About Me

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I am a translator and interpreter for English, French and Spanish and an ESP/EFL teacher as well. I teach at the Social Communication School at the Central University of Venezuela. Currently, I am doing a master’s program in Teaching of English as a Foreign Language, which has been helping me to improve and complete my expertise on the teaching of second languages. I have taught English and French for eleven years now and I have worked with students of all different ages, meeting their needs on areas such as speaking, reading, listening and writing. I also teach private sessions for professionals who need to learn or improve their language level. Nowadays, most of my students are doctors and engineers who want to develop their skills to keep updated with their fields. I also translate a variety of texts for individuals and companies which require the service.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

6. Audio and video tool: Podcasting

During this week, we learned how to create a podcast. This is a popular audio and video Web 2.0 tool available for every computer user. According to the Entrepreneur network encyclopedia, a podcast “is a pre-recorded audio program that is posted to a website and is made available for downloading so people can listen to them on personal computers or mobile devices”. As one can notice, podcasting is a new way of distribution of digital media files.
Podcast takes its name from Apple's popular iPod line of products and broadcast (iPOD broadCAST). Its creator, Adam Curry, used this term to refer to his audio files on the Internet in 2004. The good thing about podcasting is that it is not only limited to iPod owners and listeners, but it is available to any Internet user at any time by just downloading the audio or video archives into and Ipod or Mp3, Mp4 player. Podcasts were made available to people via a syndication format, that is, users install a media aggregator program in their computers, iTunes for instance, also called a "podcatcher", and the application captures the audio feeds from the Internet for downloading to the music player.
In our weekly ICT class this time, we had the opportunity to create podcasts using Audacity and as soon as we recorded it, we used a Podcast social subscribing site Podbean to publish our podcasts. It was a very interesting experience and I really had fun doing it.
Now I would like you to check out my audio welcome to this blog.

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Here you can also listen to me again in Snapvine

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Educational uses
The educational uses of podcasting are vast, especially to develop the speaking and spelling abilities. By creating podcasts, students could be more involved in their learning process and, moreover, they should feel more comfortable and even have more fun during the process because they deal with technology in every other aspect of their lives.
Just by googling the term ESL podcasting, it is amazing the amount of sites devoted to ESL learners. Check some of them!


Monday, October 26, 2009

5. Wikis

Wow!! Wikis! What an interesting topic. Let’s begin by saying what a Wiki is. Professor Evelyn Izquierdo (2009) defines a Wiki as “an interactive and dynamic website with pages that anyone can create, edit and contribute to”. That is, a website in which people can create a page, share information, or edit content easily just by having only a password. In more technical words, a wiki is a “software that provides some level of interactivity between individuals” (http://wiki.wetpaint.com/page/Wiki+History).
The first wiki was actually developed over 10 years ago by Ward Cunningham, a Smalltalk developer, who conceived it as a quick way to create and share ideas when working. Ward's Wiki is still working today. Its name comes from the Hawaiian word wiki-wiki which means quick.

Wikis is another of the Web 2.0 tools that have been recently used in ELT with educational uses. Wikis are frequently utilized not only by teachers worldwide to share teaching experiences, but also as a nice tool to give students participation. As well as blogging, wikis are powerful and fun tools to use out of the classroom. Students have the possibility to make themselves heard and perhaps participate in a larger community.
There are many sites that you can use to create your wiki, just by signing up for free. Some of them are Wikispaces, Wikidot, Pbworks, Zohowiki and Wetpaint.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

4. Blogging

In our fourth ICT session, the topic was blogging. It is one of the new trends in the 21st century, which have revolve the tech world by being one of the most popular Web 2.0 tools. The word Blog is a contraction of “web log” and it is a type of website usually maintained by an individual with regular entries about a great variety of topics, descriptions of events, among others. One of the multiple advances of this kind of personal website is the possibility to add other materials such as graphics, texts, links, pictures or videos, as well as allowing the readers to leave any comments and even to participate of the construction of the site. In simple words, a Blog is a personal online diary (Wikipedia, 2009).
The use of blogs nowadays has become so popular that one can find a huge amount of forums in which many try to define the concept.
According to Howard Kaushansky, chief executive officer at Umbria Communications, a blogging market research firm in Boulder, the definition of blog is changing because "Originally a blog was defined by the service you used or the host or by the tool you used to create the posting. So if you used [hosts] LiveJournal or Blogger, that was a blog. If you used Moveable Type [software], that was a blog. The reason the definition is changing is that these tools have made it so easy that there are companies who use a blog rather than a website. ... So it's a little bit more challenging today to define a blog."
Although the discussion is still a bit difficult because of the social impact blogs have had, it is undoubtedly that they are definitely an accessible powerful tool.
As Kaushansky asserts, if big companies and corporations prefer to have a blog instead of website, the question now is that if the use of blogs with educational purposes would enhance or develop students’ abilities in a foreign language.
The department of Education of the Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) states in its website that “from an education perspective the availability and ease of use of blogging software makes creating blogs a viable classroom activity and a means for teachers to communicate with other teachers”.
In the case of ELT, blogs provide a communication space that we teachers can use to develop writing, speaking, share ideas and even reflect on work being undertaken in the classroom. Blogs is a tool to give students a voice into their own learning process and to develop their skills beyond the walls of a classroom.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

3. Web 2.0 vs. Web 1.0

Before starting with my reflections, I must come clear about something. When I first listen to professor Izquierdo introducing the topic, I had not ever heard about something such as a number of “Webs”. I thought that the term was just that, a term related to the Internet. After the class, I was super happy to have learnt about such an interesting topic. It just came to my mind that life is a matter of development and evolution, but for someone as hippy as I am, tech evolution goes just too fast to stopping smelling the flowers and plunge into a speedy world. Anyways, I got interested I looked for further information about the different Webs. Let’s start with Web 1.0 to better understand what the others have become nowadays.

Web 1.0 was the term used between 1991 and 2003 to refer to the state of the World Wide Web. It is one-way flow of information through websites which contained "read-only" material for the user. In a few words, Web 1.0 is a retronym which refers to any website design style used before the advent of the Web 2.0 phenomenon.

Since 2004, the term Web 2.0 is the one used to describe those changes that made the Internet the way it is today. The shift from Web 1.0 to Web2.0 can be seen as a result of technological refinements and the evolvement of the behavior of the users.
2.0 sites are interactive and dynamic and the “readers” become a part of the site, because information and opinions can be shared among the creator and/or visitor(s) of the sites. Moreover, people are able to interact with other users with messages, chats, chat rooms or e-mails, being able even to share the content of websites. Some examples of the Web 2.0 phenomenon are social networking sites as facebook, second life, twitter, youtube, blogs, etc.
After this class, we had the opportunity to create our own static website, a professional one on Wordpress. The experience was enriching, amazing and fun. Now I am “professionally” on the net.

Take a look by clicking on Beatriz Peñín's professional site.

Finally, I should say that all these advances are being today the matter of study for many researchers and experts on education, who are definitely interested in how useful are all these new tools and how they can be used to enhance education.

Thomas Greene, Larry Landweber, George Strawn (2003). A Brief History of NSF and the Internet. http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/03/fsnsf_internet.htm.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2. ICT in ELT

Undoubtedly, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) helps us teachers to improve our classes, our dynamics and our teaching process, because it offers new ways to communicate, interact and achieve our educational purposes. According to Statements of Learning for Information and Communication Technologies (2008), using ICT as a tool for learning enables students to:
1. efficiently and effectively access digital information to assist with investigating issues, solving problems and decision making
2. produce creative solutions to support learning and develop new understandings in areas of learning
3. communicate, share and work collaboratively in local and global environments
4. understand the legal, ethical and health and safety implications of using ICT and their responsibilities as users and developers
5. develop new thinking and learning skills to support learning.
As one can see, it definitely provides us updated tools and new techniques to develop better ways to get to our students’ interests and to fulfill their expectations. In the following video, you will listen to different experts’ opinions about what ICT in education is all about.

Obviously, when one refers to ICT in education, it also encompasses ELT because nowadays languages are a major subject in the learning process all over the world because of the spread of technology.
As Doug Brown said in the video, ICT in the 21st century is recognizing that learning without technology is just not learning. However, it is also necessary to acknowledge that technology ha not reached all levels of society, especially in developing countries in where efforts have been made but are not enough to overcome the tech barriers.
Technology is always improving and it is surprising how fast it updates. In Venezuela, it is difficult to keep up with this accelerated flow of information and updates of new technology.
The Central University of Venezuela has made huge progress on the installation and digitalization of the different faculties. All Schools now have at least a computer lab available. However, the financial difficulties do not allow authorities to buy better equipments or tools and most of them are old or damaged to a point in which supplies to repair them are very difficult to find.
At the School of Social Communication, new equipments were bought this year, but the access to them is limited to some subjects. My subject, English, has not been included yet in the program of digital classes. Nevertheless, I have had the opportunity to ask for some tasks to be done on blogs, such as university newspaper for example. The experience was really satisfying and rewarding, even if I could not participate in the process.
As teachers, it is imperative that we try to incorporate these tools in our classes, even though we do not have full access to them.
At this point it is important to highlight the efforts made by organizations as Avealmec in Venezuela, which tries to promote the use of new technologies into the classroom.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

1. Digital literacy

In our first class, we discussed the topic of "digital literacy". I must confess that I was totally relieved when the teacher started with such basic definitions. Even a week before the beginning of the class, I became really anxious due to my poor skills on computer tools. When the professor
asked what digital literacy was, I felt that my mind was
correctly read because I was wondering myself if I fitted into the concept. Was I a digital illiterate person?
According to the Danish Technological Institute, digital literacy “involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet”.
As we can see, the concept encompasses a wide variety of dimensions. This particular type of literacy requires “ordinary” basic literacy skills, which are a necessary precondition for digital literacy, that is to say, cognitive skills. These are the fundamental skills because they consist of reading comprehension, writing, and critical thinking. But it is also important to have the technical skills, which are skills revolving around hardware and software applications, networks and other elements of digital technology such as the Internet, cell phones, personal digital assistants, and other digital devices (Wikipedia, 2009).
The combination of both cognitive and technical skills constitutes digital literacy.

What is digital competence?

It is the combination of not only skills but also knowledge “along with values and attitudes” (Peña-López, 2009) to achieve goals by being efficient in digital contexts with digital tools.
As all we know, technology is nowadays part of our lives and has become an everyday tool, not only for small children but also all-aged adults. It is now mandatory to be proficient in its use and education has incorporated tech tools to better enhance the teaching/learning process.
In the field of language teaching, technology is becoming more and more important because people worldwide communicate and interact more than ever before. This is the reason why we teachers must learn about ICT tools and incorporate them in our classrooms in order to update and innovate in our huge responsibility: the teaching of a second language.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hi everybody!!
I warmly welcome you to my blog. This blog is intended to share my experiences and learn much more about Information and Comunication Technologies (ICT).
ICT is the name of an interesting subject I am doing at my master's program in the Central University of Venezuela, taught by professor Evelyn Izquierdo, who has applied many of the newest technological tools to her teaching context.
This subject was created to teach participants the wide variety of technology available in today's world, how this can be used and applied to our specific teaching context and to improve and "refresh" our traditional teaching/learning methods.
Thanks for checking my blog.
Beatriz Peñín