Sunday, April 15, 2012

Teaching English as Second Language

Hello everyone!

Creating a blog was rather a novelty for me. Though I was a bit clueless about this, I'm happy to say that I've succeded creating one quite fast. This has been quite a learning experience for me.
I'm Shashinie Wijayadharmadasa from Sri Lanka. I've been involved in the language teaching profession for more than 10 years. I teach at tertiary level; i.e. university students. Once they enter university, most of them need to follow their academic studies in the second language, i.e.English. Hving had their education in their mother tingues( Sinhala/Tamil), theyr find it quite a challenge to follow their studies in the the Engglish medium.
Now with technology developed to a great extent, I feel that we could teach our students to be preoficient in their second language with the use of various forms of digital technology.


  1. Hello Shashinie,
    I'm Fátima from Portugal. Although we teach students of different ages, it is interesting to learn about educational systems in other countries.
    Being participants in this course will help us innovate our teaching practice as the web is a wide world full of potential.


  2. Hi Shashinie,I agree with you that the digital age has a lot to offer language students, especially those in foreign language settings.

    On a personal note, I have to tell you that I had once the opportunity to spend two weeks in Sri Lanka to attend the wedding of some friends. I was completely captured and entranced by the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. It was a beautiful, unforgettable experience, and I hope I am lucky enough someday to go back.


  3. Hello everyone!

    How time flies...they say that time flies when you are having fun!! How true!I'm having both fun and a bit of trouble with the web!!1

    I must confess that this is a new experience for me. I still tend to miss out on making a comment on the blog!! I thought I completed all the tasks, but apparently, I had missed one and lost some marks too!!

    I am a bit upset over this genuine mistake. Fortunately, I tumbled upon this once again and thought I'll write a few lines about my 'computer illiteracy'!!!

    Unlike most of our students and the youngsters of today, I must confess that I am still a bit hesitant and a bit clueless sometimes when it comes to digital technology.Hope things will turn out to be better soon.


  4. Hello everyone!!

    Week 3 has not been good to me. The Discussion Topic on building Aural.Oral Skills was really great. But I faced problems with both and the Project task.

    I hope I'll be able to come out of this trouble spot soon.

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Best regards

  5. Hello everyone!

    So this is the end of Week 4. What a lot we learnt this week. I really enjoyed the readings on Building Reading/Writing Skills using computers. These readings indeed enhanced our knowledge about the topic and showed us how computers could be used for this purpose effectively.
    I truly found the one on Breaking News English ( http: //www. fascinating. In a time where students are hesitant and lazy to watch/listen to news items, this I thought would be a great way not only to get them interested in the news that's happening around the world, but also improve in their second language skills in the process. The tasks are very student friendly and learners can also improve in their listening skills while engaging in these lessons.

    The other reading I found very interesting and informative was the one on 'Using the Internet in ESL Writing Instruction' by Jarek Krajka. This article gave us a lot of information about improving learners' writing skills in a number of genres. I found that most of these genres such as formal/informal letter writing, biography writing, a description of a person/festival etc; quite interesting and important in the students' point of view.
    As usual , I got into a bit of a fix with this task as I took more than 1 hour writing/typing my article about this topic and totally lost the entire thing in the web when I hit the button to upload it!!! I was devastated, but too tired to re-write the thing all over again as it was past midnight in Sri Lanka!! I even forgot to hit the back arrow and try to retrieve it IF possible, as I was too tired!!!
    So, I decided to keep away from it all, have a good night's rest and re-write the whole thing the next day!!!

    But, I'm happy this week as I think I have covered all the tasks that were required for the week. Hope I have not missed out on anything.


  6. Hi everyone!!

    So this is Sunday morning in Sri Lanka. It's the end of another week - Week 5.
    Looking back at the week that was completed, I must say that it was very interesting.
    The readings on PBLs and Alternative Assessments were really informative. I really enjoyed reading the article on PBLs by Susan Gaer. It certainly gave me food for thought. When I was on the discussion topic, I did recall a similar task that we do at the Faculty of Medicine. This task involves a poster presentation, oral presentation and a drama. I did not mention about the drama as it was too lengthy to write. But all these activities are based on one Project topic which the students are given on the first week of their Intensive Course in English. This leaves them with 4/5 weeks time for preparation.

    The readings on the Webquest too are very interesting. Accessing Webquest is quite and interesting activity for language teaching.

    Developing a rubrics was also quite an activity. Rubrics are an important part of assessment as they give direct guidelines to examiners/teachers.

    For the Project task, we had to thingk of technology-related change we could bring about to our language class in order to rectify and exsisting issue.For this, I thought of using computer based tasks using the internet to improve students' listening and comprehension skills. Our students need to improve these skills as they find it very difficult to understand their academic lectures. This change will certainly create interest and enthusiasm in my students and motivate them to learn and improve in their weak areas.

    For the Extra-Credit Task, we had to develop a project-based learning lesson plan. This was indeed quite an interesting task. For this, I thought of a PBL for Management & Finance students where they need to do a poster and oral presentation on topics of their choice.

    This kind of task will benefit students to not only improve their target language but also build team spirit, creativity, critical thinking and decision-making abilities.

    So all in all, this again was a very fruitful week.


  7. Hi everyone!

    So this is the end of Week 6. What a lot we learnt this week.
    To start off with, the discussion on using technology for creating student centered classes including large classes was quite interesting. The readings on the topic were very informative and interesting. They showed both the advantages and the disadvantages of this approach.

    Creating an interactive power point presentation was the best. I enjoyed it thoroughly and am very excited about it. Having this kind of presentation would certainly create interest among our students and help to keep them from falling asleep!!! I could turn these into a sort of a game so that students will enjoy themselves as well as learn in the process.

    For my project Task, I think I will include webquests, live lectures and interactive ppts to create interest, enthusiasm and joy to the learning environment.
    I feel that these changes will certainly change the monotony of the class and help our students get a better knowledge of their target language and create a love for it too!!!


  8. Hello everyone!
    So this is the end of Week 7, yet another very informative week. I did learn a lot and a few tips given in the readings about learner autonomy certainly shocked me a bit!!
    I’ve heard of this concept ‘learner autonomy’ which has been in the teaching arena for quite some time. Encouraging our students to become independent learners reaps benefits such as making them more responsible for their own learning, improving their critical thinking and problem solving skills etc; This will certainly help students to become confident individuals when they venture into society.
    How can learners steer away from being passive learners to autonomous learners? We as teachers need to encourage them gradually to become such learners. As I’ve realised, our part here is quite mandatory as we too need to have a responsible role to play.
    But, the real surprise came in the article by Sheu where he cites Smith when stating that there has to be an interconnection between learner and teacher autonomy. Even though we have been responsible for our own teaching development, it was quite a surprise to see it in black and white. So, it’s understood that there has to be both learner/teacher autonomy.
    Talking about one computer classes brought back a lot of memories as that is our real situation in Sri Lanka. We have a computer and projector and if we need to play a video we need to request speakers beforehand. But, we still can make an impact in our classes with these facilities and create a more interactive lesson which will keep our students interested.
    It was really nice to find a partner for peer review. My friend Diana replied immediately and now I think I’ve found my partner.
    So, all in all, this is the end of yet another very informative and interesting week.

  9. It is really nice to read your reflections about this week’s activities where you mention about your school situation related to technology. It seems that all of us have to face some challenges to improve our teaching techniques using one computer and be able to help students to become autonomous learners. To see the picture black and white also was impressive for me.
    I am happy for you because you have you partner confirmed.
    I hope I can have my partner confirmed too before the end of the day.
    Warm Regards!

    1. Dear Aida

      Thank you for your comment about Week 7. I feel most of us have a lot in common when it comes to suing technology for our language teaching. As you mentioned, these are indeed great teaching tools if we are well equipped. But, with our 1 computer classrooms without internet, we can do justice to the lesson in a small way at least. That's what I'm aiming at. Using whatever tools we have to do the maximum in our classes to encourage our learners and promote learner autonomy.

      Hope you got a partner confirmed.
      Good luck to you!

  10. Hello everyone!

    This is the end of Week 8....a few more days to go to end our course. In a way, I feel a bit sad that we have to end it....but I'm sure we can keep in touch and keep our 'virtual friendships' going and who knows, someday, some of us will be able to actually meet in person. That's an exciting thought and something to look forward to.

    As some of our friends had mentioned in their blogs, Week 8 was quite hectic with the deadline for the Draft Project Plan coming up. I must thank my partner Diana for being a great partner. Thanks to her, I got my draft Project Plan done without much hassle, even though I was really stressed out.
    But I must also thank Janine for giving us a break with the usual Wednesday Discussion deadline. That really helped me to focus on my Project.

    Reading about using webtools for language teaching was really interesting. I've tried the crossword puzzle and when it was completed I felt so happy.
    I'm so sad I missed the webinar with Jeff...hope all those who got a chance to 'meet' Jeff, learnt a lot.

    With the feedback from my partner, I must say I really felt happy, and all in all, Week 8 too was really productive and informative.Thank you.


  11. Hello everyone!
    So this is the end of Week 9. We all had a great job to complete – the Project Plans which were due by 8 June got done without much hassle. It was a great task to get done as we all were very busy with our usual work. In fact, for me, ‘attending’ this Webskills class was quite a challenge as there were quite a lot a new technologies to grasp. But, all in all, it was quite rewarding as I know I’ve learnt a lot about using technology in language classrooms effectively.
    The readings on Multiple Intelligences and Different Learning Styles were very informative. As I’ve mentioned in my Discussion, I had already heard of the term MI, but never about the 9 different Intelligences. Reading about using different technologies to address each Intelligence and learning style give us teachers a whole lot options to use for our teaching.
    Uploading the Final Project was also quite a task, especially with the deadline on June 8th. But, amidst all the work that we had, we all managed to keep to the deadline without missing it. Now, we await our results!
    All in all, this week was quite an interesting and challenging week.
    Good luck to all of us.

  12. Hi Shashinie!

    Different learning styles and multiple intelligences wer very informative, because we found new ways to use that in class and our students coudl make the most in class.

    About the final project, yes! we await our results!


    Erika Uribe (Mexico)

  13. Hi Shashinie,I agree with you that the digital age has a lot to offer language students, especially those in foreign language settings.

    English as a Second Language

  14. Hi everyone!

    So we have come to the end of our 10 week Webskills Course. As Janine mentions, it is both happiness and sadness...happiness as we all managed (especially me) to complete the course which was quite demanding and challenging. Sadness as we have to say our goodbyes and part from our 'virtual' class...but hope we'll all keep in touch and maybe visit/meet each other in the future.

    Talking through my personal experience, I must say that this course was extremely challenging to me at the initial stages. This was due to my lack of computer/technological skills. In fact, I remember almost giving up in about Week 4/5 as I simply could not 'find' the relevant readings. This made me really upset as i missed out on the Task and lost marks as a result; and it was Janine who got me back on track. A big thank you to you Dear Janine for being a great guide who is very understanding and patient. These are the exact attributes a teacher should have....and you have proven that you are one of the best.

    All in all, I'm glad that I got this great opportunity to follow this very valuable course as I learnt a lot of new teaching approaches using digital technology.
    As Mohini said in her blog this is the it is now that we as teachers need to use the knowledge we gained in the Webskills Course and try and integrate and implement into our teaching. We might have to adapt or alter the web tools to suite our individual contexts as some of us may not have the opportunities the others have. But as the world is moving towards technology, so will our developing countries...some day we too will be better equipped and be able to use web tools to their maximum.

    A BIG THANK YOU to our dear facilitator Janine and to my dear 'virtual' friends for all you've done. Hoping someday soon in the near future we will get the opportunity to meet all in the 'real' world.

    Good luck to you all in your professional careers and personal lives.
    Until we meet again....

    1. Thank you all and goodbye....until we meet again...

      This may be passed the midnight deadline, but I thought I needed to extend my sincere thanks to all those who made this Webskills Course a success.

      Just a short message to thank the University of Oregon for selecting me to follow this extremely essential and interesting Webskills Course. This is a great way to learn new teaching approaches using digital technology. Training teachers like us who come from the developing in using new teaching technology is a great way to share knowledge. Even if this training could not be done in person, teachers like us learn and benefit a lot. Once again THANK YOU UO for this great gesture.

      Next I need to thank our great facilitator, guide, teacher and great person - Janine, without whom O know I would never have pulled through. Once again, THANK YOU Janine.

      Thirdly, I would like to thank my partner Diana who was a great Peer Reviewer with my Project Plan. It was really nicer to 'work' with you and hope we can meet someday in reality.

      I have to thank all my other 'virtual' classmates who responded to my threads, blogs etc. I really did learn a lot form all your comments, suggestions etc and also new links which we could use for our teaching. THANK YOU ALL and hope at least some of us will get a chance to meet.

      Last but not least, I would like to thank all the guest lecturers, and all the others in the Webskills team (academic, technical, administrative, etc.) who made it really possible for us to follow this course smoothly. I know a lot of work would have gone on behind the scenes for the smooth, uninterrupted running of the course.

      THANK YOU ALL and keep up the great work that you all are doing!

      All the very best to everyone!
      Shashinie from Sri Lanka