Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Exploring WebQuest: Off to Oz

What is it about?                                                                    
It’s a WebQuest introducing Australia to the learners. By using the WebQuest, learners learn through tasks. Instead of looking for the information without appropriate direction, students use the information provided or selected by the WebQuest designers to complete the tasks. In this WebQuest, learners can find out more about the culture and lifestyle in Australia. There are also tasks for practicing English reading, speaking, and writing.  

Why is it good to language learning?                                     
  1. The questions in the task connect students’ background knowledge with the new information they are going to learn, lead students to use reading skills including skimming and scanning, and cultivate students ability of comparing and transforming information.
  2. With tasks relating to students’ real life, this WebQuest raises students’ learning motivation.
  3. The tasks include group work, which gives students a chance to learn through collaboration and negotiation meanings.
  4. Various types of writing tasks are provided, including writing a postcard and creating a brochure.
  5. The patterns that can be used in an interview are provided to scaffold students’ interviewing skills.
  6. Authentic reading materials are provided.

How can it be used?                                                               
  1. There are a number of tasks in this WebQuest, and we can choose some of them according to our time and students’ English level.
  2. We can also assign different tasks for students at different levels.
What are the limitations?                                                      
  1. The authentic reading material from the websites provided by this WebQuest might be still too hard for intermediate students.
  2. Students’ ability of paraphrasing and transforming information needs to be trained or they might just copy and paste words from the Internet.
Here are more WebQuest resources:                                                

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

myBrainshark- Powerpoint with your own voice.

Here is my self-introduction done by using myBrainshark. It's a good way for students to practice their oral and presentation skills.


What is it about?                                                                   

It's a website to help you create an online and mobile video presentations. The special feature is that you can upload documents, PowerPoint files, pictures, videos, etc, and then add your voice in them to become a presentation with your own voice. The file is easy to share and can be embedded in blogs. You can even track the viewings of your files.

Why is it good to language learning?                                    
  • Files created by myBrainshark are easy to access. If it's a presentation from teachers, students can review the content anytime anywhere.
  • It's a great tool to help students to improve their speaking skills and presentation skills. 
  • It  gives students chance to practice English outside classroom and promote learning autonomy.
  • The possible authentic audience can increase students' motivation to refine the presentation.

How can it be used?                                                             
  • We teachers can use it to produce some extensive learning materials, lectures for remedy learning, or feedback to students' work. Just share the file and students can view the content. It's also quite useful for distant learning.
  • Students can have different tasks related to speaking skills by using myBrainshark to complete. It improves students' learning autonomy because they can complete the task based on their own pace and  make it as good as they want. Students who are nervous and shy to speak English in front of the classmates also have a chance to practice.
  • Tasks like presenting a tourist attraction, describing a picture, telling a story, sharing a topic, etc, can be included.
  • Students can embed their speaking tasks done by myBrainshark in their blogs, and as a learning portfolio, which helps students to see their progress.

What are the limitations?                                                      
  • Each recording is limited in 15 minutes for the free version.
  • The files can be viewed and shared online but can't be downloaded.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

TodaysMeet- An Interactive Space


What is it about?                                                                    
  • TodaysMeet is a virtual room for people to share their opinions, discuss, ask questions and give feedbacks. The host/ presenter/ teacher can create a room and all the participants can spontaneously post their ideas in the room. It creates an interactive community.
Why is it good to language learning?                                     
  1. It provides an interactive and cooperative space for language learners to use the target language to communicate. When brainstorming, students can discuss and build up the ideas together through TodaysMeet. There is interaction between students and the teacher, and also among students.
  2. It creates a friendly learning environment. By using this space, teachers can show their willingness to hear opinions or feedback from students. The students who are too shy to speak up in font of the whole class can express their thoughts through typing words.
  3. It breaks the limitation of space. It can be used in long-distance classes or a joint class connecting two classes from two different countries.
How can it be used?                                                               
  • In class
  1. In writing class, it can be used to help students to brainstorm their ideas or collecting relevant vocabulary they want to use in their writing. Students can also do cooperative writing in the virtual room. They can make up a story by taking turns to write a sentence.
  2. It can be used as a tool to check students’ reading comprehension by questions and answers.
  3. It is also a good tool to review the vocabulary. Students need spelling skills to type the vocabulary.
  4. At the end of the class, students can review and share what the main points they learned today.
  • Outside class
  1. Students at home can have group discussion in the virtual room after class. The teacher can also join in the discussion or give them suggestions.
  2. Students from classes in different countries can have interaction in this virtual room. Teachers can set up discussion topics and students can use target language to exchange their ideas involving different cultures.
What are the limitations?                                                      
  1. When using the virtual room in discussion or brainstorm, students might neglect or ignore other people’s ideas because the information flow is so fast. New ideas keep coming out and some overlapping or repeated opinions might occur. A host is still needed to organize and list the ideas.
  2. Some students might keep silent and not involve in the discussion.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A New Leaf

Hi! Welcome to my blog. This is a place for sharing, discussing, and enjoying English learning and teaching. :)