Friday, 21 January 2011

Debate: "Does a good recipe make a good cook?"


The APAC Roundtable discussion at the Convention on February 25th at noon will broach the subject:
 
"Does a good recipe make a good cook?"  

To debate this matter with you we have a guest panel of 3 who will argue that neither one-off recipes nor an abstract framework on their own are suitable starting points for class activities. It is the balance between a clear theory and practical work in class that is needed. Their reasoning will be based on CLIL, Web 2.0 and Affective learning practices.

 Join the debate now by clicking on 'comments' below.

Friday, 15 October 2010

John McDowell Awards


PREMI APAC – JOHN MCDOWELL 2010

As most of you may know by now, 2011 is going to be a special year for APAC, as our association will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Many of you have contributed to the development of what we are today, a group of energetic and enthusiastic teachers with a common aim: keep on working towards a better world for English teaching. One of the events organised by APAC is the APAC-John McDowell Award Ceremony, which takes place every year during the Opening Session of the APAC ELT Convention.

But why does the APAC-John McDowell Award still exist after 25 years? Because APAC promotes and stimulates research and innovation in ELT. It also provides professionals in this field with the opportunity to get together at the convention and share ideas, which is further promoted by means of the web, the quarterly magazine and, of course, this award.

Let us remind you of the different categories and their corresponding prizes:

Category A. Projects by teachers or future teachers. These projects can be anything ranging from units developed for the classroom to research on different aspects of the English language teaching. The first prize consists of a two-week course in the UK sponsored by the British Council, with transportation to be paid for by the winner. The second prize consists of a voucher worth €100 and a CASIO translator.

Category B. Research projects by students. These are usually treballs de recerca that students write in Batxillerat or 4th ESO and which are linked to any aspect of the English language. There are also two prizes: the first one consisting of a netbook and the second one a voucher worth 100€.

Category C. Projects developed in class. Teachers present ideas and activities in which students take an active part. The first prize is a voucher worth €300 and three CASIO translators and the second one is a voucher worth €100.

We are looking forward to receiving your contributions to the 2010 APAC-John McDowell Award.

Send them:
by post: to APAC, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 606, 4t 2a, despatx F-G, 08007 Barcelona
or               
by e-mail: to info@apac.es
before 31st December, 2010.

If you need further information, please visit: http://www.apac.es/john-mcdowell-award/bases-premi.html

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The 2010 APAC Convention is now over. It's time for feedback. Please give yours here.


Thanks.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Skills for Life: ELT and Education

The importance of English in the future of young and not so young Europeans has been central in all discussions on basic skills and competencies and has been one of the main issues in the debate to raise Europe’s productivity, competitiveness and employment.

School curricula have finally incorporated the work done by the OCDE and other international organisations in the identification of key competencies, and teaching programmes are now more cross-curricular than ever. It seems only logical that the teaching of English should try to transcend its language boundaries to the wider field of education with a capital E.


Teachers of English have always been highly specialised, with agendas full of hot topics. A look at the mottos of APAC Conventions is sufficient to see what has been worrying us: ICT, Communication, Tasks, Projects, Motivation, CLIL, Classroom diversity, always closely linked to how language is learnt and how it can best be taught. As teachers of English we have been able to use resources that open windows of imagination for our students, and have an influence on students that teachers of other subjects can seldom have. If English is central in the debate for the future of our young people, our challenge as teachers of English at present is whether we will be able to use that influence and opportunity to go beyond our language niche(s) and consciously contribute to the Education of our students.

APAC’s convention this coming February 2010 includes the confirmed participation of speakers who have not visited us for some time now, such as Mary Slattery, Barbara Seidlhofer, Henry Widdowson, John McRae or Scott Thornbury, and we are about to confirm the participation of regular visitors, local and international. We look forward to listening to interesting sessions and to the usual opportunity for rich exchanges at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra .

See you in February!!!







Tuesday, 1 December 2009

ICT in an IES

The proliferation, in recent years, of tools, practices and models based on ICT is remarkable. ICT can provide many useful resources for learning in the class; it can also foster new literacies, and easy ways to transform, enrich and make information more visual and nicer. ICT also promotes the pupil’s role as agents to spread knowledge rather than just receiving it, and creates situations where they have to work in collaboration and make decisions on their own more naturally.

On the other hand, models based on key competences, multilingualism and multidisciplinary approaches, are also being recommended to teachers by experts. Common sense tells anyone with an open mind that this might be the only solution in a teaching context where we do not know what the jobs of the future would be.



Being a teacher is, thus, more and more complex, and we can only expect succeeding in our task by adopting an active role both in our classes and in the school, sharing knowledge, involving the community and a being ready to engage in-service training, reflection with colleagues, and sharing what we do. We would not succeed, either without the active support of our school management, and of the administration, which must provide means and policies, and make our work easier. Society must value what we do, too, but we cannot expect the parents of our children to be less diverse than they are, can we? It is for the teachers, the schools and the administrations to take the lead.

Each and every one of us has the responsibility to become more efficient in finding, filing and retrieving resources and in improving our capacity to address diversity in the language classroom. We must also design rich learning environments and implement different methodologies and teaching approaches, adapted to our teaching environment. It is also very important that we use ways, such as Portfolios, to file, praise and evaluate not only our pupil’s work, but also our own.

Organizations like APAC are here to help us, but we cannot expect these organizations to do the work for us. Experienced teachers must help novel ones, and novel ones have to transmit their energy and willingness to learn to teachers who have been doing the same for ages. Innovation in schools will not exist if we do not favour exchange of educational materials and reflections, if we do not do our best, and make sure what we consider our best is actually perceived as such by those around us.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

EDITORIAL. November 2009

PREMI APAC – JOHN MCDOWELL 2010

On 25th February 2010, the APAC – John McDowell Award ceremony is going to take place during the Opening Session of the APAC – ELT Convention 2010, Skills for Life: ELT and Education. Once again a series of prizes are going to be awarded to teachers and students who send us their work by 31st December 2009. The jury, made up of five members of our board, will especially take into consideration those entries which are creative, innovative and which concern research into the field of language teaching, as well as ideas and activities carried out by English teachers with their students in class.

Some of last year's winners:


Let us take a broader look at the different categories and their corresponding prizes.

Category A. Projects by teachers or future teachers. These projects can be anything ranging from units developed for the classroom to research on different aspects of the English language teaching. The first prize consists of a two-week course in the UK sponsored by the British Council, with transportation to be paid for by the winner. You can visit http://cambridgejuly2009.bogspot.com to find out more about the experience that Maria Rosa Ena Vidal, winner of this category in 2009, had in Cambridge last July. The second prize consists of a voucher worth 100€ and a CASIO translator.

Category B. Research projects by students. These are usually treballs de recerca that students write in Batxillerat and which are linked to any aspect of the English language but not just written in English. There are also two prizes: the first one consisting of a netbook and the second one consisting of a voucher worth 100€.

Category C. Projects developed in class. Teachers present ideas and activities in which students take an active part. The first prize is a voucher worth 500€ and the second one is a voucher worth 100€.

Those of you who have attended the Opening Session at the APAC – ELT Convention on other occasions may have realised that the awards last year were different from those in previous editions. We hope you find them appealing. If you still haven’t plucked up the courage to share your research or projects with us, get cracking as you still have a couple of months left until the deadline.

Send them:
by post: to APAC, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 606, 4t 2a, despatx F-G, 08007 Barcelona
or
by e-mail: .

For further information

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Update on APAC’s Websites

On opening www.apac.es the first novelty you notice is the layout. The double line of icons has been transformed into a slideshow displaying the featured websites. As each slide has a four-second timer you can either wait for the next featured site to appear or use the small forward and back buttons beneath the show to navigate through the slides. Clicking on each image will bring up its link.


A new vertical line to the right of the slideshow now holds the highlights. The first is a link to the mobile-friendly version of the APAC website.



The top-right icon links to a completely new section on BritLit. The leading page gives a general introduction to the aims of BritLit. It also offers links to the APAC activities connected with this new initiative plus some British Council teacher kits on the subject and a useful contact for more information.

Notice the link on the portal to the upcoming APAC meeting in September. This is when the present board is due for renewal. Read the website link for more details.


http://apacelt.ning.com, the social network, is gradually increasing in numbers with a total of 173 members as we go to press. There have been a couple of new blog postings since June: one on a Peace Campaign run by the Olivar Gran secondary school and the other the monthly newsletter by Nuria de Salvador. Two new videos are also on show, both on the use of technology in classrooms. The Digital Textbooks forum, too, invites comment from those using computers coupled with textbooks as learning tools. In addition you can see a new flash presentation of the featured websites which brings a point of animation to the site. If you have a 3G phone you’ll also find a link to a mobile-friendly version of the network.

As you know this social site is bottom-up in that it relies on your cooperation for content. This is called crowdsourcing, a neologism meaning that it is we, the crowd, who provide the resources. This is quite a departure from the usual top-down approach we are used to in traditional education and it is a taste of what may well be the future trend in all learning activities. Your resources are welcome!

Friday, 1 May 2009

Students Take Over

Do they? What about the teacher? What sort of chaos are teachers going to deal with? I agree that the title might easily lead readers to these types of questions. I am not going to give a miraculously recipe because they do not exist, but I would like to write a few lines about the possibility of doing something different in our classes and introducing autonomy into the class successfully.


If our main aim is to help students become more autonomous in their learning process, our attitude towards classroom activities should involve other strategies than teaching linguistic skills. We will have to rely on a more holistic approach to teaching taking into account all those areas that will contribute to our pupils’ development.


We do not want to be kids’ entertainer, but we want them to enjoy the English class, don’t we? We want students to improve in all four skills, but above all we want to encourage communication. We need to emphasize cooperation and group work, to give every single student a sense of fulfilment in the English class, to offer students topics much more related to life outside the classroom, to share their knowledge with other students, to give them the opportunity of working towards an end-product that will make them feel proud of themselves.


The experience can be done with short-term projects, carried out in groups organized by the teacher, towards a controlled output like dossiers or posters. But it can take a step further, or several, and let them have complete freedom to choose the topic they like best and the friends they would like to work with. They will have to decide how deeply they will go into the subject, sort out different work assignments, and come to an agreement about the possible ways of presenting their final product to the class, not to the teacher. The teacher will be there to help, but they will work on his or her own, and the rest of the class will evaluate them.




The teacher will give them complete autonomy but their presentations should include three steps:

- oral presentation

- written work ( dossier, posters, leaflets, etc. )

- activities to engage the rest of the class


Although work can be done outside the class there must be some time devoted to solving problems, revising their oral skills, putting things together and so on during school time. At the same time it will provide an opportunity for teachers to individualize teaching going from one group to another and to assess students’ interest, contribution and collaboration, which I consider of great value when working with projects.


When the time comes for presentations every group will take over during a certain period of time. The teacher will sit among the rest of the class, and therefore the group will have to organize the class, give instructions about what their friends are supposed to do while watching them, present their work in an attractive way, collect the activity sheets their friends will have completed and correct them to give them back on the following day.


There is some work for the “audience” as well:

1. Behave as students and do as they are told.

2. Evaluate their friends’ presentation completing an assessment sheet given by the teacher, following some parameters: interest of the subject, presentation, organization, and level of English


After having been through an experience like this, teachers will realize their students’ capabilities of ”taking over”. It will mean hard work for the teacher, but it will be tremendously rewarding as well. Students will learn to listen to their friends and enjoy watching what their friends have prepared. They will certainly work harder if they know that the rest of the class is going to evaluate them. On the other hand, teachers will have more time to cater for individuals, learn a lot from their pupils’ work, and feel very pleased watching students moving forward and assuming more responsibilities