I think for me thst one of the most useful uses of technology for the language teacher is the ability to quickly pass on tips and links to some of the huge array of material available on the internet. Twitter is a great way of doing this and I’m personally a great fan of Nick Peachey’s blog and follow Scott Thornbury as well. I also belong to an excellent Yahoo Group for teachers at the BSPRA where I work and where Ingrid Braband sends out a regular stream of great ideas and websites. Grouped under the heading of PLN or personal learning network these tools (blogs, groups, twitter etc.) help teachers and learners to multiply the effect of what they do. However, one area where I think there is possibly the scope for more collaboration between teachers is in the development of teacher material support networks (maybe TMSN is an acronym too far!?) where teachers can request specific help with materials and can then be supported by the network. An example of what I mean is in the area of listening comprehension. The internet has a huge range of audio files available for download and online form authentic material from the BBC, CNN, itunes etc. to more tailor made ESL material such as ESL podcast and others. The slight drawback I find with these is that you are forced in to using what somebody else has thought of and trying to adapt it for what you need or you must spend hours trawling the web for something aproximating what you had in mind. Instead it must be possible using programmes like audacity to put a group of teachers together (virually) and request soemthing specific be recorded and then sent to you or uploaded to platform. For example if you wanted to do some work on how to introduce yourself and talk about your background etc. you could send a shout out to the network asking for people to record themselves and then send it back – obvioulsy the bigger the group the greater the number of recordings. This has the advantage of giving you more or less exactly what you want, a range of examples and a range of different accents, dialects etc. I am not a great fan of scripted recordings and so it could be that the request asks people in broad strokes to talk about who they are, where they are from, what they do, what they like etc. and perhaps give an indication of the language level they want to use it for. Now it may be that this idea is already out there and up and running somewhere in which case I apologise for wasting anyone’s time but here you can simply shake your head pityingly and move on to reading the paper or whatever else you wanted to do – if you do know of a network where this is the case then I’d be grateful if you could let me know. If not then perhaps you could let me know if you think it’s a good idea or not? Anyway, enough rambling for now I think I’m off for coffee – next post will be on the subject of planning lessons and courses and then I hope to start uploading some material!
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