Archive for Social Media
Can Liberty Fit Into An ESL, EFL, ESOL Lesson?
ESL, EFL, ESOL teachers live in the reality of their students’ everyday lives. With our students we rejoice when there’s a holiday – just as much as they do – especially if it’s a beautiful spring day!
April 25 is one of those special days! Today we recall how precious the gift of
freedom is: 2o1o makes the 65th anniversary of the overthrow of the Mussolini government and the beginning of the fall of the Nazi regime in Italy. Today we remember all those who fought, suffered and died for the liberation of Italy from tyranny.
As the President of the Republic laid the wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, The Altar of the Country, at Piazza Venezia in the heart of ancient Rome this morning, we remembered all the victims of that horrible occupation and war: the foreign soldiers who sacrificed their mind, bodies and lives that the Italian people might be free, the Italian Resistance movement, the many civilian deaths, victims of atrocities, friendly-fire and bombings.
World War II – Echoes in Everyday Life
But World War II is not just a memory in a history book – the scars of that bloody war are still with us: every year many unexploded ordinances are still being unearthed; whole sections of cities have to be evacuated as the deadly bombs are diffused and removed. And here in Rome and its environs we have the sharpnel walls of the buildings on Via Rasella, the Ardeatine Caves where the horrific massacre ordered by Hilter of 335 Italians was carried out in 1944 and many military cemetaries to remind us of the horror of aggression and war – and the cost of our freedom.
ESL, EFL, ESOL Lessons Bringing in History with Social Media
On YouTube there are several videos of actual footage from the WWII period that bring those past events to life again and commemorate the value of freedom.
Here is one with US General Mark Clark who explains the hardships of the Italian campaign and dedicates a documentary by John Huston to the memory of all those who fought for freedom.
For classroom discussions, teachers can talk with their ESL, EFL, ESOL students about their families’ memories of these events and the value of freedom. They can write in their e-notebooks or publicly blog about those family stories and the liberties that they are now enjoying.
In our modern consumeristic world, we have perhaps gotten a bit soft. We take the freedoms we have for granted…. we forget the liberties we now enjoy were bought at a horrific price: the lives of thousands of people who sacrificed what was most precious - their lives - so that we may be free.
And you, my reader - what days do you want to remember and thank those who sacrificed their lives that we might be free?
Happy Liberation Day to all – may we also prize and protect our freedoms from any tyrant….
There are a number of ways you can bring your ESL, EFL, ESOL lesson into the real world of native English speakers. One way is by using social media as content.
What do I mean by content?
Content is the actual linguistic material that we present to our students. Many language institutes use language textbooks that present the target language in a systemic manner. However, it could be that these texts do not incorporate examples from the internet, i.e., new media or social media. So when possible it is a good idea to bring in social media to supplement the textbook.
(It is important for non-native ESL/EFL/ESOL teachers to be aware of the fact that a high percentage of native English speakers use the internet and social media daily in their lives – and this use also has significant influence in their use of language – therefore, the need to expose our students to this use of English by mother tongue English users.)
In choosing real content from the internet, including that of social media, in goes without saying that we need to be aware of the ESL/EFL level of linguisitic development that our students have obtained – and then s-t-r-e-t-c-h them a bit to the next level in each lesson.
10 Steps to Using Social Media or New Media in an ESL/EFL lesson
Here are 10 steps that will help us in using social media, such as blogs, podcast, websites, videos, etc. in our lessons:
- We need to go over the internet material first.
- We need to choose topics that are of interest, professionally or personally, to our students.
- We need to check the material we have chosen for level of grammar, new lexical items that our students could have difficult with, e.g., phrasal verbs, idiomatic and/or colloquial expressions, puns, etc.
- We need to look at what background information we may need to provide, such as explaining particular cultural modes of behaviour, history, etc.
- If it’s an audio or video we have selected, in addition to the above, we need to assess the speaker’s speed, clarity of pronunciation, as well as clarity in the audio reproduction. (What might seem like clear audio to native speakers can be full of distracting noise for ESL/EFL/ESOL learners.)
- We need to organize our ESL/EFL lesson plan so that we have an introduction that prepares the student for the topic and linguistic input they will receive and connect it to their own work or lives so that it is meaningful for them.
- We need to prepare them for the new lexical and/or grammatical input with pertinent exercises.
- We need to monitor input, adjusting the material depending on the students’ reaction as they read, listen and/or view.
- We need to follow up the use of social media with exercises that will help them apply the language that they have learned to to their own situation.
- We need to incorporate the new lexical and grammatical material in the following lessons to help the students remember it and use it.
Using social media or new media in the ESL/EFL classroom makes the lesson more real and interesting for students, but it will only help their progress in learning English if we take the necessary time to prepare its use in our lesson plans.
How do you use social media in your classroom or lives? Post a comment and let me know. Or if you are not an ESL/EFL/ESOL teacher but you produce material on the internet – how can you make your material more ESL/EFL/ESOL-friendly?
Learning ESL/EFL/ESOL with an E-Notebook helps students actually work with new media. While younger students take to the social media like bees to a flower, older people in the business and professional world can seem a bit mystified by all and overwhelmed by social media.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, E-Notebooks are a a joint electronic website where students can keep and monitor their English language learning efforts: written work, as well as audio and video recordings.
So how can you go about creating these e-notebooks?
It is not that difficult a process. This is how I did it. There are various other possibilities as well which we will discuss in later posts.
- I purchased a domain name.
- I got a web hosting provider.
- I installed the free WordPress.org onto my main site.
- I created a sub-domain for each student and installed the free WordPress.org onto each sub-domain.
The e-notebook is basically a WordPress.org blogging platform. I chose WordPress.org because I am familiar with the platform, and it gives me and my students the control that we need to use it as a learning tool.
Some of the strengths in WordPress.org that I found particular useful for creating e-notebooks are:
- it has a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) word processor;
- it has both blog and static pages (which are website-style pages);
- it can be adapted and expanded with widgets as and if needed;
- each student can decide if they want to publish, password protect or keep private for themselves and their teacher whatever they post in their e-notebook. I found that giving students the power to keep their language learning efforts private gave many a sense of ease with this new form of communication.
In setting up their sites, I asked each student to focus on something they enjoyed talking and writing about: hobby, interest, passion. Then, I walked each student through the basic steps of setting up their site, answering any questions or concerns as we went along: username, passwords, personalizing their site with a free WP theme, giving it their own title and tag line, and writing a post.
Most chose to keep their first posts private, which was fine. I fully respect my students’ feelings and needs. This is, after all, an ESOL language course, not a website/blog creation course. However, I found that before the next class a number of students had gone home, signed into their dashboard, explored the site, played around with the name of their site, categories and tags; some even chose a different theme. I saw this as a good sign as they were becoming comfortable with this new medium on their own turf.
A few brave souls decided to publish their posts for the world to see. I asked these students if they would mind if I showed their sites and posts to the other students and if these could write comments. All happily agreed – after all, they had made their posts public because they wanted others to read what they wrote.
As students have begun commenting on these public student e-notebook/websites, as the original writers have begun replying to their fellow students’ comments – I have seen a “green light” go on. They are getting it: these English language learners are experiencing what social media is all about – sharing ideas, stating opinions, creating relationships – and they are doing it in their target language!
As I mentioned above, this is one method to create an e-notebook. Can you think of others? What would fit with your students’ needs and the equipment you have available?
If you are interested, here is another example of a student’s e-notebook.
Enjoy using social media in ESL/EFL/ESOL lessons,
Sorry, if I haven’t been posting much recently. I and a group of people who have met via Mari Smith and the Social Media are co-authoring a book to be released in the autumn called “The Relationship Age”. I am writing a “how-to…” on how I incorporate social media in my language teaching.
It’s been really exciting putting down in writing my philosophy about how I view teaching ESOL and the importance of helping students/trainees learn this new language form of CMC (computer-mediated communications, or “Netspeak”, as David Crystal calls it in his books, Language and the Internet and How Language Works
It’s been great reflecting on the essential relational nature of language and reviewing so many important aspects of language learning and I look forward to sharing with you some my insights and experiences and hearing your take on it all.
Here’s my links to these books if you are interested:
Laura Gomez published an interesting article in Mashable “How to Learn and Practice Languages Using Social Media.
Gomez’s article talks about language learning in general, not just English. She highlights specific social media sites that are useful for language learners, as well as teachers.
As social media is an umbrella term that covers several types of media, Gomez divides the social media into 4 categories:
Under each of these categories she highlights several websites that could be useful for language teachers in teaching and in assigning to their students for out of class work. Moreover, these sites could serve as models for teachers on how to set up their own sites.
Give her article a look and don’t forget to scroll down and read the comments. There are also several other recommendations.
Also if you have used social media in ESOL, ESL, EFL for business or general English, please share your experience with us in the comment box below.