In order to define what my context is, I rather take into consideration some aspects which I strongly consider determining for ICT’s to be held in my environment. One first aspect deals with the way my students see English and its learning. Most of the students I have do not agree on having a full English class or to speak the language, so it’s been really hard to promote communication in classes. It might be due to the lots of teachers who are still using only grammar as the main methodological framework in classes. Of course, if I make an attempt to speak English they just reject the idea, most of them. Mainly the students I have go deep in the use of computers or any other technological tool by getting into Facebook, upload pictures or play any of the games this site sponsors. They are really smart in using this tool; actually I consider they are kind of fanatical due to Facebook that they do not see any further from it. The fact that today do exist lots of tools in term of ICT’s and English teaching methodology based on communication, we still in the Valles del Tuy are one, two or even three steps behind in regards to these aspects. Now the following questions arise in order to explain even more my context:
1. Do you use ICT’s with your students? How often?
Well, I would say that despite my students’ alienation to the use of technology, internet and web2.0 tools, I have made successful attempts in the use of those tools for my classes and the English subject as well. At the beginning of the school year, I always make them know that they I’ve created common-visiting e-mails accounts where they can download planning, resources, read comments and get their own grade, because I upload the grades they get and an excel sheet in which they write the grades they obtain during the process and know for sure what they have in the term. These accounts also served for the research projects students from 5th year do since I upload useful documents and resources they can use in the development of their papers.
2. What do you do in the teaching area?
If we go to EFL teaching in Valles del Tuy, as said before, we have lots of disadvantages since very few teachers are on the communicative approach or ICT’s use track. This problem has made an impact on how the students perceive the subject in highschool and its importance for the academic performance. When I talk about all available tools offered for the course, there are students who say they do not understand how to use that resource but I know they do and “force” them to do use it by giving task to complete in classes e-mailed from my personal account. I also ask them to send assignments, self, peer and teacher assessments to the account created, so as to make them understand the importance of the use of the internet. Perhaps the use of such a tool for the subject and research project might be considered as a “Web1.0 use” and I also consider so since there is no interaction between the students or the teacher, so consequently I have decided lately to upgrade the use of internet and give it the touch of a web2.0 use (which is more accurate with days we are living in terms ICT’s use).
Because almost all my students have Facebook accounts, I have used it for educational and assessment purpose. Recently I uploaded different famous people, create a folder “Describing People” and ask them to message me though the Facebook (because I knew not everybody have me added as a friend) in order to assign one of these people so as to make them describe one of the famous person in that folder, depending on the person assigned. The end result was that everybody who did the attempt was really amazed on the way something as simple and popular as Facebook can serve for the English class.
3. How would you describe your local context?
As has been stated before, dealing with the use of ICT’s has been very difficult, but in the meantime we (my students and I) have succeeded in the process of implementing such tools for the English classes.
3.1. The Teacher:
When I finished undergraduate studies, I had learnt very few aspects of the use of technology for English classes. I always have done things by rehearsal and mistaking because we did not have enough information about the topic. But more recently I have learnt some things about it and today I feel more comfortable in the use of ICT’s, not only using internet, but also other resources available at the two highschools I’m working in. Using the laptop, video beam, or even the overhead projector now is easier for me now. I also use the internet as far as the processes allow me to do it. It is important to quote that we do not have very much time to get into the web, prepare something for the classes or evaluate students’ performance, so the used of ICT’s is sometimes limited by the variable time.
Fortunately, the two schools I’m working to have the computer labs and the teachers who work with it. But the impact on the use of those facilities is always low since both, the teachers and students cannot make a connection between English or any other subject and technology, especially when the students get to 4th and 5th years (where informatics is out of the context). I always use the Private School I work in to experiment with technology since the students’ population is at a higher economical level and almost everybody has a computer at home and internet connection. U.E.P. Agustin Aveledo has also video beam, DVD players, CD-MP3 players and more traditionally the overhead projectors.
But on the other hand, the public school has no tool available apart from a DVD player which is out of order and one overhead projector which is not longer functioning since there is a light bulb needed for it and it is very expensive. Eventhough there is a group of students who have computers at home and few of them has internet connection, a huge percentage of them don’t, so the use of ICT’s can be very frustrating for them due to, in first place, the low economical status the majority of them have. But despite having those disadvantages, I always try to make them use internet at least as a web1.0 approach.
3.3. School Facilities for English Classes
I already mentioned about the role of English in this area. To be sincere, I consider the students, a great deal of coordinators and directors, other subjects’ teachers and especially the parents see English as the least worthy subject from all. None of the highschools I have visited or worked at has English labs, well-prepared teachers, really good books to work with or committed students to the English learning. This has made and terrible impact on the highschool graduated students proficiency, the levels of English we manage at schools and even more terrible, the English teachers’ performance in terms of methodology and strategies which tends to decrease as time elapses.
3.4. Students and Teachers Knowledge of ICT’s
Of course, since lots of teachers do not manage to understand or to apply new methodologies and strategies to teach English as a Foreign Language, even less they will use the technology for their English classes. Sometimes, the students know more about things as Facebook or Tweeter than the teachers themselves. The problem is mainly because of the rejection to enhance changes in their performance and the fear many of them have to get into the use of ICT’s for the classes.
4. Make a list of competences a XXI Century EFL teacher should have
In my opinion, I strongly consider a good updated EFL teacher should have at least two competences to place him or herself in the XXI Century. The first one deals with adaptation to what is current in the field of EFLT. Most of the teachers in the area where I live are concerned on grammar and its use, but not on the performance a students should have to produce the language at any level. Other aspect in regards to this, points to the fact that there have been no updating workshops or courses the teacher can attend to in order to change their perspectives on the teaching-learning processes. And finally, every teacher should know about ICT’s since it is the latest way to upgrade the classes’ development, assessment, and student engagement on the process. There is no good end result if we continue using only the board, chalk or marker for the classes and a book which is far away from our reality. It has been proved that the more we use technology in our classes, the more students feel empathy about them and the impact they can have in their lives.
In order to know something in regards to the use of ICT's in Education watch this video