Sunday, August 1, 2010

The marvels of lingro

If you paste the URL (address) of a website into lingro, it will load the page and make all the words clickable. When you click on a word, it offers you the definition of it or a translation into the language you select. Many words also come with a sound file so that you can hear the way they are pronounced.

If you register (which is immediate) you can save your own word lists and play games with them to help you remember them. I've got my students, who are currently working on projects, to learn 10 new words related to their project topic per week using lingro as part of their homework.

Seeing is believing - so check it out!

The present and future of Personal Learning Environments

That was the title of a talk the Josh Underwood and me gave for ELT teachers in the Basque Country.

PLEs relate very closely to the idea of Learner Autonomy. As you can see from this video.

Graham Attwell (one of the people responsible for this video) has described a PLE in the following terms:
" the environment in which we learn. And that includes work, the home, our social environment and the institutional learning programmes in which we participate. It includes books and above all perhaps it includes people… It recognises the primacy of the learner on driving and developing their learning. And – in terms of tools – it provides them the means to organise their own learning… Personal Learning Networks, Personal Learning Environments – I don’t really mind what we call them. What is critical is that a PLE / PLN helps us in organising our learning and helps us make the connections with those with whom we want to collaborate and share, whoever, wherever they are."(See his blog for the full post.)

If you start to think about your current PLE you're well on the way to seeing how you can develop it. A good way to start is to draw up a mind map. Here's mine for example.

Then you can consider the resources that you find most useful and productive. For example, I like:
  • the TeachingEnglish facebook page for it's lively discussions and teaching tips
  • twitter where you can do searches e.g. #elt, #tesol,#iatefl and find other teachers' handy tips, links etc.
  • Symbaloo which is useful for keeping links to all your own – or your classes - most useful web resources in one place
Josh suggested a series of language utilities:
  • wordnik which gives the meaning of words with examples of their use in context plus links to them
  • wordia which includes videos that people upload to illustrate a word
  • and in general tools that support learning activities for example this blog that he developed with students for their science experiments which used a combination of blogger and google docs
You can see the details of our talk plus a fuller lists of resources to help you and your students develop your PLEs on this google doc.

English with the Finglies

The web site for my CD-ROM designed for primary children learning English

The British Council in Bilbao

The web site gives you information, amongst other things, about our Talks for teachers