Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

English Next

To launch the recently published book “English Next” by David Graddol, British Council 
Sao Paulo organized a video-conference debate with a SP panel of three experts (Lynn Mario de Souza from USP, Claudia Costin , ex- secretary of Culture for the State of SP and now vice-president of the Victor Civita Foundation and Guy Gerlach from Pearson Education). A similar panel in British Council Rio led by Janaína Cardoso (President Aplierj) interacted with an audience of 25 people on both sides, who  was invited to join the debate and add other issues to the main points :

  • English is becoming less and less the property of native speakers. Language norms from the English speaking world are becoming less and less relevant as English becomes a component of basic education in many countries.
  • within a decade, the traditional private-sector market in teenage and young adult EFL learners will decline substantially leaving younger learners in schools as the only market requiring English teaching.
  • the competitive advantage which English has historically provided its acquirers will ebb away as English becomes a near-universal basic skill. As more and more people speak more than one language, the monolingual native speaker is faced with extinction.

It is an interesting study but I feel it is mostly seen through British and European lenses. In Brazil, we are still struggling with literacy in our own mother tongue at a very primary level  – students read less and less and many teachers  from both the public and private sector are not recognized for the work they do. Many are not properly trained to face the challenges of the 21st century. Claudia Cosin mentioned that the PISA survey placed  students of the Brazilian private sector (which covers the upper middle class and la crème de la crème) among the last  in an international ranking of more than 50 countries. PISA assesses

how far students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in society. In all cycles, the domains of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy are covered not merely in terms of mastery of the school curriculum, but in terms of important knowledge and skills needed in adult life.

What I really enjoyed after the debate was meeting and chatting with people I had not seen from university years, way back in the 80’s :  Dr Heloisa Collins from PUC Sao Paulo and Betty Pow, coordinator for the Braz-Tesol Pronunciation SIG.  I also renewed contact with some teachers I met during the Hornby Summer School – Teresa and Alexandre.



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Documenting the process

I have started two other blogs, but not on Blogger this time. I want to experiment with WordPress as I will be giving a workshop on Blogging Towards Autonomy during the Hornby Summer School next Tuesday, January 10th. 

I do not know whether this is a wise move, as most of the participants,  according to a survey I posted on Survey Monkey have not had any experience in webpublishing. Time, experience and you will tell me, but I am willing to face the challenge and take the risk. I think that WordPress feels like a more powerful and efficient CMS (content management system) in the long run. This will allow for different levels of publishing permissions and categories. The possibility of choosing between dynamic (blogging) and static pages (for official information) is also interesting as we can use static pages for course content, or timetable and the blogging section for timely interventions, comments or suggestions.

While writing this, I have stopped to think about the different perspectives and roles I am adopting during this process.

Perspective number one is that of the guest speaker, first organizing and preparing the workshop , then “in loco” guiding learners into discovering and using the tool and trying to convey “what blogging can do for you”. It is important for teachers to document their teaching/learning experience by publishing their reflections, create their own professional portfolio and produce their own material.  

A tall order some will say and will call me a dreamer, but I feel I am more practical and down to earth, more of a gardener, trying to sow the seeds of change in some cases or just raise the awareness that there is a variety of different plants and environements around. Whether this will be a fruitful crop, whether plants will resist all weathers, need a greenhouse or simply perish is again a matter of time, practice and reflection.  Learning and autonomy cannot be achieved through an instant ten-step recipe or a 10-day immersion course.  They are part of a life-long cyclical process.

The second one is as the administrator of the Mother blog: signing up for an account and noting down the steps, exploring and documenting the reactions to the environment, discovering its strenght and weaknesses, dealing with the technical constraints.

The third will be of a publisher and reporter, documenting the event, collecting information from the tutors to post and adding links and material to complement what is being discussed.

Finally there is me, my own voice, and my role, not only as an external observer but also as one involved in the process. This is the toughest perspective to dissociate from the others as it permeates all the previous ones. This is the one that reaches out and connects to the OTHER and the world.

What is difficult is to categorize these different posts and decide where to post – many times the roles seem to overlap. Any suggestions?

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