An Electronic Magazine by Omar Villarreal and Marina Kirac ©


Year 6                Number 150                July 4th 2005

8597 SHARERS are reading this issue of SHARE this week
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being SHARED




This is our issue 150 and we thought that little tiny bit of beating our own drum would not do anyone any harm.  

We are very happy to have reached this stage (as far as we know, unprecedented in the history of ELT electronic publications and lists in our country) and (why not admitting it?) very proud of the number of SHARERS that issue after issue accompany us in this common enterprise of professional development.

We are 8597 SHARERS today and we know that means a lot to many people but incredibly much more to both of us.

But probably our real achievement is the warmth, the comradeship and the recognition of our readers. As a token of all those good vibes that we get from our readers, we wanted to reproduce this message from our dear SHARER, Susan Hillyard:   


Dear Omar,

    I've just had time to sit and read your SHARE in tranquillity and silence...

    I just wanted to congratulate you both for the good work you are doing and how you think of everything and include a variety of quality stuff. There's so much going on that it must be hard to take it all in and do a reasonable sift.


    Well done and know that we appreciate this contribution to an otherwise very exciting but disjointed ELT world.


    Susan H

Susan Hillyard B.Ed

Omar and Marina


Our publication is externally administered by Yahoo! and the number of subscribers on our mailing list is certified by Yahoo! as well.

Please see



In SHARE 150


1.-    Students´Attitudes Towards Using the Mother Tongue in ELT.

2.-    Materials Design and “The Meaning of Life”.

3.-    Learner Autonomy: Just a Buzz Word?

4.-    The SBS Winter Course.

5.-    British Council Funding for Testing Projects.

6.-    David Nunan in Argentina.

7.-    Seminar on NLP in Rio Negro.

8.-    News from “On the Road”.

9.-    Primeras Jornadas Nacionales en Didácticas Específicas.

10.-   Course on Aspects of Language.

11.-   Certificado de Español como Lengua Extranjera.

12.-   XV Jornadas: El Juego Aplicado.





Our dear SHARER Fernanda Devall has sent us this article to SHARE with all of you.


From mother tongue to other tongue

Luke Prodromou

British Council, Greece


The issue of whether or not to use the mother-tongue (L1) in the English language (L2) classroom is complex. This article presents the results of a survey into student attitudes towards the use of L1 in class and some suggestions for using the L1 and its culture as a learning resource.



Reinstating the mother tongue


In Teaching Monolingual Classes (1993). Atkinson suggests 'a careful, limited use of L1' to help students get the maximum benefit from activities which in other respects will be carried out in the target language. The mother tongue may be useful in the procedural stages of a class, for example:-

       setting up pair and group work

       sorting out an activity which is clearly not working

       checking comprehension

Beyond these basically managerial functions of L1, Atkinson also suggests using the L1 for translation as a teaching technique.

From my research with teachers, the overall rationale for this procedural use of L1 is that it is necessary to keep the lesson from slowing down or because things just can't be done any other way.


What about the learners?


But do the learners agree with such uses?

A questionnaire was addressed to 300 Greek students at three levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The students were, for the most part, adolescents or young adults. They were asked general questions to elicit their view on whether the teacher should know and, in principle, use the students' mother tongue.


Survey result summary


65% of students at beginner level and about 50% of students at intermediate and advanced level believe the teacher should know the students' mother tongue.

Should teachers USE the mother tongue in class? Here, the figures for beginners and intermediate are quite high (66% and 58% respectively) but only a minority of advanced learners (29%) find the use of L1 in the classroom acceptable.

The greatest differences arise when students are asked to approve particular uses of L1 in the classroom. Overall, the higher the level of the student, the less they agree to the use of the mother-tongue in the classroom. For example, with regard to the use of L1 to explain grammar, beginners are significantly in favour (31%) and intermediate and advanced are almost unanimously against (7% and 0%).


1.      Explaining differences in use between L1 and L2 rules

It seems that roughly 1 in 3 beginners and 1 in 5 intermediate/advanced students find using the L1 for 'contrastive discourse' acceptable.


2.      Asking for vocabulary

'How do we say ( L1 word) in English ? ' The intermediate learner feels most strongly the usefulness of asking for the English equivalent of a mother-tongue word (38%).

In all other instances of L1 use in the classroom, most students of intermediate and advanced levels feel they should be hearing and using English. This feeling includes 'procedural' or managerial uses of the target language: giving instructions; checking listening and reading. The conclusion is that procedural language in the classroom is too good an opportunity to expose students to natural English to waste on the mother-tongue. This contrasts very strongly with the view of Atkinson given above.

On the other hand, the general scepticism towards L1 in the ELT classroom shown by these particular students does not mean there is no place for the L1 at all. I will go on in the next section to illustrate a range of techniques for using the L1 to promote both learning and acquisition.


Beyond monolingualism


In response to the survey and in the light of my own feelings that the L1 language and culture are a valuable resource, I now make some suggestions for activities which use L1 in some way. I assume mono-lingual classes.


1.      Awareness-raising activities

A questionnaire such as the one I used opens up the debate concerning the use of L1 and so may help deal with some of the students' scepticism.


2.      Contrasting L1 and L2

Useful areas for study in this way are collocations, proverbs and idioms. Comparing verb-noun collocations across the two languages helps students understand how L1 interference can often give them problems. Comparing proverbs gives an insight into cultural as well as linguistic differences.


3.      Research in L1, Presentation in L2

For example, following textbook work on famous English writers, I asked the students to research famous people from their country (using L1 and L2) and to make a presentation in a later class, in L2. An alternative is a local history project, in which grandparents are interviewed in the L1, and a report is made in L2.

In these examples, the foreign language is a medium through which the students explore their own culture, using the mother-tongue as a bridge towards English. The English language can help you learn things about your own community.




In general, students seem sceptical about the use of L1 in the classroom, particularly at higher levels. However, the bilingual / bicultural teachers are in a position to enrich the process of learning by using the mother tongue as a resource, and then, by using the L1 culture, they can facilitate the progress of their students towards the other tongue, the other culture.




Atkinson, D. 1987. 'The mother-tongue in the classroom : a neglected resource ?' (ELT Journal, 44/1 : 3-10)

Atkinson, D. 1993. Teaching Monolingual Classes (Longman)

Baynham, M. 1983. 'Mother Tongue Materials and Second Language Literacy' (ELT Journal, 37/4 : 312-318)

Brumfit, C. 1980. Problems and principles in English Teaching. (Pergamon)

Duff. A. 1989. Translation (Oxford University Press)

Kramsch, C. 1993. Context and Culture in Language Teaching (Oxford University Press)

Kramsch, C. 1998. Culture (Oxford University Press)

Krashen, S. 1988. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning (Prentice Hall)

Medgyes, P. 1994. The Non-Native Teacher ( Macmillan)

Phillipson, R. 1992. Linguistic Imperialism (Oxford University Press)

Richards, J.C. and T. S. Rogers. 1986. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. (Cambridge University Press)

Widdowson, H 1996. 'Comment : authenticity and autonomy' E L T Journal, 50/1: 67-68))


Survey results in full


Survey : 300 students

The figures refer to percentage (%) responses by students at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels



1: Should the teacher know the students' mother-tongue?





2: Should the teacher use the students' mother-tongue?





3: Should the students use their mother-tongue?





It is useful if the teacher uses L1 when:





4: explaining new words





5: explaining grammar





6: explaining differences between L1 and L2 grammar





7: explaining differences in the use of L1 and L2 rules





8: giving instructions





Students should be allowed to use L1 when :





9: talking in pairs and groups





10: asking how do we say '..' in English ?





1: translating an L2 word into L1 to show they understand it





12: translating a text from L2 to L1 to show they understand it





13: translating as a test





The teacher and students can use L1 to:





14: check listening comprehension





15: check reading comprehension





16: discuss the methods used in class






©  by Luke Prodromou






Our dear SHARER Paul Barry has generously sent us this contribution:


"To Be or Not to Be – ELT and the Meaning of Life"

Reflections on a personal and a national socio-political context of change


Paul N. Barry, Independent TEFL Consultant, Panama



"Teaching the verb 'to be' ad infinitum (and the students never could learn it) was not the way to be, nor the key to an enjoyable learning-teaching experience.  Without in-service training support, suitable materials or a relevant study programme, English was the bogeyman of the school curriculum and we were its unwitting creators and perpetuators."  Nine years on, over 4500 state school teachers responsible for over half a million students enjoy a daily activity focussed more on the meaning of life and less on the inherently meaningless form of a language.  This presentation focuses on aspects of materials design and meaningful and successful learning experiences within the broader framework of an integrated English language curriculum development project.


Session Content:



This is not intended to be so much an academic paper on foreign language learning and materials design and development, as a reflection from a foreign language practitioner’s point of view on a recent extended experience of national curriculum reform in the public sector in Latin America, one in which materials development and design played a key but not exclusive role (and one in which the British Government’s Overseas Development Administration with line management from the British Council played a leading role, alongside the government of Ecuador). It was considered important at the time to give the public sector of education an opportunity to improve learner competence in a key element for socio-economic development, that is to say, English, a tool for communication and development.


This is also personal, as reflections tend to be, at the same time as it aims to describe a national sociopolitical context of change. It aims to demonstrate how ‘being’ and ‘learning to be’ can be possible in a foreign language classroom for students and teachers, even in some of the most difficult conditions, and proposes that this may be an important key to motivation and success. In order to achieve educational objectives as well as language learning ones, an integration with the national context of the education curriculum and the wider concerns of the nation and the international community has to be achieved, as well as an approach to language use which is transparent and enables easily achieved access to meaningful content. Finally it aims to interest you in projects in quality improvement in foreign language education, such as the CRADLE Project in Ecuador.


I       The starting point


First of all, I should address the question of the title for the paper. While it may appear rather pretentious, it is important to know that it grew from an ongoing play on meaning and ideas. The play on ideas arose like this ... Curiously one of the best known lines of Shakespeare in the country that I was working in appears to be this line from Hamlet, and it seemed to my local colleagues to sum up what was going on in EFL classrooms in the country. For this reason my colleagues would challenge themselves and me as we went to observe classes at the start of the project with the question, ‘To be or not to be?’ in the near certainty that we would see yet another class on the theme of the intricate grammar of the verb to be. (Or another standard lesson on sentence transformation along these lines. Teacher: “Cambie estas oraciones al negativo.” Student: “Profe ... ÀQue quiere decir el nœmero tres? Prof (irritated): “!No importa lo que quiere decir. !C‡mbielo al negativo!” Or perhaps another, rarer one called communicative activities, along these lines. Teacher: “Put your desks in a horseshoe. (General confusion as 40 plus student crash metal desks together while they pile them into heaps around the classroom walls.) Teacher: Now listen. ‘My name is Mario. What is my name?’”. ) ...



We observed a remarkably similar and widespread series of classes on the subject of the negative, interrogative and positive statement forms of the verb ‘to be’ and noted at the same time that student and teacher motivation was really quite low. The process certainly did not fully satisfy the desire to learn and to teach effectively, nor did this approach reach the parts that other methods did not ... unless one could count the depths of despair and anti-motivation. No one, I must emphasize,  was really to blame and, of course, much more happened in observation than I report here, but the system was clearly caught in a vicious circle. Radical action was needed to break the circle.


So what was so amusing about this? Nothing really, except that some kind of humour was needed in the face of the difficulty of the situation. Making a change was going to be difficult technically, administratively and politically and some kind of in-house jest was needed.  At the same time there was more than a little irony in the situation, since although most time was spent teaching the verb to be, little success was achieved and worse still, very  little ‘being’ or ‘learning to be’ took place in the English classroom. Nothing of interested was communicated or learned in the process of the average EFL class. The full irony of this was only apparent at a later date when change started to happen, but on reflection, it IS very ironic that language which exists for communication should have be reduced in teaching it to a question of a content based on grammar form, when it could and probably should have had a real world content full of meaning and message, interesting information, feeling and thought. 


The first action of the project team (all Ecuadorian apart from one British adviser) in the face of these classes observed was to ask large groups of teachers in different regions what was going on in their professional lives and what difficulties they faced. Their responses were typically as in the following sample, and formed the basis for developing the project’s specific objective framework. In other words, teachers (and to a lesser degree students through classroom observation and interviews) provided  major input into defining the agenda for change.


Public school EFL teachers’ perspectives on problems faced


1. No in-service training; no contact with the Ministry of Education during our entire, professional career (e.g. 20 years).

2. Methodology is old-fashioned.

3. The university pre-service course does not prepare English teachers adequately.

4. There are no teaching aids available.

5. There are no specialized classrooms for English.

6. 40-50 students in each class is too many to teach properly.

7. Insufficient class time: 2 - 3 lessons per week.

8. Students do not have contact with native speakers and are afraid of speaking English.

9. Books and other materials are too expensive.

10. There are no specialized English teachers in Primary School.

11. The study programme leads to old-fashioned methodology; even when recently updated, it is grammatical, not communicative in orientation.

12. There is a lack of textbooks appropriate to the socio-economic and pedagogical context.

13. Students are poor; they suffer from poor nutrition in some cases and have no resources or support at home.

14. There is a vicious circle in operation; the system needs to change in order to permit teachers to change.

15. The programme needs clear and relevant goals; these should focus on developing communicative skills.

16. The programme does not reflect the psychological development of the students.

17. There is too much content in the study programme.

18. There is anarchy in the system in terms of materials and methods used.

19. The students’ background in Spanish is poor; often they cannot read and write their mother tongue well.

20. There is a lack of a clear English language policy for Primary and Secondary.


What happened next is history but what is interesting in the above introspection is how honest the teachers managed to be and how much they felt a strong ownership for the change process, after being consulted from the outset. And, of course, what they said about materials and methods.


They described a situation of extreme tension between teachers and students provoked by the official programme, the teachers’ personal lack of preparation, the difficult classroom conditions and the teaching materials available - “inappropriate to the socio-economic and pedagogical context” ... “too expensive”. Something of this situation can be seen in the figure below which tries to capture the sense of stress and tension in the situation.  One can appreciate the different directions that the many different elements wanted to move in, which other forces moved them in contrary ones. In the curriculum process, there was clearly no harmony.



In 1992, this was one starting point, i.e., the technical or professional  aspect of the teaching of EFL in the classrooms of the public and perhaps the private sector. In addition to these elements, the lack of any shared criteria for standards of achievement and the uneven quality of the product of the pre-service teacher education systems were also major factors affecting quality and harmony


Another starting point was Ecuador, a country seeking to grow and develop through greater contact with an outside world that uses English to do business, to develop science and technology etc. ... a country facing serious problems in terms of its internal coherence and economic viability ... in terms of the strength of its institutions and governability ... and one in which an education curriculum reform movement was in progress.


Could a curriculum development in English contribute to the achievement of national objectives, support the national education curriculum development and, at the same time, improve the quality of learning and teaching of English?


II Six experiences of language acquisition, language education and language in education


Before entering into the detail of how the process of the project developed, I would like to share my current understanding of my own experiences over the past forty years in first and foreign language learning and acquisition with you, partly as I am sure that they will strike chords with many of you, partly because they explain how we arrived at the conclusions that we did in terms of materials design in the project and partly because through them I want you to understand that I am a very average foreign language learner and, as a result, feel not only  great sympathy for people trying to pick something up of a foreign language in difficult learning conditions but also a strong desire to find ways to make things a little better and the learner’s experiences somewhat more rewarding.


Experience 1 I have called ‘Communicative competence without clause analysis & foreign language incompetence with many tears’. In other words I had a language-rich lower-middle class home experience and as a result was good at and enjoyed my mother tongue, in a fairly standard form, except for a fortunately short and rather tragic encounter with something horrible called ‘clause analysis’. At the same time I was fairly useless at French and only learned because my father sent me to absorb it at an early age in holidays in a French family. A remarkable educational experience outside school, I  promise you, and not just for the language, but more for the adventure and cultural differences that I experienced. Grammar translation for French and for Latin may have helped but my communicative competence in French was zero when I arrived in St. Malo at the age of 11 after two years of school French and Latin. A disaster! How the French laughed at me and how I hated my inability to express the simplest idea, such as ‘I really don’t know much French’, even though that was really obvious after two minutes in France with my French family!!!


As a university student and as a teacher of English as a first language within the Primary curriculum, the focus of the English class was educational content, i.e.,   in this case, personal growth. I call this second stage ‘Mother tongue focus on access to enrichment’ Through English language and literature classes one could consider matters which would help one’s understanding of the world, leading to self-fulfillment in some rather mysterious way. English could be a tool for self-expression and personal growth. Teaching creative writing as part of the English programme to inner city Primary children in London demonstrated how powerful this tool could be in terms of education. My own first degree university studies were exclusively focussed on literature, i.e. I had the opportunity to learn to appreciate what great language artists, such as Shakespeare could tell me about the human condition and learn to understand the skill with which they expressed their understanding in language. Although I was not a very good literary critic I enjoyed this kind of life quality focussed activity, and with American and philosophy students especially discussed, without finding many answers, matters relating to the meaning of life, as Hamlet does in his soliloquy.


In the third distinct stage in my metamorphosis's, I ran into what I call ‘Language as form’ i.e. this stage marked the beginning of my career in EFL in which the focus of instruction was on grammatical structure, about which I necessarily had to inform myself rapidly so that I could pass on helpful rules ... such as ‘the present simple is used for a habitual action’ (and several other things too) and should not be confused with the present continuous, even though all the textbooks did their best to mix them up by teaching them side by side and failing to represent their relative frequency in any useful sort of way. The present continuous, on the other hand, ‘is used for an action that is happening now’. But how did this square up with ‘I live in Armenia. “, I often wondered? How was it that I could use the language but did not know anything useful about it? Focus on form with the content of the message or communication in the background, as really incidental or of minor importance, was not convincing language teaching to me. All the interesting part of class had to take part in extracurricular activities with school pupils or in the coffee bar with university students. A typical classroom activity of the time, learning dialogues by heart, had little long-term effect, though it had novelty value at the time. I wish I could not still remember the following dialogue,  designed to carry to verb to be in three sentence types or constructions, as there is, probably, a better use to which I could put that portion of my memory.


A: Excuse me. Is this your umbrella?

B: Pardon!

A: Is this your umbrella?

B: No, it isn’t

A: Oh, sorry.


A: Excuse me. Is this your umbrella?

C: Yes, it is. Thank you!


The method proved ineffective because the dialogue sized chunk of language was too large and too situation ally bound to be useful linguistic data, I believe. Additionally, the alien sociocultural nature of the content left students cold. They cooperated politely but remained uninvolved in the communication that they dutifully learned by heart.


The fourth stage in the metamorphosis can be called “Language as communication” in which, despite my early relief and enthusiasm for a change for the good, I detected a limited regard for the content of the communication or the nature of language as communication. In many course books structures were replaced by micro functions  and underneath the old sequence of verb tenses was being cranked out. A real change in quality was slow in coming and was linked closely to the growth in interest in learning as opposed to language. Clearly the two have to combine but the failure to use insights from psycholinguistics or the psychology of learning was noteworthy. Cognitive psychology with interesting branches such as constructivism and multiple intelligences date from the 1960s and 1970s and yet the implications took and have taken a long time to filter through into EFL. Was this because of commercial pressure in publishing or inertia in the professional field? Krashen talked endlessly about ‘the need for comprehensible input’ and ‘affective filters having to be lowered’ but this was not really new ... and anyway who really took him seriously. What mattered most was giving teachers what they wanted, if you were a commercial publisher, although teachers admitted freely that they did not really know what that was, and ended up with a rather unsatisfactory diet of teaching materials marketed often on the strength of the layout and design and novelty features, rather than the inherent strength and value of their pedagogical approach.


A fifth stage can be called ‘Language as a tool for learning’ and allowed an exploration of meaningful content, which proved to be an important goal in terms of motivating communication.  For me this started in EFL, in 1987 in another project which was school curriculum based but this change obviously had links with my earlier experiences in learning and teaching English as a first language. There the talk (in 1972) had been in Primary education of subject integration in ‘the integrated day’ and ‘project work’  and ‘language across the curriculum’. Trying to relate real world content in the EFL programme with other curricular areas and with the ‘horizontal strands’ of curriculum has been challenging and rewarding and is a theme that I will return to later.


In the final stage, a small step from the fifth one, it is understood that education takes place through language. It can be called ‘education + language = synergy’. Here they are complementary and together are both more effective. Education provides content for language. Language is best learned when there is a content of communication to attend to, a meaningful experience. On the other hand, language enables education to proceed. It is a symbiotic relationship, I believe, in which each supports the other and enriches the other’s existence. One is not a servant of the other, though if there is a hierarchy, I would still freely admit that language is a tool, a means to an end ... and not an and in itself for most people. This sixth stage is where I find myself as this important conference unfolds. Will it mark a watershed, I wonder, for me as the British Council Paipa Conference did for ESP in 1976?


In conclusion, it is clear that this has not been a fully circular series of experiences for me up to now, but it displays a strong tendency towards the use of language as an integrated part of life and growth, as a source of enrichment and not as a sterile, mechanical activity.  This was in fact the starting point in my professional career, as you will have noted. My orientation today, then is much more as it was in the mother tongue acquisition and learning context and definitely not back to grammar and translation as a staple diet, or grammar structure and vocabulary as the central focus of the learning activity.


I feel that my early move away from literature and creative writing goals was a necessary adjustment because of the constraints of the foreign language learning context but probably the adjustments were far too radical. Reading ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Macbeth’ in class and producing, with a colleague, the Tom Stoppard comedy ‘Rosencranz and Guilderstern are dead’ in 1975 in the Teatro Popular de Bogota with a cast of non-native speaker sixth formers from school were delightful experiences that unfortunately could not be repeated with learners who were struggling to get beyond a beginners level. in public sector education.


Mother tongue teaching clearly had much to offer foreign language curriculum development. Reinventing and modifying the wheel was also necessary. The time taken was well spent in that it allowed for questioning of accepted doctrine and growth through varied and shared experiences. One further clear factor in the metamorphosis has been the swing back towards the learner as the centre of the activity, a cognitive psychology influenced focus, and away from mechanizing the learning process in promoted in behaviourist learning approaches.



III Reflections of tendencies in curriculum development: views of language and views of learning - opposed views and overlapping and complementary ones


In a form inviting reflection, here are some of the poles of foreign language curriculum shifts over the past thirty or so years. They clearly can be related to the chain of experiences that I have outlined in the previous section. While some are general curriculum considerations, others are more applicable to the specialist EFL field.


integrated education focus   ----           compartmentalized

(e.g. subjects and experiences)                     (e.g. subjects and experiences)



skills-focussed                        ----          encyclopedic

(knowing how to)                                     (knowing what)



learner-focussed              ----          language form focussed

(who and how)                                (what)



meaningful content           ----          trivial content



humanizing                    ----         dehumanizing



IV     To be or not to be that is the question ... ELT and the meaning of life


Perhaps our mission or role is to teach students efficiently, effectively and efficaciously ... to establish maintain and improve the standards of achievement in learning... but we need to decide of what, why  and how.


Who was learning English in Ecuador, for what reasons, and in what conditions needed to be addressed then,  at the start of the CRADLE Project and needs to be addressed carefully in Colombia by materials developers and curriculum specialists now.  Is one book the answer for the whole subcontinent, or do local needs deserve closer attention in order to ensure more real or al least realistic communication?


To give one small example, if one is going to be part of the national curriculum process and the school plan approach in Colombia many special local factors have to be taken into account, or else there will probably be continue to be plenty of superficial trial content and consequently very little real engagement by students and teachers. In Ecuador, the current cross-curricular strands include the following:






Education for Sexuality and Love

Population Education

Preventative Education  (Drug Abuse)

Education for Democracy

Human Rights Education

Consumer Rights Education

Traffic Education

Taxation Education


These should, perhaps, be represented in EFL materials produced for the context, according to curriculum guidelines, in addition to being in many cases interesting and meaningful content for language classes, an important opportunity for teachers to be educators and not teachers of dubious ‘rules’ about form and function, or pseudocommunication about trivial matters.


If we can sort this issue out, then we may be close to fulfilling our role and may be closer to accomplishing our life mission, i.e. that of providing a real communicative need and interest for students in the classroom.


Will we then have found the meaning of life? Shall we be fulfilled, and our students too, able then to rest peacefully for a moment at least in our hammocks of contentment and/or to face new challenges with a clearer conscience?


Another way of looking at all this is that we are responsible for organizing effective learning situations for our students. There is no one simple answer to how to do this. Consider the obvious truth that in any one group no two people experience the same thing consistently in the same way.  Forty or more students in a group cannot help but do things in different ways in their minds, no matter what we do to try to make them learn and behave in the same way at the same time. The much laboured PPP model clearly fails to account for this fact of life.


However, within an integrated foreign language curriculum development project some new positive learning conditions can be created, whether they are at the level of an institution  in Bogot‡, or at the level of a nation. This has been the case in Ecuador with the CRADLE project.


V      The integrated curriculum


“Without in-service training support, suitable materials or a relevant study programme, English was the bogeyman of the school curriculum and we were its unwitting creators and perpetuators.”


Nine years on, in the year 2000, over 5000 state and private school teachers of English in Ecuador, responsible for over three quarters of a million students can enjoy a daily activity focussed more on the meaning of life and less on the inherently meaningless form of a language.


The elements of curriculum which were taken into consideration in the CRADLE Project design, after extensive research in the regions of the country, were as follows:


(i) - the study plan and programme

(ii) - the systems for teacher training and professional development

(iii) - the materials for learning & teaching

(iv) - the systems and tools used for assessment of learning

(v) - the system of pre-service language teacher education


Additionally, (vi) the elements of infrastructure required to secure activities over a long period of development were given much attention, together with (vii) mechanisms for ongoing evaluation of the process of change.


These elements and something of their interrelations can be seen in the following diagram. Their integration in the process of the development of the curriculum was essential to the success of the change process.


VI     Materials design


Features of materials design for the low-cost series "Our World Through English' developed to meet the specific needs of the Ecuadorian EFL learning context included those below. In another forum, each deserves considerable explanation as does how they fit together. In addition, it is important to note that there is much that remains unsaid in such a list.


1. The decision to develop materials:


- a sociocultural appropriacy factor

- cost factor

- curriculum reform factor


2. Design features


2.1 Organizers

        - themes / topics in units

        - language skills

        - integrated skills cycles

        - macrofunctions

        - information/expository text base


2.2    Aspects

        - in-depth experience of real world information

        - meaningful content in researched texts

        - accessible ideas through functional visuals

        - sociocultural and personal strengthening through content

        - learning strategy development

        - planning, implementing & reflecting cycles (focussed constructivism)

        - learning task sequences for a product

        - face validity of real-world tasks

        - individual, whole class, pair and group work

        - transparency of procedures for learner

        - all course elements available to students

        - grammar in context (c.f. macrofunctions)

        - vocabulary in context (c.f. topics)

        - flexibility for student and teacher


Of all these aspects, perhaps what is most important to this paper is the idea of ‘sociocultural and personal strengthening through content’, and the implications of ‘planning, implementing and reflecting cycles of learning’. In the first case there was a sustained effort to engage the concerns of the students and the society in which they were living. In the second case there was an attempt to consider them as learners with different styles and speeds of progress. In both cases the focus was on the learner and on the role of the teacher as educator and not as instructor. Teachers had the opportunity to 'be' as people with their students and their students had the opportunity to 'be' and to grow as adolescents facing the difficult choices and decisions of personal development, and those of a demanding life environment. These aspects of materials design perhaps made most impact on learner motivation & teacher motivation and also on the motivation of the other actors in the system to get their support for the process and make it work.



VII    Motivation - Nothing succeeds like success


Enjoyable experiences for every student in English classes every day, in the difficult circumstances of the state sector are hard to achieve, since much of this enjoyment depends on the topic itself; finding topics that appeal 100% to all students is problematic.


Success in learning for most is in a way easier to achieve since this is linked to the ability to handle activities and task sequences and to get positive results.


The combination of these two elements, meaningful content and manageable, transparent learning procedures, has undoubtedly played a major role in making an effective materials design for this context.


In other words the student may say “ I like the topic” or “I can manage to do the work in the unit and I feel comfortable doing it" or s/he may say both. In either case, there is learner satisfaction at an important level which allows for progress and positive experiences. If there is neither then learning simply does not proceed.


The attraction of material in English which allows students to relate to who they are, and to develop their national, Ecuadorian and regional identity as Latin Americans through English certainly motivates the same students to overcome considerable barriers of language difficulty (for example vocabulary load or text length) or personal fear of the foreign language.



VIII   Conclusions


There are then three aspects of materials design that we perhaps  need to get into a better balance, if the experience gained is to be built on:

(i) linguistic content within a realistic communicative task-based context

(ii) meaningful, educational content

(iii) the learner context, i.e. the learning conditions of who is learning, why they are learning and how they learn.


We are educators, not simply foreign language instructors, in most cases, and in fulfilling a three part role we are most likely to achieve the goal of creating competent communicators as well as contributing to the development of well-prepared citizens of a globalized world.


In addition, if we are going to organize our change process in some kind of project we need to manage the various components and factors that affect the quality of teaching and learning in our situation. The elements in the 5 plus 2 analysis are a starting point for thinking.


Synergy created through teamwork is also important as is the ability to reflect on our experience and grow as educators, in a focussed constructivist approach to our own professional development.


Finally whatever we attempt we should remember the three Ps required for change processes, including learning a foreign language or making a curriculum change: Patience, Persistence & Perseverance.


Learning a foreign language takes a long time and so does EFL or any other aspect of curriculum development. There are many levels of success along the way, and the concept of a final end destination is something of an illusion. Depending on needs in the situation the degree of perfection sought may vary, but what is clear is that such journeys are important for progress, they all need planning and they are tiring but enjoyable and rewarding experiences for all involved.



© by Paul N. Barry,






Our dear friend and SHARER Bernardo Banega sent us this article through his TTC Exchange Network.

Learner Autonomy
By Dimitrios Thanasoulas

1. Introduction

Over the last two decades, the concepts of learner autonomy and independence have gained momentum, the former becoming a 'buzz-word' within the context of language learning (Little, 1991: 2). It is a truism that one of the most important spin-offs of more communicatively oriented language learning and teaching has been the premium placed on the role of the learner in the language learning process (see Wenden, 1998: xi). It goes without saying, of course, that this shift of locus of responsibility from teachers to learners does not exist in a vacuum, but is the result of a concatenation of changes to the curriculum itself towards a more learner-centred kind of learning. What is more, this reshaping, so to speak, of teacher and learner roles has been conducive to a radical change in the age-old distribution of power and authority that used to plague the traditional classroom. Cast in a new perspective and regarded as having the 'capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making, and independent action' (Little, 1991: 4), learners, autonomous learners, that is, are expected to assume greater responsibility for, and take charge of, their own learning. However, learner autonomy does not mean that the teacher becomes redundant, abdicating his /her control over what is transpiring in the language learning process. In the present study, it will be shown that learner autonomy is a perennial dynamic process amenable to 'educational interventions' (Candy, 1991), rather than a static product, a state, which is reached once and for all. Besides, what permeates this study is the belief that 'in order to help learners to assume greater control over their own learning it is important to help them to become aware of and identify the strategies that they already use or could potentially use' (Holmes & Ramos, 1991, cited in James & Garrett, 1991: 198). At any rate, individual learners differ in their learning habits, interests, needs, and motivation, and develop varying degrees of independence throughout their lives (Tumposky, 1982).


2. What is autonomy?

For a definition of autonomy, we might quote Holec (1981: 3, cited in Benson
& Voller, 1997: 1) who describes it as 'the ability to take charge of one's learning'. On a general note, the term autonomy has come to be used in at least five ways (see Benson & Voller, 1997: 2):

a) for situations in which learners study entirely on their own;
b) for a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning;
c) for an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education;
d) for the exercise of learners' responsibility for their own learning;
e) for the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning.

It is noteworthy that autonomy can be thought of in terms of a departure from
education as a social process, as well as in terms of redistribution of power
attending the construction of knowledge and the roles of the participants in
the learning process. The relevant literature is riddled with innumerable
definitions of autonomy and other synonyms for it, such as 'independence'

(Sheerin, 1991), 'language awareness' (Lier, 1996; James & Garrett, 1991), 'self-direction' (Candy, 1991), 'andragogy' (Knowles, 1980; 1983a) etc., which testifies to the importance attached to it by scholars. Let us review some of these definitions and try to gain insights into what learner autonomy means and consists of.
As has been intimated so far, the term autonomy has sparked considerable
controversy, inasmuch as linguists and educationalists have failed to reach a consensus as to what autonomy really is. For example, in David Little's terms, learner autonomy is 'essentially a matter of the learner's psychological relation to the process and content of learning...a capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making, and independent action' (Little, 1991: 4). It is not something done to learners; therefore, it is far from being another teaching method (ibid.). In the same  vein, Leni Dam (1990, cited in Gathercole, 1990: 16), drawing upon Holec (1983), defines autonomy in terms of the learner's willingness and capacity to control or oversee her own learning. More specifically, she, like Holec, holds that someone qualifies as an autonomous learner when he independently chooses aims and purposes and sets goals; chooses materials, methods and tasks; exercises choice and purpose in organising and carrying out the chosen tasks; and chooses criteria for evaluation.

To all intents and purposes, the autonomous learner takes a (pro-) active
role in the learning process, generating ideas and availing himself of learning
opportunities, rather than simply reacting to various stimuli of the teacher (Boud, 1988; Kohonen, 1992; Knowles, 1975). As we shall see, this line of reasoning operates within, and is congruent with, the theory of constructivism. For Rathbone (1971: 100, 104, cited in Candy, 1991: 271), the autonomous learner is a self-activated maker of meaning, an active agent in his own learning process. He is not one to whom things merely happen; he is the one who, by his own volition, causes things to happen. Learning is seen as the result of his own self-initiated interaction with the world.
Within such a conception, learning is not simply a matter of rote memorisation;
'it is a constructive process that involves actively seeking meaning from (or
even imposing meaning on) events' (Candy, 1991: 271).

Such "inventories" of characteristics evinced by the putative autonomous
learner abound, and some would say that they amount to nothing more than a romantic ideal which does not square with reality. This stands to reason, for most of the characteristics imputed to the "autonomous learner" encapsulate a wide range of attributes not commonly associated with learners. For instance, Benn (1976, cited in Candy, 1991: 102) likens the autonomous learner to one 'whose life has a consistency that derives from a coherent set of beliefs, values, and principles...[and who engages in a] still-continuing process of criticism and re-evaluation', while Rousseau ([1762] 1911, cited in Candy, 1991: 102) regards the autonomous learner as someone who 'is obedient to a law that he prescribes to himself'. Within the context of education, though, there seem to be seven main attributes characterising autonomous learners (see Omaggio, 1978, cited in Wenden, 1998: 41-42):

1) Autonomous learners have insights into their learning styles and strategies;
2) take an active approach to the learning task at hand;
3) are willing to take risks, i.e., to communicate in the target language at all costs;
4) are good guessers;
5) attend to form as well as to content, that is, place importance on accuracy
as well as appropriacy;
6) develop the target language into a separate reference system and are willing
to revise and reject hypotheses and rules that do not apply; and

7) have a tolerant and outgoing approach to the target language.

Here, some comments with respect to the preceding list are called for. The
points briefly touched upon above are necessary but not sufficient conditions for
the development of learner autonomy, and many more factors such as learner needs, motivation, learning strategies, and language awareness have to be taken into consideration. For example, the first point hinges upon a metalanguage that
learners have to master in order to be regarded as autonomous, while points 4) and 7) pertain to learner motivation. In view of this, an attempt will be made, in
subsequent sections, to shed some light on some of the parameters affecting, and
interfering with, learners' self-image as well as their capacity and will to learn. It is of consequence to note that autonomy is a process, not a product. One does
not become autonomous; one only works towards autonomy. One corollary of viewing autonomy in this way is the belief that there are some things to be achieved by the learner, as well as some ways of achieving these things, and that
autonomy 'is learned at least partly through educational experiences [and
interventions]' (Candy, 1991: 115). But prior to sifting through the literature and
discussing learning strategies, motivation, and attitudes entertained by learners, it would be pertinent to cast learner autonomy in relation to dominant philosophical approaches to learning. The assumption is that what is dubbed as learner autonomy and the extent to which it is a permissible and viable educational goal are all too often 'based on [and thus constrained by] particular conceptions of the constitution of knowledge itself' (Benson, 1997, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 20).



3. Learner autonomy and dominant philosophies of learning

In this section, three dominant approaches to knowledge and learning will be briefly discussed, with a view to examining how each of them connects up with learner autonomy. Positivism, which reigned supreme in the twentieth century, is premised upon the assumption that knowledge reflects objective reality. Therefore, if teachers can be said to hold this "objective reality," learning can only '  the transmission of knowledge from one individual to another' (Benson & Voller, 1997: 20). Congruent with this view, of course, is the maintenance and enhancement of the "traditional classroom," where teachers are the purveyors of knowledge and wielders of power, and learners are seen as 'container[s] to be filled with the knowledge held by teachers' (ibid.). On the other hand, positivism also lends support to the widespread notion that knowledge is attained by dint of the 'hypothesis-testing' model, and that it is more effectively acquired when 'it is discovered rather than taught' (ibid.) (my italics). It takes little perspicacity to realise that positivism is incongruent with, and even runs counter to, the development of learner autonomy, as the latter refers to a gradual but radical divorce from conventions and restrictions and is inextricably related to self-direction and

Constructivism is an elusive concept and, within applied linguistics, is strongly associated with Halliday (1979, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 21). As Candy (1991: 254) observes, '[o]ne of the central tenets of constructivism is that individuals try to give meaning to, or construe, the perplexing maelstrom of events and ideas in which they find themselves caught up'. In contrast to positivism, constructivism posits the view that, rather than internalising or discovering objective knowledge (whatever that might mean), individuals reorganise and restructure their experience. In Candy's terms (Candy, 1991: 270), constructivism 'leads directly to the proposition that knowledge cannot be taught but only learned (that is, constructed)', because knowledge is something 'built up by the
learner' (von Glasersfeld & Smock, 1974: xvi, cited in Candy, 1991: 270). By the same
token, language learning does not involve internalising sets of rules, structures and forms; each learner brings her own experience and world knowledge to bear on the target language or task at hand. Apparently, constructivism supports, and extends to cover, psychological versions of autonomy that appertain to learners' behaviour, attitudes, motivation, and self-concept (see Benson & Voller,1997: 23). As a result, constructivist approaches encourage and promote self-directed learning as a necessary condition for learner autonomy.

Finally, critical theory, an approach within the humanities and language studies, shares with constructivism the view that knowledge is constructed rather than discovered or learned. Moreover, it argues that knowledge does not reflect reality, but rather comprises 'competing ideological versions of that reality expressing the interests of different social groups' (Benson & Voller, 1997: 22). Within this approach, learning concerns issues of power and ideology and is seen as a process of interaction with social context, which can bring about social change. What is more, linguistic forms are bound up with the social meanings they convey,
in so far as language is power, and vice versa. Certainly, learner autonomy assumes
a more social and political character within critical theory. As learners become
aware of the social context in which their learning is embedded and the constraints
the latter implies, they gradually become independent, dispel myths, disabuse themselves of preconceived ideas, and can be thought of as 'authors of their own worlds' (ibid.: 53).

4. Conditions for learner autonomy

The concern of the present study has so far been with outlining the general characteristics of autonomy. At this juncture, it should be reiterated that autonomy is not an article of faith, a product ready made for use or merely a personal quality or
trait. Rather, it should be clarified that autonomous learning is achieved when certain conditions obtain: cognitive and metacognitive strategies on the part of the learner, motivation, attitudes, and knowledge about language learning, i.e., a kind of metalanguage. To acknowledge, however, that learners have to follow certain paths to attain autonomy is tantamount to asserting that there has to be a teacher on whom it will be incumbent to show the way. In other words, autonomous learning is by no means "teacherless learning." As Sheerin (1997, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 63) succinctly puts it, '[t]eachers...have a crucial role to play in launching learners into self-access and in lending them a regular helping hand to stay afloat' (my italics).

Probably, giving students a "helping hand" may put paid to learner autonomy, and this is mainly because teachers are ill-prepared or reluctant to 'wean [students]...away from teacher dependence' (Sheerin, 1997, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 63). After all, 'it is not easy for teachers to change their role from purveyor of information to counsellor and manager of learning resources...And it is not easy for teachers to let learners solve problems for themselves' (Little, 1990,cited in Gathercole, 1990: 11). Such a transition from teacher-control to learner-control is fraught with difficulties but it is mainly in relation to the former (no matter how unpalatable this may sound) that the latter finds its expression. At any rate, learner-control-which is ancillary to autonomy-'is not a single, unitary concept, but rather a continuum along which various instructional situations
may be placed' (Candy, 1991: 205). It is to these 'instructional situations' that we will turn in the next section. In this section, it is of utmost importance to gain insights into the strategies learners use in grappling with the object of enquiry, i.e., the target language, as well as their motivation and attitude towards language learning in general. A question germane to the discussion is, what does it mean to be an autonomous learner in a language learning environment?

4.1. Learning strategies

A central research project on learning strategies is the one surveyed in O'Malley
and Chamot (1990). According to them, learning strategies are 'the special thoughts
or behaviors that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn, or retain new
information' (O'Malley and Chamot, 1990: 1, cited in Cook, 1993: 113)-a definition
in keeping with the one provided in Wenden (1998: 18): 'Learning strategies
are mental steps or operations that learners use to learn a new language and to
regulate their efforts to do so'. To a greater or lesser degree, the strategies and
learning styles that someone adopts 'may partly reflect personal preference rather than innate endowment' (Skehan, 1998: 237). We will only briefly discuss some of the
main learning strategies, refraining from mentioning communication or compensatory
strategies (see Cook, 1993 for more details).

4.1.1. Cognitive strategies

According to O'Malley and Chamot (1990: 44), cognitive strategies 'operate directly
on incoming information, manipulating it in ways that enhance learning'.
Learners may use any or all of the following cognitive strategies (see Cook, 1993:
a) repetition, when imitating others' speech;
b) resourcing, i.e., having recourse to dictionaries and other materials;
c) translation, that is, using their mother tongue as a basis for understanding
and / or producing the target language;
d) note-taking;
e) deduction, i.e., conscious application of L2 rules;
f) contextualisation, when embedding a word or phrase in a meaningful sequence;
g) transfer, that is, using knowledge acquired in the L1 to remember and understand
facts and sequences in the L2;
h) inferencing, when matching an unfamiliar word against available information
(a new word etc);
i) question for clarification, when asking the teacher to explain, etc.

There are many more cognitive strategies in the relevant literature. O'Malley and Chamot (1990) recognise 16.

4.1.2. Metacognitive strategies

According to Wenden (1998: 34), 'metacognitive knowledge includes all facts learners
acquire about their own cognitive processes as they are applied and used to gain
knowledge and acquire skills in varied situations'. In a sense, metacognitive strategies are skills used for planning, monitoring, and evaluating the learning activity; 'they are strategies about learning rather than learning strategies themselves' (Cook, 1993: 114). Let us see some of these strategies: a) directed attention, when deciding in advance to concentrate on general aspects of a task;
b) selective attention, paying attention to specific aspects of a task;
c) self-monitoring, i.e., checking one's performance as one speaks;
d) self-evaluation, i.e., appraising one's performance in relation to one's own standards;
e) self-reinforcement, rewarding oneself for success.
At the planning stage, also known as pre-planning (see Wenden, 1998: 27),learners
identify their objectives and determine how they will achieve them. Planning,however, may also go on while a task is being performed. This is called planning-in-action.
Here, learners may change their objectives and reconsider the ways in which they
will go about achieving them. At the monitoring stage, language learners act as 'participant observers or overseers of their language learning' (ibid.), asking themselves, "How am I doing? Am I having difficulties with this task?", and so on. Finally, when learners evaluate, they do so in terms of the outcome of their attempt to use a certain strategy. According to Wenden (1998: 28), evaluating involves three steps:

1) learners examine the outcome of their attempts to learn;
2) they access the criteria they will use to judge it; and 3) they apply it.

4.2. Learner attitudes and motivation

Language learning is not merely a cognitive task. Learners do not only reflect on their learning in terms of the language input to which they are exposed, or the optimal strategies they need in order to achieve the goals they set.
Rather, the success of a learning activity is, to some extent, contingent upon learners' stance towards the world and the learning activity in particular, their sense of self, and their desire to learn (see Benson & Voller, 1997: 134-136). As Candy (1991: 295-296) says, 'the how and the what of learning are intimately interwoven...[T]he overall approach a learner adopts will significantly influence the shape of his or her learning outcomes' (my italics). In other words, language learning-as well as learning, in general-has also an affective component. 'Meeting and interiorising the grammar of a foreign language is not simply an intelligent, cognitive act.
It is a highly affective one too...' (Rinvolucri, 1984: 5, cited in James & Garrett,
1991: 13). Gardner and MacIntyre (1993: 1, cited in Graham, 1997: 92) define 'affective variables' as the 'emotionally relevant characteristics of the individual that influence how she / he will respond to any situation'. Other scholars, such as Shumann (1978) and Larsen-Freeman and Long (1991) attach less importance to learners' emotions, claiming that 'social and psychological factors' give a more suitable description for students' reactions to the learning process. Amongst the social and affective variables at work, self-esteem and desire to learn are deemed to be the most crucial factors 'in the learner's ability to overcome occasional setbacks or minor mistakes in the process of learning a second [or foreign] language'
(Tarone & Yule, 1989: 139). In this light, it is necessary to shed some light on learner attitudes and motivation.

Wenden (1998: 52) defines attitudes as 'learned motivations, valued beliefs, evaluations, what one believes is acceptable, or responses oriented towards approaching or avoiding'. For her, two kinds of attitudes are crucial: attitudes learners hold about their role in the learning process, and their capability as learners (ibid.: 53). In a sense, attitudes are a form of metacognitive knowledge. At any rate, 'learner beliefs about their role and capability as learners will be shaped and other beliefs they hold about themselves as learners' (ibid.: 54). For example, if learners believe that certain personality types cannot learn a foreign language and they believe that they are that type of person, then they will think that they are fighting a "losing battle," as far as
learning the foreign language is concerned. Furthermore, if learners labour under the
misconception that learning is successful only within the context of the "traditional
classroom," where the teacher directs, instructs, and manages the learning activity,
and students must follow in the teacher's footsteps, they are likely to be impervious
or resistant to learner-centred strategies aiming at autonomy, and success is likely to be undermined.

In a way, attitudes are 'part of one's perception of self, of others, and of the culture in which one is living [or the culture of the target language]' (Brown, 1987: 126), and it seems clear that positive attitudes are conducive to increased motivation, while negative attitudes have the opposite effect. But let us examine the role of motivation.

Although the term 'motivation' is frequently used in educational contexts, there is little agreement among experts as to its exact meaning. What most scholars seem to agree on, though, is that motivation is 'one of the key factors that influence the rate and success of second / foreign language (L2) learning. Motivation provides the primary impetus to initiate learning the L2 and later the driving force to sustain the long and often tedious learning process' (Dornyei, 1998: 117). According to Gardner and MacIntyre (1993: 3), motivation is comprised of three components: 'desire to achieve a goal, effort extended in this direction, and satisfaction with the task'.

It is manifest that in language learning, people are motivated in different ways and to different degrees. Some learners like doing grammar and memorising; others want to speak and role-play; others prefer reading and writing, while avoiding speaking. Furthermore, since '[the learning of a foreign language] involves an alteration in self-image, the adoption of new social and cultural behaviours and ways of being, and therefore has a significant impact on the social nature of the learner' (Williams, 1994: 77, cited in Dornyei, 1998: 122), an important distinction should be made between instrumental and integrative motivation.
Learners with an instrumental orientation view the foreign language as a means of finding
a good job or pursuing a lucrative career; in other words, the target language acts as a 'monetary incentive' (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993: 3). On the other hand, learners with an integrative orientation are interested in the culture of the target language; they want to acquaint themselves with the target community and become integral parts of it. Of course, this approach to motivation has certain limitations (see Cookes and Schmidt, 1991, cited in Lier, 1996: 104-105), but an in-depth analysis is not within the purview of this study. The bottom line is that motivation is 'a central mediator in the prediction of language achievement' (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993: 3), as various studies have shown (see Kraemer,1990; Machnick and Wolfe, 1982; et al.).

4.3. Self-esteem

Closely related to attitudes and motivation is the concept of self-esteem, that is, the evaluation the learner makes of herself with regard to the target language or learning in general. '[S]elf-esteem is a personal judgement of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes that the individual holds towards himself' (Coopersmith, 1967: 4-5, cited in Brown, 1987: 101-102). If the learner has a 'robust sense of self', to quote Breen and Mann (1997, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 134), his relationship to himself as a learner is unlikely to be marred by any negative assessments by the teacher. Conversely, a lack of self-esteem is likely to lead to negative attitudes towards his capability as a learner, and to 'a deterioration in cognitive performance', thus confirming his view of
himself as incapable of learning (Diener and Dweck, 1978, 1980, cited in Wenden,
1998: 57).

Now that we have examined some of the factors that may enhance, or even militate
against, the learner's willingness to take charge of her own learning and her confidence in her ability as a learner, it is of consequence to consider possible ways of promoting learner autonomy. To say, though, that learner autonomy can be fostered is not to reduce it to a set of skills that need to be acquired. Rather, it is taken to mean that the teacher and the learner can work towards autonomy by creating a friendly atmosphere characterised by 'low threat, unconditional positive regard, honest and open feedback, respect for the ideas and opinions of others, approval of self-improvement as a goal, collaboration rather than competition' (Candy, 1991: 337). In the next section, some general guidelines for promoting learner autonomy will be given, on the assumption that the latter does not mean leaving learners to their own devices or learning in isolation.

5. How can learner autonomy be promoted?

To posit ways of fostering learner autonomy is certainly to posit ways of fostering
teacher autonomy, as '[t]eachers' autonomy permeates into [learners'] autonomy'
(Johnson, Pardesi and Paine, 1990, cited in Gathercole, 1990: 51). Nevertheless,
our main focus will be on what the learner can do in order to attain a considerable
degree of autonomy, even though the success of the learner is, to a great extent,
determined-alas! vitiated-by the educational system and the requisite role of the teacher.

5.1. Self-reports

According to Wenden (1998: 79-95), a good way of collecting information on how
students go about a learning task and helping them become aware of their own strategies is to assign a task and have them report what they are thinking while they are performing it. This self-report is called introspective, as learners are asked to ntrospect on their learning. In this case, 'the [introspective] self-report is a verbalization of one's stream of consciousness' (Wenden,1998: 81). Introspective reports are assumed to provide information on the strategies learners are using at the time of the report. However, this method suffers from one limitation: '[t]he concentration put on thinking aloud might detract from [learners'] ability to do the task efficiently' (ibid.: 83), thus rendering the outcome of the report spurious and tentative.

Another type of self-report is what has been dubbed as retrospective self-report,
since learners are asked to think back or retrospect on their learning. Retrospective
self-reports are quite open ended, in that there is no limit put on what students
say in response to a question or statement that points to a topic in a general way. There are two kinds of retrospective self-reports: semi-structured interviews and structured questionnaires. A semi-structured interview may focus on a specific skill with a view to extracting information about learners' feelings towards particular skills (reading, listening, etc.), problems encountered, techniques resorted to in order to tackle these problems, and learners' views on optimal strategies or ways of acquiring specific skills or dealing with learning tasks.
A structured questionnaire seeks the same information but in a different way: by dint of explicit questions and statements, and then asking learners to agree or disagree, write true or false, and so forth.

It could be argued that self-reports can be a means of raising awareness of learners'
strategies and the need for constant evaluation of techniques, goals, and outcomes.
As Wenden (1998: 90) observes, 'without awareness [learners] will remain trapped
in their old patterns of beliefs and behaviors and never be fully autonomous'.

5.2. Diaries and evaluation sheets

Perhaps one of the principal goals of education is to alter learners' beliefs about themselves by showing them that their putative failures or shortcomings can be ascribed to a lack of effective strategies rather than to a lack of potential.
After all, according to Vygotsky (1978), learning is an internalised form of a formerly social activity, and 'a learner can realize [his] potential interactively-through the guidance of supportive other persons such as parents, teachers, and peers' (Wenden, 1998: 107). Herein lies the role of diaries and evaluation sheets, which offer students the possibility to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning, identifying any problems they run into and suggesting solutions. Let us have a look at the following diaries based on authentic student accounts of their language learning:

Dear Diary,
   These first few days have been terrible. I studied English for eight years...just
think, eight years, but I only learned a lot of grammar. I can't speak a word.
I don't dare. I can't express myself in the right way, so I am afraid to speak.
   The other day I started watching TV, so I could get accustomed to the sound.
I don't understand TV news very well...only a few words. I can't get the main point. In school it's easy to understand, but I can't understand the people in the stores.
   What can I do?
                               Yours Truly,
(from Wenden, 1998: 102)

Dear Diary,
   I read the New York Times every day. Every day I learn many new expressions-a
lot of vocabulary. But I can't use this vocabulary in conversation. The same thing happens with what I learn at school. I can't use it when I want to talk to Americans or even with my own Spanish friends.
   I need some help.
                               Yours Truly,
(from Wenden, 1998: 102)

Alongside diaries, students can also benefit from putting pen to paper and writing on their expectations of a course at the beginning of term, and then filling in evaluation sheets, or reporting on the outcomes of a course, at the end of term. These activities are bound to help learners put things into perspective and manage their learning more effectively. Let us consider two such reports:

What do I want to do this year?
"I want to speak more English and I'd like to spell better that I do now. I would
like to work with another boy or girl who is willing to speak English with me and make some activities in English. Materials: Challenge to think and crosswords.
I would like to get a more varied language and I would like to be better at spelling,
especially the words used in everyday situations. How: I will prepare 'two minutes' talk' for every lesson, I will write down new words five times and practise pronouncing them. I will get someone or myself to correct it. I will read at least two books-difficult ones-and make book-reviews."
(Beginning of term-4th year of English [from Dam, 1990, cited in Gathercole,1990: 30])

What do you feel you know now that you didn't know before?
"I think that we have grown better at planning our own time. We know more about what we need to do and how to go about it. We try all the time to extend our vocabulary and to get an active language. Evaluation also helped us. It is like going through things again."
(End of term-4th year of English [from Dam, 1990, cited in Gathercole,1990: 32])

So far, one of the assumptions underlying this discussion on learner autonomy has been that the teacher has not relinquished his "authority"; rather, that he has committed himself to providing the learners with the opportunity to experiment, make hypotheses, and improvise, in their attempt to master the target language and, along with it, to learn how to learn in their own, individual, holistic way (see Papaconstantinou, 1997). It may be the case that learner autonomy is best achieved when, among other things, the teacher acts as a facilitator of learning, a counsellor, and as a resource (see Voller, 1997, cited in Benson and Voller, 1997: 99-106). In other words, when she lies somewhere along a continuum between what Barnes (1976, cited in Benson and Voller, 1997: 99) calls transmission and interpretation teachers. As Wright (1987: 62, cited in Benson and Voller, 1997: 100) notes, transmission teachers believe in subject disciplines and boundaries between them, in content, in standards of performance laid down by these disciplines that can be objectively evaluated...that learners will find it hard to meet the standards; interpretation teachers believe that knowledge is the ability to
organize thought, interpret and act on facts; that learners are intrinsically interested
and naturally inclined to explore their worlds...that learners already know a great deal and have the ability to refashion that knowledge.

The interpretation teacher respects learners’ needs and is ‘more likely to follow
a fraternal-permissive model’ (emphasis added) (Stevick, 1976: 91-93, cited in
Benson and Voller, 1997: 100). It is with this type of teacher that the role of persuasive communication is most congruent.

5.3. Persuasive communication as a means of altering learner beliefs and attitudes

Inasmuch as the success of learning and the extent to which learners tap into their potential resources in order to overcome difficulties and achieve autonomy are determined by such factors as learners' motivation, their desire to learn, and the beliefs they hold about themselves as learners and learning per se, it is manifest that changing some negative beliefs and attitudes is bound to facilitate learning. 'Attitude change [is assumed to] be brought about through exposure to a persuasive communication [between the teacher and the learners]'(Wenden, 1998: 126). According to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of attitude
developed by Petty and Cacciopo (1986, cited in Wenden, 1998: 126), there are
several ways of bringing about this change, however, our concern will only be with persuasive communication.

A persuasive communication is a discussion presenting information and arguments
to change a learner's evaluation of a topic, situation, task, and so on.
These arguments could be either explicit or implicit, especially when the topic is
deemed of importance. If, for instance, a deeply ingrained fear or belief precludes
the learner from engaging in the learning process, persuasive communication purports
to help bring these facts to light and identify the causes that underlie them. It should be noted, though, that no arguments to influence students' views are given. Rather, the communication comprises facts that show what learners can do to attain autonomy and that learners who do so are successful (see Wenden, 1998: 126). This approach is based on the assumption that when learners are faced with convincing information about a situation, 'they can be led to re-examine existing evaluations they hold about it and revise or change them completely' (ibid.: 127).

6. Conclusion

This study is far from comprehensive, as we have only skimmed the surface of the subject and the puzzle called learner autonomy. Many more pieces are missing.
For instance, no mention has been made of the role of the curriculum in promoting
learner autonomy, despite the debate on the relationship between classroom practice
and ideological encoding (Littlejohn, 1997, cited in Benson and Voller, 1997: 181-182). At any rate, the main point of departure for this study has been the notion that there are degrees of learner autonomy and that it is not an absolute concept. It would be nothing short of ludicrous to assert that learners come into the learning situation with the knowledge and skills to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning, or to make decisions on content or objectives. Nevertheless, learner autonomy is an ideal, so to speak, that can, and should, be realised, if we want self-sufficient learners and citizens capable of evaluating every single situation they find themselves in and drawing the line at any inconsistencies or shortcomings in institutions and society at large. Certainly, though, autonomous learning is not akin to "unbridled learning." There has to be a teacher who will adapt resources, materials, and methods to the learners' needs and even abandon all this if need be. Learner autonomy consists in becoming aware of, and
identifying, one's strategies, needs, and goals as a learner, and having the opportunity
to reconsider and refashion approaches and procedures for optimal learning. But even if learner autonomy is amenable to educational interventions, it should be recognised that it 'takes a long time to develop, and...simply removing the barriers to a person's ability to think and behave in certain ways may not allow him or her to break away from old habits or old ways of thinking' (Candy,1991: 124). As Holyoake (1892, vol. 1, p. 4) succinctly put it, '[k]nowledge lies everywhere to hand for those who observe and think'.   

* Barnes, D. 1976. From Communication to Curriculum. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
* Benn, S. I. 1976. 'Freedom, Autonomy and the Concept of the Person'. In Aristotelian Society Proceedings, new series, pp. 109-130.
* Benson, P. & Voller, P. 1997. Autonomy and
Independence in Language Learning. London: Longman.
* Boud, D. (ed.). 1988. Developing Student Autonomy in Learning.
New York: Kogan Press.
* Brown, H. D. 1987. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching.
Englewood Cliffs, JC: Prentice Hall.
* Candy, 1991. Self-direction for Lifelong Learning.
California: Jossey-Bass.
* Cook, V. 1993. Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition.
London: Macmillan.
* Coopersmith, S. 1967. The Antecedents of Self-Esteem. San Francisco: W. H.
Freeman & Company.
* Crookes, G. & Schmidt, R. 1991. Motivation: Reopening the research agenda.
Language Learning. 41: 469-512.
* Dam, L. 1990. Learner Autonomy in Practice. In Gathercole,
I. (ed.). 1990,p. 16. CILT. Great Britain: Bourne Press.
* Dornyei, Z. 1998. Motivation in Second and Foreign Language Learning. CILT: CUP.
* Gardner, R. C. and MacIntyre, P. D. 1993. A Student's Contributions to Second-language Learning. Part II: Affective variables. Language Teaching 26, 1-11.
* Graham, S. 1997. Effective Language Learning.
Great Britain: WBC.
* Halliday, M.A.K. 1979. Language as Social Semiotic.
London: Edward Arnold.
* Holec, H. 1981. Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning.
Oxford: OUP.
* Holmes, J. L. and Ramos, R. 1991. Talking about learning: establishing a framework for discussing and changing learning processes. In James, C. and Garrett, P. (eds.). Language Awareness in the Classroom. 1991: 198-212).
* Holyoake, J. 1892. Sixty Years of An Agitator's Life. (2 vols.).
* Johnson, Pardesi, and Paine. 1990. Autonomy in Our Primary School. In Gathercole,
I. 1990. Autonomy in Language Learning. CILT: Bourne Press.
* Knowles, M. S. 1975. Self-directed Learning.
New York: Association Press.
* Knowles, M. S. 1980. The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy.
Chicago: Follett.
* Knowles, M. S. 1983a. 'Andragogy: An Emerging Technology for Adult Learning.
In M. Tight (ed.), Adult Learning and Education.
London: Croom Helm.
* Kohonen, V. 1992. Experiential language learning: second language learning as cooperative learner education. In Nunan, D. (Ed.), Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching, pp. 14-39.
* Larsen-Freeman, D. and Long, M. H. 1991. An Introduction to Second Language
Acquisition Research.
London: Longman.
* Lier, van L. 1996. Interaction in the Language Curriculum. Awareness,Autonomy and Authenticity.
USA: Longman.
* Little, D. 1991. Learner Autonomy. 1: Definitions, Issues and Problems.Dublin: Authentik.
* Littlejohn, A. 1997. Self-access work and curriculum ideologies. In Benson,P. and Voller, P. (eds.). Autonomy and
Independence in Language Learning.London: Longman.
* Muchnick, A. G. and Wolfe, D. E. 1982. Attitudes and motivations of American students of Spanish. The Canadian Modern Language Review. 38, 262-281.
* Omaggio, A. 1978. 'Successful language learners: What do we know about them?', ERIC / CLL News Bulletin, May, 2-3.
* O'Malley, J. M. and Chamot, A. V. 1990. Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. London: Macmillan.
* Papaconstantinou, A. 1997. Creating the Whole Person in New Age.
Athens: Kardamitsa.
* Petty, R. E. and Cacioppo, J. T. 1986. Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change.
New York: Springer-Verlag.
* Rathbone, C. H. 1971. Open Education: The Informal Classroom.
New York:Citation Press.
* Rinvolucri, M. 1984. Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective, and Drama Activation for EFL Students.
Cambridge: CUP.
* Rousseau, J. J. [1762], 1911. Emile.
London: Dent.
* Schumann, J. H. 1978. Social and Psychological Factors in Second Language Acquisition.In J. C. Richards (ed.). Understanding Second and Foreign Language Learning.
pp. 163-178.
Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
* Sheerin, S. 1991. 'State of the art: self-access', Language Teaching, 24: 3, pp. 153-157.
* Sheerin, S. 1997. An Exploration of the Relationship between Self-access and Independent Learning. In Benson, P. and Voller, P. (eds.). 1997. Autonomy and
Independence in Language Learning. London: Longman.
* Skehan, P. 1998. A Cognitive Approach to Language Learning.
Oxford: OUP.
* Tarone, E. and Yule, G. 1989. Focus on the Language Learner.
Oxford: OUP.
* Tumposky, N. 1982. 'The learner on his own'. In M. Geddes and G. Sturtridge (eds.). Individualisation.
London: Modern English Publications, pp. 4-7.
* Vygotsky, L. S. 1978. Mind in Society.
USA: Harvard.
* Wenden, A. 1998. Learner Strategies for Learner Autonomy.
Great Britain: Prentice Hall.
* Williams, M. 1994. Motivation in Foreign and Second Language Learning: An Interactive Perspective. Educational and Child Psychology, 11, 17-84.

© by
Dimitrios Thanasoulas

About the Author: Dimitrios Thanasoulas
1994-1998: BA degree in English Literature and Linguistics,
Athens University
1999-2000: MA degree in Applied
Linguistics, Sussex University, UK
2000-onwards: PhD degree in Psychology of Education
Publications: Idioms and Contexts (publication pending). Co-author in writing an English Grammar for 8-10-year olds. Writing ELT articles.








Our dear SHARERS at SBS announce their Winter Course:



14-16 July 2005, 10:00 to 17:30


  • attend the whole course or choose individual sessions
  • do not miss the publishers’ sessions and the raffles (see below)


Venue: Alianza Francesa - Billinghurst 1926, Capital Federal


Thursday, July 14


Ana Maria Bergel: Saints, Heroes or Monsters: Exploring the teacher’s role in Argentina today (morning)


The teacher’s role has always been difficult to define: second mother? confidant? mentor? leader or counsellor? social worker? learned academician? The role seems to have many facets, as it interacts with other roles in the school environment and in society at large. This lecture explores, in the first place, the social foundations of the role: acceptance, value, authority; then, it analyses issues related to the role’s interaction with the school authorities, the parents, the students, the community and the curriculum and outlines a picture of the present professional situation of teachers in our country. The analysis is accompanied by suggestions, presented through practical examples, on how to deal with different situations in a professional, productive fashion, particularly when mediating between parents and children and administering praise and criticism. The lecture will finally explore the changes the role is likely to experience when distance-learning in virtual environments becomes more popular.



Maria Alejandra Garcia: Making The Most Of Class Readers (Afternoon)


This workshop aimed at teachers from different levels will deal with the following subjects:


Why use readers in the EFL class?

Advantages of practising language through literature

Intensive or extensive reading – class dynamics

Pre reading – While reading – Post reading activities (description and examples)

All the ideas and tasks are exemplified using a wide range of texts



Friday, July 15


Martha Crespo:Activating Vocabulary (morning)


Now and again textbooks provide us with activities that enable students to notice words. We all know, though, that this is far from enough. For students to learn any given vocabulary they have to make words their own. How can we pursue this aim? Probably the most effective way to help students acquire vocabulary is to make them meet words and expressions not only frequently but also in contexts that will make those words meaningful and hopefully memorable. One of the real challenges that teachers have to respond to is, no doubt, enabling students to make passive vocabulary become part and parcel of their active repertoire.

This workshop attempts to explore ways of helping students towards this goal.



Cristina Speranza: Songs Revisited (afternoon)


“The song is never the same…”


No doubt we can put a song to a much better use than merely filling the last ten minutes of a lesson. Many times there is more to a song than a catchy tune and easy-to-remember lyrics. To make students fill in blanks or put lines in order is but trivializing the potential of a mighty tool. This workshop aims at tackling the content and meaning songs have to offer.  



Saturday, July 16


Cristina Grondona White and Graciela Moyano: Teachers as Storytellers (morning)                


The workshop “Teachers as Storytellers” has been  designed  to meet the needs of  EFL teachers ----with little or no exposure to oral narrative techniques-- who wish to use aural-oral storytelling  to enhance their teaching practice. The overall purpose of the workshop is to encourage teachers to discover how, in the role of storytellers,  they can  dramatically raise  motivational  and  affective standards of students in different EFL settings.   It  will introduce participants to basic aspects of  aural/oral storytelling.  During the 1 ½ hour-long session participants will have the opportunity to explore hands-on narrative tools which will enable them to tell  a brief, simple story in a supportive environment.   


Suggestions on bibliography and resources will be offered.


Oriel E. Villagarcia: Understanding Brain Based Learning ( afternoon)


NB: This session is admission free for anyone who has registered for at least one other workshop.


You are bound to have heard about brain based learning and you may be wondering whether this is a new approach and if it is, what it has to offer  you as a foreign language teacher. This session will present a critical review of the popular literature that links studies of the brain to education, and discuss its possible relevance to the ELT/EFL scene.          


The presenters’ CV can be found by visiting events

There will be a lunch break from 13:00 to 14:30


Publishers presentations followed by raffles


Games + Stories = Fun : English and Fun (July 14, 12:00)

Encouraging Students to Think Creatively and Critically: Oxford University Press (July 14, 16:30)

Working with Words: Richmond Publishing (July 15, 12:00)

Come, Play and Learn: Thomson Learning (July 15, 16:30)

Caring for the “whole”learner: Express Publishing (July 16, 12:00)

Subject to be announced: Macmillan ELT


Abstracts of the publishers’ presentations, and the presenters’biodata is available from  Events


NB: Registering for just ONE session gives you the right to attend all of the publishers    sessions, participate in the raffles and win fantastic prizes. You are also entitled to attend the session Understanding Brain Based Learning  free of charge.



Fees: $20 per session

       $50 any three sessions - $60 any four sessions - $70 the whole course




1) Personally at any of the SBS branches throughout the country but please note that the SBS Palermo branch will only accept registrations until July 11. Addresses and phone numbers of the SBS branches can be found in


2) By faxing your deposit slip to (011) 4 926 0194 or 4 921 8983 with complete information on where you deposited the money, your full name, address, phone number including area code, and indicating clearly which sessions you are registering for.


3) Deposits should be made in the following SBS accounts:

    Banco de Galicia cce 9750 442-1006-1

    Banco Bisel cce 75636-5 suc 185

    BanSud 672-472277

    Banco Suquia cce 32-16-028759-0


4) You can pre-register by email if and only you are sure you will be attending the sessions and pay the day of the seminar. An extra $5 will be charged, though, regardless of whether you are attending one or more sessions. Send you email to with your full name, address, and phone number indicating area code. Be sure to let us know which session(s) you are pre-registering for. The day of the workshop,please be sure to arrive least 30’ before starting time unless you have registered in advance.


To ensure a seat either registration or pre-registration is absolutely essential  


SBS would like to acknowledge the support of: Anglia Examinations,Express Publishing, Macmillan, Net-Learning, Oxford University Press, Pearson, Richmond, Share e-magazine, Thomson Learning, Trinity Examinations,  and English And Fun.







Our dear SHARER Diana Delamer from the British Council has sent us this information:


IELTS British Council Research Program 2005-2006

Call For Proposals


Education institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects in relation to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).


The British Council has designated funds to be made available for suitable research projects on IELTS. Financial support will be limited to a maximum

of GBP13,000 per selected project. The level of funding awarded to successful proposals will depend on assessment of the resources required.

A similar research project program is being advertised in Australia, funded by IELTS Australia.


Research will be expected to commence by January 2006 and completed by September 2006. Final reports on findings and conclusion should be

submitted by December 2006. Applicants will be required to submit final reports in a format that meets specifications for publication.


Institutions/individuals are invited to submit a written application (maximum of ten pages, unbound) in accordance with the format and content requirements.


All applications received will be treated on a confidential basis. The decision of the review committee will be final. Proposals from researchers and institutions with established links with IELTS are welcomed.


Research guidelines and application form can be downloaded from



Please send completed application forms and research proposals to Sujata Saikia (see below) by deadline 31 July 2005


Sujata Saikia

IELTS Business Development Manager

British Council

10 Spring Gardens - London SW1A 2BN, UK

Telephone +44 (0)20 7389 4870 - Fax +44 (0)20 7389 4140







Our dear SHARER Patricia Salvador from Thomson Learning has got an invitation to make:


Thomson Learning presents Dr.David Nunan in the following locations:


August 29th – Córdoba


August 31st – 10:00 / 12:00 at  Licenciatura en Lengua Inglesa INSPT de la Universidad Tecnológica Nacional – Auditorium – Triunvirato 3174 – Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

This presentation can be viewed same day, same time through interactive teleconference on the premises of:

Facultad Regional Villa María. Contact: 

Facultad Regional Bahía Blanca. Contact:

Facultad Regional Rosario. Contact:


September 1st  - Mar del Plata      

September 3rd  -  Buenos Aires      


For further info and registration, go to ,or:

Licenciatura en Lengua Inglesa INSPT –UTN (Buenos Aires)

Libreria Blackpool (Cordoba) - (0351) 423 7172

Libreria Palito  (Mar del Plata) -  (0223) 494 6666

Librería Ameghino (Rosario) -  (0341) 449 8906 / 5637

Advice Bookshop (Santa Fe) - (0343) 431 6100

Thomson Learning Southern Cone – (011) 4582 0601 / 0607





Our dear SHARERS Silvia Aida Noya de Mandra and Maria Del Rosario de San Nicolas from Rio Negro have gota n invitation to make:


A Seminar on Neuro Linguistic Programming

By Laura Szmuch And Jamie Duncan


Being A Resourceful Teacher (3 hours) Expand your horizons, communicate better with your students!

Passionfruit (2 hours) Multisensory activities!

Preservándonos a pesar de todo.


Date: 30th July              

Further information: Tel:  02941 - 15585877, or personally at : Tres Arroyos 285

Gral. Roca – Rio Negro

e-mail and






Our dear SHARER Ximena Faralla has sent us this announcement:


In August...

Celebrate Kid's Day with us!

Enjoy one of our shows at your School in August!

Especially designed private performances. You choose the time, the date, the place. We provide you an exclusive door to door service.



Kindergarten & EGB 1. 40 minute show.


Robinson Crusoe

The whole of Primary School. 40 minute show.


Wuthering Heights

Secondary School. 70 minute show.

For information on all shows, activities and lyrics visit our website


Storytelling Sessions with Nicky Bingham


"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" for Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd forms. 30 minutes. Interactive.


"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (easy level) for 3rd and 4th forms. 30 minutes. Interactive.


"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (high level) for 5th, 6th and 7th forms. 45 minutes. Interactive.  


"The Landlady", "The Leg of Lamb" & "The Way up to Heaven" for 7th form & Secondary School. 45 minutes each.



Each session is designed for a maximum number of 60 students. If you hire one session, the cost of any of them is of $200.- If you hire more than one on the same day, any extra you add will have a discount of 25% and cost $150.- The maximum numbers of sessions per day is of 4.



We perform every weekday either in the morning or in the afternoon. Please let us know the dates you would be needing with ample time so as to organise everything carefully.


About our Storyteller:

Nicky Bingham. BA Honours in Theatre Arts, graduated from Rose Sanford College of Speech & Drama in London. She has worked extensively in theatre, musicals, film and radio. In 1998 she set up her own theatre company giving children workshops, performing and directing.

Wishing you a lovely Winter Break,

On the Road

4568-7125 /







Escuela De Humanidades

Centro de Estudios en Didácticas Específicas


Primeras Jornadas Nacionales en Didácticas Específicas

“La formación docente y la investigación en Didácticas Específicas”


Buenos Aires, 3, 4 y 5 de noviembre del 2005





  1. Convocar un  encuentro entre distintos grupos de investigación en Didácticas Específicas de las universidades y otras instituciones formadoras de docentes  para consolidar el intercambio y conocer sus producciones


  1. Generar un espacio de encuentro entre docentes e investigadores para dialogar y discutir en torno a los problemas de la enseñanza de las distintas disciplinas en nuestro país.


  1. Posibilitar la puesta en circulación para su divulgación de investigaciones y experiencias didácticas


  1. Contribuir al campo de las didácticas específicas y a la formación docente con la publicación de documentos que recojan las principales líneas de debate planteadas.




Jueves 3 de noviembre



9,00. Acreditación

10,00. Acto de inauguración

11,00. Panel integrado con un especialista por cada Didáctica Específica (Matemática, Lengua, Ciencias Naturales, Ciencias Sociales) y un Didacta General.

Tema: El lugar de las Didácticas Específicas en la Formación docente.


Intervalo para almorzar



14,30. Panel integrado con un especialista por cada Didáctica Específica (Matemática, Lengua, Ciencias Naturales, Ciencias Sociales) y un Didacta General.

Tema: Las prácticas de enseñanza sobre las Didácticas Específicas en la formación docente.

16,00. Café

16,30. Trabajo en comisiones

Intercambio de investigaciones y experiencias didácticas.


Viernes 4 de noviembre



9,00. Panel integrado con un especialista por cada Didáctica Específica (Matemática, Lengua, Ciencias Naturales, Ciencias Sociales).

Tema: Líneas de investigación y principales debates en las Didácticas Específicas

10,30. Café.

11,00. Trabajo en comisiones

Intercambio de investigaciones y experiencias didácticas.


Intervalo para almorzar



14,30. Panel integrado con un especialista por cada Didáctica Específica (Matemática, Lengua, Ciencias Naturales, Ciencias Sociales).

Tema: ¿Cómo se define un problema de investigación en las Didácticas Específicas?

16,00. Trabajo en comisiones

Intercambio de investigaciones y experiencias didácticas.


20,00. Espectáculo Teatro de Títeres Tornavía, Centro de Teatro de Objeto. Escuela de Humanidades. UNSAM.


Sábado 5 de noviembre



9,00. Presentación del trabajo por comisiones. Conclusiones

11,00.Cierre de las Jornadas.

Entrega de certificados



Costo de inscripción



Hasta el 9/7/05

Hasta el 5/08/05


Hasta el 28/10/05


$ 70

$ 80

$ 100


$ 30

$ 40

$   50


$ 10

$ 15

$   20


Formas de pago : Pago mediante depósito ó transferencia bancaria en:


Cuenta Corriente en Pesos

Banco de la Nación Argentina - Sucursal San Martín

Cuenta Nº 313235/89

Denominación: Universidad Nacional de Gral. San Martín - Recursos Propios

CUIT: 30-66247391-6 3

C.B.U.: 0110040220000313235894


Personalmente en:

Escuela de Humanidades- Avda. 25 de mayo y Francia. Campus Miguelete- - San Martín (1650) – Prov. De Buenos Aires.  Lunes a Viernes de 11 a 20 hs. 



Se pueden inscribir en la siguiente dirección electrónica: 

ediante correo postal a Escuela de Humanidades- Avda. 25 de mayo y Francia. Campus Miguelete- - San Martín (1650) –- San Martín (1650) - Prov. de Buenos Aires.

O por Fax al (54 – 11) 4580- 7275 / 7281 int. 11.


Importante: Para aceptar su inscripción será necesario la remisión de copia de boleta de depósito, transferencia ó factura de pago por correo postal o fax.






Tools for Teachers

announces its course:




18 and 19 July, 2005


at SBS Palermo - Coronel Diaz 1747, Capital Federal


Monday , July 18

10:00 to 13:00 Vulgar English


In this workshop we broach the subject of taboo words, vulgarities and insults. We discover the hidden meanings of innocent looking words and we reflect on how languages differ when expressing violence, anger and some biological processes. We attempt to answer the often asked question , “How do you say...” which lots of students put to us. We will listen to a comedian elaborating on the seven words you cannot say on the radio or TV. Participants will receive a full set of exercises, an answer key, and an annotated bibliography.



14:30 to 17:30 Advanced Language: Folks And Their Ways


You most likely know what a couch potato, a sugar daddy  or a rolling stone are, but what about a tough cookie, a gold digger or a jinx? In this workshop we will study the names given to different people according to their ways, i.e. those distinctive features that single them out. This is a lighthearted, fun session for the word lover packed with words not usually included even in advanced language textbooks, although they are certainly well known by most native speakers of English.



Tuesday, July 19

10:00 to 13:00 Humour in English


This is by no means a study of what English humour is, but a presentation of recorded passages by some famous comedians which will serve as a starting point for discussion and an analysis of linguistic items of interest. The session will also include a number of knock-knock jokes, and unintendedly funny—sometimes hilarious—texts which are most often  the result of wrong word order or punctuation.



14:30 to 17:30 The Power of Language


Language can hurt or heal, it can destroy or build. The language a speaker uses contributes to his/her model of the world and can reinforce either positive or negative beliefs, as whether you say you can or you can’t do something you will be right since language will inevitably influence your behaviour.


In this introductory yet highly revealing session, we will adopt an NLP( Neurolinguistic Programming) perspective to analyze language patterns that can enhance or limit our horizons.


All sessions are conducted by Oriel E. Villagarcia

Profesor en Inglés with a Magna Cum Laude distinction, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Fulbright and British Council Scholar, Post graduate studies, University of Texas, M.A. University of Lancaster. Master Practitioner in NLP, Certificate of Completion, NLP University, Santa Cruz, California


Fees: $20 per session -          $35 any two sessions –

       $50 any three sessions -  $60 the whole course




1. Personally at any of the SBS branches throughout the country, except SBS Palermo, where you can register only until July 11.

2. IF YOU ARE SURE TO ATTEND THE SESSIONS, you can pre-register by emailing and pay the day of the workshop. Include your full name, phone number, address,and the sessions you are pre-registering for. Be sure to arrive twenty minutes before the session starts to make payments.   







Consorcio para sobre el idioma español. UBA, UNC Y UNL


Desde el 2004 la Argentina cuenta con un examen de conocimiento de español destinado a los extranjeros alóglotas, que deseen obtener una certificación de reconocimiento internacional. En este sentido, la Universidad de Buenos Aires, junto con las universidades nacionales de Córdoba y del Litoral, constituyeron el 3 de junio de ese año un Consorcio Interuniversitario para la elaboración del Certificado de Español: Lengua y Uso (CELU),

Estos certificados cuentan con los avales del Ministerio de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología, y del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto.

demás, en el mismo mes de junio, los ministros de Educación de Argentina y Brasil firmaron un acuerdo de reconocimiento recíproco de los exámenes de conocimiento de la lengua portuguesa (CELPEBras) y española (CELU), y recientemente se otorgó por resolución ministerial, la validez nacional.

De acuerdo con informaciones originadas en el Ministerio de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología, el primer examen se tomó simultáneamente en las ciudades de Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe y Río de Janeiro el 10 de noviembre de 2004. Se inscribieron 276 postulantes, 90 en la ciudad brasilera, 105 en Buenos Aires, 66 en Córdoba y 154 en Santa Fe.

Los próximos exámenes se tomarán los días 11 y 12 de noviembre de 2005. Para mayor información ir a la página web  






XV Jornadas de la Vivencia a la Elaboración. Eje: El Juego Aplicado: salud, educación, empresa, trabajo comunitario


Fecha de realización: 15, 16 y 17 de setiembre de 2005


Lugar: Estudio Inés Moreno. V. del Pino 2714. Ciudad de Buenos Aires


Organiza: Estudio Inés Moreno


Destinatarios: dirigido a profesionales de todos los campos del saber; estudiantes avanzados y personas que deseen entrenar y aplicar estrategias lúdicas en su tarea

Actividades: Talleres- Conferencias- Juegos Masivos- Relato de experiencias- Espacios de Juego


Temas: Juego, resiliencia y salud. El juego en la prevención y terapéutica. El Juego como instrumento para la Selección y Capacitación de Personal. El Juego y la utilización del Tiempo Libre. Juegos de Comunicación. Juego y Aprendizaje. El Juego y los Valores. Convivencia y Juegos Cooperativos. El Juego en el Jardín de Infantes. El Juego como medio de interveción comunitaria.Cómo desarrollar el Juego con adultos mayores. Construcción de espacios de juego. El facilitador de Juego. El Juego en las diversas áreas expresivas : Jugar con las palabras, títeres, murga, teatro, cuentos. Ludotecas con diferentes objetivos. Juego y Creatividad


Becas: El estudio Inés Moreno a través de la DGESup otorgará 4 becas para participar de estas jornadas, a alumnos y/o profesores de Instituciones dependientes de esta Dirección General.  Se pueden solicitar por mail a  mencionando los siguientes datos: nombre y apellido; DNI;  institución en la que trabaja o estudia; teléfono; dirección de correo electrónico  


Informes e inscripción: Virrey del Pino 2714 TEFAX 4785 3273 Email :  -

Los docentes obtendrán constancias de Perfeccionamiento Docente otorgados por DGEGP



Today we would like to finish this issue of SHARE with an old English prayer that our dear SHARER Dr Alicia Ramasco sent us:


Take time to work, it is the price of success.
Take time to think, it is the source of power.
Take time to play, it is the secret of perpetual youth.
Take time to read, it is the foundation of wisdom.
Take time to be friendly, it is the road to happiness.
Take time to dream, it is hitching your wagon to a star.
Take time to love & be loved, it is the privilege of the gods.
Take time to look around, it is too short a day to be selfish.
Take time to laugh, it is the music of the soul."



Omar and Marina.



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