Tag Archives: share

Aim high with your e-portfolio

Sometimes I get the feeling my students don’t feel as enthusiastic and passionate about English as I do!! For my students pursuing degrees in Marketing and Media, or Tourism and Event Management, English is a compulsory course. Some, while acknowledging that it is the language of business or travel, don’t see the immediate relevance for them and being first years, have yet to shake off the bad studying habits they may have picked up at school, i.e. do enough to get by and cram before the test. The language levels within the groups can range from those who say they’re not very talented at languages to those who’ve spent a year backpacking around Australia or have an English-speaking parent or two. This mix of abilities can have advantages as well as disadvantages, and of course, mirrors more accurately the situation they may end up working in once they have left university. In most cases, graduates in Germany applying for office jobs are expected to speak English regardless of the position they are interested in, and some companies,  particularly those with international teams, insist that formal meetings and presentations are carried out in English rather than German. This means English is likely to become an important part of their day to day working lives. How do we prepare these students for this reality? How can we make their English course more relevant, more engaging? How do we help weaker students while still challenging those with advanced or near native skills? Oh, and while I’m at it, I might as well throw another challenge into the mix. How do we encourage students to take ownership of their work, to ensure that what they do in class is the best quality they can produce, rather than something thrown together in order to just get the task done? After mulling it over, I am going to give something new a try: An electronic portfolio. A space that allows students to record their achievements, display the work they have created or co-created and document their development. This e-portfolio can be shared with family and friends or kept private, but could also be used later when applying for jobs where English is essential, as a means of proving language skills by showcasing their original work.

Created using Pathbrite
Created using Pathbrite

I think students will be more conscientious if they see that, rather than just a text or task to be handed in, corrected and forgotten about, the work they do in class can be part of something that shows their language ability, allows them express their creativity and actually says something about who they are. (Am I being wildly optimistic here?!) I spent an hour playing around with Pathbrite and think it could work well for what I plan. It didn’t take long to figure out how to use it,  adding different types of media was easy, and I’m happy with the end result. I think it looks good, and can image my students feeling quite proud of their work when presented so stylishly. It will motivate many to take that extra step, be it one final edit or spell-check, having a classmate take a quick look over it and give feedback, or adding a nice concluding paragraph before submitting a text. At least that’s the hope… let’s see how it works in practice! If anyone has experience using e-portfolios with EFL students, I’d love to hear about it. We create podcasts and infographics, digital posters and presentations as well as writing various types of texts. The e-portfolio can link these things together and serve as a record of the hard work and effort the students put into their work. www.pathbrite.com

How to: Facebook groups EFL. Videos

How to: Facebook groups for EFL/EAP.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on EAP 2014 at the University of Potsdam and my Facebook groups for EAP presentation, here are 2 videos to give details of how to actually go about setting it all up. This first tutorial outlines the steps you take to create a Facebook group to use with your English students. The focus is on creating a space for sharing and collaborating, while encouraging students to use English outside of the classroom using a tool that they are familiar with. All this is possible without teachers or students needing to ‘friend’ anyone.

This second tutorial gives you some quick ideas for getting started. You can post pictures, questions and tasks, create polls or add a document.

Here is the presentation as a PDF. I have included a number of suggestions that I found helped the project really get off the ground. Copy FBshort

Good luck!


Vocaroo. Think it: Say it: Share it – Podcasting

Despite the great success I was having podcasting with my university students, I hadn’t made much effort to introduce the idea to my adult business classes, being put off by the numerous obstacles I imagined would come up. While some students admit to being tech addicts, there are others who happily leave all thoughts of internet and computers behind them as they close the office door at the end of the working day. Even if I could tempt them to give podcasting a shot, the tool I usually use requires a log in, which for some people is a deterrent.

Then I happened upon Vocaroo.com – the perfect solution! This site lets you record and share voice messages over the internet in a variety of ways. No software downloads or log ins needed.

Vocaroo page- ready to start podcasting
Vocaroo – ready to start podcasting

Once you have recorded your message, you can listen to it and re-record it if you’re not satisfied. When ready,  save it and share.


Ready to share your finished audio message.
Ready to share your finished audio message.

On Vocaroo.com I recorded a message for the group outlining their homework task and played it at the end of class. Their job was to record themselves talking about the topic, which I chose depending on what we were working on at the time. In one class I asked students to talk about an experience they had speaking in front of an audience, as presentations was the topic coming up next in their course book.

I gave a few options as to what they could do with their recorded message.

  • Record it, listen to it and reflect on how they could improve.
  • Email me the finished recording for one to one feedback.
  • Allow me to share the recording with the class (for discussion on content) once I had given one to one feedback.

I asked them to share it via email as I felt that was the easiest for everybody. I also recommended that they each download their message as the site states that the recordings will not be saved indefinitely. The students may enjoy listening to themselves again in the future, hopefully marvelling at the progress they’ll have made in the meantime!

Audio and voice recording >>

So far, the podcasting experiment has worked very well. I found that some students, in particular those who I’ve worked with for a while, were more confident about sharing their finished recordings than others and were eager to discuss the experience with the group.  Everyone, even those who hadn’t made or shared a recording, got something out of the exercise and I felt slightly guilty that I had rejected the idea of podcasting with business groups for so long.

Vocaroo has helped me see the error of my ways and allows me to podcast merrily from classroom to boardroom!