Category Archives: Professional Development

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.

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!

Learn a word a day

“Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Gandhi (1869-1948), Indian spiritual and political leader, called Mahatma “great soul”.

Below you will find a list of interesting websites that will help you learn a word a day. There are many different options therefore choose the one that suits your need and start improving your vocabulary.

English Daily choose from a wide variety of resources to improve your English daily. This site offers free online exercises, daily grammar, abbreviations, idioms, business excercises and many other options.

The magic of words allows you to learn a word a day delivered to your inbox. Suscribe freely to receive a daily newsletter.

The Free is a wonderful way of creating your own personal webpage. Follow the word of the day via RSS.

Transparent Language select the language you want to learn. Embed a widget to your webpage and learn a new word everyday. offers a very complete  section to learn the Word of the Day. Use the free email sign up option to get a the Word of the Day. You can also suscribe via

Save the words are words that are endangered due to the their lack of use. This web site from Oxford University press allows you to “adopt a word” and use it at least once a day.

Weboword build your vocabulary visually. Learn new words with a cartoon.

Vocabulary Building Games allows you to build your own vocabulary games. Create your own vocabulary list based on the different words a day you learnt and choose the online game to review the new words. It´s fun and easy to use. Must give it a try!



Halloween games for young learners


Halloween wraps fear in innocence,
As though it were a slightly sour sweet.
Let terror, then, be turned into a treat…
Nicholas Gordon



My students have been working really hard this semester therefore I allow them to play online games during our computer classes. Amazingly I become a learner because everyday they teach me something new. Last class they wanted to show me the Halloween games they play at home. Below you will find an interesting list of online Halloween games my 5th grade students love playing.

Enjoy these spooky Halloween games!!


Primary games

Free world Group

Free Halloween

The Kidz page


Halloween Mountain


Halloween Arcade

Please take a look at their glogs and the wonderful games they added.

Creating avatars

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.”  by Linda Naiman

Young learners need to learn through games, exploration and experimentation to foster their natural curiosity and love of learning through creative and fun activities. If your main goal as a teacher is to develop autonomous learners allow them to create avatars completely for free and make them describe their own creation. Amazingly most of my learners do not need tutorials to learn how to create the avatars and they work cooperatively because they have to share the computer.

As Albert Einstein said “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” Please take a look at the long list of Avatars that we have been working on this year with my students.

Voki: This is the best avatar tool for my students. It´s easy to use and you can embed it into other websites.

Toy Story creator: Make a virtual toy of yourself. Will turn you into a Simpson character.

GizMoz: Add your own photo into a scene or pick from several famous characters. You can record a message or type in the text to speech tool.

BeFunky: Cartoonize your photos.

DoppelMe Create a very simple avatar. You must log in to be able to make changes at any time. The disadvantage is that you need to download your avatar in order to share it. Create yourself a virtual 3D avatar.

Build Your Wild Self Students created great stories with these characters.

Become an M&M: Choose from a simple variety of accessories and become an M&M.

Unique: Simple avatar creator. Check my students blog to see the avatars they created.

TizMe: Create virtual images of yourself. Embed it into your online pages.

FaceYourManga: Express yourself through your image and share your mood with whoever you want. Allows you to only create a face avatar but you have plenty of items to mix and match.

The Mini Mizer LEGO avatar maker: Create a LEGO version of yourself. There are simple and clear instructions on how to create your personalized avatar.

Planet Creation: Allows you to create a simple face avatar.

MakeWee: Create you own Wii avatar online. To save it hit the “Print Screen” button on your keyboard to take a screenshot and then open up Microsoft Paint to paste it.

Evolver: This is a 3D avatar generator web app that produces video game quality avatars that you can use for free. You need to set up a free account in order to be able to create the avatar. Check this link for detailed instructions on how to create your 3D avatar.

Back-to-school links shared by my Twitter PLN

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.

George Bernard Shaw

5 Sites To Explore This School Year

The Top Five Back-to-School Online Safety Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Parents as Partners

Reflections on the First week

Build A PLN: A Newbie’s Guide

How to do 11 Techy things int the new school year

Back-to-School Guide: Jump Start Learning With New Media

The Responsibility of the Open School

Back-to-school 2010:9 collaboration and management tools for students

Activities for the first days of school

Top ten websites to learn English

“Learning is finding out what you already know.  Doing is demonstrating that you know it.  Teaching is reminding others that they know it just as well as you.  You are all learners, doers, teachers”

Richard Bach

Most teachers are overwhelmed by the endless amount of websites they can find online to teach English. I would like to share the best websites according to my students to learn English. One key ingredient in these websites is that students have fun while learning English.

Language Guide is a fun visual tool to learn vocabulary

Writing Fun  is a MUST for teachers.  This website motivated my students to enhance their writing skills.

Listen and Write allows you to improve your listening skills and hear about the news. Great site for dictation.

English Central turns popular web videos into fun and effective language learning experiences. My students love the idea of listening to their pronunciation mistakes. It is a great website to learn different kinds of pronunciations through videos.

Lyrics training allow you to have fun learning English and listening to your favourite song. Teenagers love this website.

Breaking news Check several Lesson Plans and Podcasts for studying current events and news. Find really interesting news to improve  students listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.

How to teach Phrasal verbs Learning phrasal verbs is finally interesting for my students.

10 days in Manchester Wonderful website to travel and learn English at the same time. Students learn how to check in at a hotel, ask for directions, phone their boss, register at a conference etc.

Vocabulary exercise and word order Students learn new word and complete a mixed-up sentence exercise to put the parts in order to form a sentence.

Nonstop English practise English language skills with many interactive grammar and vocabulary tests to build vocabulary for fun. New exercises are added every week.

These are my best website to motivate students. I really hope you enjoyed them.

Now it´s your turn. Which websites do you use with your students?

Thanks for sharing :-)

I want to start integrating technology in my classroom. Where should I start?

Last week was a really hectic week. On Monday I gave a presentation at Pearson, on Tuesday I have a presentation at SBS Martinez and on Wednesday I gave a presentation at Essarp.

This time I had the pleasure to give the presentations on Monday and Tuesday with Vance Stevens and Rita Zeinstejer.  It´s always great to meet these inspiring Webheads who have revolutionized the way we can use computers to teach English. Vance elaborated a document with some of the links we used for the presentation. Please take a look at Baffled in Cyberworld.

Our presentation focused on how teachers can develop their own personal learning networks to practice continuous lifelong learning and ‘teacher autonomy’ before applying these concepts to students. The audience was overwhelmed with all the information we gave them.

After the presentations many teachers sent me an email asking this very simple question: I am planning to integrate ICT in my English classes. Where should I start?

Where did you start?

Who inspired you?

Was failure part of your learning process?

Great quotes from the 2010 Reform Symposium

This wonderful free online conference is focused on innovative practices in education and what role these practices can play in educational reform. Check out the great speakers and a big cyber clap to all the volunteers that make this conference possible. I would like to thank Shelly Terrell @shellterrell for her unconditional support and inspiring job through the whole conference.

Take a look at the fantastic Google Doc full of resources shared throughout the  conference

I was able to summarize the most important quotes shared via Twitter that took place today. Enjoy them!!!

“Teach kids first, curriculum 2nd” @gcouros

“Relationships central to everything we do.” @gcouros

Change…”just b/c we have schools, doesn’t mean we have education”

Play and Learn (GAMES) Mind Map resources by @busynessgirl

Fun is the act of mentally mastering a problem, fun is learning pres by @busynessgirl

Where do we want our students’ brain to be? @busynessgirl

Bloom’s Taxonomy According to Pirates of the Caribbean

Theory of Fun shared by @busynessgirl

Boredom means there are no new patterns to discover @busynessgirl

Research used to be a closed environment btw student & teacher. Digital tools have allowed us to break boundaries & collaborate.

We need to stand in front of students NOT as a master teacher, but as a MASTER LEARNER – Cel Foster

It is important to have fun with students.Teachers who do not see teaching as fun need to get a new career.via HootSuite

Have kids annotate what is worth talking about not just facts via Seesmi

Where do we want our students’ brain to be? @busynessgirl

Boredom means there are no new patterns to discover @busynessgirl

We “tell” students how to do things rather than how to think independently. “Playing to Learn”

“Technology is making ‘content’ irrelevant. It’s what you’re able to do with content that ‘s important.”

We’re preparing our students for the future, for jobs that do not exist right now via Kevin Creutz

Most important goal: help students (teachers, and admins as well) become lifelong learners. -Kevin Creutz

Research used to be a closed environment btw student & teacher. Digital tools have allowed us to break boundaries & collaborate.

Tagging is one way of moving from remembering to the understanding level (Bloom’s)

The right tool for the purpose is v important

“It’s not about the tools, it’s using the tools to facilitate learning.” Andrew Churches

If you develop a trusting relationship with your mentee, it’s going to take you far. @teachingwthsoul

New teachers need to get parents on their side.

Have fun! Get excited about your lessons. Ignore negativity from peers @flourishingkids

Look 4 student’s strengths & build on them via @flourishingkids @ #rscon10 So important 2 treat each learner as a unique individual!

Try to find something you love about every student, especially the challenging ones.

Assessment should be authentic and equitable.

“Equity means giving kids what they need. It does not mean equal”

“Know your limits, guided by your philosophy” @flourishingkids

The limitations of the medium are what make it powerful.

“Backchanneling allows the shy student a voice.” @rmbyrne

Backchanneling engages students, limits how often class interrupted, gives shy students a way to ask questions.

Backchannels can share information outside of small groups to larger groups. Allows more thoughts and ideas.

“Backchannel in the classroom gives the students the opportunity to share their ideas as soon as they have them” @rmbyrne

I think there are still so many educators who need to be reformed and get into the 21st century. Unfortunately ..

@alexgfrancisco “Be the rain-“the key words. We,teacher,should be the rain that makes kids to flourish

Control me and you can hold me accountable. Trust me & provide me with freedom and you empower me to be responsible.

Nothing motivates us more than success. (All of us Teachers & STUDENTS) @alexgfrancisco

Use technology to lead, show new perspectives, and to connect learning opportunities.

“Any teacher that can be replaced by technology, deserves to be.” – David Thornburg

Give your students space to make it personal by @alexgfrancisco

The future of teaching is learning! @Alexgfrancisco We have to become the learner!

Goals shouldn’t really be about tech making teaching easier – should be about enriching learning process

“Machines are easy; People are the hard part” @alexgfrancisco

” If kids can’t learn the way we teach, perhaps we should teach the way kids learn.” Ignacio Estrada


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