Please consider the following:

Note that the posts you find herein need edition. They are not finalized. They do still need some correction. I am more concered with doing the tasks for the moment being. These should be finalized soon. Thank you for understanding.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why I should use technology in my classes?

The students of my class are in the third grade in junior high school, the last level before moving to senior high school. They are 14 – 17 years old. They have studied English for seven months now. I teach them English as a foreign language (elementary level) two times a week, one hour per session. They have good skills in using computers.
Our classroom is very ordinary with two-seat tables set in rows and the teacher's desk in the front. It can have up to 40 students, but I only have 30 in this class. We use a chalk-board. There is no air conditioner but the room is supplied with electricity. Very old tech gadgets (a TV set, a stereo, a video player and VCD) could be borrowed from the administration.

Another Problem we suffer from is the total absence of any materials in English. It’s been about six years now that junior high school students start to study English, but no materials have been brought to the school.

Why I am saying this? I believe technology would solve the problem. I am not satisfied with the way I have used technology so far because the results have not been satisfactory. I tied to make use of Moodle in my last trial, but it turned to be a fiasco. My students didn’t show much motivation and interest. I have, therefore, done a kind of informal research to find out the reasons.(This might respond to Mohamed Hassan’s questions). Some of the results are as follows in my context:

· Their interest in using the internet differs from ours.

· Almost al the students have got emails, but they don’t use them for emails exchange but for chatting. They don’t like to wait for responses. They say they prefer synchronous chat. Many of them have never consulted their email boxes.

· For some school options, English is not as interesting as other subjects as is the case of the students of Science Maths option or may be engineering. Therefore, the students just do things because they are obliged and skip lesson whenever they have the opportunity.

· Working in Moodle was not compulsory and it was not a part of the assessment system. So, students found it not necessary to do it.

· I only displayed plain texts on There should have been more interesting things and the design should be appealing.

· An example of how to do the activities should be given in class so that all the learners know what they are supposed to do…

Technology would never be a solution is it is not used appropriately and what might work within a certain context would not necessarily for all. I do consider that the failure of the trial is mine. My project is then to use technology in a better way. It should be more effective. But why should I use Technology in my teaching? Is it because it is the tendency? Or just to make my classes different? It’s none of these. If I am to use technology, it’s because I am certain of the problems it would solve and the facilities it would bring.

· We have no books or English sources in my school that I can use. The internet offers plenty of free materials. I can also make use of audios and videos that provide authentic language. Plenty of websites provide pictures that I can use as visual aids.

· Using technology is motivating. When my students see me coming to the classroom with a CD/cassette player or my guitar, they always feel more motivated without even knowing the content because simply it is not an ordinary lesson.

· Most of the students are now virtual worlds citizens. We should make a move towards them because whether we like it or not they are more attracted live there more. If they are bound to the electronic world where their lives are at risk, we should make a step towards them and make them learn while doing what they like.

· Computers and the internet are good resources for work projects.

· Among the competencies the students should acquire and develop in the Moroccan curricula is technological competencies. Integrating ICT in my classes helps attain this aim.

· Technology facilitates group work. The students can make use of communication technology to keep contact among them such as using emails, SMS, Listsev…

· Using web educational tools would maximize the time the students get acquainted to English in their daily lives.

· Using technology encourages student-centeredness. The teacher would be a mere facilitator and a guide. Technological tools would do the job for him and thereby offer more room for students to observe, think, practise, evaluate…

· It also encourages learning by doing as is the case in web questing or problem solving tasks.

· To set the scene for topics, contextualize issues and so on, technology would be the best tool.

· Technology saves time.

· It is also a good source for me as a teacher to prepare and get materials…

These are some of the ways that make convinced by the importance of technology in education and give the good reason why I keen on being interested in it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reflections on some reading about using technology for teaching English

One of the best things that attracted my mind somewhere while reading the articles about using technology in teaching is that the use of technology should not be see as an objective; but what concerns more is what we can do with it. Both the two articles illustrate how technology could be beneficial to language teaching.

Dennie Hoopingarner (2009) showed how technology was not seen before as a good facilitator to language learning and how the idea has changed as research has approved the effectiveness of technological tools such as computers, videos and the internet in enhancing speaking and listening skills and enabling learners to reach a native-like pronunciation. She also contrasted “intake” to “input”. She argues that exposure to language is enough for learning to take place (karshen 1981) and supports Grass (1997) in viewing that language acquisition should be ““intake” via attention to the language, and interaction with the learner’s existing knowledge of the language”. Multi-media rooms can afford a good place for comprehensible input. Dennie illustrates that both of the “bottom-up” and “top-down” approaches to learning could be supported by technology as well.

Lindsay Miller (2003) states that technology has gained an essential position in English language classes. She explains how it can facilitate language learning especially by providing authentic spoken texts. Then she suggests that listening as an activity in a language class should go through three main stages: pre-listening, while and post-listening. Lindsay sees that radio, TV/video, the Internet, CD-ROMs are so effective.

I do share almost all the points with these scholars, but I have some doubts in using the radio s she suggests. How can we, as teachers, prepare for a class based on a program we haven’t listened to? All the information we can get about a program before it is broadcasted is so little. How can we know that it is suitable for our students though the topic is appealing? I think we need to know detailed information about what our students will learn. We don’t know much about the vocabulary and the language that are going to be used and to what level should the students have to be able to do the tasks. Moreover, this wouldn’t only cause a problem to the students, but to the teachers as well. I am not a native speaker and whatever my mastery of the language is, I might face some vocabulary items or namely idiomatic expressions my students and I don’t know. All this may put the validity of my choice in selecting a special radio program for my class. I need to have a clear idea about what to teach. Isn’t that true?

Comments on lesson plans I have seen

Lesson plan 1: Using “OK” in English.

Objective: Using materials of different types (texts, audios, videos), pre-intermediate to intermediate students will be able to understand the different uses of “OK” and use it appropriately in their speaking.

Lesson Plan 2: Video Games.

Objective: Given a short video games advertisement text, intermediate to advanced students will be able to use some new vocabulary items related to video games in discussions and writing.

Lesson Plan 3: The Deck of Conversations.

Objective: Given a deck of playing cards (with the jokers), pre-intermediate to advanced students will be able to interact and exchange information correctly.

Lesson Plan 4: Using Flickr for English classes

Objective: Given photos taken from, pre-intermediate to intermediate students observe them and use their spoken language competency to compare and contrast them fluently.

Lesson Plan 5: Weather

Objective: Using a PPT projection, elementary students will learn vocabulary related to the weather and use it properly to describe different types of the weather.

I have chosen to study lesson plans that have improving listening as a primary goal. They all use technology. I get inspired by some of them and I shall try to use them in my classes and in my project.

Buiding aural/oral skills on the net: Sample websites

Listening (student resource)
Link: Randall's Cyber Listening Lab:
This website is interested in teaching listening following the three stages: pre-, during, and post- activities. It's organized by topic and level. The main topics are:
• General Listening Quizzes
• Basic Listening Quizzes
• Listening Quizzes for Academic Purposes
• 20-Minute ESL Vocabulary Lessons
• Language Learning and Life Tips
• Long Conversations with RealVideo
I would recommend this website because of the following points:
- Different and interesting topics that would cater for different ages and levels.
- Classification of difficulty: easy, medium, difficult.
- Possibility to download available listening materials.
- Listening materials could be used by any media player.
- Quick downloading
- Audio format could be converted after downloading.
- Clarity of voice.
- Of task types: VarietPre-listening, while- and post-listening activities. Also vocabulary and online investigation activities.

Listening RealEnglish video
This is another interesting website devoted to teaching English, namely listening/viewing and speaking. It contains a set of lessons each of which relies on a video and a “while-viewing” task. Learners need to get back to the video for correction.
I would recommend this website because of the following points:
• Focus on listening and speaking activities.
• Videos with comprehension exercises.
• Speaking activity: Possibility to record voice answering questions.
• Availability of movies of different topics and for different levels and ages.
• Instructions on how to take RealEnglish lessons are well explained on every page.
• Possibility to download and convert the videos formats.
• Quick downloading.
• Good quality videos.
• Sample videos using different dialects
• Some videos are subtitled.

Week 3: Summary of activities

When you save links as favourites on computer, you can’t get the them if you use another computer or you format it without keeping your favourites somewhere else. This is somehow annoying. Delicious makes it easy. Bookmarking your favourite sites is as simple as creating a delicious page; a very simple thing to do indeed but with great benefits. can help save links for future use and share them with interested people the links. Tagging links on Delicious help find the links you are search quickly.
I have already got a Delicious page: . I’ve added some websites I consider as interesting to teachers of English with the tag “Teaching_English”.

Developing Aural/oral skills discussion:
The discussion has been interesting. I’ve learned from my colleagues a lot. The websites I have seen are worth being bookmarked for future use. I highly recommend among the ones I’ve visited the following: and
Aural and oral skills cannot be separated and should be worked together. One of the good ways to teach English is through integrating skills. We can focus on a particular skill in a lesson, but I think we can not claim that it is the only one concerned. Skills overlap. It’s true that the targeted one would dominate but, may be with less focus, others are usually meant as well. I often ask myself at the end of my lessons: What have my students done today? I find that they have read, listened, written and spoken.

Technology and ELT

I have read this week different documents from
Best Practices in Technology and Language Teaching, All of them stress on the advantages of technology on language teaching and suggest to teachers practical ways to integrate it into their classes. I have also studied some lesson plans from, and and I focused on those that use technology to teach listening and speaking. I have learnt about some ways of using audio, videos in language classes. The discussion thread on Nicenet made it even more interesting. The participants have added other new ways and techniques and enriched the discussion with important insights and thoughts.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 2: Summary of activities

The second week has been full of reading, discussions, hands-on activities, reflections... We have had four main activities to do: discussions, planning lessons using the ABCD method, making the first step towards projects and writing reflections on blogs. All the activities revolves namely around making the best searches on the web and learning objectives.
Reading different materials are a kind of prerequisites to undertake the activities. I have read six documents and a PowerPoint about (1)Writing objectives, (2)writing specific instructional/learning objectives (PPT), (3)classifying objectives, (4) NoodleTools, (5) better web searching, (6) Bloom's Taxonomy_Blooms Digitally, (7) Taxonomy of the technology domain. These have enabled me to improve the way I search for information on the web and made aware that Google and Yahoo are not always the best search engines for my interests. I have also learned how to apply the ABCD objective to plan my lessons.
Three discussion threads are taking place in Nicenet; the first is about web searching tools and techniques in which the participants exchanged ideas and experiences. The second thread is about learning objectives with the ABCD model in which I have tried to plan my lesson using the model. But after reading the others’ postings and Deborah’s guidance, I have managed to narrow the objectives into one-sentence objective following the ABCD model. The third thread is for describing our classes. This is considered as the first step toward our future project in the course.
I’ve also had the opportunity to go through some blogs of my colleagues and let some comments for them.
All in all, Planning lessons following the ABCD model, making better web searches and describing classes are the major interests of week two in the “Building Teaching Skills Through the Interactive Web” online course.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reflection on Web Searching: Tips to follow and search engine to recommend

I am very pleased to read Deborah’s article “Technology Tip of the Month” because it has expanded my competency in web searching for needed information. Those tips are really good because they help get the information easily. The script you put as an entry in the search bar determines the efficiency of the findings.
“Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need” states a list of interesting web search engines which are all interesting, but some of them I think are more than the others only because their interfaces are different, they use a lot of ads or they are specialized in certain domains. I have tried many of them using the same entries “ICT for education” and “communication mistakes” +ELT to compare them. Ask, Clusty, ipl2, Wikipedia are quicker and simpler and provide more appealing links. So, I would recommend these for academic but also special searches. As far as the trial I did, Intute’s responses are not quick and efficient and I had to reformulate my entries twice or three times to get something. If your are looking for issues related to the USA, American Memory,,, factfinder and many others are great.
In fact, I can not recommend a particular site rather than another one because when I consider these search engines, I usually think of how good they are to English teaching. As a teacher, I know that all of them work well. It only depends on what we want them for. I can choose Americanrhetoric for example to download speeches and make use of them in my classes. I would also go to to make use of maps to teach geography or culture. Of course, these sites are different in terms of content, design, themes and search manner, but I believe that they all might work well for a teacher of English. What do you think?

A Trial to Implement ABCD objective method in an English Class

I usually prepare my lesson plans following a standard sample though with simple changes. I have also known about different ways of formulating objectives and preparing my lessons and even tried some. I have never tried the ABCD method, but I think it is not far away from what we do here. This is, then, my first trial and let’s see how good I am at applying it and what new advantages it would bring to my teaching:
My class is composed of three main parts each of which aims at focusing more on a certain language skill. That is why I would describe it as lesson of integrated skills because it aims at developing reading, speaking and writing respectively. It is also a theme-based lesson because all the activities are on the theme of “house”. This is the way we have been working here in Morocco since the adoption of the Competency-Based Approach in the Moroccan schools. English is, therefore, taught in modules each of which tackles a particular theme and builds particular competencies.

My students will be exposed to a short text of three paragraphs about a girl describing her home: location, the type of home, rooms, others parts of the home and why she likes it. The time needed for the whole activity is 15 minutes.
Audience: Elementary level students aged 14 – 17.
Behavior: The students skim and scan the text and answer a comprehension exercise based on the content. They have to recognise key information and fill in a form.
• A class of 30 students.
• Prerequisites: the students have studied vocabulary related to house, the present simple, cardinal and ordinal number, simple sentence structure…
• A quick review of cardinal and ordinal numbers and house-related vocabulary.
• The students are given a text supported by a picture showing a building composed of floor and flats. The picture is to be exploited to set the scene before reading the text.
• The students are given 8 minutes to read and fill in the form.
Degree: The students will be able to distinguish between essential and secondary information in a simple text.

The topic is “My Dream Home”. The students will ask and answer each other questions describing the home they dream to have. (25 minutes activity)
Audience: Elementary level students aged 14 – 17.
Behavior: The students use appropriate expressions to talk about their houses.
• By the end of the lesson, the students are given a set of questions to ask each other: The are as follows:
- What is your dream home? (a flat, a house, a villa…)
- Where is it?
- How many rooms are there? What are they?
- Are there any other parts? What are they?
- Do you like your dream home? Why?
• Modelling: Teacher gives an example with a chosen good student. Two good students asked to give another example.
• Then the whole class is to be asked to work in pairs to come up with their own dialogues. Timing: 3 minutes.
• Students exchange roles and perform for another 3 minutes.
• Voluntary students come to the front and act their dialogues. Timing: 10 mintutes.
Degree: By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to

On the light of the comprehension and speaking activity, the students are to be asked to write a paragraph about their dream home. (20 minutes activity).
Audience: Elementary level students aged 14 – 17.
Behavior: Students use appropriate and correct structures and vocabulary in a simple paragraph structure.
• Prerequisites: The students have already studied capital letters, some punctuation markers, simple and short sentences structures with the verbs in the present simple.
• Instructions and the topic should be clarified using the board and the previous comprehension text.
• An example of the paragraph should start should be written on the board: (This is the picture of my dream home. It is …………………………)
• Time for editing is 10 minutes.
• Students should be given a rubric to take into consideration while writing.
• Teacher does around and gives help in need.
• Some students read their productions for the whole class. (5 minutes)
• Correction: peer correction based on a checklist that emphasizes on meaning, punctuation, capitalization and sentence structure. (5 minutes)
Degree: By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to write a short and simple description of a dream house in a paragraph.
Reformulating objectives to one sentence ABCD objectives:

After some more focus and reflection I would summarize the whole thing as follows:
* Reading: Using a short text bescribing a home (Condition), the learners (Audience) will be able to skim and scan a text (Behavior) to disctinguish between essential and secondary information in a text (Degree).
* Speaking: Using given questions (Condition), the students (Audience) will be able to interact with each other (Behavior) to describe homes appropriately (Degree).
* Writing: On the light of the speaking activity above (Condition), the students (Audience)will be able to write (behavior) a short paragraph to describe homes correctly and accurately (Degree).
How does it look now? Looking for your responses.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ways to use blogs in language teaching:

After investing some focus on creating a blog and discussing its benefits in language teaching, I think it's time now to think how to use it; the issue that I've been thinking throughout the previous days. From reading some materials, the discussion taken place here in Nicenet and my own reflection, I can state now some ways on how I intend to use blogging.
* Project work: the students would carry their project on collaboratively. As a teacher, this allows you to observe the learners' work in progress and how each member of the group participates in the project. It would help you know who has done what and when. Doing projects in a blog would also help you guide you students and give them feedback in time. Your students wouldn't need to wait until they meet you in class to hand their production in or to get feedback. This could be done at any time.
* Assignments/Homework: I can post on the blog tasks that my students have to do. By doing so, you push them get to the blog on a regular basis especially if they know they are seriously required to do the homework. Another advantage is that you save time in class for other activities. Homework correction could also be carried out in the blog by giving feedback and encouraging peer correction. Here, there is a risk of discouraging students but, I think, to escape this, the teacher may keep a list of common mistakes and post them to the blog without referring to the students who have done them. If a feedback is recommended to a particular learner, I'd rather react by sending an email or correct him/her face-to-face.
* Thematic discussions: discussing topics on blogs is an excellent approach especially if the English curriculum is theme-based. Discussions could be stimulated in the blog where all the learners take part exposing their ideas freely. The role of the teacher is to provoke discussions, encourage the students to participate and keep the discussions on the thread.
* E-portfolio: Every student would get a blog as a portfolio. This would facilitate assessment as it helps you have a clear idea about the work of the students and it is not demanding.
* Practice with the four skills: A blog could be a fertile land for developing language skills either separated or integrated.
- Reading: The teacher post texts for the students to read and related comprehension exercises.
- Writing: The blog could be a room to practice all types and forms of writing. The teacher might focus on process writing, productive writing or informal writing while discussion and commenting…
- Speaking: The blog could be used to project audios and videos done by the students. Instead of doing it in the classroom, a student or a group of students would be asked to make a record of them giving a presentation or making an interview and upload it to the blog. Their peers should be prompted to respond by asking them to make summaries, give opinion, ask the presenters questions and so on.
- Listening/watching: The teacher might upload audios and videos with listening comprehension or “watching” comprehension tasks. Note that the materials could be done by the students themselves.
* Games: I don’t know if the blog would support installing certain interactive games. Something I have to discover! But there are games that are very simple to display such as crossword puzzles, riddles… Remember that games are so much motivating to all types of learners.
Here is another point I'd like to add to the list above.
* Webquest: It is an inquiry-oriented task format. the students could be asked questions that they have to answer, but they have to do many readings through moving from a hyperlink to another till they get the answer to the question. The inquiry might be adjusted to the level of the students, but the answer should not be somehow challenging by making the learners move from a link to another and read and read. For further reading about webquest, I suggest the link:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blogging as an "Art" & error correction: Reflections and questions.

I have gone through all the postings above and found them all interesting. There are some points that attracted me most and I’d like to comment on them.
In her rich writing, Susana mentioned the idea that blogging could be considered as an art. What makes a blog more attractive than another? What skills can help make you blog be more appealing? Is it its look? Or its content? Or both? You should really be an artist to make your students be interested in your blog!
I have used some other interactive web tools in my classes such as Moodle and Second Life, but never a blog. The first time I heard about blogging was with my students some years ago, but I knew that they didn’t and still don’t use them for studies. Almost every student has got a blog where he/she posts pictures, videos and some texts written in very informal styles. In my social context, students/teenagers like to keep their blogs as “a secret” especially from the adults. What I’d deduce from this is that, technically speaking, I wouldn’t have many problems with my students as far as blogging is concerned, but the great challenge is in fact how to make my blog cater for them and thereby attract and motivate them to interact, write and participate. What kind of blogs do teenagers like most? Surely both the content and the appearance concern them. Are there any practical tips that could make the students take part blogging because they like it and not because it is a part of the class assessment? When forced, learners do less and they do much better when they feel free doing a thing they like.
Hala nicely debated the idea of focusing on content or form. She clearly stated that she opts for content on the first rank rather than form. I think that the learners would rather debate ideas and would be pleased to publish them, but what might prevent them from not doing so is making mistakes. And if these corrected publically, no one would post anything. The learners should then be encouraged by stimulating interesting topics to them, but how could mistakes be corrected then?

Blogging for English Language Teaching: Summary of the article.

• What is it? A blog or a weblog looks like an online journal to publish the students writing on the web. It is very simple to create and manage. It also has the facility to display audios, videos and pictures that could be exploited to teach languages.
• Types of blogs: Aaron Campbell (2003) distinguishes between three types of blogs that could be used in ELT:
- The tutor blog: managed by the teacher and the content is limited to classroom matters (tasks, syllabus, homework...).
- The class blog: collaboratively managed by the teacher and the students and could be used for extracurricular activities.
- The learner blog: More demanding for the teacher to create and moderate, but also more beneficial. Each student is given an individual blog where to post writings of his interests and comment on his peers’.
A combination of the three blogs could also be used.
• Why blog?
- To provide a real audience for student writing.
- To provide extra reading practice for students.
- As online student learner journals that can be read by their peers.
- To guide students to online resources appropriate for their level.
- To increase the sense of community in a class.
- To encourage shy students to participate.
- To stimulate out-of-class discussion
- To encourage a process-writing approach.
- As an online portfolio of student written work.
- To help build a closer relationship between students in large classes.
• The start: There are many sites that offer free blogs such as
• Tips for managing learner blog settings
- Use “settings” or“Site Feed” in Blogger to be the administrator of the learner blog and to receive a notifying email whenever you students publish on their blogs.
- By turning the “Comments” feature on, the students can comment on their peers’ writings.
• How to keep the students interested?
- Respond to student posts quickly.
- Ask questions.
- Create stimulus for writing.
- Encourage the students to read and respond.
- Consider writing to the blog as part of your class assessment.
- Encourage the students to post their writing homework on the blog instead of only giving it to the teacher.
• Some ideas for activities:
- Mystery guest
- Project work
- International link-ups
- Photoblog.

Reflections on creating a blog.

Of course this is not the first time I create a blog. I've already had a similar academic one in Blogger, but this is the first time I create it with a systematic reflection on what I’ve learned while creating it and how good it is for a language class. The findings are great.
Creating a blog is not difficult. It only takes a few minutes to have it done. It is free and all you need is to have access to the internet. You don’t need to excel at information technology to moderate your blog. You can post, edit, add, delete with very simple clicks.
I think the blog would be a good place for language learning. Its features offer a diversity of facilities that would both motivate the learners and enhance their learning. Apart from texting, pictures and videos could also be displayed. This means that thanks to the blog, the target language could be more contextualised and the students could be easily exposed to authentic language. A thing that would not be such easy to do in class because of the daily physical constraints we face.
As an interactive web tool, the blog could also be a fertile platform for educators to improve the students’ writings and stimulate discussions. With the posting possibility, all the students can take part to enrich ongoing discussions, expose and exchange ideas.