Showing is better than telling. So, for teachers trying to decide whether having an online personal learning network (PLN) is worth the effort, I thought it might be useful to show some of what I learned this week from mine.
The discussions on the Young Learners Yahoo group always make me think. This week, one of the most interesting revolved around the value of extensive reading in language acquisition, and whether it’s more important for language to be engaging or comprehensible. As you might imagine, Andrew Wright provided strong support for the idea that student engagement encourages comprehension, and Stephen Krashen argued persuasively for the importance of non-targeted comprehensible input. Both concepts seem to work together by allowing students to forget that they’re “learning” a language as they enjoy using it (to follow an interesting story, for example).
Thanks to my PLN I now have more goodies for my virtual library. Stephen Krashen has made many of his books and articles available on his homepage. From Ken Wilson, I learned that a lot of Andrew Wright’s articles and stories are also available on Andrew’s blog.
Twitter is the source for most of my best teaching resources. This week, Diana Dell introduced an online activity for students to practice writing pattern sentences (words “speak” as students drag them, so great for even young learners). Even better, that activity was part of a larger collection of freebies for teachers from Room 108. I learned about Kids Web Japan from Melissa Techman. The website has an amazing collection of games, information, activities and stories for learning about Japanese culture. While the site is geared toward young native English speakers, there’s plenty there for both young learner and adult EFL classes.
The resource that will most excite my adult learners is Famous People Lessons. This website provides EFL/ESL lessons created around biographies of famous people. My students will enjoy this for self-access learning because the can listen to the recordings while reading along, and then do the exercises online. Russell Stannard shared this site with me on Twitter.
The resource that will most excite the parents of my young learners came by way of myLinkedIn Edubloggers group. Sylvan Dell Publishing has made a large library of their beautiful picture books available online until October. You can choose the language for both text and voice recording, whether you want the pages to turn automatically (with the recording) or prefer to turn them yourself (if you’re reading the story aloud). The website also includes some nice ideas for using picture books in class.
I’ve signed up for the English Language Teaching Contacts Scheme (ELTeCS), an information-sharing and professional development network for teachers around the world (sponsored by the British Council). Part of the free membership includes a newsletter about English education in my region (Asia). I learned about ELTeCS on Issues Concerning Teacher Education, which I discovered when Victor Hugo Rojas (the author) left a comment on my blog and I popped over to take a look at his.
Finally, I’m going to be taking an open access graduate course–Social Media and Open Education–from September. The course is offerred by the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. I’ll be a non-credit student, but am excited that I’ll actually be able to listen to the lectures live (they’ll be broadcast at 7 pm CT on Tuesdays, which is Wednesday morning for me). How did I learn about the course? Alec Couros, the instructor, shared the details on Twitter.
If you’d like to see what else I considered interesting this week, you are welcome to browse through my bookmarks on Delicious!