Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week 3: Skill-building Websites for Oral/Aural Skills and Saving Bookmarks with Delicious

Week 3


For this week, we were asked to read one article about CALL for listening, speaking, or pronunciation skills, and take a quick look at some of the lesson plans.

From the list provided, I chose the following article taken from the English Teaching Forum: "Using Original Video Sound Effects to Teach English", written by Shahla Yassaei (2012). In this article, the author suggests to teach grammar with audiovisual techniques as a motivating and engaging way to create a meaningful learning context.  According to Thoman (2003, cited in Yassaei 2012) media literacy plays a very important role in education nowadays; that includes second language learning. "Media can be integrated into language lessons in a variety of ways by developing activities based on radio programs, television shows, newspapers and videos". In this sense, Yassaei (2012) stands that well known TV series or radio programs can be integrated into the ESL/EFL lessons in order to provide opportunities for students to speak, share opinions and ideas. They offer authentic content to the classroom. Newspapers, for instance, are also available and affordable sources that can be used for relevant discussions. And videos, on the other side, help teachers to create an interactive and engaging environment. One of the main advantages of using these interactive and creative resources is that they can be adapted to any English level and age.

Concerning the lesson plans, I explored all sites recommended; however, there was one that I enjoyed the most: The Internet TESL Journal.  This site is amazing! ESL/EFL teachers can find any kind of teaching resources and unimaginable lessons plans. It is an enormous repository that includes articles, lessons, teaching techniques, questions, games, jokes, things for teachers, links and activities for ESL students and much more. I really recommend it.

I also found interesting lesson plans in One Stop English, Speaking Skills: Teaching Ideas. Here I did a search and found a useful lesson plan for the first day of class designed by Lindsay Clanfield called "First Day". There are several interesting activities there, but I selected one called "A good way to learn English is...". I think this activity is excellent for my English III class. The activity can be used with beginner and intermediate levels, and it is appropriate for my context since I teach adults in a distance program. The topic can be adapted to develop listening and speaking, but reading and writing as well. I would use it for reading and writing because that is what I teach. This lesson plan is a great starter for a discussion/forum in our Moodle course and will allow me to explore my students' target language abilities. We just started our new semester last Saturday.

We also had to look at two or more of the skill-building websites with an eye to what would work  in our context/class. 
a) which website we used, and which specific activity/web page
b) what English level/age of students could best use this site, and what skills it enhances,
c) my overall recommendation about the site.

Regarding the best site for listening, speaking, pronunciation and more, I would recommend the American English Website. It has tons of useful resources for ESL/EFL teachers and students, high quality articles and lesson plans that help us improve our daily teaching task. There are resources aimed at all English levels and ages. It is very difficult to choose one since all of them seem quite interesting; however I found this article: Reading to Speak: Integrating Oral Communications Skills. I think is perfect to what I want to do in my classroom, to use reading as a way to develop listening and speaking skills. This content is aimed at adult learners and it is oriented to develop reading and speaking skills mainly.

Another amazing Website where we can find a great variety of resources to develop listening, speaking, pronunciation and much more is Larry Lerlazzo's. There is no other website that can be more useful for English teachers like this one. It is a collection of the best websites for English teachers. One of the lists Larry Ferlazzo's offers is called  “The Best Sites For Learning English Pronunciation.” This list includes excellent web 2.0 tools to practice or improve the oral skills, among them:

Voice Thread

He also mentions screencasting as a way to create motivating and engaging videos by/for the students. A useful and free tool to create a screencast might be Screencast-O-Matic.Web-based recorders like Vocaroo, Podomatic, Audioboo, and Chirbit, among others, are also excellent means to produce voice messages or podcasts.

TASK 3. Delicious

Social Bookmarking is a new Web 2.0 technology that allows Internet users to read, store, classify, rate, comment on, organize by topic or category, mark by using tags and share with virtual communities or individuals with common interests search links to any Website (Izquierdo, E. & Verschoor, J., 2009). There are several bookmarking tools we can use to keep track of our favorite websites. Diigo and Delicious, for example,  are just two of the most popular ones. During this week, we were asked to create our account on Delicious and this is what I have: Enjoy it!

TASK 4. Sample project report

As a closing activity for week 3, we were asked to read one sample project reported from past Webskills classes and comment on that report. I read Project Report for Graduate Students in the Department of English Education, University Campus, Tribhuvan University, Nepal by Prem Bahadur Phyak from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal. The purpose of this project was to plan and conduct action research in a master program, offered by the Department of English Education. The research universe was formed by 300 students, but only 20 were under technology training and participated in the study.

The overall goal was to help students develop their academic writing and research
skills. Since the university has a low tech infrastructure and have no Internet access, and the university does not have an updated library and journals on language education either, the students are not able to read or explore new materials in the field, which limits their possibilities to conduct research. 

In virtue of this, the author designed online activities that intended to reach the following objectives:

a) Identifying the research problem
b) Specifying a research topic
c) Identifying and reviewing the literature
d) Designing appropriate research methodology and tools
e) Collecting and analyzing data 
f) Writing a thesis and
g) Preparing bibliography 
 In order to explore the students' needs a survey was administered. The main goal was to explore the students' opinions on technology integration for academic writing and research. The results showed that integrating technology in their academic writing and research process brought several benefits to the students. They felt highly motivated, as well as more confident in their research process and time management.

In a few words, I see this project was carefully designed and took into account almost all recommendations given by the Webskills course. I loved the project structure, organization, discourse fluency and all materials used with the students.


  1. Hello Evelyn,

    This week experience is awesome in which we learned new teaching techniques as well as saving our links on which is a brilliant tool.

    Abeer Qumaishi
    Yemen, Aden

  2. Thank you for your comment, Abeer! I agree with you. Bookmarking tools like Delicious are excellent to keep track of our favorite websites and teaching resources. We can store and share them too. We can access our information wherever we are. We just need Internet access.