Tuesday, April 14, 2009

About American Universities

Last year, I met Professor Mónica Dominguez Mulholland through one of my blogs for language teachers. Since she teaches Spanish at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, I thought it would be a good idea to carry out a short exchange with her class to learn a bit more about university life in the USA.

In the TOEFL iBT we have listening and short readings related to different campus situations and we've discussed some of the differences with our system as well. Let's take this opportunity to exchange information with the protagonists! The discussion has already started in Spanish on their blog: Spanish is Fun - Proyecto Internacional, so let's move on to English now.

Here goes the first question to get started:
In my case, it is related to the faculty (professors). How are office hours assigned? Do they depend on the number of courses each professor has? Are these hours also offered online? In Argentina, professors do not have office hours as a part of their daily work schedule. According to the material we've read and listened to, office hours seem to be a great idea since students can discuss their questions in depth and professors can address the specific needs of individual students. Do students take advantage of this extra time?

I look forward to your answers ... and to more questions, of course!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Great Expectations

So, here we are starting a new TOEFL year! I'm sure when you first entered the classroom on a Saturday morning you had a lot of questions: Will I be able to prepare for the TOEFL test in one semester? Do we need a textbook?, What does Blended mean?; and so did I : Will I be able to connect to my students this year?, Are they really motivated to prepare for the TOEFL challenge?, Will they like me?

After two years teaching both the regular and the blended courses, this year I'm only teaching the Blended one. If our virtual platform extends the walls of our physical classroom, this blog will be another online meeting spot where we'll be able to go even beyond the limits of our virtual learning environment. Reaching further and further ahead!

Let's make the most of our TOEFL experience!

Photo: Great Expectations

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blogging from Norfolk

In order to make the most of her learning adventure in the USA, Mariana has decided to start a travel blog: http://www.mytriptonorfolk.blogspot.com/ to share her experiences in Norfolk with us. I simply suggested the possibility of starting an “online journal” about her trip to capture her views and impressions while honing her writing skills in English and she accepted the challenge right away!

Why blogging?

Because it allows us to engage in expressive and meaningful writing and develop self-reflection. What’s more, blogs are open conversations with the world. As a teacher, I’ve improved my own writing and learned more from other people than I could have ever imagined since I started sharing and spreading my ideas on the web, engaging in relevant conversations with my students and with colleagues worldwide.

Let’s join Mariana on her blogging trip and help her blog grow and develop. It’s a great way of keeping in touch with a friend while also learning ourselves and experiencing the joy of authentic communication.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

TOEFL iBT Class Project

Dear all,

I am proud to announce a new edition of our TOEFL iBT Class Project!

Following the iBT integrated skills format, the project consists of oral presentations on an academic topic that belongs to your own fields of study, complemented by written summaries that will be complied on our class wiki for future reference.

The TOEFL iBT Wiki is an ongoing construction that represents our shared body of knowledge, our interests and our learning paths.

This year the first presentation will be delivered by Mariana next Wednesday (before her trip to the USA) on In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Can't wait to get started!

Cheers, Carla

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Canada-Argentina Skype Conversation Exchange

As I told you last week, we are about to start a Skype Conversation Exchange between the TOEFL groups (Regular and Blended) and the students of Spanish 149 at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

We've already started a blog at: http://www.canada-argentina.blogspot.com/ to post our introductions and get to know each other before the actual conversation exchange starts. If you are willing to take part in this project, just let me know and I'll send you an invitation to join the blog as authors.

This project will be based on the principles of Tandem Learning. You will work in pairs with a language partner and together you will decide on the topic, frequency and length of each conversation based on your specific needs and interests.

I'm sure we'll all profit from this educational and cultural experience!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TOEFL iBT Webinar: Writing

Dear all,
I’ve just attended a TOEFL iBT Teacher Webinar (web seminar) on the Writing Section offered by ETS. The presentation focused especially on the Integrated task and reviewed its main features as well as general strategies, classroom activities and useful resources that can help students improve their writing performance.

As you already know, the TOEFL Writing section includes:

1 Integrated Task in which you’ll have to synthesize the information from a reading passage and a lecture in a written response. Time: 20 minutes Length: (150 -225 words)

1 Independent Task in which you’ll have to express and support an opinion in the form of a written essay. Time: 30 minutes Length (250-300 words)

Each task is rated on a 0-5 scale. The average score is based on the two tasks and then converted to 0-30 scale.

You can find the recommended resources on our Class WIKI (link on the sidebar).

Next month we will be focusing on the Integrated Writing and we’ll discuss some strategies that can help you excel in this new task.

Enjoy the resources!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Independent Writing: Brainstorming

Today we went over the main steps of the writing process:

-Brainstorming: generating ideas
-Planning: organizing ideas
-Drafting: writing several versions of the essay
-Editing: Correcting mistakes in content, organization, grammar, vocabulary and mechanics(spelling, punctuation, capitalization)

This week we are going to brainstorm ideas on a new topic:

The Best Source of News
“Due to the development of new technology such as satellite communication and the Internet, we can get updates on the latest breaking stories as soon as they happen. However, some people argue that these sources mainly report unconnected events while newspapers or weekly magazines provide a deeper and contextualized analysis of the news, helping us understand what those events mean.”

What do you think? What is the best source of news (newspaper, cable TV, the Internet, magazines, the radio)?

Let's brainstorm the pros and cons of the different sources!

Need some help to get started? Listen to six people from different countries talk about where they get their news from.

Remember we are going to use your contributions to start working on the essay next week!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A New TOEFL Year

Welcome to TOEFL iBT Prep!

It’s a pleasure for me to meet a new group of TOEFLers ready to experience and go beyond the possibilities of the English language in an academic context. Each of you is an essential part of the learning puzzle we are going to build together throughout the year.

To learn more about the new TOEFL format, let’s take the TOEFL iBT Tour.

In order to know each other better, it would be nice if you could write a brief personal introduction as well as the goals you wish to achieve by taking this course or the reason why you want to take the TOEFL. Setting clear goals always helps us focus and reflect on our work and keep track of our progress.

I look forward to sharing this experience with all of you.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot
, "Little Gidding"


Best wishes to all of you...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Time for reflection

BubbleShare: Share photos - Delicious Christmas Recipes.

We've come a long way dear TOEFLers! It's been an amazing year with lots of excitement, new experiences, some disappointments, puzzling situations, great ideas, ... learning, learning, learning 24/7!
I strongly believe the new TOEFL is a breakthrough in EFL/ESL assessment since it really focuses on the development of integrated communication skills and critical thinking, resembling real life academic situations. Therefore, a TOEFL prep course should foster authentic interaction, knowledge sharing and collaborative learning.

I've tried to find some images to help us reflect on our learning process. How would you describe the TOEFl iBT Prep courses (regular and blended)? As a puzzle, a building process, a bridge, a race against time?

What do you think? Can you find your own metaphors for the TOEFL iBT?