Reflections on EVO (2009 and later)

My first professional blog

Archive for January, 2009


Posted by Mariel Amez on January 31, 2009

I was interested in Yulia’s question in her blog “what is the first association that comes into your head when you see the word ‘Russia'”?

What ideas come to your mind when you hear someone comes from Argentina? I know several fellow countrypeople are around, so please abstain.

On a more general tone, how many different classes do you teach? How many actual f2f  teaching periods do you do a week?  Personally, I work in 3 different institutions. I teach EFL in exam courses (two classes, FCE and CPE) 9 hours a week, and Literature in English in 6 different courses, which amounts to 14 hours a week. I’m also an assistant to Phonology lessons, supervising pronunciation lab work mostly, for about 10 hours a week. That is all f2f: no office hours, no marking or preparation time included – which I do in the small hours or at weekends.

I would really like to hear from you.


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Posted by Mariel Amez on January 30, 2009

Three things about TEFL that I think really

I find TEFL both enriching and empowering. You need to know about every conceivable topic. You have to be alert for the subtlest nuance in meaning, for the latest addition to vocabulary, for the hottest turn of phrase in colloquialisms. Finally, you never stop learning about people and their culture. (50 words)

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Collaborative writing (Week Three)

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 30, 2009


I have to confess I have never used a blog with any of my classes.  My main concerns so far have been student privacy and the inability to upload documents.

Carla Arena’s article highlights the real-life nature of writing when it is done on a blog, as it involves writing for an audience and not just the teacher. However, as Graham Stanley points out, one of the dangers of blogging is that student interest may soon wane, unless frequent tasks are required from them.  Why RSS is crucial for a Blogging Classroom, suggested by Yulia , seems to be an area to explore seriously.

Another important advantage mentioned is to encourage interaction among classmates, including shy students. Again I believe the teacher’s role is crucial, as teenagers in some cultures may be reluctant to express their opinions on their classmates’ work: they may feel it affects their marks or the teacher’s perceptions on it.

A serious disadvantage is the difficulty to correct mentioned by Stanley. I feel – though I have no real experience of  it – that wikis may be more suitable for that purpose. On the other hand, if we are aiming for fluency, a learner blog  may be exceptional, and encourage responses to content rather than linguistic accuracy.

As regards photos, I suppose we should be extremely cautious with underage students.  I have found the following recommendations by Claudia Ceraso extremely useful.

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Collaborative writing (Week Two)

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 30, 2009

Word Processors in Collaborative Writing

Reading other people’s blog comments on the topic,  I feel they are conditioned by the diversity of realities they live. Whereas in many cases, computer literacy is not an issue, in others, computer access is extremely limited – let alone an Internet connection.

As Nadia & Veronica point out, many of the activities suggested in the articles are “pre-word processor” updates. Yet, they may come in very handy (or may be difficult to carry out) depending on the circumstances.

Another issue to take into account is the characteristics of the course being taught, eg number of meetings a week, school regulations in terms of “paper” work and number of individual assignments sts are expected to submit.

All in all, I believe it was very interesting to read about these techniques, which are very flexible in terms of implementation.

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Multiliteracies: Week Two

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 20, 2009

I’m overwhelmed. I’m lost.  It’s 3 am (thank God we are on holiday) and I cannot begin to imagine how these webheads manage to get at least a few hours’ sleep. I tried some of the links in the participants’ pages, went deeper and deeper, found so much great material, started a wiki for my FCE class starting in March, explored the evo2009mlit tag on delicious, read one of the articles….

Another issue. I’m a very private person. And a control freak. Both are clearly incompatible with this. What am I going to do?

Let’s try to get sth in black and white. I read the article Folksonomies. Tidying up Tags? I have experienced some of the problems mentioned while tagging on Delicious: plural vs singular; linking of compound words. And that’s only my own tags. A further issue. I decided to tag in Spanish for sites in Spanish, and in English for those in that language. But it doesn’t really work, as it doesn’t really matter to me which language the info is in, and I’m narrowing my perspective. I have to sort this out.

As regards “hegemony of popular tags” vs “loss of valuable metadata”, I believe some education might help. Instructions such as “use just nouns in the plural”, “for compounds use underscore” (I haven’t been consistent in either case), “don’t use capitals” would not amount to transforming a creole into the Queen’s English. Another issue is Page names. When they are not provided automatically, we are not consistent in naming them, obviously. I have found that using the evo2009mlit tag, the same page appears twice. I think the filing system should use the URL instead of the name, perhaps mentioning “also seen as…” as emule does.

It’s 4 am now, and I have subscribed to Technorati, added the widget to this blog and some other stuff.

Although I have watched the video RSS in Plain English, I still haven’t figured out how to aggregate. It mentions My Yahoo is an option, but  it tells me  “Please enter a valid URL and try again” when I try. I need to read further on the topic.

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Multiliteracies: Week One (second part)

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 20, 2009

On Sunday, I had the chance of taking part of the “informal discussion” with Vance. I can’t believe the generosity of all the experts involved. So many interesting perspectives and experiences…

Then I watched the playback session with Kim Cofino. Joel describes the “evangelical nature of the discussion“. Working at a large institution as he does, he is used to ample resources. I believe resources are extremely important, and can make a lot of difference. Yet, if we check out Rosa’s video, we will see they are not the only answer.

At the Teacher Training College (state-funded) where I work, only in 2008 did we have about 15 computers with Internet connection on the premises. We have about 2000 students. I had started work with Yahoo Groups two years earlier, relying on sts’ home or café access, but it is clearly not the same. Another issue: my salary only covers “classroom” hours. Everything else, I do after midnight or on Sundays. By September (classes end in mid-November) the National Ministry granted us access to a commercial platform : the idea is good, the implementation lousy. I know, I should have known better. But institutional support is limited at best.

Ramblings of the early hours of the morning. Are they?

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Multiliteracies: Week One

Posted by Mariel Amez on January 18, 2009

I believe the concept of multiliteracies as developed in the article can be linked to the conclusion of Wesch’s video: making students knowledge-able, that is to say, able not only to “read” critically all the varied media available, be it visual, multimedia, electronic or any form yet to be developed, but also to be “active designers of social futures”. Empowerment is a key word in both texts.

With regard to the article itself, I would like to share with you the following “Immigrants See Charter Schools as a Haven” (I’ve already tagged it on Delicious as” evo2009mlit”)
It seems to suggest that since integration in a context of local diversity is hard to achieve, the answer of some immigrants to America is segregation. I take issue with such a view, and I would like to know what you think.

On the other hand, the article on multiliteracies focuses, I believe, on the skills required by the marketplace, and how schools should cater for it. I’m afraid I cannot fully agree. It is true that unless learning is democratised we cannot dream of effecting any kind of social change, but I also think that schools are becoming increasingly utilitarian, which is not positive. Where will our future philosophers and poets be educated, for example, if not at schools that teach them to create, regardless of the market value of their creation?

One final thought on the superb Wesch video. I must confess I feel overwhelmed by the expansion of the tools developed in the last 5 years, and I cannot help but thinking how many more will be created in the next 5, or 10? How with this rage shall we hold a plea? Plenty has already been written on m-learning, and Wesch hints at it. What are our chances – and our sts’ – to cope and keep abreast?

Looking forward to reading your views.

Mariel Amez

NB:  First published in the course wiki

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