I recently attended the XXIV Ventesol Annual Convention held at the Eurobuiding hotel in Caracas (May 19th to May 221st). This event was called Daring to lead the ELT challenge. Among the challenges, we had those related to ICT. During this event, I attended 3 CALL presentations. One of them was related to blogs and writing. A second one, Internet and speaking and the last one, software and listening comprehension. I will briefly describe them and let you know what EFL teachers are doing in connection to ICTs in Venezuela.
ICT: Weblogs and writing practice
Nahir Aparicio (Professor at UPEL-Caracas) The main objective of this presentation was to show the use of weblogs or blogs as a tool for developing writing skills. One of the things I like from this presentation was the sea of examples given by Nahir when describing blogs and its types. Blogging, as Nahir said, can become an excellent tool to promote authentic written communication. Besides, she stressed the written blog entry is also the result of processes, like outlining, drafting, reviewing, editing, etc. Nahir’s presentation showed once again how important it is the integration of ICTs into the curriculum to motivate students to learn meaningfully by doing authentic tasks in the the lab, the cyber or the students’ own PC!. Two thumbs up, Nahir!
Using Internet for EFL teaching at the UPEL Maracay
Mayra Rondón ( Head of the English Department at UPEL, Maracay) Manuel Arrioja (Professor at UPEL, Maracay) This ongoing research showed how the use of Internet can help students develop oral and written communication. By following some instructions from a web-based lesson students can practice oral production. For example, they can agree on where to eat out by visiting a site about restaurants, choose a place to eat, invite a friend and accept or refuse such invitation. Mimicking what most people would currently do in real life on-line. They also showed the value of blogs for developing writing skills. One of the preliminary results of their research is that it seems to enhance motivation and increase students' participation leading to a more meaningful learning process. The ICT activities used in their research were adapted from a workshop given by the British Council in Maracay this year. What pleased more was to see how they “rendered” the printed lesson plan and external material shown in this workshop into a nice on-line electronic version. Since they were 2 presenters, four thumbs up!!!
Learning English with songs: a CALL approach
Víctor Ojeda (Colegio Emil Friedman and professor in the school of librarianship at Universidad de Venezuela) Juan Pino Silva (Professor at Universidad Simón Bolívar) Through software developed by Prof. Víctor Ojeda, students from Colegio Emil Friedman are exposed to numerous songs mirroring a bit what they are actually doing with MP3 players and iPods. This presentation aimed at describing students’ reactions to the activities designed for this software. The lists of benefits reported were impressive. What I found attractive and I’m sure any teen would do is that songs are chosen by the student himself/herself. Also, students get feed back individually. By the way, the program’s data based can be used for research purposes and since it is designed by teachers it can be edited and improved following sound pedagogical views of language and learning. Under Prof. Juan Pino's guidance, this young friend and colleague has shown how important it is to keep abreast of technological changes and what to do to replicate, to a certain extent, the way students are learning outside the classroom which is not exactly the traditional, linear way we are still using in ELT. Keep up the good work, Vic.