Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Soon I'll be starting back and so I have to get back into teaching mode. One of the things I've decided to do at the beginning of the new school year with my new classes is do a lesson on how to use mobile phones in the classroom. Over the last few years I have been doing something similar with the uses of technology in order to learn English outside the classroom (see here) with DVDs, Wikis, blogs, podcasts etc.

However, this has had mixed results in the classroom as we don't have PCs and often students don't have internet at home. As a result they see such activities as an optional extra which can easily be discarded. I can't say I blame as the ideas are new, often difficult to understand, at least in the beginning and add to their already overloaded timetable.

Ideally, I would be able to teach and supervise such learning in lesson time, but that is not possible. The educational system I work in seems to loathe and reject any form of technology or innovation. Instead of new approaches we simply introduce yet more exam practice materials. i.e. yet more books filled with mock tests thinly disguised as course books.

I think a good analogy would be that of a runner preparing for say, 100m sprint. The person does nothing other than sprint 100m for a year. There is no stamina training, no weights, no special diet.In fact their only training is running the same distance over and over again.

Many parents teachers and students are convinced that unless you do activities which are in the final exams then you're wasting your time. So, for example, the only way to prepare for a cloze test is to do hundreds of other cloze test. It doesn't matter that the test is different each time or that you're ignoring the underlying skills and knowledge required to do the exercise succesfully.No, if the test has this form what you have to do is blindly repeat it endlessly.


dorapap said...

So true!! Good luck with the new school year!!

Gina Marie said...

Even in America it's a lot of "teach to the test", which I completely reject as a teacher.

I am still a bit wary of using cell phones as educational tools -- so I am curious to see how it works for you. I'll be expecting reports! ;-)

Gabriela Sellart said...

Hi, I've been reading you and having a look at your great pictures for some months. I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I don't have access to computers at school,either. All my students have access at home so I can somehow manage.
I was wondering if you teach adults as well, perhaps we could do something together.
Good luck with mobiles in the classroom. I wouldn't even dream of using them. Two reasons: school authorities hate mobile phones; but most of all, phone fares are really high here.

teacher dude said...

Hi, Gabriela

Most of the activities don't require students students to make a phone call so the activities are free.

I do teach adults and I'd love to set up something together.