Thursday, September 12, 2013

3 months of Ceibal English

I've now been working in Montevideo for Plan Ceibal for just over three months now and still can't get over the fact that it feels like I'm in a very special place at a very special time. Three months isn't a very long time, but it feels like I have learnt a lot since I've been here. As the British Council's project manager for Ceibal English (Ceibal en Inglés) in Uruguay, I took over from Dario Luis Banegas, whose article 'ELT through videoconferencing in primary schools in Uruguay: first steps' is an excellent introduction to the pilot and first stage of the project. The introductory project video (below) gives another good overview of what is involved.

Shortly after I arrived, the project expanded from 500 English classes a week to just under 1000, with classes being taught in multiple locations across the country by remote teachers from various institutes in Montevideo, the British Council in Colombia and Mexico, AACI and other institutes in Argentina, and SME in the Philippines. I'm happy to say this expansion phase was successful thanks to the efforts of many dedicated professionals and it definitely feels exciting to be part of what is a unique countrywide complex project involving the teaching of English and a combination of learning technologies.


Since the expansion phase in July, I've been able to observe teachers at work and my idea is to now blog about different aspects of the project here. It is a complex and dynamic project that is changing as it is being rolled out. There are parts of the project that tend to indicate a new teaching methodology is required, and Jeremy Harmer reflected on this in a recent blog post after visiting a school and observing a class. This post and the comments posted by a variety of people both involved and not involved in the project make very interesting reading. It's partly due to the comments posted there that I've decided to reflect on different aspects of the project here.

Find out more about the project here:



5 comments:

  1. WOW! how very exciting to be involved in such an innovative programme, and may I add that in IMHO they have the right man on the job:-)
    I just read the discussion on Jeremy H's blog, and the comment which resonated for me ( newly back from Argentina) was Nicholas Dawson's remark about reducing the capital/rest of the country dichotomy. I can just imagine all the situation videos moved from London and the Cotswolds to places of relevance to the students.
    Great stuff. I look forward to reading the following episodes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Elizabeth - you are very kind. You're right about this project - rather than Montevideo, the project has started by offering English to parts of the country where English has never been taught before. I was in the north west of Uruguay observing teachers last week and it was so great to see such motivated groups of teachers and kids working together. They seem to be genuinely excited about this opportunity that has been given to them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Graham!
    What a wonderful project and such enthusiasm on all the cute faces of the kids as well as the teachers! It's very interesting that the teachers are also learning English! As you can imagine, I'd love to be involved in such an exciting program! Kudos to you!! :-)
    I read Jeremy's post and thought his questions relevant. However, I'm sure that the best options were thought out carefully in advance. Only time will tell, of course. But one thing I know. This is an experience that these students and teachers will never forget. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both parties involved! Fantastic!! :-)
    Hugs, Teresa

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so glad I came across this post (I landed here from your YouTube video on Web 2.0). I was not aware of the great things being done in Uruguay. I teach EFL as an assistant teacher in Japan, and do a lot of videoconferencing with other schools abroad, so it's very interesting to see videoconferencing used effectively in a similar situation but for a broader purpose and with a totally different structure. I'd be very interesting in hearing more about how the remote teacher manages to develop relationships and rapport with the classroom teacher.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Teresa, great to hear from you - there's a lot of work still to be done to understand how best to do this, but the people I work with are all so driven that it feels we are making strides every week and making it work better as we go along.

    Sean, I'd be very interested in knowing more about your teaching experience - is it a similar situation? I mean do you teach English to a class of students with another teacher in the room? There are lots of strategies that teachers are using to establish a rapport and develop a relationship with the other teacher - this is definitely something I want to blog about soon, so watch this space.

    ReplyDelete