jueves, 24 de marzo de 2011

More about technology: using cell phones in class

We have talked about the use of technology in the classroom before. However, as you may imagine, the topic is virtually never-ending.
The topic today is cell phones. Do you use cell phones to teach? I don´t. In fact, I ask my students to turn theirs off. Why? Well, this may have happened to you: the phone rings in the middle of a listening activity and distracts everybody, students are more aware of the girl-friend´s call than the class, they say their boss (or a potential customer) is calling them about work, a friend of theirs rings them to say hi, and so many other situations. The best thing is to turm them off. However, the world is wider than what we can see from where we are standing, and maybe we can put those cell phones to work for us instead of against us.
Below, I am posting a link to the British Council´s e-magazine Teach English (every new issue is always announced on ELTeCS PERU) where there is video of a teacher who gives his ideas on how to use this gadget. I must confess, they are interesting and will try them out in my class, see what happens.
Take five minutes to watch this colleague. How do you like his ideas? You may well change your mind about cell phones.
I hope you like it.
Cesar Klauer

viernes, 18 de marzo de 2011

Happy Anniversary ELTeCS PERU

It was 18th May, 2000. I was sitting in front of my PC and I didn´t know what to write, even though the recipients of my message were only a bunch of friends and colleagues. In theory, writing to friends should have been easy, but it wasn’t. In the end, I posted a message that summarized some rules for posting messages to the new group we had just formed: ELTeCS PERU.

The questions started to pop up, bounced around my head, flew like bees or hornets with a buzzing that yelled doubt: Was it worth it? Will it work? Will teachers use it, like it, make it grow? The previous week we had been gathered by Anne Weisman, ELO of the British Council at the time, to present the new network that had been created for Latin America in a meeting in Cuba, which Norma Bustamante attended. The idea sounded great: a network that connected teachers to disseminate best practices and maintain the contact with each other. Somebody, was it Arturo Field or Norma Bustamante? I can´t remember now, but one of us enthusiasts and already devoted ELTeCS-converts gave the idea: Why don´t we form an ELTeCS PERU? That is, a list for teachers in our country, we will still disseminate and create contacts, only with the “ceviche” touch in it. It was a bomb. We all agreed and the Latin American group was history, we wanted a list of our own. Now the problem was how to organize it, maintain it, and all the rest. And this I do remember clearly, as if it were now, I´m seeing Norma Bustamante raise her hand and point at me: Cesar can do it!, she said, almost ordered. The twenty or so pairs of eyes smiled and I was appointed moderator of ELTeCS PERU.

Today, 11 years later, I don´t regret having accepted the task. Since that day, I have been congratulated, thanked, recognized, insulted and accused of the most incredible things. Yes, the oldest members might remember the occasion when somebody sent out messages telling a pile of lies about me and the group. I remember that this person accused me of making money out of ELTeCS PERU… well, I wish! The identity of this saboteur was never discovered, but nobody cares really, at least not me.

We started with that small group of about 20 and now we are exactly 1044, according to the statistics on YahooGroups. How have we grown? The only way we could: by word of mouth. Every event I attended, gave a talk at, every teacher I met, I collected emails. It was hard work introducing the emails and names manually one by one, but somebody had to do it. Little by little the numbers grew. Of course, there have been many who dropped out. There are as many bouncing emails as there are active ones, but that, we can´t do anything about, can we?

New groups have been formed, I hope they have been influenced by ELTeCS PERU. One is on Facebook: Peruvian Teachers of English (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/peruvianteachersofenglish). It was founded by Manuel Salas, next April it will be one year old. It has 566 members. The other group is newer. Peruvian English Teachers Network (http://peruvianenglishteachersnet.ning.com/) was founded by Victor Hugo Rojas, a colleague from San Marcos university and is very active. At the moment it has 104 members. Are they the competition? A threat? Of course not! If they were I wouldn´t be mentioning them here, would I? They are an expansion of the enthusiasm, good intentions and wishes to serve a community that needs a lot of support and development. Are we networks the solution to the need for improvement and professionalisation of our field? I don´t think so, but we are an important arrowhead in the search for excellence, and of course, we are part of the solution.

Happy birthday ELTeCS PERU; I hope we grow more. I hope we have more active participation. I hope we become better teachers. I hope all we can hope for the good of our wonderful profession, the one that touches people and changes lives. However, I am aware that the fate of ELTeCS PERU doesn´t depend on me, simply because the group does not belong to me or the British Council any more, it belongs to its members. ELTeCS PERU will become what we want it to become.