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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meet My PLN (Personal Learning Network) Series: Part 2

As part of this series I've interviewed another member of my PLN, Vicky Loras (@vickyloras), who's a Greek Canadian teacher of English. Vicky is really supportive and open-minded. Here are her replies:

  • Why have you decided to start the teaching career?
Vicky: The truth is that ever since I remember myself, I wanted to become an attorney. I was in love with Law School. In our final entrance exams for university, for half a grade I did not make Law School, but succeeded in getting into what was my second choice - English Language and Literature. When I began to study that, I realised how wrong I had been all those years for not giving the thought of teaching a chance. I love it and I am so happy I teach!

  • In your opinion, what are the advantages of using technology in the classroom?
Vicky: Nowadays, we have access to so many technological developments. The best thing we can do is put them into practice in the language classroom, as students can both learn how to use the respective technological tools and learn the language in the process. I believe technology increases the interest in learning and gives it a whole new dimension. For instance, I teach some students through Skype and it is amazing what we can do with this fantastic tool. Student and teacher are literally face-to-face, we can use the chat feature as a board when we want to make notes of something, share files and send files...the potentials there are so many!

  • As you see it, what factors determine that a class has been successfully taught?
Vicky: I believe that it shows throughout the lesson. If the teacher is interested and enthusiastic, then the students are as well. If the lesson comes to an end and the students are motivated and excited, that means that they have also learned and then go home to study with a different approach to lessons. In addition, if the students apply what they have learned in the subsequent lessons as well at their own initiative, then that means that the teacher has succeeded in pressing that magic button that has turned on learning.

  • Is there a teaching method you favour? If so, which one?
Vicky: I absolutely love role-playing. Here in Switzerland I use it a lot in my adult classes (I mainly teach adults) and it is so impressive to see the responses and how their English comes out so beautifully and spontaneously. I even take part in them and we always have a lot of fun, laughs and it is amazing how much they can learn. My adults love it so much, they keep asking for role-playing! They are so eager to do it, as it puts them in realistic situations.

  • What technique do you use to correct your students' mistakes?
Vicky: Reformulation is my favourite technique. I believe it is important that students can hear the correct answer or sentence right after their own, so they can realise the mistakes that have been made. It also does not demotivate them and is a softer way of correcting.

  • Should technology be present in the students' assessment? In what way?
Vicky: Well, perhaps it would be useful to see how students use the technology they have utilised in the language classroom to their own benefit, that is to the benefit of learning. It should not be the sole purpose of assessment though, I believe. It should be a combination of various aspects of their presence and performance in the classroom.

  • What is an effective way of assessing students?
Vicky: As I mentioned earlier, for me, assessment comes when I notice a student using a particular aspect of the language that we have learned in previous lessons. When they do this on their own, for example they use some new terminology we have learned or a grammar structure which is quite complex, then that tells me all I need to know about the students. How eager they are, whether studying at home and my assistance in the classroom has really helped them and how much the language is starting to settle down in them. When students apply what they have learned, all on their own and without teacher intervention, then that for me is an automatic assessment of their presence as students.

  • A final question, what is your recommendation for new teachers?
Vicky: I would recommend that they get all the professional development they can. Fortunately, we are in a very creative profession in which we are lucky to be constantly learning. Twitter is an amazing tool that can assist them in this, as they can come into contact with excellent educators around the world from whom they can learn a great deal. Conferences and workshops are also extremely useful and helpful. They should follow these, as we have the opportunity of having lots of them organised for our profession. There is also a great number of fantastic books which can help them improve their teaching or learn about new practices and methods. In other words, teachers should be the best students themselves!

  • Thank you very much for your time, Vicky! And thanks for sharing your expertise with all of us.

Vicky: I thank you very much as well, it has been a pleasure and I truly appreciate this opportunity you have given me. Many thanks, Marisa and I hope to meet you in person one day!
I have enjoyed this very much and it is the first time I have ever given an interview, thank you so very much!

4 comments:

  1. Excellent interview, Marisa! I loved how you tapped into technology and assessment. I am a huge fan of both you and Vicky! It's truly an honor to be a part of your PLNs.

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  2. Thanks for your kind words, Elvira! I thought these interviews would be highly beneficial for all of us. It's a great opportunity to improve and enhance our teaching practice.
    Regards,
    Marisa

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  3. Hi Elle!

    Thank you very much for your wonderful comment - I am very happy we have connected on Twitter and talk on Skype too! Hope to meet you one day!

    Marisa,

    Thank you so much again!

    Many many thanks,
    Vicky

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  4. Vicky,

    Your replies have been really insightful and a good opportunity to reflect on my teaching practice.
    Regards,
    Marisa

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