Thursday, June 14, 2012

Draw the English Language - Task Based Learning Activity and Technology

  One of the skills that can save an ESL/EFL teacher is the ability to draw. Sometimes teachers want to explain a new vocabulary without resorting to translation or perhaps they simply play games with their students who try to guess what teachers drew in order to revise vocabulary and, consequently, make it more memorable.
  The newest sensation in the Tablets' and smartphone's world is and app called Draw Something. Available for iOs devices and Android, this highly addictive game allows you to send drawings for your Facebook friends to guess what you drew. The game is 100% in English, thus not only gamers can exercise their criativity but they can also have their vocabulary tested and increased. And every ESL/EFL teacher knows the importance of building a large and consistent vocabulary repertoire. 
  Being a technology freak, I could not be left behind and joined the Draw Something addiction a couple of weeks ago. But I always thought that there would be a way to include that app into my lessons. I guess I found it:
    Having watched a video promoted by Cambridge in which authors at Iatefl Glasgow were invited to draw the English language and explain why - it crossed my mind that it would be a unique opportunity for students to express how they feel about the learning of the English language and what it actually represented in their lives. Not to mention a nice opportunity to get them to speak!
   Inspired by Dave Dogson's activity on his blog about logos, I created this slideshow with some of the most famous apps our students have certainly been playing and we might not even know. I checked if students were familiar with logos and then played a memory game with the logos. This was importan to get them engaged in the activity and to arise their curiosity on the topic.

   After that we had a little chat about their favorite apps, their objectives, how to play, what was the objective, how much time they usually spend playing them and if they could possibly help them learn/improve their command of the Language in any way. The discussion was a hot one and everyone wanted to share about the apps they use.
   In the sequence, I showed them the Cambridge YouTube video (above-mentioned) and using the principles in Task Based-Learning (TBL) I asked them to get together in small groups and brainstorm what the English Language represented to them, how they would draw it and why.

* I like the principles in TBL since they allow students to practice speaking skills in collaborative tasks. Students have to use language in every step: planning, executing, and presenting. Task Based Learning activities not only strengthens speaking skills but practice specific language points (phrases, verb tenses, etc) for example, teachers can give students a mistery murder case to solve in which they have to use the past tense in order to solve the mistery. It is important, however, to provide students with a solid base of guidelines so there is a structure to be followed and an objective to be achieved.

   Then, they used my iPad to draw the English language and present it to the whole group.

Check what they have produced.

as Giselle Santos (www.feedtheteacher.blogspot.com.br), pointed out on Facebook, this activity can serve as a needs analysis reflection for teachers since it provides them with substantial material for teacher to get to know their students. Great tip!

* Point to consider: an aparent simple app/activity can turn into a powerful practice in the English language. Just give it a try and let you creativity fly!

Question: How would you draw the English Language? 

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