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1
CMC Units / Building Vocabulary through CMC
« on: May 04, 2006, 08:10:21 PM »
Hi All,

My final project lesson plan is designed to integrate CMC tools into my regular lesson plans. The goal of this lesson is to enable the students enhance and enlarge the target vocabulary of their regular unit. My English school uses a textbook-based curriculumn, so this lesson plan is based on a unit from our textbook-New Interchange Book II, Unit 8: Festivals and Holidays. It is expected that the students will acquire better vocabulary by using the CMC tools. I plan to use: Text chats, Wiki and Blog for this lesson plan. The students will able to define the meaning, pronounce, and use the target vocabulary in writing properly at the end of the lesson.

I would be grateful if you can help me improve and make this lesson more productive.  :)


Sotith

2
Video Chat for Oral Presentation Practice

For most learners, the Audio Chat with other classmates or other English speakers from other countries would be the most enabling tool to practice their speaking and listening skills outside class. It seems to me that they do not need anything more than that. The Video Chat or Conference, in my opinion, is a little redundant because the Video Chat is the Audio Chat with live pictures. Then, the question is how the additional live pictures from Video Chat could be used to enhance language learning.

As we have talked about lack of body language with most CMC tools since the beginning of the course, the Video Chat offers this lacking aspect of social interactions. So, the Video Chat makes interaction more like face-to-face communication. The students can use the body language from the Video Chat to aid their understanding.

The advantage of Video Chat allows the teachers and students to complete some tasks of classroom activities which require both audio and video aids outside classrooms. For example, an oral presentation could be done with the Video Chat as a rehearsal. A couple of students can rehearse their oral presentation from their homes and comments on improvement before they do the actual presentation with a real audience. They may be able to show their printed PowerPoint pages with the Webcam as well. I have already tested this! It may be also possible for students to join Video Chat as an assignment. It is assumed that students have access to the Internet at home. For example, if the lesson is about giving instructions, the students can choose one thing from their room or house and show how it is used or operated using the Video Chat. Other activities include describing the rooms, showing your favorite photos, demonstrating or even acting.

These activities are done outside class, so the teachers may not be able to provide appropriate feedback or check on the students’ performance unless the Video Chat is recorded. On the other hand, recording a Video Chat requires more resources.

3
Practice Making a Phone Call with Audio Chat
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I think Audio Chat can be used to enhance both speaking and listening skills. The students can use Audio chat to practice with their classmates or other English speakers who are accessible outside the class. However, for this lesson plan, the students will practice phone conversations with only their classmates using the Audio Chat. I used to bring the phone toys into my class for my students to practice phone conversations. The free services of Audio Chat offered by MSN, Skype and Yahoo allow me to throw away those toys and use the new telephony technology to practice making a phone call.

In the daily life, there are many instances that require phone calls. So, in order for the students to be able to use the language in real life, the Audio Chat would be the most effective tool for them to use to practice in class. Since the Audio Chat requires two interlocutors, role-plays would be the best activity for Audio Chat.

Here are the activities that I may use as role-plays for my class.

   -Call a friend and invite him/her to a dinner, to go out, to a party etc.
   -Call a tour company, a hotel, a company to ask for information
   -Call a radio program to ask for advice, to dedicate a song, or express an opinion
   -Call a doctor, barber, dentist, etc to make an appointment
   -Call the police to report a crime or accident
   -Call the boss or supervisor to have a day off

Before the activities I will prepare some target language such as vocabulary, phrases, or other common expressions and encourage my students to use them during the call. Some etiquette for answering and ending a call may also be provided. It is important for the students to know how native speakers talk on the phone and how they answer and end conversations. The students will have to switch turns so they have an opportunity to use the language of both interlocutors. If possible, each pair records their conversation and plays for the class. Then the class vote for the best phone call! To check their understanding, the teacher can look at the information from both students. For example, if they call a hotel to reserve a double-bed room from April 07-12, let’s see whether the two students have the same information. I hope the students will find Audio Chat more authentic than my phone toys.  :)



4
Possible Class activities with Text Chat

With the text chat, students could have a chance to improve both written and spoken skills. A number of traditional class activities could be done with Text Chat. Even though there is no guarantee that Text Chat can actually strengthen students’ face-to-face oral interaction, it is a good start for students to communicate with real audience. Students can build up their confidence from chatting, and then be more comfortable when interacting with people in their daily life. They can at least accumulate necessary speaking elements such as learning new words, recognizing structures, and understanding contextualized conversations. If they happen to talk about what they have already chatted about. They will be well prepared to communicate. Text Chat surely gives shy students a good start for face-to-face conversations.

Below are the possible activities, I think I might use Text Chat for the students to practice their language or reinforce specific skills.

With their own classmates or other people (if possible), the students can

    -Join a debate on the topics assigned by the teacher.
    -Practice conversations using prompts or phrases learned in class.
    -Swab information. The students can either work in pairs or group. Swapping information with group members may be more challenging.
    -write a chain story i.e. one student start a story with one sentence and then the next continues and so on. The best sentence chain exercise students find interesting is “Conditional Sentences”. Student can start like this:
 
A: If I were the President of my country, I would spend more money on education.
B: If I spent more money on education, the students will receive better knowledge.
C. If the students received better knowledge, ……………..

Autonomous Practice:

Students are assigned to join any Chat rooms they wish or often use. Then they should print out the script and report to the class what they can learn from the chat.

Arranged Chat

In EFL contexts, students do not have much contact with native speakers or other non native English speakers rather than their teachers and classmates. The teacher may need to arrange with someone i.e. a native speaker or any proficient English speaker from other countries so the students can interview or chat with them to obtain some information as instructed by the teacher. I would be nicer if the class can chat with other English class from a different country.

So, it’s worth integrating Text Chat in our language teaching activities to provide students with authentic communication.  ???

5
Hello Friends,

The attachment is my critical review of Language Education Chat System (L.E.C.S).


Sincerely,

Sotith Srun

6
Wikis for Computer-Mediated Language Learning / Wiki for Novel Writing
« on: March 29, 2006, 08:56:52 PM »
“In the ESL context, the Wikis can offer a great opportunity for shared writing, peer editing, and brainstorming” (Mitchell & Sarieva, 2005). Therefore, Wikis seem to work best with writing projects.

I think I can group my students into groups of 4 or 5, and each group creates their own Wiki. Each group has to write a novel. The members of the group will take turn writing the story. They can schedule themselves, let’s say weekly. The first member can start the story and write as much as he/she can. The next person has to edit the previous part, and continue the story. He/she can make some changes in the previous part to fit the additional part. The members have to keep taking turn until the teacher informs them that they need to end the story.

When they have finished their novel, they can exchange their story with other groups.
They can read and edit other groups’ novels. At the end, they can vote for the best novel.

This activity will help students to invest more effort in their writing as they know that the real audience will read their writing. The students will also learn to do peer editing, which finally helps with editing and proof reading of their own writings.

Reference:

Debbie Mitchel, D. & Iona Sarieva, I. Wiki Hypermedia Authoring in the ESL Classroom.TELL@ELI 9,
                     Summer 2005. University of South Florida.

7
As a weblog can be used a journal, it may be a good idea for an English class to have a weblog for all the students to learn from their mistakes. My idea is that whenever a student makes a mistake in any area of language use or cultural things or even an embarrassing or amusing event happening to them when they use their English outside class. The students are encouraged to post those accounts on the class weblog.
When a new topic is posted, an alert email will be sent to everyone in the class. In order to motivate them to read and learn from their mistakes in the class weblog, there may be a follow-up quiz to check their understanding and improvement on those mistakes.
Some students may not be willing to lose face by publicize their own mistakes. At the beginning of the class, the teacher can ask them to use a different name to register.
In addition, the teacher can assign the students to take turn posting things they learn daily. Each student is responsible for posting things they learn for the day, and then the next one will do for the following day. When the last student has done it, the first student will take the turn again. Those who are not responsible for posting can read and add or make comments.
I have found an article “Weblogs for Use with ESL Classes” by Aaron Patric Campbell (2003). The article provides some ways of using weblogs for ESL classes. I think our classmates may find the article useful as well. I decided to post it with my ideas. Some good links related to Blog can be found at the end of the article.

Weblogs for Use with ESL Classes
Aaron Patric Campbell
apc33 [at] rocketmail.com
http://www8.ocn.ne.jp/~apc33/
Ryukoku University (Seta, Japan)

The purpose of this paper is to introduce three ways that weblogs can be used to support ESL classroom learning. After defining what a weblog is, I will proceed to show how weblogs can be put into immediate use in the ESL classroom by means of three distinct types: the tutor weblog, learner weblog, and class weblog. I will also mention the software available for creating and maintaining weblogs.
What is a Weblog?
A weblog (or 'blog') can be thought of as an online journal that an individual can continuously update with his or her own words, ideas, and thoughts through software that enables one to easily do so. Unlike a standard website, weblog entries are made by typing directly into the browser and with the click of a button are instantly published on the internet. All basic document formatting, like spacing, bold, italics, underline, and creating links, requires no knowledge of HTML or FTP (File Transfer Protocol), so that anyone who can type, copy, and paste can create and maintain a weblog. However, with a very basic knowledge of HTML, users can extend their ability to customize the layout of their blog and even add pictures to enhance its attractiveness. Similar to an open journal, the accumulation of writings and other content creates both a record of learning and a resource for others. Furthermore, a weblog is interactive, in the sense that readers can respond to any given entry with a comment and even threaded discussions can take place depending on the software chosen.
Even though weblogs have been in existence since the very beginning of the world wide web itself (Winer, 2002), free, commercially available 'blogging software' of the type discussed in this article, seems to have made its first appearance in July of 1999 (Blood, 2000).  Because of the relative quickness and ease of publishing this type of software affords, the number of users has grown tremendously since then, and we can now observe blogs being used for personal, educational, journalistic, and commercial purposes. In the following section, I will introduce three possible ways that weblogs could be put to immediate use with ESL classroom learning.
 

Three Types of Weblogs for Use in ESL Classrooms
The Tutor Blog
This is a type of weblog that is run by the tutor for the learners. It serves the following purposes:
It gives daily reading practice to the learners. Sometimes students find assigned reading material too boring, difficult, or hard to relate with. This is because it is often written with another purpose in mind. So who better to write to them than the person who knows them best: the teacher. Entries are kept short, geared towards the learner interest, and linked to related online sources for further reading if desired. Vocabulary used in class can be recycled this way. New vocabulary words can be linked to definitions on other sites found with a search engine. Furthermore, a casual, natural writing style can be used by the tutor to develop learner familiarity with native language patterns.
 
It promotes exploration of English websites. Any entry made by the tutor can and ought to encourage further exploration of the Internet in English by linking to related articles, and content based websites. For those learners reluctant to step outside the comfort of exploring the Web in their native language, being led to interesting English language sites will increase their confidence and help to overcome their aversion.
 
It encourages online verbal exchange by use of comment buttons. At the bottom of each entry, any blog reader can make a comment that can be read and further commented on by all who access the site. Ask your students questions, give them riddles, challenge their views; whatever it takes to encourage them to comment.
 
It provides class or syllabus information. Entries in the blog can also serve to remind students about homework assignments and upcoming discussion topics. Links can be provided to sites that introduce relevant topics of discussion. The tutor can also follow up on difficult areas of classroom work that might need review or clarification. In addition, a permanent link to the classroom syllabus and rules can be included on the blog.
 
It serves as a resource of links for self-study. In the right and/or left margins of the blog, permanent links can be set-up and organized to aid the learner in self-study, for example links to online quizzes, English news sites, key-pal networks, audio and video files for listening practice and ESL interactive websites.
The Learner Blog
These are blogs that are either run by individual learners themselves or by small collaborative groups of learners. In ESL, learner blogs may be best suited for reading and writing classes. A common reading assignment can be followed by blog postings on the thoughts of each learner or group of learners. Furthermore, the act of constructing the blog may encourage the use of search engines and net surfing in English to find the appropriate sites to which links can be made.  This will empower the learner to direct the reader to sites of choice for further reading. Individually, blogs can be used as journals for writing practice, or as free-form templates for personal expression. The idea here is that students can get writing practice, develop a sense of ownership, and get experience with the practical, legal, and ethical issues of creating a hypertext document. In addition, whatever they write can instantly be read by anyone else and, due to the comment features of the software, further exchange of ideas is promoted. Tutors can even run a mega-blog of select topics of interest gleaned from student blogs so that the broader issues are brought into focus on a single website.
The Class Blog
This type of blog is the result of the collaborative effort of an entire class. The following are some possible uses:
In conversation-based classes it could be used like a free-form bulletin board for learners to post messages, images, and links related to classroom discussion topics. It could also be a space for them to post thoughts on a common theme assigned for homework.
 
With intermediate and advanced learners, class blogs might also useful for facilitating project-based language learning, where learners can be given the opportunity to develop research and writing skills by being asked to create an online resource for others.
 
Class blogs could also be used as a virtual space for an international classroom language exchange.  In this scenario, learners from different countries would have joint access and publishing rights to the blog. The entire exchange would then be transparent to all readers and could be followed and commented on by other learners, tutors, parents and friends.
 
For reading and writing classes, it might also involve the use of knowledge management software, like Userland's Manila, that allows for a great deal of threaded discussion behind the scenes. Much like a publishing group, individual learners can be given varying amounts of responsibility to publish material arising from postings on the discussion list. The results of this effort are what is seen on a website by the public at large.
Weblog Software
For those looking for weblog software, there are several dozen choices at present, all of which have different features. One major issue to consider is whether or not installation is required. Some weblog software is run on a central, web-based server, while others require to be downloaded and installed on a local server. For teachers without much technical know-how or support, the first option might be the easiest. Another important issue is cost. Some weblog software is free, while others may start at $5 and run up to $100 dollars a year or more to operate. Companies that are presently offering free blogging software and hosting services without commercial advertising are WebCrimson, Diaryland, UpSaid, and Pitas.com. Sign-up is very simple and only requires an email address. You and your students can be up and blogging in a short amount of time. Do some research to find out which software is the best for your particular needs.
Conclusion
By introducing the three types of weblogs above and mentioning the software necessary, I hope to draw the attention of other practitioners to both the potential that weblogs have to support classroom-based ESL learning and the ease with which an ESL blogging project could be started.
Visit the Author's Blog
My tutor blog, called 'The New Tanuki' <http://thenewtanuki.blogspot.com/>, was made with software called 'Blogger' from Pyra Labs in San Francisco, and costs $15 a year without any commercial advertising. With commercial advertising it would have been free.
References
Blood R (2000) Weblogs: a history and perspective
<http://www.rebeccablood.net/essays/weblog_history.html>
(accessed 08 Jan 2003).
Winer D (2002) The history of weblogs
<http://newhome.weblogs.com/historyOfWeblogs>
(updated 17 May 2002, accessed 08 Jan 2003)
Appendix
Companies offering free blogging software and hosting without commercial advertising:
http://www.diaryland.com/
http://www.pitas.com/
http://www.upsaid.com/
http://www.webcrimson.com/
Freeware that can be installed on your own web server:
http://www.raelity.org/apps/blosxom/
http://www.noahgrey.com/greysoft/ (Greymatter)
http://phpnuke.org/
Commercial software:
'Blogger' comes from Pyra Labs, Inc.:
http://www.blogger.com
Knowledge Management software called 'Manila' comes from Userland: http://www.userland.com/ It costs $299 for an educational license.
To learn more about other weblog software and the companies providing it, please visit the resource page from Blogroots.com:
http://www.blogroots.com/resources.blog
or read this article from Microcontent News:
http://www.microcontentnews.com/articles/blogware.htm


8
As described in Turbee’s article, WOOs are related to role-playing games. Games and role plays are two of the popular activities of ESL/EFL classrooms. So, I think there should be a place for WOOs in language learning if teachers wish to add more excitement and creativity into their lesson plans. From the first introduction to WOOs (http://www.activeworlds.com) in class, I could see a possible way to use it in my class. Here is my idea:

First students read a short story such as stories for kids. They need to understand the theme of the story and probably some lines. Then they take roles in the story. When they perform the play, they will do it in the Active World. They can decide where the main stage for their show. Since setting up a stage to fit the story requires more time and effort, it can be anywhere in The Active World. To ensure equal participation from all group members, a member can take more than one roles. And the story has to be carefully selected. The speech bubbles on the top of each figure would enhance the excitement of the drama.

Or without a story, students can just act role-plays from their lessons. Instead of just role-play in class, they can do so in here. Although they do not actually communicate orally, they can have a chance to reinforce structure and vocabulary they have learned from class. For example, they can role play “asking for and giving directions” to conclude their lesson of “Giving direction.” It would be more practical if they are more familiar with the Active World. They can ask for and give directions in the Active World.

Since WOOs is still a new thing to me, I wonder if my idea can really work. I will appreciate your input!

9
Critical Reviews of Technology / Critical Review of UsingEnglish.com
« on: February 18, 2006, 04:19:25 PM »
Dear All,

The attachment is my critical review of the website: "www.usingenglish.com".


Sotith

10


The students are introduced to the Message Boards of several different websites where they can communicate with real audience and participate in authentic debates about any topics of their personal interests. The students will be first informed about some general rules of netiquette and strategies for succeeding in joining the discussion. A case study by Barbara E Hanna, and Juliana de Nooy (2003) would be a good example to show them why some students fail in this kind of communication. The message board of BBC, for example, could be a good site where they can select their favorite topics and join the forum.

The students should be first asked to read all postings and write a summary of the discussion of their particular current topic. For example, now those who are interested in religious conflicts or politics may talk about the issue of the caricature of the prophet of Mohammad. They should email their summary to the instructor and/or to their classmates who are interested in the topics. If the time allows, the students should present their summary to class. By doing so, the students can familiarize themselves with the topics as well as the styles of writing or discussion.

For their initial involvement, it may be a good idea for the students to browse through the messages and start to reply to one of them and then two of them and even more later on. The general guidance for them is that they should comment on the messages or show their agreement or disagreement with the postings by providing reasons for their opinions.


As the students make progress i.e. when they have been accepted into the forum, they are then encouraged to post the messages. They can post their message directly to the message board or can ask the instructor to help with their writings first before they post them. Whenever they receive a reply from other members, they can show their message and reply to class! Probably, some kind of reward should be given to those who receive most replies. To make better use of these authentic materials, they can be turned into grammatical or reading exercises. For example, students can examine the use of “English articles—a/an/the” or tense sequences.

11
Peer Review in Writing Class through Email

Lesson Plan

Note: This lesson is designed as a class project and only a small portion of class time will be used to check and discuss the progress of the students’ work. Students with the same level of proficiency from different classes are grouped to complete the project. This would enhance the use of email as they cannot meet face-to-face often.

Class: Low intermediate to High intermediate students

Duration: 4-6 week cycle

Objectives

    -write an opinion essay about a social topic (related to their everyday life contexts)
    -use peer review to improve writing
    -use email as a means of class communication

Procedures

1-Introduction

-4 or 5 students from different classes form their groups based on their personal interests or random selection. The groups then create a Yahoo Group1 email with assistance from the instructor.
-The members start to email each other by introducing themselves and posting some of their personal interests such as pictures, quotes or personal information in the group website.
-The instructor presents the topics from their curriculum to the group and asks each group to select one topic for their essay.

2-Writing Process

Week 1

-Exchange their opinions about the topic as brainstorming
-Search for relevant sources and post them for the group’s reference

Week 2

-Decides on the thesis statement of their essay and post it on the group site.
-Share and peer review their thesis statement

Week 3

-Post their supporting details and ask for comment and improvement
-Arrange the supporting details in the outline form and post them for peer review

Week 4

-Write the first draft
-Post the draft for Peer review
Note: At this stage, the instructor may give some target vocabulary and structure from class lessons to include in the writing


Week 5

-Write the final draft
-Post the final draft for peer review
-Email the final draft to the instructor.

Week 6

-Feedback from both students and instructor

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(1): I decided to use “Yahoo group” because my English school back in Cambodia did not have its own website where students could create their own email account.




12
CMC is involved in the process which requires close attention by students. So, with CMC class activities, students may have to be mindful. Since learners need some special instructions from the teacher to participate in activies, CMC finally help students improve their metacognitive strategies. The willingness to communicate with other may also motivate students to do their best to produce the language which can convey their ideas and feelings with others.

Learners especially those who are shy or quiet may be more active in CMC class because CMC condition is different from face-to-face interaction. These learners could be more confident in commuting with CMC. Those who are slow may have enough time to chech their work and make any changes if neeed before they send their messages.

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