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Sunday, June 3, 2018

My Word of the Week: Resilience

"Resilience" is the word that's been haunting me this week. I've seen it, heard it and even used it many times. But... What does it imply? It's not just another word, it's a strong concept. It's a word that requires to overcome whatever happened to us and reach a lost balance so that one is ready to face anything. Normally, after overcoming challenges, there's a period of calm and one is able to regain strength. However, one is not the same person one used to be before. There's a new view on life, a different scale of values and specially, priorities.

Hopes are renewed and there's a light on the horizon as a signal of a new beginning.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Challenges...Who doesn't enjoy them?

Personally, I love challenges and I'm convinced that they're what one needs in life to enjoy it. A challenge is what helps us grow, mature and learn ...

My jobs as a teacher of English, a translator and an assistant on cultural trips around Europe are
full of challenges.

As a translator being able to express an idea as accurately as possible in another language implies a process in your brain and why not? A struggle!

Perhaps as a frustrated writer I've always wanted to translate books but I believe in translation as an art, the art of playing with words.

Some time ago I came across Babelcube and found it an interesting way of connecting writers and translators so I decided to give it try.

So far, I've translated three books, two of which have been already published and are offered as e-books: Francine and Miss Philpott and the Fascinating Mathilde by Alicia Cameron. I chose these stories because they look attractive and they proved to be fascinating.

All in all, an amazing experience!!!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Refloating my Blog with Book Recommendation

Wow!!!! I've discovered I haven't posted anything since 2013!!! Time flies, doesn't it?
Well, I've got the inspiration (or shall I say the push) from a book I'm reading. I highly recommend it as it's highly insightful for self-analysis.
It offers recommendations for any dormant initiative you've got. How did
the book come to my hands? While in London last January, I visited a
bookshop in search of a book but I didn't know what I was looking for.
And while looking around the shop, the book called me. I felt attracted to
it. It's an interesting experience to look around and see what attracts you.
And I'm really convinced this book is what I needed. Besides, it includes
intuitive quotations from well-known writers, philosophers, writers, and many other thinkers that are related to the information on a certain page.
I think it's a reference book one needs to read and re-read in order to take full advantage of it.
Has a book ever chosen you as a reader? I'd like to hear about it.



Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Importance of Keeping the Communication Flowing

After reading an insightful post by Vicky Loras in which she marvellously describes the significance Facebook has for professional development and making a comment on her post, I felt inspired to write about my experience in using facebook as a tool for communication with my students.

Since Vicky asked about how I deal with it, I told her that I had a similar view on Facebook as hers. I felt reluctant to open an account some years ago and just used Twitter.

I always create PBWORKS sites with my different classes as a way of sharing material with my students. My students are notified about these site updates via e-mail but they've complained about it stating they seldom check their e-mail accounts. Apparently teenagers are not using e-mail as a way of communication. Then, their suggestion was to create a Facebook group so as to receive my notifications whenever the PBWORKS sites are updated. So we did and I've got hooked on Facebook ever since.

In the case of my students I label them as 'students' and I restrict their access to my Facebook account. With my students we also use Facebook to write private messages when they can’t attend a class or if they have been absent, I send them a message asking them what happened to them and telling them about what they have missed. It’s a good way of keeping in touch. They can also ask me questions.

I believe keeping a fluent communication with students contributes to creating the necessary teacher-student rapport for the teaching-learning process to be successful.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Online Lesson Feedback


I haven´t had so many online students but I've found out that I like teaching online.

My concern has been how to develop the necessary rapport with the students who choose to learn English via Skype.  As we all know, the teaching-learning process in the classroom implies interaction skills among the students and between the students and the teacher. As we develop professionally, we acquire sensitivity to immediately perceive the way students feel while performing  certain tasks and flexibility to adjust those activities so that they don't become demotivating.

Anyway, as to my online lessons I do my best for them to be highly interactive and motivating. I use PBWORKS to store the material and share it with my online students. While the teaching-learning process takes place, I take down notes so as to prepare a report that I send to my online students for them to have my feedback.


It was a great surprise for me to receive an e-mail from a new online student I have that reads:

Hello Marisa, 
thank you for the report. I´m so happy about the classes and your way of working. 
See you on wednesday!

At that moment I thought, well...that's her feedback. It was highly satisfactory for me, since it's a new challenge in my teaching-learning career.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Role, Importance, and Power of Words (by a guest)

I haven't posted an article for a while and this time I'm sharing an article one of my blog readers wrote. Some months ago I received an e-mail saying:

Hi Marisa,

I'm a researcher/writer for a resource covering the importance of English proficiency in today's workplace. I came across your blog linguisticconsultancy.blogspot.com as I was conducting research and I'm interested in contributing an article to your blog because I found the topics you cover very engaging.

I'm thinking about writing an article that looks at how the Internet has changed the way English is used today; not only has its syntax changed as a result of the Internet Revolution, but the amount of job opportunities has also shifted as a result of this shift. I'd be happy to work with you on the topic if you have any insights. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best,
Alexa


And I thought it would be a good idea. Here it is:

Today’s post by Alexa Russell focuses on both the challenges and opportunities the Internet offers to teachers of the English language, particularly with the proliferation of social media sites. Alexa researches and writes about studying English in the 21st century, including articles on the availability of open courseware English classes and courses. Here, Alexa builds on the Linguistic Consultancy’s blog post about how to approach teaching English with flexibility and an eye toward motivating students, often by using the social media tools available on the Internet.

The Role of Teachers in The Complicated Relationship Between the English Language and the Internet

The Internet has proven most paradoxical as far as the English language is concerned. On one hand, the web is home to a wealth of English language education opportunities, many of which are free or low-cost; but at the same time, linguistic experts complain that ‘webspeak,’ or shorthand and morphed English used on the web and in text messages, is effectively ruining English spelling and grammar. Today, many experts agree that licensed English teachers can play a crucial role in providing positive learning opportunities for e-students without exposing them to the confusing influence of Internet shorthand.

As New York Times correspondent Eric A. Taub recently noted, there are many online resources free of charge to those who wish to learn English. They include:
       

  • BBC Learning These English lessons for children and adults use multimedia and an interactive format to improve speaking and writing skills.
  • Busuu.com These interactive English lessons include social networking opportunities and downloadable apps for smartphones and tablet devices.
  • Open Culture This forum-style site features links to various English lessons, as well as videos, eBooks and other supplementary materials.
       
But formal English courses are not the only resources that can aid web users in learning English. English mini-lessons (with titles like ‘How to Use Adjectives and Adverbs’ and ‘Writing for a North American Business Audience’) are available through the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL). And since many teachers utilize newsprint during their lessons, the international Online Newspaper Index is a valuable resource that demonstrates the worldwide variances in English writing.

With the worldwide rise of social media, many education experts have touted various platforms as valuable English learning tools. For example, a recent article in ESchool News noted that Twitter, a platform with roughly 465 million accounts (as of January 2012), is useful to educators as an accurate gauge of current events, trends and pop culture. Furthermore, most ‘tweets’ are composed in English, and their content is indicative of contemporary language usage. 


While many educators tout the informative qualities of social media, many have spoken out against its detrimental effects on the English language.These complaints are bolstered by a recent study by the American Institutes for Research, which found English proficiency scores have noticeably worsened over the last decade – even as math proficiency has improved. Social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest – as well as the surge in text messaging – are largely blamed for this steady decline. If this is the effect social media has on native English speakers, critics argue, then Twitter and Facebook could not possibly benefit ESL learners.

However, many teachers have found considerable success by using social media to teach English. The San Marcos Unified School District of Northern California, for example, instituted a social media profile program two years. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students use Facebook to upload finished essays, and then provide feedback and critiques to classmates for their work. Incidentally, the school’s standardized test scores rose from 64.6 percent to 80.3 percent in the year after the program was launched.

Ultimately, noted Guardian UK Contributor Ryan Owen Gibson last April, social media is not only a strong educational resource but also a relevant cultural phenomenon – and those who ignore it are “missing out on a world of opportunities.” He urges teachers to utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and blogging programs to build basic language skills with young people – and warns them not to underestimate the power of social media. “By refusing to engage with our children in the digital playground that is social media,” he noted, “we will never truly understand their needs and never fully realise its potential as a language learning tool.”

The English educators who find the most success with social media are those who teach it under well-established guidelines (i.e. no ‘webspeak’). This structure ensures that children will not only be able to build their skills in an interactive setting, but also that their grammar and spelling won’t suffer.
 



 Alexa Russell is a freelance writer who has primarily been working with an online, educational resource devoted to delivering information to students pursuing an English degree. Her primary interests are developing educational technology and the changing nature of communication. Feel free to drop her a line if you ever have any questions. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Are Students a Source of Inspiration for Teachers?

Throughout my teaching experience I've found out that even when a class is made up of individual students who have their own personality traits, the class as a whole adopts a certain character that makes it particular. For that reason, we teachers should be as flexible as it is possible so as to adapt our teaching practice to a certain class in order to be successful and aid our students in their skill developing process. 

Apart from having a certain character, a class as a whole varies as to its mood to which the way the students feel on a particular day contributes. 

I teach several groups of teenagers and even when they are almost the same age, their attitude towards their learning process varies. And these classes are a source of inspiration to me not only when I plan their lessons but also during the teaching-learning process. I do my best to be flexible enough so as to adapt what I have planned for them to their attitude. 

No matter how much I insist in person and via Internet, I sometimes find it hard to make teenagers aware of the importance of developing independent learners' skills. I make use of strategies in class to help students study and improve themselves.

One of the groups I teach is supposed to be reviewing two units of their coursebook for a test but the tasks they do in class show they are not studying outside the classroom. So I decided to implement a task I designed on the spot thanks to the inspiration I got from my students. I assigned two pages from the units of the coursebook they were supposed to be studying to each student. The aim of the activity was to make students read, remember the information and share it with their partners, which would also help them develop fluency skills. 

The task was successful and my students seemed to enjoy it. How do you make students aware of the need to practise outside the classroom? I'd like to hear about your strategies.