“Ceibal en Inglés” at the IATEFL Annual Conference

Technology and its use in education and English teaching, was one of the main topics at the IATEFL Conference in Harrogate (April 2014).

One of the topics discussed was the Ceibal in Inglés project. You can read my previous post about it here.

Nik Peachey interviewed me about this project (min 4:00)


Paul Woods, English Adviser at British Council/Plan Ceibal, delivered a talk explaining how Ceibal in Ingles works.

He talked about how the project is organized and shared some results from the first phase of its implementation.


I talked about coordinating a team of teachers in this project.



Magdalena saludando

CEIBAL EN INGLÉS – a challenging and innovative English project in Uruguay

CEIBAL EN INGLÉS – a challenging and innovative English project in Uruguay

Ceibal en Inglés” is an initiative that is being implemented in Uruguay to teach English to state school kids. In this project lessons are delivered by an English teacher via videoconferencing together with the school teacher who is physically present in the classroom.

After the successful implementation of a pilot phase between June and November 2102, it expanded to 1,000 classes a week in 2013.

Now, Ceibal in Inglés is being implemented in almost 2,000 groups of different state schools throughout the country.

Rob Lewis, who manages the TeachingEnglish site, interviewed Graham Stanley, the British Council project Manger of Ceibal en Inglés in October. You can listen to it here.

Graham Stanley has been blogging about the Ceibal en Inglés project.  You can read his posts here

Jeremy Harmer visited Uruguay in August 2013 and attended a lesson of Ceibal en Inglés. He wrote a blog post about it encouraging the online readers to give their opinions and comment on it. Many interesting things were mentioned there, you can read the thread here.

Magdalena saludando

As English teachers we all hold beliefs regarding teaching and learning, the role of the teacher, the role of the learners and the role of the materials. We believe a successful teaching – learning experience requires certain ingredients. According to those beliefs we plan, we deliver, we evaluate.

What happens when we move away from the “traditional” teaching context? What changes? What remains the same? Are those beliefs still valid?

All stakeholders involved know there is still a lot to learn and to improve. However, we know, there are some crucial elements for the success of this project. Team – teaching is one; how technology is used is another one.

I have been coordinating a team of “remote” English teachers. Based on this experience, I will be delivering a talk at the IATEFL Conference in Harrogate. I will be sharing some ideas, some reflections and some questions regarding what ingredients are key for the success of this team teaching in a blended learning environment.

So, if you’re interested in the topic, you can join me on 3rd April at 12:15 in the King’s B Room of the Harrogate International Conference Centre.

Paul Woods, English Adviser from the British Council in Uruguay, will describe the main elements of the project, key issues and report on recent test results on 3rd April at 11:30 in the King’s B Room.

If you have any questions or issues you would like me to address, feel free to post your questions here.

Looking forward to seeing you in Harrogate!

Conference Programme

Conference Mobile Application


Spoken Fluency

Spoken Fluency

We all know how important English is nowadays. In order to function effectively in the global economy, non-native English speakers must be able to communicate, collaborate and operate successfully in the global lingua franca—English.

Here you can find an article about how companies are using English nowadays

For most of our business English students, the idea of “knowing” a language means being able to converse in that language. It is safe to presume that for most of them speaking is the most highly valued skill. They need to be able to interact in English, spoken interaction is vital.

In interactive activities participants act as speakers and listeners with one or more interlocutors and together they construct, through the negotiation of meaning following the co-operative principle, conversational discourse.

Reception and production strategies are employed constantly during interaction.

There are discourse strategies and co-operation strategies, concerned with managing interaction such as turn-taking and turn-giving, framing the issue and establishing a line of approach, proposing and evaluating solutions, recapping and summarising the point reached, and mediating in a conflict.

“Most researchers agree that fluency in speaking involves smooth, automatic production. However, evidence from spoken corpora suggests that fluency in dialogue also involves attention to the linking of speaking turns to create mutual ‘flow’. “

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMichael McCarthy’s current research involves the creation and analysis of spoken learner corpora in connection with the English Profile project, with special reference to the development of spoken fluency. He is co director (with Ronald Carter) of the 5-million word CANCODE spoken English corpus project, and the one-million word CANBEC spoken business English corpus.

A full list of Mike McCarthy’s publications is available here

He is delivering a webinar for IATEFL on Saturday 22 February 2014, at 3:00 GMT. You can check your local time here

‘Spoken fluency revisited’

Teaching and assessment systems typically consider fluency in speaking to be one of the factors that determine a learner’s competence and level, especially at higher levels.

Furthermore, examination systems, alongside level descriptors in systems such as the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), frequently mention fluency in speaking and attempt to define it and set tasks to assess it. Most researchers agree that it involves smooth, unhesitant production, and that being able to produce language automatically is a key element in being fluent. However, evidence from spoken corpora suggests that fluency also involves a repertoire of interactive items, and attention to linking what you say to what other speakers say in dialogue to create a kind of mutual ‘flow’. How do we achieve this sense of interactive flow, and what sorts of things do learners need to master to achieve smooth dialogue? This talk reports on corpus research for the English Profile, an interdisciplinary research project aimed at a better understanding of what earners know and can do at different levels in English. The English Profile considers the interactive dimension of fluency to be a “fifth skill”, over and above what we normally consider to be speaking skills.  


To join the webinar please go to http://iatefl.adobeconnect.com/mikemccarthy/

You do not need to register in advance to join this webinar, just click on the link above and then:

  • Ensure “Enter as Guest” is selected
  • Enter your name and country
  • Click “Enter room

Scott Thornbury – Interlanguage Fossilization, no way out?

5000805527_16f0f001c1_zAs most of you know, Scott Thornbury was born in New Zealand. After studying in London, he moved to Egypt where he taught English for 10 years. Now, he lives in Spain and has been living in Barcelona for almost 30 years.

Why am I mentioning this?  Almost four months ago, Scott started writing a new blog – The (de-) fossilization diaries – where he’s recording the vicissitudes of a new journey on which he embarked –  the ‘de-fossilization’ of his Spanish.



To fossilize means to become rigid, fixed, so is it possible to “de-fossilize” something? Can fossilized errors be overcome?

A couple of years ago, Scott Thornbury wrote an article to answer a question from a teacher: How can students overcome fossilized errors?

You can read it here


At the IATEFL Webinar on November 30, he will be sharing his experience on this challenge of ‘de-fossilizing’ his second language (Spanish)

‘Fossilization: Is it terminal?’

When:  November 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm GMT – You can check your local time here

Where: Click here

You do not need to register in advance to join this webinar, just click on the link above and then:

  • Ensure “Enter as Guest” is selected
  • Enter your name and country
  • Click “Enter room”

To take better profit of this opportunity, you can read Fossilization: is it terminal, doctor?.

See you online!!



Seven MORE quotes on writing for ELT

Mercedes Viola:

You can join us tomorrow for the MaWSIG Webinar with John Hughes on How To Write ELT Classroom Materials For A Wider Public

Photo of my books

Originally posted on elteachertrainer:

MAWsig logo

Following my previous post with quotes and tips on writing for ELT, here are seven more which have come to me from experienced writers, editors and publishers. We’ll be discussing some of these and other issues at my MaWSIG webinar on this topic on Saturday 16th.

Choosing and adapting texts
“Writers need the ability to identify the core of the text – what makes a text interesting, worth reading – and make sure that this “heart” is not lost in the adaptation. If the heart of the text actually lies in the style and the language rather than the content, it may be worth looking for another text!” Ceri Jones, author

Voice (in rubrics)
“One common mistake that I’ve found [new authors] make is to replicate the voice of the teacher, e.g. “Now, it’s not easy, but where do you think the photo was taken.. go on… have a guess!”…

View original 329 more words

Adrian at SIT clip

The Jazz of Teaching and Learning

Spontaneity, improvising and demanding high. Adrian at SIT clip

How do they correlate? When we improvise and move away from the plan, are we still helping our students achieve their language goals?

Many of us think we do, but, are we challenging them to their full potential?

These are some of the questions Adrian Underhill is going to address at the IATEFL Webinar on September 14.

 “When teaching we probably start out with a plan developed before the lesson. As the lesson unfolds the predictable occurs and we depart from the plan, and the class becomes a living interaction rather than the enactment of a script.  The same happens when jazz improvisers depart from the sheet music. Such improvisation makes up the bulk of most lessons yet remains ‘invisible’.  I therefore refer to it as the dark matter of teaching. This dark matter of teaching is not properly represented in the plan, course book, material, training or supervision, and thus neither critiqued nor developed. In this webinar I will explore this theme and offer suggestions for making this dark matter of teaching visible, discussible, and improvable.”

Andi White and Kristen Donaghy interviewed Adrian Underhill at the 47th Annual International IATEFL Conference.

In this interview he talks about spontaneity in the classroom.

Demand High is an idea Adrian Underhill and Jim Scrivener came up with, as a result of about two years of conversations trying to review what they had learned about language teaching throughout their careers.

You can learn more about this on their blog here  and by watching Jim Scrivener’s interview at the 47th Annual International IATEFL Conference.

Adrian Underhill talks about Demand High

Ready to join the webinar now?

Go to http://iatefl.adobeconnect.com/adrianunderhill/

You do not need to register in advance to join this webinar, just click on the link above and then:

  • Ensure “Enter as Guest” is selected
  • Enter your name and country
  • Click “Enter room”

When? 14 September 2013, 3pm BST – You can check your local time here

See you online!

Innovations in Learning Technologies for English Language Teaching

The British Council released a publication on innovation in technology use in English teaching and learning. This publication offers a different approach to the uses of learning technologies in the language classroom.

Innovations in Learning Technologies for English Language Teaching starts by considering the following contexts of language learning: primary, secondary and adult learners, then different specialist areas: Business English, English for Specific Purposes and English for Academic Purposes, and finally the assessment of language using technology. Each chapter embeds a number of real-life case studies into a framework of research. The chapters show some of the development of the field, and a wide range of technologies is covered.

Each chapter was written by a different author or group of authors: Chris Pim, Graham Stanley, Diane Slaouti, Zeynep Onat-Stelma and Gary Motteram, Nergiz Kern, Jody Gilbert, Russell Stannard and Anthony ‘Skip’ Basiel. Teachers from all over the world contributed with case studies.


I would really like to thank Nergiz Kern for inviting me to contribute with a case a study.


The book can be downloaded for free here or a print version can be bought here.

You can see Nergiz Kern’s blog post about this publication here



The power of stories

Jamie Keddie is the founder of Lessonstream, the site that was formerly known as TEFLclips, winner of a British Council ELTons award. His publications include Images in the Resource Books for Teachers series published by Oxford University Press.

Andi White and Kirsteen Donaghy interviewed him at the 47TH Annual International IATEFL Conference. He describes ‘Videotelling’, a technique which makes use of video narratives for teacher-led storytelling in the classroom. The video clip that he describes can be seen at his website: www.lessonstream.org

Onestopenglish says about him:  “Jamie is an exuberant Scot with a seemingly endless supply of original and imaginative teaching ideas.”

Storytelling or videotelling can also be used with adult learners and with business English students as well.

These are the slides of a presentation I delivered at TESOL France in 2011: Storytelling and business English clients.

Rounding up this topic about vide0telling and storytelling, I’d like to share with you this talk by David Griffin, the photo director for National Geographic. He talks about how we all use photos to tell our stories.

Once upon a time copy

Once upon a time…

Professor David Crystal – Questions about Language

IATEFL Patron David Crystal is honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Bangor, and works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster.

He read English at University College London, specialized in English language studies, then joined academic life as a lecturer in linguistics, first at Bangor, then at Reading, where he became professor of linguistics.

He received an OBE for services to the English language in 1995. His books include The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language and The Stories of English. Internet Linguistics: A Student Guide and The Story of English in 100 Words were published in 2011, and Spell it out: the singular story of English spelling in 2012.

For more details about Professor David Crystal, check here.


On Saturday 25 May 2013 at 3 pm British Summer Time (you can check your local time here), he will be answering questions from teachers all over the world at the IATEFL Webinar.

If you have a question, please send it to Marjorie.Rosenberg@besig.org before 18 May.

To join the webinar on the day, click here.

If you didn’t have the chance to attend the 47th IATEFL Annual Conference in Liverpool and participate watch David Crystal’s plenary session: The world in which we live in: Beatles, blends and blogs, you can watch the recording now. (forward to 12:00 for start of plenary)

You can also watch the recording of the session in which he answers questions or addresses issues raised during his plenary talk.


IATEFL 45th Annual Conference in Brighton


Mercedes Viola - David Crystal

Mercedes Viola – David Crystal

Marjorie Rosenberg - David Crystal

Marjorie Rosenberg – David Crystal

Some Interviews – IATEFL Online

During these two days of the Conference many interesting interviews were conducted by Andi White, Kirsteen Donaghy, Rob Lewis and Nik Peachey.

Here you can find the complete list of interviews.

Andi and Nik interview Carol Read

If you want to get involved in IATEFL, you should watch the interview to the incoming IATEFL President, Carol Read.

She talks about the Publications Committee and Conference Committee and the call for volunteers when more people are needed.

There are calls for volunteers and you can apply.

Rob interviews David Crystal

David Crystal speaks about the theme of his opening plenary, explaining its title (which some had assumed contained an error), more background on blends, and managing to summarise what inspires him in his life and work in just 20 seconds!

David Crystal talked about blends in his opening plenary; ungrammatical sentences that of course, we, teachers say are wrong. However, these are perfectly natural things that people say.

“Blending is a natural phenomenon that reflects the way you process language in your brain”

We need to get our students know that this exists and do not make them feel guilty if they’ve done it. It’s natural…

It’s a feature of spoken English, but, nowadays, it is also common in written on the internet.

He also explains why Barack Obama’s speeches are so effective.

“Language is the most motivating factor of all. Why? Because it’s always changing”

You can watch this interview here

Kristen and Andi interview Scott Thornbury

He is taking part in the English Language Teaching General Debate with Catherine Walter where they will be discussing whether or not published material reflect or not the needs of the learner.

He also talks about a new book, Meaningful Action, a collection of paper in honour of Earl Stevick, a proponent of the Humanistic teaching approach. He wrote a chapter on embodied cognition and talks about that.

You can watch this interview here.


Photo; Gavin Dudeney