When Shelly Terrell kindly invited me to write an article on Edtech in Argentina for her blog, I immediately got enthusiastic about it. Having Shelly in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) is an asset for me as she adds a lot to my professional growth and technological literacy.
Educational System in Argentina
First of all, I would like to describe the educational system in Argentina. It is unified throughout the whole country and obligatory from the age of five to the end of secondary school (about 18 years old). It is structured in four levels:
Initial education: from 45 days to 5 years old, being this last year compulsory
Primary education: from 6 years old to 12 years old (obligatory)
Secondary education: up to 18 years old. It is obligatory and includes two cycles:
Knowledge-oriented cycle: different areas of knowledge
The educational system comprises 8 modalities: technical-professional, artistic, special (for disabled students), permanent for young people and adults, rural, intercultural-bilingual (indigenous groups), aimed at imprisoned people, delivered at home or in hospitals.
Secondly, I want to briefly outline the current educational situation in my country. In the past, we boasted one of the best educational systems in Latin America but it has been diminishing its splendour decade after decade as a result of inappropriate educational policies. Nowadays, education is affected by the marked difference between the rich and the poor, which results in an enhancement of private schools and the struggle of public education to survive and offer good opportunities. This fact opposes UNESCO’s world motto: “Education for Everybody.”
The problem is complex and it is necessary to develop strategies that:
Re-state teachers’ pride and joy of teaching and responsibility for the results of the teaching process
Encourage students’ interest in learning
Foster the family’s commitment to contribute to their children’s school success
Make political leaders come to an agreement as to the ways of offering guarantees for the fulfilment of legal policies in education.
In general, at schools in my country, educational technology is seldom used in the classroom despite the existence of a Website like the following: http://www.educ.ar/educar/index.html. Teachers, students and parents use the Internet to do research for projects and to find out information.
In the case of Language Schools, the situation is different. Language teaching, especially English, has always been at the avant-garde. I am a teacher of English as a Second Language and I work in a Language School. In this school where English is taught to students at different ages, from babies to adults, and from different levels, computers are used as part of the English class for presentation and practice of the English language. Nevertheless, the ESL teachers I work with feel they are not updated enough as to helpful tools to be used in the classroom. For that reason, I am organising some meetings with them so as to share with them everything I’ve been learning thanks to my PLN, which is made up of members who generously share everything they know as to educational tools, hints and tips.
Making a Difference
Thanks to Twitter and to the valuable members of my PLN, I have become acquainted with several tools that have proved useful for learning and teaching English. This year I have created wiki spaces for my classes where I upload tasks to develop the strategies my students need: listening, speaking, reading and writing in a way that is encouraging and highly motivating. In these wiki spaces, my students have folders where they can upload the tasks they do for me to check and they can write messages to me when they have doubts. They were vital during the month we had to interrupt classes in Winter as a consequence of the spread of H1N1 virus (swine flu). During that month, I was able to send tasks for my students and not have to stop the learning process.Parents have expressed their gratitude to me for having created these sites and are very enthusiastic about their children’s possibilities to go on doing extra practice at home through a means that is more motivating for them. The language school administration has supported me at all times on this development and has congratulated me at all times for this contribution.I also work as a one-to-one tutor at home and I have also built a wiki space I share with my private students for them to continue practicing at home. This is my website. If you want to visit it, please ask me and I’ll gladly include you among the users.
Technology plays an essential role in the learning process as it offers the possibility of adding variety to classes and of making new facts more memorable for students.
Marisa Pavan holds degrees in translation, interpretation and teaching from Instituto Superior Nº 28 “Olga Cossettini”, Rosario and has two decades of experience in teaching English as a Second Language. She has over 6 years experience working as a freelance English-Spanish/ Spanish-English translator. She is skilled in languages, translation, interpretation, training students to develop listening, speaking, writing and reading strategies, CAT tools and communication. You can also find Marisa on Twitter, @mtranslator.
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