sábado, 28 de junio de 2014

Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Jornadas Internacionales de Lenguas Extranjeras

25th, 26th and 27th June, 20014

Here´s the full programme of the event.

My Proposal to this event and the feedback I got from the evaluation team.

Even though you can see that the proposal to the event was in English, I had to use Spanish to talk about it since the audience consisted of teachers of different languages.  However our colleagues from Brazil spoke Portuguese and it was a great satisfaction for me to be able to follow their speeches quite well. As I said, it was not until I was driving home that I realised this has been the first time I had used my own language to talk about the things I have been learning and doing online.
During the event a number of issues concerning curricullum reform were put forward as well as several initiatives to support or aid the teaching of English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Italian.
A group of colleagues from Misiones (the province famous for its Iguazu Falls), which borders Brazil and Paraguay put up a book called Portugues para meus amigos They also told us about the challenges of teaching a foreign language in a region where the children use a blend of languages: on the coast of the Uruguay River the language is Portuñol (with of Portuguese and Spanish) and by the Parana River bordering Paraguay some people speak Guarañol (a mix of Guarani and Spanish).
Another interesting proposal came from Bruno Ramires Zilli, from the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brazil, who put up an online course to teach Spanish to the blind.
Jackeline Miazzo from Universidad Nacional de San Luis presented on Spanish pronounciation and its varieties, given that universities located in different places of Argentina are receiving overseas students.  What variety of Spanish is the one these students should learn?  The uncomfortable question of deciding what is the "best" and "most prestigious" variety emerged as well as an exercise of self awareness on what Spanish we speak, what variety should a student learning Spanish learn while living in a specific location and when should a teacher intervene to correct mistakes.  I found this comment very useful: (I will quote her by providing my humble translation) " ...to wake up in the learner a desire to learn in order to allow an intercultural exchange..."  I must say that the need to focus on use and appropriateness was stressed without so much emphasis on grammar, which I found very healthy. When it comes to  my  mother tongue I have witnessed the speakers struggling with gender, number and verbal tenses while trying to communicate, these grammatical features are complicated enough to kill the most eager student´s motivation.
Sonia Bierbrauer from the university of Cordoba delighted us by sharing the creative process of writing a Spanish coursebook, which now consists of 3 levels.  She concluded that it was a challenge that allowed the team involved to grow not only professionally but personally as well.  The book is called Horizonte ELE, unfortunatelly I don´t have a link to it but if anyone is interested you can surely mail her for details (sbier@gpecla.unc.edu.ar)
This congress was an opportunity to celebrate the 10th birthday of the CELU ,Certificate of Spanish, Language and Use,  a venture of epic characteristics that begun as one of the worst crisis in the history of our country was taking place.  Unfortunately it has not a virtual component, but anyone wishing to attend the exam can do so in several evaluation centres all over the world as well as in any of the 35 universities belonging to a consortium of institutions that are in charge of administering the exam.

martes, 10 de junio de 2014

Digital Citizenship MOOC, Week 5 Final Questions and answers

As the last week of the DCMOOC starts and in order to prepare myself for the upcoming Core Session 5, with Alec Couros and the rest of the participants of this course, I sat down to write down my reflections on several things regarding not only this particular topic that gathers us together here, but also about learning in general and where I stand as someone who has been a regular attendee to several opportunities for free open learning ventures.

Before the computers arrived to the school my son´s Physics teacher invited us to a parents meeting where our son would present on Energy Resources in our country as well as exhibit a lamps they had made in groups as part of their semester´s project.  I had been asked on several occasions to participate as part of an audience for teacher friends´classes from USA or Germany who presented on different topics, and felt that my son, his friends and teacher were missing an opportunity to broadcast their work to the world.

Looking back I remember asking several teachers about the digital policies in their schools.  The arriving of the goverment computers (in the picture above) made me want to investigate the subject of how schools dealt with questions such as safety or privacy.  I received several general answers, however the practices were tied to the teachers´ unique classroom settings.  I also tried google and posting general twitter questions without much success, the information was too much, theoretical or did not apply to my own country.  So I ended up ignoring the questions that came to me.

Then I joined this MOOC.  A group of teachers reflecting together, adding experience and a little theory, but mostly practical ideas about real classroom issues which come up on a regular basis.  The reflections produced content that was shared.  Simple idea.

I strongly agree with Matthew Johnson when he talks about the efficiency of the Digital Literacy/Citizenship model over the Safety Model, as I come to think about it that is the approach I have applied with my own children as they grow older and gain more rights and responsibilities. A model based on trust with clear rules where adults and students together concentrate on the positive uses of social media and build from there.

We shy away from the internet sometimes because of fear.  Fear of things we don´t know.  The best thing we can do, in my humble opinion, is to talk about those fears in a spaces such as this one, where it´s ok not to know and it´s ok to ask questions, knowing that the person next to us may not be an expert but someone who will do their best to collaborate because we are on the same boat after all.

The big answer today is learning together.  I have my own favourites: my friends from Hello Little World, teachers skypers, whom I interact with on a daily basis, Learning2gether, by Vance Stevens, who organises Sunday or Monday meetings to talk about general topics that concern educators, and my last discovery the people from EdTechTalk, who broadcast via You Tube regular meeting called IHAQ (I have a question).

I guess that what I am trying to say here is thank you to all of you who made this MOOC possible and for sharing all this with the world.  It´s our turn now to spread the word and start the discussions in our own environments.  See you around!

(a view from the country surrounding my city, Santo Tomé, Santa Fe, Argentina)