Thursday, September 27, 2007


Preparing test material for a large number of students and groups with over a 100 teacher trainers actively and passively involved is a challenge for any teacher trainer/coordinator. I chip in at this teacher training project at the Federal University here in Rio de Janeiro, where the soon-to-be teachers (to some extent, they already full-fledged ones, I mean they do the same job like the rest of us, right? And they might even do it better, if you give them a chance). The point of the matter is that as a trainer, I am responsible for supervising the development of test material and also proofreading those developed by other groups. Our biggest enemy is always time since we have strict deadlines to follow. And most of the time the delay between getting the prepared material, reviewing it, sending it back to the group for adjustments and changes, receiving the file once again to have a final look, and giving the conclusive ok ... phew! Just talking about it here shows how tiring and time-consuming it can be. Note that all of this done by the wonderful world of e-mail, so you also have to be careful not to mix up files or send the wrong final version (actually this did happen last week, oops...)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

the art of conversation

Getting students to speak at will can be a pickle at times. But when they finally and actually do... there's no stopping them now. And one thing that really helps with a conversation class is having participants read up on or search on the Net for info related to the topic. It may seem obvious but most of the times we go into the classroom and throw some warm up questions or ideas and naturally we expect to see them rattling their mouths off. This doesn't always happen, and even if they do, it doesn't go beyond agreeing and disagreeing, negotiating, defending an initial idea. To sum up, the chat that ensues tends to be superficial or en passant, and a lot of these students end up with the feeling that they would have liked to say much more and as natural/nativelike as possible. That's the feedback I got from my students a week ago and today, after deciding on the topics that would be discussed prior to the class, some students were even able to present what they have run into while fishing on the web.

To be continued...

Monday, September 24, 2007

student reaction

I definitely feel that students don't like re-writing their work. After all, who does, really? I set out to use a correction code so that students would feel obliged to see where they are going wrong and find ways to correct/ remedy their problems. The question is how to get them to understand what they need changing? For instance, there is a symbol I use that goes by "wc" meaning wrong choice of word(s). If they didn't get it right the 1st time, what guarantee will I have that they will the second time around?