A Word to Teachers

About this Project

This corpus of EFL student’s production is part of my course architecture in social software. We have been exploring the use of blogs in 2006 course with promising results. This year a class static webpage and this wiki are added.

Preparing for an International Exam

The teacher’s Perspective

Time pressure coupled with student's anxiety makes the teacher work thinking of the exam objectives to the detriment of communicative skills. Exam results often show that students who were taking part in those exam oriented courses get at most a C. Teachers tend to repeat formulas year after year expecting different results. Exploring innovation and change leaves the pioneer teacher facing resistance [2] on the part of colleagues to a technology no one doubts they will use one day. It is no longer a question of adopt or reject; it is a question of when to get started.

The Students' Needs

For those students studying in countries where English is not the official language, most of the interaction and use of English they can make generally takes place via e-mail o telephone conversations. It is only a minority of students who can afford a trip and use the language in face to face interaction.
However, the question of how the Internet as mediator in communication affects language production together with the communicative skills involved is generally overlooked by classic course books for language lessons. Yet, students enrol in language courses to improve communication and validate their knowledge with an exam; not the other way about.
This wiki aims at dealing with new communication needs in the media that originates them –namely the Internet. The web will also be the source for authentic material that relates more closely to students’ interest and potential context of language use. Course books are not overlooked; they are simply not enough.

Objectives for this Wiki Corpus

As a corpus, it will register all of the student’s written production throughout the academic year:
  • Every homework as well as shorter written assignments done in class will be found here.
  • Whenever that production is a student blog or a comment in a blog, a link will be registered in this wiki or the blogs be brought here via RSS.

Ideally a corpus should include students’ oral performance as well.
  • To some extent, we will include the students’ oral production in mp3 files or podcast sites.

As a wiki space, this site aims at helping students become active participants of the Read/Write web and to familiarise them with communicative and learning possibilities that, without technology as a mediator, would simply not take place. Linguistic production, style, nettiquete affect the way we encode messages if we are to establish a connection with other people, not just writing samples for an exam. These new linguistic needs should gradually be addressed at school if we mean to help our students become effective actors in today’s networked, global and collaborative working environments.

Wikis are collaborative tools by nature. We hope that the standardised nature of the Cambridge examinations and syllaby can help us find common needs to address with students from other classes in the world and, eventually, design ways of collaborating through this wiki Corpus.


External links
[1] See my 'Reflections on teaching Cambridge FCE' post in ELT Notes
[2] Read this blog-based exchange with an FCE teacher in Greece in Teacher Dude Grill and BBQ