Tuesday, May 27, 2014


The purpose of this post is to give a brief overview of Wikis and their importance mainly relating it to English Language Teaching (ELT), specifically to my context as an English as a Foreign Language teacher.

Wiki is a Hawaiian word meaning “fast” or “quick.” According to Ward Cunningham, the one who coined this term, the word “wiki” (taken from Honolulu International Airport shuttle service: Wiki Wiki) was used as an alternative to the word “quick” to avoid calling the software “quick-Web.” It was started by Cunningham in Portland, Oregon, in 1994, and put on the internet in 1995. The word wiki was listed in the online Oxford English Dictionary in March 2007. This name is now part of the internet language together with other terms such as blogs and podcasts.

A wiki is a web application which allows people to modify, add, or delete content in collaboration with others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki).  

It is very interactive and collaborative and users can comment and change one another’s texts by a click of a button, edit-write-save. It uses the web 2.0 platform, which enables users to share and collaborate documents without special software or training. Anyone, from any part of the world can participate on a wiki just by having internet access. Wikis are a collection of web pages, and you can create as many pages as you like.  You can also insert gadgets and widgets of any kind, upload videos, in fact, it allows you to add multiple web applications due to its web 2.0 system. One of the most popular wikis is Wikipedia.

When considering all these facilities mentioned above, I do believe that wikis should be implemented in ELT courses due to the growing demand for English learning across the globe. It makes the entire learning and teaching process of the language much simpler. Take for instance, students who live in remote areas, and cannot come to the traditional classrooms for whatever reason, this approach would be the perfect solution because it is quite appropriate for education that cannot be done in a traditional classroom environment.
Another example is the case of students who have no time to go to a mortar-brick classroom due to work or because of too much traffic, and so on, a “wiki option” is perfect because it permits distance or online learning.

Let me consider my context. I teach EFL at a world-renown software company. Most of my students (10 in all) are highly technologically-trained professionals with all the state-of-the-art devices. Therefore, wouldn’t it be impossible for me not to use some sort of technology? In addition, they almost never have the time to do any kind of out-of-class activities, thus, I normally assign computer-based homework such as web-searching for information and so forth. The creation of wikis for these courses would be so much easier and interesting, besides, it is their field. 

They are all digital citizens. I am the one who, as an English teacher, has to befriend technology, so to speak.
There is so much I could do there to ease up the workload and learning process. For example, my students have to use the language at the same time they are learning and improving their proficiency. They have to do lots of conference calls, give online presentations, and write emails to their superiors, who are generally native speakers of English. Establishing course wikis would be the ideal tool for these classes because these are some of the main uses of wiki. This tool is apparently easy and straightforward, and everyone in the class would be able to read, and react to information being generated and add their modifications or corrections from the comfort of their homes.

As far as I am concerned, wiki is an amazing tool for ELT classes because it is interactive, it encourages participation, it improves students and teachers relationship, and it promotes collaboration. Anyone can edit and change the context, so it develops creativity as well. All these are traits that are necessary to become a competent and proficient user of a second language.

I hope this post was interesting for you.


The purpose of this post is to give a brief overview of blogging and its importance mainly relating it to English Language Teaching (ELT)
Thousands of people enter the blogsphere daily. In its early stage, it was called “online journaling,” and some people even called it “web diaries.”

What is a blog?
A blog is a tool (website or part of a website) which can feature editorial commentary, links to other sites, stories, specific topics, genres, personal opinions, news, comments and interaction, photographs, your activities, and more. Anyone can create a blog. Bloggers, people who post blogs, can publish really interesting materials and share information with the general public. It is a webpage that serves as a publicly accessible journal. It organizes posts in a chronological order, meaning the most recent post appears first, at the top. The evolution from website to blog has changed how people communicate nowadays.

Difference between a website and a blog

A website is “serious information” while a blog is “not so serious information.” A website contains facts, figures, articles, and educational material. A blog has the same, but adds a pile of links, talks, and comments. In fact, a blog is a website, but it is more interactive and magical.

Why blog?

A blog can inform and educate the public. For example, people around the world who had no means of expressing opinions publicly now have a chance to do so freely. Blog are giving them a voice they have never had before. Educators and students can now share their teaching and learning experience on blogs so that others can learn from them. There is more educational material accessible than in the past. 

Blogging in English Language Teaching (ELT)

There are three main types of blogging in language teaching:
1. The tutor’s blog, which is only for the teachers to give information about classes, courses and so on. The students are limited to making comments only.
2. The class blog, where both the teachers and students can write and leave comments. It is more collaborative.
3. The learner’s blog, where the students are supposed to setup, moderate, invite classmates and so on. This type of blog requires more time and effort.

Blogging is excellent for ELT purposes because, first of all, it helps students to become somewhat digitally literate, which is vital because in our technologically changing and advancing world, they would most likely be forced to do a lot of web-searching to find information to facilitate their learning process in the target language. There is accessibility to more reading materials, which is one of the best ways to increase students’ level of vocabulary in the second language. It is a good tool to motivate and encourage students to participate more, especially the shy ones, because that stumbling block called “embarrassment” is automatically eradicated, thus, promoting a certain degree of self-confidence. A blog is also a great tool to improve the students creativity because it is fairly friendly, and students can really develop interesting posts, and, creativity is a characteristic that they need to embrace in their language endeavors.

There are many, many more of persuading and interesting reasons of why to use blog for ELT purposes. However, on this occasion, my aim is just to point out a few important ones.

I hope this post made life a bit easier for you.

Monday, May 26, 2014

WEB 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.

The internet has come a long way, and it is quite clear to me that it is one of the world’s greatest and most fascinating inventions, furthermore, this tool has tremendously changed the way we live, whether we accept it or not. The way we teach, learn, buy, sell and so on would never be the same. The Internet has enhanced the performances of many services, and today, we are going to talk about the WEB (probably the most powerful communication media the world has ever known), specifically about web 1.0, web 2.0, and web 3.0. 

I shall briefly depict the concepts, objectives and differences and similarities of these three indispensable tools. 

Web 1.0 was created mainly for personal and institutional use. It is a static page with the main intention of publishing information. Everything was available online. Accessibility was permanent an instantaneous at the same time. It was a fundamental change, but it was, or is, limited in dimension. Many experts refer to it as a “read only-web.” There is very little user interaction or content contribution. There is no real interaction on this page. It is designed by programmers and one needs, or needed, prior knowledge to use it. There is also very limited contact with the webmaster. It is very handy for surfers who are just navigating the internet reading for information. It is basically used by those institutions, like government institutions, who are only interested in giving information, not in any kind of interaction whatsoever with browsers. Also, there is centralization of authority. The WWW is a typical example of the web 1.0. 

Web 2.0 was started in 2004.  It is a social network that implies the decentralization of authority.  It is personal and dynamic, and unlike web 1.0, it allows a great deal of interaction with users. There is interaction between webmasters and users. It is an improved version of the www, and its main features are to provide and facilitate information in a dynamic environment. Experts call it the “read-write-publish web.”  It allows readers to be very active. It is real-time-open communication, and the user can participate by generating information, constructing knowledge, creating, and sharing. The participant determines the outcome. The users contribute the information. Without users, there would be no such tools as facebook and so on. It allows you to be more organized and innovative as well. It is a move away from static websites. Web 2.0 is an advertiser’s paradise because you can also create websites for free, and it offers you the opportunity to create your own site. Some amazing developments of web 2.0 are Twitter, youtube, eZineArticles, Flickr, and so on.

Web 3.0 is a semantic web of linked data. It is intelligent and omnipresent, and it is the continuation of existing techniques. Semantic web is quite difficult, and, according to Berners-Lee explanation, it is a “read-write-execute web.”  It is its intelligence, in a human manner, that converts data into useful information. It links the gap between human users and computerized applications. Semantics add extra information to help you with the meaning of information. It implies relationship, from one thing to another to build context for meaning. Everything is linked. Amazon and Last Sound are examples of this system.

When relating this to ELT, it is quite clear that teachers need to become literate in this field because we would be at a great disadvantage if we do not. As far as I can see, these tools are of absolute importance to conduct any kind of  remote classes.  Due to our globalized world,  English learning and teaching is quickly becoming a necessity in many parts of the world, and we teachers would be obliged to begin offering distance education, and so on. It is a rapidly changing world because of the technological evolution, and we need to get to the top, and stay on top via these gadgets. 

I hope I was able to clarify some doubts you may have had on the above topics.

Please click on the following links to watch the video or read for further information on these concepts.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


There have been many researches on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in English Language Teaching (ELT) for a few decades. Furthermore, ICT has played an important part in the development of ELT. From the mid 1980s to present, there have been an abundance of technological inventions to enhance the classrooms of English language teaching. ICT has gone through great changes over the years. From the use of word processors to web 2.0, ICT has made quite a huge impact in the ELT classrooms. Therefore, we, as teachers, are forced to use these technologies, even if some of us are reluctant to do so, to improve the learning and teaching processes in our classrooms. Otherwise, we would become obsolete, forgotten, and would be left behind. Besides the advent of all these technological gadgets, a great number of ELT teachers are still way behind due to the fact that many of us are  probably not digitally literate or probably do not have the infrastructure to implement such in ELT classes.

When referring to ICT in ELT, however, one must take into account concepts such as E-learning (or elearning), Distance Learning, Online learning, Blended learning, Mobile learning, and so on.

The following is a brief overview of some of these concepts:
·         E-Learning is commonly summarized as the use of electronic media and information and communication technologies (ICT) in education, and it includes all types of educational technology in the learning and teaching process. Many researchers conclude that it is synonymous with multimedia learning, computer-based training (CBT), internet-based training (IBT), online education, virtual education, just to name a few. E-Learning can occur in or out the mortar-brick classroom and with or without an instructor.

·         Distance Learning, sometimes called D-learning or distance education, is a form of education and instruction given to students (who are not physically present in the classroom) via several means of technological gadgets. The teachers or instructors and the students are usually separated by distance and time, or by both.  With the creation of web 2.0, distance learning has become even more popular. It is a
feasible concept for those learners who do not have the time to attend classes in a traditional classroom or for those who live in remote or disserted areas. They can now have access to education at the tips of their fingers. Distance learning can broaden the accessibility to education and training. However, there are a few obstacles to this concept such as distraction, unreliable technology, cost of the sessions and adequate devices, and so on. Moreover, learners should be properly trained in the use of the technological tools because, if not, it would most probably result in frustration and a high percentage of dropouts.

Online Learning, in my way of thinking, is closely related to  distance learning because it infers that both instructor and learner are separated by time and space.  According to Benson (2002), online learning is a newer version or, an improved version of distance learning. Several experts view these two terms as “interchangeably.” In fact, many of these technological terms we used today are somewhat connected, not only by definition, because they, at some point in time, imply the use of internet, and distance between the learner and teacher.

·        Blended learning is described by most researchers as formal education imparted via the combination of computer-based instruction (the internet and digital media) and face-to-face instructions in traditional
classroom settings. This approach has been around for a long time, but the term had been unheard of until the 21st century. It is my firm belief that this concept has great benefits for the students because what is not grasped in the virtual classes could be clarified and solidified in the face-to-face environment which needs the co-presence of both the students and the teachers.

·        Mobile learning: According to what I have read (http://Mobl21.com), mobile learning is the ability to obtain or provide educational content on personal pocket devices such as PDAs, smartphones, and mobile phones. Some experts see mobile learning closely related to e-learning since both concepts imply the use
digital and electronic tool for educational purposes. Nevertheless, e-learning covers a wider area of the whole picture, whereas, m-learning covers only one part: the wireless. Furthermore, e- learning can be real-time or adjusted to the pace of the learner. It is also formal and structured. On the other hand, mobile, is basically self-paced and more of an informal setting.

AS I have mentioned earlier, the used of technology has changed the world and ICT in ELT is a growing concept. It would only continue to increase and become more and more popular. It is here to stay, so all English language teachers should try to get a firm understanding of all the concepts mentioned above to enhance our teaching styles and ease the learning process of our students. We live in a technological world, and the only thing that is constant is change.

I hope this post was of your interest
Benson, A. (2002). Using online learning to meet workforce demand: A case study of
stakeholder influence. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 3(4), 443−452.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Digital Literacy?

In the Oxford "color" English Dictionary the word "digital" (as an adjective) means having to do with information represented as a series of binary digits, as in a computer, and "literacy" means the ability to read and write. However, Digital Literacy is not just a simple combination of two words. It is much more than that. What is the real objective behind this concept? Is it comprehensible and clear cut? Would the lay person grasp its true meaning? What does Digital Literacy really mean?  I would proceed to shed some light and try to clarify some doubts on this vast concept, relating it, of course, to English language Teaching, ELT, showing some of the advantages and problems of why we, as ELT teachers, should be digitally literate.

The term Digital Literacy encompasses a wide variety of concepts. It refers to the ability to effectively use, recognize, understand, and adapt to digital technologies such as the computer, tablets, mobile devices and so on. As far as I am concerned, we ELT teachers should be digitally literate because the use of Information and Communication Technology, ICT, in classrooms is already here, and it is here to stay. In fact, it has been here for some decades, Thus, it is vital that ELT teachers know how to manipulate, evaluate and adapt easily to the advent of this technological era in order to facilitate and guide our students in their language endeavors to make the entire learning and teaching process much easier. If not, we would be left behind, become obsolete, and rust. We would simply vanish.

Digital Literacy  does not replace the traditional way of teaching, and, in my opinion, never would, but it helps and builds upon the foundation of the traditional way. It is a time saver. Take, for example, an ELT teacher who establishes a class blog.This would most probably save a lot of face-to face classtime, which could be use to cover more important activities, because the teacher could assign a great part of the work for home since a blog allows interaction, and both the students and teachers could be in constant communication at all times. Even the curious parents, who would like to know about their children's school performance, could be involved. A blog could also be used to motivate the shy students to participate more and express their opinions freely because that stumbling block called "embarrassment" would simply be eradicated. Another example is the easy accessibility to information. Regarding time saving, this is quite an advantage when comparing it to the traditional way of going to a library.

With the advent of e-learning, distance learning, blended learning, online learning, mobile learning, and so on, Digital Literacy has become a vital part of ELT training for teachers due to the huge demand fo English Learning in today's globalized world. Nowadays, teaching and learning could be done from any part of the world to anywhere in the world because of ICT. This is a great advantage in terms of cost, time an comfort. Nevertheless, there is still a gap, a digital divide in many parts of the world, and implementing high-tech gadgets in the ELT classrooms is not so feasible whatsoever.  Many language schools and institutions, especially in Latin America and in developing countries, lack adequate infraestructure of these tenological devices probably because of shoestring budgets or a low level of importance given to ICT in classrooms. Although a few schools have taken the first steps in this technological direction, a lot is still yet to be done when compared to educational institutions of more advanced countries.

In conclusion, Digital Literacy implies the finding, understanding, integrating, evaluating, creating, and communicating ionformation through the use of digital technologies. Therefore, to reach the top, and stay on top, All ELT teachers should aspire to be apt in digital literacy, whether we have or are provided with the necessary technological facilities or not.

A digitally literate person may be describe as a digital citizen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_literacy)
The word "citizen" infers a great deal of responsibility.

I hope my interpretation of Digital Literacy was interesting and clarifying enough for you. Thank you.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Hello everyone:
I am Terry L. Springer. I am from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and I have been teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) for over sixteen years. You are most welcome to my humble blog.

As you may have observed, we live in a rapidly changing world due to the speedy evolution of technology, and, by no means at all, English Language Teaching (ELT) is alienated to this phenomenon. This blog was created with the intention of shedding some light on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and on some of the tools used in ELT.

do hope you find my blog most interesting and informative. Thank you.