiastic.
  • Knows English and speaks it systematically.
  • Uses a variety of interesting/interactive activities and resources.
  • Is serious and organized/Sets clear limits.
  • Makes them love the language, shows the benefits of learning English “for the real life”, for communicate.
  • Loves children and loves the language.
  • And loves his/her job.

My ideal classroom…
  • Support tasks to be carried out there: arrange classroom for freedom from hallway and other interference, and have space for group work.
  • Provides security and pleasure: have elements of softness in room, keep room temperature comfortable, use a variety of colours and textures to create a nice environment, and have secure equipment or materials with locks and latches as appropriate.
  • Reflects the people who teach and learn there: personalize classroom space so that it communicates information about you and your students, and display student work.
  • Fosters language acquisition: have an area where students can physically move, sing, play; chairs easy to move (pair work, group work…), CD or computer to provide listening experiences, and story corner (with books, etc.)
  • Materials are accessible to students at all times.
  • Shelves and storage areas are well organized. 
  • Pathways throughout the room are designed to avoid congestion.
  • Seating arrangements: allow students a clear view of instructional presentations, and allow teacher to easily establish collective and individual contact with all students. 
  • Room includes a variety of activities or materials that are relevant to content or curriculum. 

All this points will help pupils on their learning and also teachers because they are going to feel more comfortable in their classrooms where they can work better being able to use all kind of activities and methodologies, suitable for meaningful learning.

miércoles, 5 de diciembre de 2012

Reflection of “Rethinking Classroom Management”

This will be a reflection of the article entitled “Rethinking Classroom Management”, by Theresa Zanatta.

In my opinion, one of the most important ideas in this article is the interrelated areas that we need to consider in the teaching and learning management: the organizational, the curriculum and the social.

In the first one, it talks about how to elaborate the rules in class and the importance of having an order in a classroom, it doesn't mean that children are quiet and in silence, it is understood as students are following the program of action needed for a particular classroom event to take place in the situation. Rules should be the result of a negotiation between the teacher and pupils. That would be a good way to use language to interact.

The second one involves the curriculum issues as the importance to create powerful tasks that enable children to think critically, to solve problems, to give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, to respond positively to opportunities, challenges, etc. And another very important is to engage ALL pupils giving them the opportunity for learning and for recognition.

Also, it is very important that these powerful tasks could be done in individual learning as well as for cooperative work because a good combination of both will define a good way of teaching.

And the last one, social issues include the affective side of learning like respect, recognition, inclusion, self-esteem, roles and responsibilities, etc. To achieve these aspects is crucial to create a good climate in the classroom because students learn more and better if they are in a safe, secure and comfortable class.  

As a conclusion, we have to bear in mind that it is very important to think about the three areas of teaching and learning management in an interrelated way and aiming at the same goals. Also, it is necessary to reflect and make decisions in every area for a successful teaching and learning process.

To finish, a quote from Albert Einstein that defines my main goal as a teacher:

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”.

viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2012

Games and songs: A good way to motivate students

From my point of view, using games and songs in an ESL context is a good way to catch the attention of our students and make them want to learn more.

As a teacher in an academy of English, I realized that the best way to learn, motivate and make children protagonists and participants in their learning is using games and songs.

Songs help children remember what they have learned and develop meaningful memory. It is also an activity that students enjoy.

Games get the student interested in what they are learning. They also learn to work cooperatively.

Now, I want to record here some games for children that can be adapted for any level and content:

-         Find a partner with the same card à Students take a card and read it. They mustn’t show it to anybody. They have to walk around the class and find a partner with the same card.

-         Answer the telephone à Children pick up a piece of paper and write their telephone number and their name. The teacher collects the pieces of paper and chooses one of them. Then, he/she pretends he/she is phoning one of the students. The student whose number has been chosen must answer the phone call. (Hi. This is Pablo…).

-         Simon says à The children should follow the instructions the teacher says. The teacher says “Simon says…” and then the pupils do what the teacher asks. However, if the teacher doesn’t mention the words “Simon says” the students shouldn’t do anything. The child that follows this last instruction loses.

-         What’s missing? à The teacher draws some objects on the blackboard. One student goes out of the class. Then, another student rubs one object out. The other child comes into the class and has to guess which object is missing from the blackboard.

-         Guess what’s in the bag à Students try to guess what is in the bag, based on the descriptive language used by their classmates.

-         Bingo à It is a gambling game, played with several students, in which numbers selected at random are called out and the players cover the numbers on their individual cards. The first to cover a given arrangement of numbers is the winner. Numbers is the common topic, but it can be another one.

-         Memory à Match card pairs. Cards can be of different topics.

-         Hangman à The word to guess is represented by a row of dashes, giving the number of letters and category of the word. If the guessing player suggests a letter which occurs in the word, the other player writes it in all its correct positions. If the suggested letter does not occur in the word, the other player draws one element of the hangman diagram as a tally mark. The game is over when the guessing player completes the word, or guesses the whole word correctly; or when the other player completes the diagram.

-         Pictionary à The team chooses one person to begin drawing; this position rotates with each word. The drawer chooses a card and tries to draw pictures which suggest the word printed on the card. The pictures cannot contain any numbers or letters. The teammates try to guess the word the drawing is intended to represent.

-         Telephone à One person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group.

-         Mimic à Imitate some actions, objects, animals… using only your body. You cannot talk and make noises.

sábado, 24 de noviembre de 2012

Meeting individual needs

The article “Meeting individual needs with young learners”, written by Peter Westwood and Wendy Arnold, talk about differentiation defined as “an adaptive approach to teaching that is responsive to individual differences among learners”.

I want to focus on “approaches to differentiation” point. They show us eight strategies that teachers could use in their classrooms to try to get the individual differences of each student. I am going to comment the strategies that I found more interesting.

The first one is working in whole-group activities. This means that students can participate in a shared experience practical work. All children are active agents in the work and contribute with the best of their individual talents.

The second one is small-group activities. The aim of this strategy is to provide opportunities for children to work in a smaller group, where they can feel more comfortable and confident. One kind of activity that I like it to much about this strategy is a teacher from Portugal that what he/she does is rotate groups through different activities, but only one of these activities need the attention of the teacher. This provides children an individual guidance.

The next one is projects work. It involves that children decide based on their interests, what they want to work. I’ve been working in a school that uses that methodology in their classes and children learn and enjoy it a lot. They feel the protagonists of their learning. I think it is a good option, because they can work in whole-group or in small-groups and thus can work with the two approaches that have been discussed above.

The last one, learning styles and preferences it’s about taking into account the individual differences, create in the school day methods and activities varied and motivating.

To conclude, we must recognize that it is not an easy work for a teacher to meet the individual needs of all their students because of the large class size, rigid curricula, prescribed textbooks, lack of time for preparation… But it is not impossible. As teachers, we can only try to improve the learning of our students bearing in mind their individual needs.