Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Using Social Networks in ELT

Social networks are spaces on the web where people can meet and share ideas, pictures and opinions. They are very diverse and most platforms have a specific purpose: share pictures (instagram) or to share short thoughts (twitter), just to name a few. Most people use them for entertainment but due to their high reach more possibilities are opening every day since it is a fact that young people get more new information from the technology they use outside of school than they do from their teacher in the classroom.
It is possible to use social networks for business, maybe to promote a small personal company, to find a new job or one of the latest: to teach! By using social Networks you can teach a variety of things: how to cook, how to dress up with style, music, and of course languages. Obviously our concern is the later. According to a research conducted by the British Council in 2007 “The Internet has affected the preferred learning styles of young people wanting to learn English around the world.”
The final results suggested that “if teachers are to remain relevant and effective, then they need to use 'learning technologies' to help students reach the world outside the classroom” this impose a new challenge for teachers in those countries in which the use of technology is growing more and more. This does not mean that teachers have to leave the classrooms or formal teaching environments but maybe to blend their courses a little bit with online resources.
We can help students to learn more effectively by working collaboratively. Teachers might find they are more successful if they: organize group work in their classes, make fun exercises to motivate students and finally teachers may take on the role of 'facilitator' rather than the role of 'giver-of-knowledge'.
It is also important to take into account another finding of the British council study that claims that “students who felt they were getting enough opportunities in their lives to socialize informally were also successful in their learning”. Combining both studying and socializing helps them to be successful at both.
In order to incorporate this tools teachers need to be aware their students’ knowledge about this technologies, their available resources and of course their favorite ones. Teachers have to find sites that students like, guide them though it appropriate use for learning purposes.
The BC study mentions the “five top social networks for teachers and learners of English”:
1.     Facebook - has a growing number of teacher and learner groups.
2.     Ning - allows anyone to set up their own private social network, so very popular with teachers.
3.     Orkut - particularly popular in Brazil and India, and full of English language groups.
4.     Second Life - an online world in which you have a character that can walk around and meet people.
Reference: Dalton, A. (2007). Teaching and learning through social networks. Available at:
Finally, here you can find a very interesting article. They give advice to teachers on how to deal with some situations that may occur when using Social networks with educational purposes,
There is also an article on the online version of “The Guardian”. The author of this article states that: “We are late to the party. Children now default to social media in nearly every aspect of their life. They use it to communicate with their friends, play games and watch TV. Our failure to provide language learning resources must partly be due to teachers and parents who either don't appreciate or don't understand the power of social media.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Podcasting in teaching English

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines Podcast as a program (of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.
This amazing technology came out of the minds of David Winer and Adam Curry (you may remember Adam was a VJ on MTV in the mid-80s). Adam wanted an easy way for people to create audio content and for listeners to automatically receive it to their MP3 players.
Also a podcast (or netcast) is a digital medium consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The word is a neologism derived from "broadcast" and "pod" from the success of the iPod, as audio podcasts are often listened to on portable media players. Despite the etymology, the content can be accessed using any computer that can play media files and not just portable music players
-         A list of all the audio or video files associated with a given series is maintained centrally on the distributor's server as a web feed
-         The listener or viewer employs special client application software that can access this web feed, check it for updates, and download any new files in the series. Sometimes new files are downloaded automatically.
-         It allows offline use, giving simple and convenient access to the content.[2][3] Podcasting contrasts with webcasting (Internet streaming), which generally isn't designed for offline listening to user-selected content.
Who can create a podcast?
Anyone can create a podcast. All over the world, people are creating podcasts on subjects ranging from movies, to technology, to music, to politics and whatever else you can think of.
Is it difficult?
Most podcasters are everyday people like us. People can do it from almost every place maybe sitting in the living room. You can create any kind of show with very raw and real content. If you are passionate about English language teaching this is a perfect tool to use; of course taking into account your available resources and your students´. You can use it to help your students develop their listening comprehension and their pronunciation through short exercises.
Why  Podcasts?
·        Internet can get almost everywhere.
·        They are easy and convenient due to the automatic delivery.
·        With podcasts, you're in control.
·        You can rewind a podcast, play it over and over or pause it
·        You can store it wherever you want.
·        You can delete it when you want.
·        You can listen to podcasts on your computer, burn them to CD or transfer them to your MP3 player.
·        Most podcasts are free.  It is possible to subscribe to as many as you want.
·        Most Podcasts Don’t Even Have Commercials
Some Audio recorders that you may use to create your podcasts:
·        RecordForAll
·        Replay Radio
·        MixCraft
Software to create, edit and publish your podcasts:
·        TextAloud
·        FeedForAll
·        AudioBlogger
·        Audacity
Podcasts sites:

·        Podcasting News Directory - categorically directory of podcasts
·        Podcasting Search - categorical search engine of podcasts
·        Alphabetical Podcasts - categorically directory of podcasts
·        Podcaster.net - new Podcast.net directory.
·        Digital Podcasts - directory of podcasts.
·        Podcast.net - podcasting director
·        Podcast Central - podcast central (very small directory)
·        Podcasters.org - Podcasting people, apps, technology, and news
·        Spiritual Podcasts - Podcasting people, apps, technology.