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Charo Requejo

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  1. LEARNING HISTORY THORUGH ENGLISH USING ICT I’d like to situate my contribution to this project within the reference of the immersion programme being carried out at Parque de Lisboa Secondary School, more specifically on the side of English language teaching / learning, supporting the History contents with language activities.This type of experience in immersion programmes is quite new in the Comunidad de Madrid and I’m aware that there’s much to be done in the field of research as well as in the designing of activities and materials. Children who started the immersion programme in primary school have just begun their Secondary education, as is the case of 12 year old students at Parque de Lisboa Secondary School, where the programme includes Science, Geography and History being taught in English. It is within this framework that I’ve focused my work and the designing of activities. I’ve worked on two different aspects: First, adapting texts from textbooks or other sources Juan Carlos sent me so that they could be on the website. That meant a lot of messages been sent to and fro since I worked on the linguistic aspect while he took care of “historical accuracy”. Secondly, designing different language activities to support this content learning so that the students will acquire English structures and vocabulary without English being the objective of the task but historical contents. What we are really talking about is Content and Language Integrated Learning, as teaching History in English in a Spanish environment is. As David Marsh says, rather than teaching History in English it is teaching History “through “ English. We all know that language learning and linguistic diversity is an important goal for the European Council. There is a will to promote not only bilingualism but multilingualism and that means that the little time given in schools to the learning of foreing languages needs to be increased in some way. Using the target language as a means of teaching other subjects can help achieve this objective. The immersion project being developed at Parque de Lisboa as any Clil project implies a double aim: content is learned at the same time as language is acquired. By this I mean that the objective is not learning the language, but learning content, History in this case. But since the language used is English, students acquire it in a more natural way than in a formal English class where they are taught a language that they may or may not use some time later. Here, the situation is similar to their mother tongue learning: students acquire spoken language from their classmates, their teacher and the language they use while interacting and written language from the texts and the different taks they have to accomplish. The language they acquire is not only related to history, but to the real situation in the classroom. In their History class where English is the vehicular language they learn language as they use it. And not only language, content too. The texts the students work with, the vocabulary they become familiar with, the situation in the classroom itself seem more real than those in an English class where texts or vocabulary are not part of a real communicative situation, so they cannot see its immediate relevance or be motivated. Also, it complements what has been learned in the English class using it in real situations. Back to E-HELP, when adapting the texts I realised that there is great difficulty for students: the transfer from primary to secondary education, the very different approach to the teaching of History and the specific vocabulary used in the History class which is difficult for them even in their mother tongue. Although the paragraphs and sentences used on the website and in many textbooks are short it doesn’t mean easy to understand by non-native speakers. As I said before, they may not know that vocabulary in their own language. Therefore, some of the activities I thought of for the website are focused on vocabulary as a way to complement that aspect. They learn the language while working with it and performing the different tasks. I’ve made a point of working on the past structures and revising the simple past, regular and irregular forms and their pronunciation. Including pronunciation or listening tasks is not easy though and it will require more thought on my part for future activities. Students learn both language and content by identifying vocabulary and by classifying it and by practising what they have learnt on the text about the Neolithic by describing different aspects. Children develop their language skills at the same time as language is used as a tool for learning History. I’ve focused on language rather than on grammar, mainly on language related to the historical aspect being studied. I consider that they already have enough grammar input in their English language lessons. By practicing, using the target language becomes more automatical and less conscious. By repeating structures such as: “could + infinitive”,”.... used...something....to....”or by working on sentence word order these structures are produced mechanically without conscious language learning on the students’ part. Since I’m working with the History programme used at Parque de Lisboa I hope these exercises will help the students to understand and learn content more easily while being motivated. As we are talking about exercises on a website, reading skills become essential. Students notice vocabulary while reading and their reading skills improve. For example, after reading question 3 on the web page, students are asked to enumerate the characteristics of the Neolithic revolution. To do this, they use the passive simple past but what could be an ”unnatural”, out of context exercise in an English class, a task to perform because they’ve been asked to do so, is a meaningful post-reading exercise suitable for both subject and language learning. Other activities I’m working on now are matching exercises, reading comprehension, synonym finding or sequencing. All of them activities that will be useful for students in immersion courses in the Comunidad de Madrid as well as for students working independently with an e-learning programme.
  2. I met Richard Jones-Nerzic at the E-Help meeting in March, 2006. It was the first meeting I attended as new E-Help member representing my institution, CAP de Alcorcón. I was impressed by his professionalism as well as his knowledge of ICT and its applications to History teaching. I am sure he is the best representative for IST in the project as well as the best coordinator we could have, efficient and supportive. The meetings I’ve attended as well as the activities involved in the project have gone on smoothly thanks to his professional coordination. Working with him has been a great experience.I hope that IST will soon reinstate Richard.
  3. You can count on me to do the translation as well! Just send me the file. You can count on me to do the translation as well! Just send me the file.
  4. Thank you to both of you, Richard and Les. Thanks for getting into all the trouble for the arrangements. Everything turned out perfect! Good meetings and good social life! Though looking at the pictures it seems we didn't do any work at all!
  5. Thanks Nico for a wonderful organisation. Everything worked out perfectly. I won't mention the weather! It's nice to be back in springtime, 19ºC !! Please, thank Elisabeth for everything. It was great spending sometime with your family on Sunday. Charo
  6. Sorry it took me so long to send the presentation. In the attached file you can read it. presentation_march_06.doc
  7. Rosario Requejo Villasevil: BA graduate at Complutense University, Madrid (1985). After that, I worked as Spanish Language Assistant in England for a year. Since then I've worked as a secondary school teacher near Madrid. I was also employed by Los Angeles School District, LA California from September 1991 to June 1993 where I first became involved in bilingual education and took different courses on the subject. After coming back to Spain I've participated in different European projects and was appointed Head of Studies (1990-91 and 1995-2005). In September 2005, I was appointed Advisor at the Teacher's Resource Centre in Alcorcón in the Sociolinguistic Department. I want to join the forum since I'm very interested in sharing ideas about education, second language adquisition as well as bilingual education.
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