Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish Language TrainingLearning and Skills Development

A Word on Assessment

by Jose Luis Garcia, Keiser University Language Institute

When evaluating students’ performance in the language classroom, teachers cannot just rely on testing as the primary source of progress. A student evaluation does not occur in isolation or after grading written assignments and or quizzes. Indeed, students’ evaluations need to demonstrate their progress. In fact, from our teaching practice, we learn that testing, assessment, evaluation, and a teacher’s daily lesson observations are complementing factors.  Hence, my proposal relies on following an eclectic approach and including more than one form of assessment during any given evaluation process.

Here is my suggested approach:

To start a teaching session, consider running a diagnostic assessment or test. Find out what knowledge students bring into the classroom and identify areas of growth and learning that need reviewing and improvement. Build on formative assessment behaviors and with the obtained data, establish achievable learning goals to empower and engage students in progress.

Second, I suggest including formal and informal assessment elements. The former includes forms of summative and alternative assessment. Instructors may consider using short quizzes, class projects, and collaborative assignments. From each aspect, they should be able to obtain relevant and concrete information of the students’ progress and challenges.  This process involves students’ completing traditional forms of assessment such as homework, quizzes, and tests. However, in these forms, instructors should make a considerable effort in providing life-like issues that integrate the content and its use in meaningful tasks, for example, using integrative assessment strategies like information transfer items.

One last suggestion is including alternative assessment forms such as the use of checklists, rubrics, self-evaluation, and portfolios. Though these forms are less conventional, they provide vivid samples of a students’ growth throughout a session and how well they can  apply the class content.

An eclectic approach to assessment will provide instructors with more effective more tools to assess learners. It is reliable, valid, and tailored to the learners’ and course needs. It is also systematic for it screens performance and competence at a fair level.

Classroom and MethodologiesEnglish Language Training

What Role Do Teachers Play in the ELT classroom?

by Maria del Carmen Gonzalez, Keiser University Language Institute

Are you aware of your real role as a teacher in the ELT classroom? Nobody likes being observed or followed by fifteen pairs of eyes, but as teachers, there are times when your effectiveness relies on how skillful you are at getting your students’ attention. Regardless of all the effort and time you take to plan a class, look for the right activities, and orchestrate the whole class; it is you, and just you who your students are watching and listening to all the time.

The teacher is the most engaging element in the classroom, or at least she or he should be. There is no video, game or activity that could compare with the endless variety of input that comes from teachers. Nothing should spoil  their  performance  in front of  a group because they  wrote a  script and that class is their  platform, their  the center stage, so they should make the most of it. In other words, they should make students believe English is reachable and possible for them.

Instructors should watch their every move, be careful of every word they  pronounce because students are closely watching them . Some students are eager to hear them  and imitate  the word and sounds coming from them .

Actors study body language, simply because they know how powerful it is. They can embody a character or an emotion not only through  the dialogues but also through their body language. The way they move can also communicate more than a thousand words. In much the same manner, instructors should use their body, arms and hands meaningfully to express ideas, moods or attitudes. They should avoid talking to themselves, expressing ideas out loud or mumbling in front of their students because all they sense is intelligible words that make them anxious and aware of their lack of knowledge.

Teachers are the ones in charge of facilitating language for their learners. In fact, they should strike the right balance between using basic and advance vocabulary. Nobody said it was going to be easy, right?

Does this mean that teachers have to do all the work? Of course not! They should let their students deduct, analyze, summarize, propose, discuss, reflect, and overall, practice with the language. However, teachers have to be aware of every word, movement, and gesture they make and try to transform every single event or moment into a meaningful learning experience.

A recording from a class might become a great source of information for instructors. Through the recording they could reflect and analyze not only their language, instructions, feedback, error correction, tone, voice inflection, or rhythm but also the way they  walk and move their  bodies, arms and hands as well as the gestures and faces they  make. As Peter Akerly (2012) intelligently summarizes at the end of one of his lectures, [teachers] are being observed, [they] are the most interesting thing in the room, move and speak with intention”. Therefore, teachers should keep these ideas in mind whenever they are in front of a class if they want to attain their goals.

References
Drilling Target Structures. Dir. Peter Akerly. Perf. Peter Akerly. Youtube. N,p., 4 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 May 2016.

Business and ManagementMust Read

Book Review – Give and Take

41VatwrWCeL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Book Title: Give and Take
Author: Adam Grant
Year of Publication: 2013
Publisher: Penguin Books

 

 

 

 

Review by Academic Committee

Adam Grant is Professor of Management and Psychology at the Wharton School of Business. He has been recognized as Wharton’s top rated teacher for five straight years and as one of the 25 most influential management thinkers among other distinctions. His research focus includes leadership and culture, job design and meaningful work, and work motivation and success. Adam Grant holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Organizational Psychology.

His second book, Give and Take, was listed as one of the favorite books of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal, as one of Financial Times’ books of the year, and as ideas that shaped management by Harvard Business Review.

Prof. Grant states that success not only depends on motivation, ability, and opportunity, but on the ability to interact with other people and nurture this network, more specifically on how much value an individual contributes and how much it claims. He discusses three types of people according to this premise: takers, givers, and matchers. Takers put their own interest ahead of others’ needs, they like to get more than they give, and they make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts. On the other hand, givers like to give more than they get, and they focus more on what others’ need from them. In the middle ground, he places matchers, who try to keep a balance between what they give and what they take.

Giving and taking preferences are not about money, instead they are related to attitudes and social dynamics. In all areas, these preferences have their own benefits and drawbacks, and professionally they present highly complex interactions. Individuals with either of the three preferences are able to achieve success, but there are important differences in its degree and spread. The book emphasizes there must be a balance between these approaches, but giving allows individuals to maximize their abilities and leverage opportunities to achieve higher levels of success and well-being. Giving is both a powerful tool, but it can also be dangerous.

Dr. Grant presents unique approaches on how giving works in four key domains: networking, collaborating, evaluating, and influencing. He presents solid research and cases on how to manage each of these domains strategically to achieve greater levels of success. Furthermore, he presents possible drawbacks and problems and how to deal with them. Finally, the book explains practical actions to apply the principles presented, and it provides tools an resources for their incorporation and evaluation.

 

Students' Voices

Art History is our Own History

By Genesis Hernandez Nunez, AEP Student, Keiser International Language Institute

When people see and analyze a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture, they do not only stand in front of some pieces of art, but they also behold a society, an exact moment in time, a specific topic, and a range of different issues. For this reason, art can prove to be an interesting career to pursue. Students could understand the past, learn about periods, artists, techniques and styles while developing another perspective to see the world. Just like fire, art has been part of the human race since the beginning of civilization, and it can reveal more than we think.

First of all, people who study art history can have a better understanding of the past because art is closely related to memory. In other words, through art we can learn what our origins are. For example, “photography has been around for less than 200 years, film is even more recent, and digital images are relatively newcomers. If we want to see any person that existed prior to these technologies, we must rely on an artist” (Why Should I Study Art History?). Also, works of art can depict stories about legends, families or wars. To illustrate this, take “Guernica” by Picasso, a painting about a civil war that took place in Spain from 1936 to 1939. Likewise, “Las Meninas” of Velazquez was painted in 1656 and it is about the family of King Charles IV.

Furthermore, art history teaches students about periods, artists, their techniques and styles. It will become a new field of knowledge, totally different from what they have learned so far. An additional benefit of art history is that it “helps to develop communication skills and promotes interdisciplinary thought. Art history can provide students with basics and original skills in critical and visual thinking like attention to detail, creativity, self-discipline and appreciation of aesthetics” (Art History). If someone studies art history, that person will never see a sculpture of Bernini just like a masterpiece. This person will see beyond that.

Finally, studying art history will open a new window to see the world, a different point of view. It will change the mindset of people. “The discipline (art history) encourages humanity and sympathy by teaching about other individuals and societies through their visual expression. Art history provides intellectual confidence gained through learning how to recognize, order, and interpret facts” (Why art history?). People will appreciate beauty, ugliness, tragedy and drama from a whole new perspective.

Art history gives us the chance to visit a different world in order to understand our own. If someone decides to open this door, it will be the first step to become and open-minded person, more sensible, more understanding and critical. To learn and transmit how art influences our lives is a contribution to humanity.

References
“Art History”. Lansing Community College. Web. March 16, 2016. http://www.lcc.edu/cma/art_history/

“Why Art History?”. School of Arts and Sciences. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Web. March 16, 2016. http://arthistory.rutgers.edu/menu-ii/academica/why-arthistory

“Why Should I Study Art History?”. About.com. 24 Nov. 2014. Web. March 16, 2016. ttp://arthistory.about.com/od/help_advice_for_students/t p/Why-Should-I-Study-Art-History.htm

Events and ActivitiesMultimedia

The Starling Race – Academic Field Trip

The students from the AEP and SEAL programs from the Keiser University International Language Institute went to the city of Granada on an academic trip to learn about the History of Granada’s landmarks. It entailed for students to communicate in an environment that posed them genuine language challenges that resemble those in their everyday surroundings.

 

MultimediaStudents' VoicesVideos

Five to 5


Is speaking necessary to find love?
The short film was recorded for the second meeting of Kino Managua Movement

Credits
Production: Arielka Juarez (AEP Student)
Director: Bismark Martinez
Photograph Director: Nicolas Abaunza
Production designer: Grace González
Sound Engineer: Stephan Pillon.
Script: Jhon Matamoros

Business and ManagementWorld View

Business Challenges and Implications of the English Learning Curve in Central America

By Research Committee, Keiser International Language Institute

Companies have always required human capital with a vast knowledge in diverse fields and people with a plethora of skills, but these requirements have evolved and have become more complex throughout time. These needs present a high degree of correlation with the changes in technology, globalization, economy, and easiness of access to information, which makes them highly dynamic. Nevertheless, the ability to speak English and, more importantly, be proficient in the language, is a particular skill that has gained strength throughout years and has shaped businesses and economies in a subtle yet powerful way. In Central America, the importance of the English-speaking labor force deserves particular attention due to its critical role in the countries’ development and the challenges governments face to foster this development.

Not so long ago, English proficiency meant a considerable advancement at a personal and professional level that gave individuals a significant advantage over the rest of the job seekers.. In fact, it enabled them to have access to a wider array of employment opportunities. Moreover, it allowed them to obtain better positions with higher salary ranges in their home countries and abroad. However, the effect of English has evolved and now companies in all countries where English is not the native language have steeply increased their demand for a labor force that masters the language, making it an indispensable requirement for employment. Business leaders and policymakers are aware of the fact that English has become a lingua franca in many fields and a critical factor in the growth of their companies as well as for the economic development of their countries.

Different strands of research conclude  that there exists  a direct relationship between English skills  the population has developed and the economic growth of a country (McCormick). In countries  where English proficiency has improved , the income per capita has increased as well. The great importance of English derives mainly from two aspects: information and key players. English represents access to information vital to decision-making, strategy creation, and policy making.  Two cases worth mentioning  include academic and practitioner-oriented literature,  the vast majority of which and the most relevant ones are in English. Furthermore, English grants companies and countries access to key players necessary for their development, profitability, and growth. Countries with a large number of English-speakers combined with high levels of proficiency generate more negotiations and trade besides attracting more foreign investment.

The demand for people with specific language skills in a country and the companies within it directly relate to the number of countries and people outside it that speak its mother tongue. Moreover, demand for a particular language depends on the economic relevance of the countries with which  a nation engages in negotiations and trades that speak the language in question.

These factors help explain the development of the English skills people  in Central America develop. On the one hand, historically the trade of Central American countries has taken place with one another , which reduced the need of English in these countries. On the contrary, over the last decades, Central America has expanded its borders and has been increasingly trading with the U.S. and other developed countries.  In other words, these countries are now highly dependent on developed countries, and the most direct method to bridge them is English. This has created a radical increase in the demand in Central America for a labor force that masters English.

Even though English represents such a crucial tool for companies and economies, Central American countries has been unable to leverage and fully exploit it because  their respective populations  lack a strong base of English skills; as a result,   these nations face a shortage of workers who are highly proficient in English. . In its Globalization of English Report, McKinsey & Co., and Global English state that only 13 percent of graduates from emerging economies are suitable for employment in multinational corporations, and the number one  reason is the lack of English skills (2). The English Proficiency Index 2015, a global ranking of English skills per country, serves  as a useful indicator of the consequences  that may ensue as a result of the lack of English skills in the Central American workforce. In this index, Venezuela and El Salvador rank in the Very Low Proficiency range;  Costa Rica and Panama, in Low Proficiency, while Argentina ranks in High Proficiency, which correlates to their respective economic performances. Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras do not even appear in the ranking.

The core of the current state of English skills in Central America lies in the dynamics and difficulties the education systems in  most of the countries have experienced , which has left the region with significant challenges to overcome. To begin with, historical events such as wars and political distress in the XX Century hindered the economic development of countries and hence access to quality education, especially knowledge and skills  that went against the political priorities of the time. Even though countries have been able to overcome  these issues  at different levels and have implemented policies to promote education, they still lack sound strategies for the teaching of English; they face deficiencies in primary school, and they have scarce trainers regarding quantity and qualifications. Moreover, Central American countries have been unable to integrate adequately technologies in the teaching of English, which has hindered the effectiveness and reach of efforts in education of the language.

Furthermore, this type of Central American Dark Age left significant gaps in what has become today the top management of the most prominent companies. Only a small percentage of the generation of leading managers in most countries today can speak English, and a smaller percentage has an advanced level of proficiency. This means that organizations and economies are unable to achieve higher levels of growth and investment because they lack the human resources to get involved with the key players in the world economy and business world. Digging deeper it is possible to analyze some ramifications of the problem. Top management with insufficient English skills creates tension between themselves and the emerging graduates that up to some degree are entering the labor force with a higher level of English. At the same time, it is mostly the people with relatively high income who are capable of affording (quality) education in the language, which in the end widens socioeconomic gaps.

The lack of English skills raises another red flag for Central American countries as is the adequacy of English and technical skills or specific know-how and training. English helps individuals obtain better jobs within their scope of  study. This fact poses issues whether these individuals are the best fit for these posts or if they possess the knowledge to outperform those competitors that do not speak English. Hence, this evidences a necessary tradeoff between English skills and specialized training that jeopardizes companies’ profitability and growth and the need for training that addresses both aspects.

Business leaders, policy makers, and educational institutions are confront with the difficult mission to fill the gaps and improve the education of English in the Central American region.  By doing so, they will  be able to  achieve higher levels of development and investment. They should  provide a foundation for elementary education, create effective strategies for the teaching of English that ensure the number and quality of trainers, as well as the integration of technologies. Also, stakeholders need to create training programs that prepare the labor force with the technical knowledge in specialized areas and the English skills to accompany it.  This would mean a substantial enhancement of the labor force and, therefore, the development of the private and public sectors as well as the economy of the countries in the region.

References

Education First. “EF English Proficiency Index”. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

Global English. “The Globalization of English Report: Globalization Accelerates Need for Business English Communication Skills”. 2010. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

McCormick, Christopher. “Countries with Better English Have Better Economies”. Harvard Business Review, 15 Nov. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

Business and ManagementEnglish Language Training

The Ins and Outs of Continuum Professional Development (CPD)

By James Cordonero

Were we to know what the future holds in store in our teaching careers, and were we to have foreseen all the challenges that lay ahead, there would be no need for in-service training in today’s world. This gap is where continuum professional development comes to provide instructors with opportunities to keep abreast of new and emerging trends in teaching practices and theories.

In Nicaragua, opportunities for career competency growth may not be as ubiquitous as in developed nations, but some educational institutions strive to offer workshops and other types of related meetings as part of the professional development experience, which is praiseworthy considering the many budget constraints that many schools face. Nevertheless, there is research evidence suggesting that “teacher development has moved beyond simple in-service workshops and has expanded into a more robust system of continuing education” (Quattlebaum, 2012). This trend in teachers’ competencies development is gaining new ground and having an impact on the quality standards of education worldwide.

The OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, defines professional development as a series of “activities that develop an individual’s skills, knowledge, expertise and other characteristics as a teacher” (2009). According to Hassel (1999), professional development is “the process of improving staff skills, and competencies needed to produce outstanding academic results for students” In other words, this new approach to teachers’ training proves essential in meeting today’s educational demands. But what clear goals can continuous professional advancement serve beyond pre-service training? The OECD establishes the following:

• to update individuals’ knowledge of a subject in light of recent advances in the area;
• to update individuals’ skills, attitudes and approaches in light of the development of current teaching techniques and objectives, modern circumstances and new educational research;
• to enable individuals to apply changes made to curricula or other aspects of teaching practice;
• to allow schools to develop and implement innovative strategies concerning the curriculum and other aspects of teaching practice;
• to exchange information and expertise among teachers and others, e.g. academics, industrialists; and
• to help weaker teachers become more effective in their practice

For professional development to be effective, it has to be ongoing and in-depth, include practice and feedback, and provide adequate time and follow-up support. It should not be brief and shallow as it currently happens with some of the single training sessions most instructors receive.

Since a great deal of effort in specialized training and development has been diluted in the elusive pursuit of achieving higher standards of education in many developing countries, some scholars have argued that the term “professional development” is a misnomer and that we should be thinking about “professional learning” instead. The former, meaning that teachers passively acquire knowledge intended to “influence their practice”, while the latter denotes “an internal process in which teachers create expert knowledge through interaction with colleagues and other educators in a way, that challenges previous assumptions and creates new meanings.” Hence, professional learning is what will enable instructors to overcome deeply rooted problems that call for “transformative rather than additive change to teaching practice” (Timperly, 2011).

Thus, if we want to achieve qualitative changes in our educational system, “professional learning” is what we should be aiming for. To achieve such a goal and to reach higher standards, radical changes must also take place in the scale and quality of development opportunities available to teachers. High-quality professional learning for teachers should not be the exception but the rule. Teaching should be a learning profession where schools or institutions should provide plenty of opportunities to keep their academic knowledge and practice fully up-to-date.

We are at the dawn of new era, witnessing the start of a culture change in the English teaching profession. Professional development or learning, for that matter, may not be the panacea that will solve all the pedagogical issues that arise in our respective classroom settings, but certainly it is a step in the right direction, and instructors should grasp with both hands every opportunity for professional growth whenever it comes their way.

References

Hassel, E. (1999). Professional development: Learning from the best. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL).

Quattlebaum, S. (2012). Why professional development for teachers is critical. The Evolution.New Jersey Public Schools. Retrieved from http://www.evolllution.com/opinions/why-professional-development-for-teachers-is-critical/Sheppard, B. & Dibb

OECD. (2009). Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.

Timperley, H. (2011). Realizing the Power of Professional Learning. New York, NY: Open University Press.

World View

Lessons for Educators: Which Countries are Miles ahead in CPD?

Adapted and condensed by James Cordonero

There is a growing number of teachers in different subjects trying to hone their pedagogical skills, and those who want to go the extra mile turn their eyes to other countries to find ideas about continuous professional development (CPD).

According to David Weston, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust, we should keep track of what is taking place abroad in terms of professional development. However, he further states, “It takes a number of different levers to change what’s happening in a large complicated system, but professional development is going to be an important one.”

Bearing that in mind, the following is but a small sample of the world’s education success stories:

Languages: Malta and Sweden
The route to success in language teaching lies in a complex multitude of factors, from the curriculum to the culture and geography of a country. But, despite the caveats, teachers can still take ideas and inspiration from abroad.

In 2011, the European Survey on Language Competences highlighted Malta and Sweden as leaders in pupils’ foreign language achievements. The reason is simple: they speak the languages at home. In both countries, English is spoken by nearly 90% of the population and the media is in both native and foreign languages.

Nevertheless, it’s not all about home-schooling: effective teaching supports the multilingual culture. In Malta, for instance, language teachers report high levels of funding and, for pupils, it’s given prominence in the curriculum. Students’ attitudes may also make a difference to learning approaches: in Malta and Sweden, students say they find learning English easy – an attitude not found in other countries.

It is almost impossible to replicate the same level of language immersion that students in Sweden and Malta experience, but the techniques have nevertheless begun to emerge in the some countries such as the UK. In Bohunt School in Hampshire, for example, each new year a group is assigned a language, be it French, Spanish or Chinese. Then, lessons in ICT (Information and Communications Technology), art, PE, social studies and after-school activities are taught in that language.

Teacher’s professional development: Japan
Japan has become a notable case study for CPD, with a system that was a well-kept secret for decades. The Lesson Study scheme originated in the nineteenth century, and provides a structured program for peer-to-peer development.

Collaborating with a group of teachers, a lesson is planned, observed and analyzed. Together, the teachers learn from each other, and share insights into their pedagogy. The result is a more open and public forum for education, where there may be as many teachers as children in a classroom.

Critics say it creates an unnatural environment in schools, but the Japanese system has already been adopted by teachers across Asia and is quickly finding its feet in Europe.

Furthermore, the Lesson Study model has itself become internationally collaborative, as the system evolves in unique ways in each new country. Japan’s most important lesson is the importance of collaboration in professional development.

Maths: Singapore
Along with other East Asian countries, Singapore has been hailed for its innovative maths education, producing world-class results.

In Singapore, learning times tables parrot fashion is frowned upon. Children are encouraged to develop core maths skills in creative, noisy classrooms, using props and diagrams to explain abstract concepts. The system, which was developed in the 1980s, couldn’t be more different from the traditional approach used in other countries where students s are still encouraged to do rote-learning without making sense out of how time tables work.

Singapore’s success has caught the attention of schools in the USA, where some have adopted the system and it has enjoyed rave reviews. As always though, teachers’ pedagogy is only part of the equation. A recent study, which highlighted Singapore’s success, also claimed: “An early start is crucial in shaping children’s numeracy skills.”

Social and emotional learning: Sweden and USA
A British scholar recently explored classrooms in the US and Sweden to find out how they approached social and emotional learning.

“The classrooms are full of mood meters and feelings charts as well as quiet areas that pupils can go to think, problem solve, reflect and resolve disputes using clearly-defined steps,” she writes about the US. “At the heart of the American school day is the importance of patriotism, national pride and the American flag.”

Although the approach stems from classroom culture, schools also use more formal frameworks to develop emotional learning, such as the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program (RCCP). At the heart of the scheme is strong CPD, with a focus on teacher training and classroom management.

It’s a far cry from the freedom and autonomy found in Swedish schools. There, social and emotional learning is tied up with an emphasis on self-motivation. Pupils are encouraged to think independently, and have individualized guidance from teachers.

Source:
The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/oct/10/lessons-educators-countries-ahead-cpd

Learning and Skills Development

Improving Fluency in English through a Collaborative Video-making Project

By Xiomara Valverde
(Translated and condensed by James Cordonero)

Learning English in a non-English speaking country poses a serious challenge for learners. Fluency and pronunciation require special practice so that students can develop both skills.

One of the main objectives of this paper is to assess the effectiveness that video production has as a learning strategy to develop fluency and pronunciation in English.

In this research study, implementing a cooperative learning project based on methodological tools to create video clips proved to be an innovative and effective learning technique as it contributed to enhancing students’ fluency and pronunciation in the target language.

1. Video production and language learning
The production of videos is one of the proposed activities included in the project. In order to produce a video, students have to work cooperatively. Both techniques are intended to improve fluency and pronunciation. A previous research study showed that the same type of project turned out to be effective.

Masats, Dooly, and Costa (2009:000346) assume that, “… video making is a learning tool because it engages students in a cooperative project in which they need to take individual responsibilities to fulfil core tasks. Similarly, it is an excellent opportunity for integrating all students in the class project.”

There are many reports about projects based on movie-making tasks  aimed at learning English, improving fluency and pronunciation as well as different oral communication skills (Carkin2004; Hardison and Sonchaeng 2005: cited in: Carney and Foss, 2008). Some of the techniques used in teaching pronunciation include the use of video and audio recordings as a means of self-monitoring (Rajadurai; sf: 2).

Another important aspect worth mentioning is that using videos helps students to correct their own grammar and pronunciation mistakes by comparing the previous recordings with the latest versions (Hirata, SF). According to McNulty y Lazarevic(sf), video-making projects can contribute to enhancing students’ pronunciation. In another research study undertaken by Ortiz (Ortiz, et al., 2012; cited in: McNulty and Lazarevic), a video-based project was used to improve fluency and pronunciation among students of foreign languages.

2. Materials and Methods
This project was carried out on the university campus located in Jinotepe, Carazo. The participants involved in the project were the undergraduate English majors in their junior year, who used the language lab as their classroom. These students attend classes just on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; however, they only study English as a foreign language from 8:00 a.m. to 12:25 p-m. The level of proficiency they have reached, according to the European Framework, is B2. Their ages range from 18 to 30 years old. The rest of the participants included the following: senior students from the TEFL undergraduate degree program, instructors as well as some students from other degree programs such as systems engineering, and tourism.

Based on empirical knowledge, the students were sampled according to the following criteria: a weak student with problems in pronunciation and fluency, an intermediate level student and an advanced one (see tables below).

The instructor (researcher) used the language laboratory to gather most of the information such as recordings and some class videos, which were all shot on the campus premises. The video clips featured the description of the place and the different degree programs offered by the university. After recording the video clips, the students had class sessions where they analyzed the contents, corrected mistakes and, whenever necessary, recorded again. This process took place several times until the video clips were significantly improved.

The researcher implemented the comparative method, which is a technique used to compare data as many as times as necessary in order to determine whether or not the students improved their fluency and pronunciation. The early audio and video recordings were compared to the latest versions to identify mistakes and difficulties that the students faced during the video-making process as well as to gauge their progress throughout the different video recordings.

3. Conclusions
The following conclusions can be drawn from this study.  The academic progress of individual students who participated in this study is shown in the tables below.
Student #1 (weak)

Criteria Audio Recording Video 1-2 Final Video
Fluency Good Very good Excellent
Pronunciation Good Very good Very good

Student #2 (Intermediate)

Criteria Audio Recording Video 1-2 Final Video
Fluency Good Excellent Excellent
Pronunciation Needs improvement Excellent Excellent

Student #3 (Advanced)

Criteria Audio Recording Video 1-2 Final Video
Fluency Very Good Excellent Excellent
Pronunciation Excellent Excellent Excellent

This study was carried out taking into consideration opinions of well-known researchers who claim that the making of a collaborative video helps students to improve both their fluency and pronunciation.

Considering these ideas and analyzing the results of the use of collaborative videos, we conclude the following:

  • The use of collaborative videos aimed at improving fluency and pronunciation is highly effective.  During the process and the making of different videos, the instructor was able to observe the students working in teams, practicing many times, and helping one another.  Cooperative and collaborative approaches were applied to reach the learning objectives.
  • It is very productive to ask students to work on a collaborative video since it helps them to improve their fluency and pronunciation. According to the results of this study, two out of three of the participants created a video as a learning tool, and their performance improved considerably. One of the students became more fluent and had better pronunciation, and the other one improved his intonation.
  • This study demonstrates that the use of videos was very effective to improve a beginner’s and an intermediate student’s English pronunciation and fluency. However, it is not productive for an advanced student as at this level, the student is fluent enough.
  • This research poses that both approaches can be used to improve fluency and pronunciation. Some researchers such as Celce Murcia, Brinton, & Goodwin (2007) reaffirm this fact and suggest that by having students work in groups of three they can easily provide feedback to one another.
  • There is another researcher who puts forward the same idea: one of the features of the project-based learning is to develop the communicative activities in pairs or in groups so as to give students the chance to use the target language and develop fluency (Richards, 2006).
  • It is very productive to use a video as a learning tool if it is intended to improve fluency and pronunciation. The students who participated in this video project improved their fluency and pronunciation, especially those who had a low proficiency level.
  • It is worth- mentioning that this project provided a great opportunity for students to watch the video, analyze the mistakes made during the rehearsals, and then correct them. The students made different videos before presenting them. Because of this repetitive process, the students improved both their fluency and pronunciation.

References
Carney, N., & Foss, P. (2008). Student-produced video: Two approaches. English Teaching Forum, 14-19.

Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D. M., & Goodwin, J. M. (2007). Teaching pronunciation A reference for teachers of English to speakers of other languages. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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