Category Archives: Esl

Teaching Business English with Technology in Latin America

This year I was awarded the BESIG facilitator scholarship to attend IATEFL in Glasgow. As a scholarship winner, there were several moments to celebrate this award. IATEFL invited all the scholarship winners to attend a tea party and held posters on the IATEFL wall.

The same day we had our scholarship tea party, IATEFL online interviewed some scholarship winners. Take a look at our live interview together with Erika Osvath and Bruno Andrade.

This conference has been a turning point in my career. Not only was I able to finally meet several teachers of my inpiring PLN (Personal Learning Network) but also had to opportunity to attend thought-provoking sessions throughout the week.

My presentation was on March 22nd at 15:40 pm. In preparation for my presentation, I did everything by the book and finished with a tango called Caminito. I wanted the audience to understand that teachers in Latin America are asking for a change.

University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations helped me spread the word on a short survey I created for Business English teachers. The results of the survey clearly show that teachers want to start integrating technology and need to learn new skills and software applications.

One attendee did comment after the session that most teachers in his country do not know how to teach online and if it would be possible to train teachers online.

As always after attending an International conference, there were several great ideas I gleaned from the sessions attended that will be incorporated in my classes.

Below you will find the slides from my presentation.

Thank you to the BESIG team for making my dream come true and to be able to join such an amazing group of talented teachers.

Games for young learners

This is the second time I deliver a presentation for TeachMeet Int’l hosted by Arjana Blazic and Bart Verswijvel.

TeachMeet features free “micro” presentations from teachers around the world. It is an unplugged an informal gathering of teachers who show and share incredible ideas and activities for your classroom. Today there were 33 teachers from 20 countries willing to learn from each other. For more information about this event please check

My presentation was about how to use Moshi Monsters with young learners. I´ve been using this virtual game with them for a long time and the results are amazing.

Here is a screenshot of my 3 minute presentation.


Feel free to explore my slides and start integrating virtual games in your classroom.

Are you ready to Integrate Technology?

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers
As a teacher are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information found on the Internet?

Teaching has changed dramatically in the 21st century with the advent of Web 2.0 tools like wikis, blogs and podcasts just to name a few. Technology has modified the landscape of information and knowledge. Learning in this scenario poses new questions for teachers. Anyone with access to Internet has the ability to create videos, text and audio that can be shared with a global audience.

How can teachers be inspired to gradually start incorporating technology in their daily teaching?
Internet has become a big challenge for teachers and if used correctly is an empowering phenomenon. But most teachers internally ask themselves why should I start using technology. My answer to this question is that technology is here to stay. Integrating technology is not putting computers in the classroom without teacher training. Technology should be used effectively and efficiently to allow students to learn how to apply computer skills in meaningful ways. Consider the power you have as a teacher to start sharing students work with a real audience that is considered to be any student from the world.
Recently ARCALL (Argentine Computer Assisted Language Learning) has been relaunched with the clear goal to help teachers integrate technology. We know that there are many compelling reasons to start integrating technology .

ARCALL is a group of innovative language teaching professionals from Argentina which aims to:
teaching professionals from Argentina which

• increase the use of educational technology in EFL (English as a Foreign Language),

• collaborate in the integration of ICT in Argentina in ways that are effective and appropriate,

• assist teachers in integrating ICT into their daily practices and as a means of developing themselves professionally,

• train teachers on using computers and the Internet in English language teaching,

Another possibility is to create your own blog and share your experience with other colleagues. As head of a blog, I should say that the journey on how to integrate technology in your classes is full of obstacles and rewards. If you are about I´d like to invite all teachers, who have not already incorporated technology in their classrooms, to give it a try.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

My Edublog Award nominations

This is the first time I submit nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards. My personal and professional life is enriched everyday by the diverse woldwide range of voices and talents in the ETL world. I want the thank all those wonderful EFL teachers who inspire me to become a better teacher. Here goes my nomination:

* Best individual blog An A-Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury
* Best individual tweeter @ShellTerrell
* Best group blog Teaching Village
* Best class blog The FCE blog

* Best ed tech / resource sharing blog Nik´s learning technology blog
* Best twitter hashtag ELTchat
* Best teacher blog Box of chocolate
* Best free web tool Jing
* Best educational use of podcast Podcasting for the ESL-EFL classroom
* Best educational wiki Cool tools for school
* Lifetime achievement Ken Wilson

Using visuals to introduce Halloween activities

Visuals reinforce concepts and vocabulary. They add variety and emphasis to presentations. 3M/Wharton School study (1981) and the University of Minnesota/3M study (1986). They conclude that there are three areas in particular where the use of visuals can improve presentations:

To improve communication effectiveness

To improve audience’s perceptions of presenter

To improve speaker’s confidence

After reading this research I started using some really motivating and visually attractive websites with young learners to engage them in Halloween activities.

Feel free to use these websites with your students.

1) Learning chocolate offers a wonderful link with engaging activities for young learners.

Click on the image

2) Allow your students to review the previous vocabulary by using Taggalaxy to search for new vocabulary.

3) If you are a very busy teacher just download these ready-made presentations on Halloween

Click on the image

4) Make your students guess the Halloween jigsaw puzzle image

Click on the image

5) Allow your students to create their own Halloween story

Click on the image

6) Read a Halloween story created by a student online. Inspire your students to create and share their own story.

Click on the image

How EFL teachers are Integrating the Internet in Argentina

Changes in habits scare people. Certainly the advent of the telephone, as well as the arrival of the television, must have met some kind of resistance among generations already adapted to their own established lifestyles.

Such has been and still is the nature of the reception computers have met worldwide. Yet, slowly but steadily, people are gradually realizing the vast array of information provided by the Web is unmatchable. The EFL classroom, however, has stayed relatively unchanged. Many teachers are already using Internet as a source of information, but most of them have been sceptic about the legitimacy of claims advocating the integration of CMC (Computer Mediation Communication) tools into Language Learning. And EFL Teachers in Argentina have not been the exception –not until 2011, when face-to-face and online seminars, as well as webinars are starting to be populated by dozens of English language teachers, including teachers of other languages as well.

Where to start?

The Internet is constantly generating opportunities to hone ICT (Information and Communication Technology) skills by allowing interaction between students and teachers using new programmes and applications which foster, not only individual production and growth of personal skills, but also the development of cohesive online Communities of Practice (CoP´s).
Unprecedented ways of getting to know like-minded people are being launched every day, allowing language teachers not only to meet other teachers of English anywhere in the world and socialize, but also to share views on common queries, problems, findings and experiences, using the English language.
We can now choose to join from a wide variety of Discussion Forums and Listservs, made up of teachers willing to carry out online projects with their students, both synchronous and asynchronously. And we can learn the how-to’s and techniques the use of different applications and programmes entail, becoming more and more ICT literate, so that by learning through doing ourselves, we can gain the necessary training to pioneer experiences in our own classrooms.

As members of Webheads in Action, Jennifer Verschoor and Rita Zeinstejer met online some five years ago, and decided to pool their knowledge and experience to work together from their respective cities –Jennifer in Buenos Aires, Rita in Rosario—to help their colleagues in their country integrate Internet tools into their classes.

Jennifer´s and Rita´s previous experience

Rita became interested in Technology and in exploring the tools it offers to educators after attending a course in Cambridge, England, on “The Use of Computers for Language Learning”, by Gavin Dudeney and Gary Motteram. From then on, she devoted her spare time attending seminars, both f2f and online, joining groups of colleagues worldwide, and doing research, until she decided to share her gains with colleagues in her home town, and to participate actively in Congresses in different countries, both as an attendee and as a presenter.

But Rita´s main concern has been putting her findings into practice, so she started integrating many tools into her own classes, as she worked with upper-intermediate students of English in a private Institute in Rosario, where both teachers and students have always directed their aims and methodology towards “learning English to sit for an international examination.”

Rita opened her first blog in the year 2006 at , where she motivated her students to participate using text, images and voice, also integrating some exam practice and some additional tools to enhance her first adventure. However, the richest experience was a Tandem project she organized with a teacher of Spanish in Ohio, USA, for their students to get together online using synchronous and asynchronous tools. The project was a big success, and all learners were delighted to learn about each other´s lifestyles, education and culture using English in Rita´s blog and Spanish in the blog opened by the teacher in the States.

As from 2006 on, Rita has tried different online spaces: blog hosts, wikis, virtual classrooms, to gather learners and help them realize that the language they have been studying for around ten years now gives them the chance to communicate with likeminded learners and teachers from all over the world.

In 1999 Rita opened the Multimedia Centre at ARCI for all teachers to have the necessary training to be able to integrate technology. The Centre is now a big success, catering for all levels, and aiming at the development of the fours skills.

These are some examples of online environments Rita has been housing her projects in:

  • with her 2007 group, where she carried out “The Serendipity Project”, which allowed her students to understand the potential of “Podcasting”, as well as the integration of moviemakers
  • , a blog with 2008 students, where her project “Sharing Cultures” became one of the most memorable experiences as she plunged her students into the Korean culture

Jennifer became interested in the integration of technology while she was studying to become a University Professor at a local University in 2003. At that time the course was on distance learning and she joined the vibrant online community called Webheads in Action while doing a search online. The purpose of the community is to help learning professionals understand the potential benefits of the appropriate integration of available Internet technologies into their teaching practice by first experimenting and learning in a hands-on, low-risk online environment before engaging their own learners.

Jennifer created her first class blog in the year 2007 at,
in order to show students a different way of learning English and with the main goal of stumbling the classroom doors by participating in International Project. Students participated in Learning Circles, a project-based partnership among a small number of schools located throughout the world, offered by IEARN International.

These are some examples of on-line environments Jennifer has been housing her projects in:

  • This wiki was created in 2008. Its purpose is to help Business English students to be able to continue learning online after their face-to-face class.
  • The purpose of this wiki is to share and learn how to integrate technology in our classrooms to help increase the use of educational technology in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching.
  • First online conference offered by two Latin-American CALL associations building online communities and social networks.

How do Argentinian EFL Teachers prefer to learn about Technology?

Belonging to a Community of Practice has enriched both our professional knowledge and personal lives. Both of us have learnt about new programs which allow us, teachers, to manipulate different tools to create different tasks, aiming at weaning teacher-dependent students. We have added the use of new, most effective strategies to our teaching procedures. We have shared projects with students of English living in Kuwait, Venezuela, the USA and Portugal, learnt about their needs, exchanged cultural differences and reached conclusions with their teachers. We have sung a “tango” from a home microphone on an Argentinian Sunday evening for Taiwanese students in their language laboratory on a Monday morning. We have answered questions from a Mexican board of accountants willing to understand and witness the marvels of voice chat and implement it in their school curricula. We have carried out project work with my CAE students in Argentina and Japanese students of English in Texas, with students and teachers in USA, in Korea, in Brazil. We have given them the chance to chat with EFL teachers from other countries, and have spurred them into using English in safe online environments, using resources that contain authentic rather than scripted speech.
We have participated in virtual presentations, conferences and congresses, for free, attending lectures and posing queries on the screen, using text and voice chat, with teachers from different countries, from home, and could even watch the conference and all other participants having their webcams on.

Unbelievably enough to many, we have built up our own office online in a “moo”, an online building lodging private and common cybernooks to share with other members in the community, and furnished it our way, with excerpts and quotes on walls, and an open door to visitors… We have provided instructions to newcomers as helpdesk, and showed the way to students, asking for directions. And we have shared our work with colleagues from all spots.

However, little is known about CoP´s in Argentina. Language Teachers prefer to attend f2f workshops, where experienced colleagues will show them the how-to´s, and where they will find a supportive environment, with personalized guidance in a collaborative style.

Joining Forces

Aware of the importance of having a paradigm shift in education in an era when the web has invaded all fields of knowledge, and when electronic devices are already extensions of our selves, both Jennifer and Rita decided to join forces working towards our aim together in a common environment, and thus opened , where we pool ideas and offer guidance and assistance to teachers –mainly in our country—and where we publish the dates and information about the webinars and workshops we offer in different regions in the country.

We have also been invited by SBS Argentina, a prestigious bookshop in our country, to give webinars, presentations and workshops in our area, and we opened this space , where we offer them for free. It is our main aim to meet teachers needs in everything connected with Technology and its integration into Language Learning, including the latest tools and gadgets online, and helping them become proficient in their use and implementation.

Both educators have won scholarships to attend Congresses, Jennifer in Japan and Rita in the USA, as shown in their respective CV´s.
Rita is also a Google Certified Teacher, after attending a Google Course in Manhattan in 2008, and is Steering for the CALL-IS  TESOL 2009-2012 Committee, which she was asked to join to share experiences with colleagues in the States.

We may wonder how our ancestors reacted when they replaced face-to-face meetings with the telephone, until they got to see differences and advantages. Most probably, they found fault with the change the new means of communication started to imply, and rejected the idea of shifting away from deeply ingrained habits.
In a country where authentic situations are rarely met by learners in the streets, teachers need to overcome resistance to appreciate and resort to the magic of Internet, and to furnish students with the necessary instruments to communicate with the world, exploiting free sources and resources for genuine interaction. Only by plunging into real situations will learners succeed in using the language effectively, meaningfully and accurately.

Jennifer Verschoor                                                         Rita Zeinstejer                        

Writing Argumentative Essays

Currently I am teaching Language at a Bilingual school in Buenos Aires. My students prepared some really nice videos explaning what is an Argumentative essay. This is the first time they publish their work online.

I need your help to choose the best video and  to show my students the importance of having their work published even if there are some mistakes.

Please if you can take a few minutes to watch the three videos and choose the best one. Click in the link a the bottom of the four videos to cast your vote.

Thank you so much!!!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Click on this link to vote for the best video

Online Reading Books

If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six.  Open your child’s imagination.  Open a book.

Author Unknown

I´ve been reading some of the many blogs I have online. Last year I used the links below with young learners at school and with my daughters.

Take a look at the endless possibilities you have with online books.

Children´s storybooks

Reading Sites for the Primary Grades: A list of readers for all levels

Starfall Readers: Fiction and Non-Fiction

Storynory: Free Audio Stories


Online Audio Stories


Storyline online


Using technology in the classroom can be quite hard

It took me one year to finally feel it was the right moment to write this blog post. Exactly one year ago I was fired from my job. I was teaching Business English when unexpectedly my boss came into the company to announce that I had been promoted. Due to the fact that I was teaching Business English using Technology I was promoted to work in another company teaching with technology. I was kindly invited to pick up all my things and leave the company and wait at home until this new job started ( if it really ever existed) in two months time. This was not the kind of position one can call a promotion!

The truth behind all this story is that I was a threat for this person because I was using technology with my students. Students loved learning with technology using a wiki I created full of interesting and updated information that we discussed in class. This boss kept telling me not to use the computer because students were already exposed too many hours in front of the computer!!! My idea was never to replace her business. As a teacher I was looking for a way to motivate my students and I found it through technology.

As a teacher trainer when I tell participants that I was fired because I used technology everybody at the beginning is shocked and then tells me that this person will regret this the rest of her life. It is hard to innovate and even more if you find resistance from your superiors. Technology will not replace teachers, technology is just another tool we can use in the classroom that is really engaging and motivating for our students.

If you are planning to start using technology, do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of web tools you find online but just focus on which is the best tool for your educational purpose. I am a strong believer that technology has to be integrated using a blended approach that has to meet your students’ needs.

Luckily I was offered a much better job where I am currently coordinating an ICT lab and teaching young learners with technology. My current boss truly believes in me and in what I am implementing and this makes all the difference.

Nowadays using technology in the classroom is the most rewarding experience I have ever had.

Becoming a constant learner


It is high time to start showing all the different tools I learn daily. I´ve created an online calendar where I will write a very short description on every new Web 2.0 tool I learn. By the end of the year this will be a very big collection of tools.

If you click on the image below you will be taken to the online calendar.

Have fun exploring!