Teach English in Danzhu Zhen - Changzhi Shi

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In the past, (prior to the smartphone era we live in now) recording live videos of classroom activities required access to expensive equipment, a rather specific type of environment and a much more formal approach to creating them. After reading up on the section describing the use of cell phone cameras in the classroom, my eyes nearly popped right out of my head! You see, I am currently living in one of the most rural and underdeveloped places in Panama. The power company shuts our light off periodically (at times for hours on end), cell phone signal limited to the closest main town of Mariato ,where only recently, we now have a 2G public WIFI system in place. Gladly, the region is growing and a university is being built just minutes away. Being that I will be the only certified TEFL teacher in the entire province, I intend to take advantage of this. As you can see, the poverty and low educational standards of the region present me with a large set of challenges. And then I realized one thing: despite it all, almost all people do have a smartphone with a camera (especially the younger crowd!). What does this mean? Well, it means I now have a powerful tool which can reduce our needs for rather costly class materials, a way to use ESA techniques within a more flexible range of environments and an excellent manner to monitor my students progress as well as for they themselves to review their own! Essentially I am just beginning to discover the entire potential in the use of the smartphone camera within our lessons and it is very motivating indeed! Some rules would need to be put in place - such as only using the phone during class for related activities unless it is an emergency or very important uses are required. And of course it all must lead to student talk time - in English! Some examples I have thought of within the ESA structure for the smartphone camera use can be illustrated in the following manner: In order to start the 'ENGAGE' phase with students I can easily download or take pictures of themes that relate to everyone's interests (that will directly connect with lesson plan) and 'share' them with everyone via WhatsApp (everyone here has it!). I can pair students together to look at, discuss the themes and elicit English vocabulary from them to then move on to the 'STUDY' phase. At this point the students attention will be directed to myself so that we can cover English terms on a whiteboard or posters. Further 'STUDY' steps could be performed in varying manners so as not to overuse phones and keep things interesting. The 'ACTIVATE' stage could also involve the use of the cameras in order to record student role plays and other performances. Reviews for progress and monitoring could be done in pairs, as individuals (for those students who are shy) and used for my own reviewing needs so I can gauge where each student's skills are at (as well as the overall group level). Though as excited as I may feel about this particular tool, I soberly look at and consider its possible drawbacks, which is why I plan to have replacement material on hand and be flexible to even discard camera use it if it proves to backfire. I will always have the access to the many more proven and professionally designed resources within our course materials (all safely downloaded on my laptop!). I do think that this particular area could be explored more in depth and developed in the future for ESA course uses. Perhaps one day we will see this occur within ITTT's core materials.