In this show we will ask is it possible to build a relationship with a teacher thousands of miles away?
I also have news of two free courses coming up later this year, which might interest internationally minded listeners based in Europe. The first one, called M-HOUSE, is for people who are home-based for whatever reason, be it unemployment, looking after children and so on and who might be interested in exploring whether starting a business would be a good idea. The second project called FLITE, is aimed at people either already working or who are well on their way to getting a degree in computer sciences and who are also interested in working on a business idea. These are two projects I’m working on where we will be needing pilot students who will be able to do the courses for free. Why is this international? Because you will be doing the course online and will be working with people from all over Europe.
So how do you teach English to primary school students when you don’t have any English teachers? We will be hearing about an incredible project in Uruguay, South America where the British Council have set up distance English teaching that not only teaches the children but also teaches the local classroom teacher so that in 3 years’ time Uruguay will be able to deliver the English teaching 100% locally. When I caught up with the British Council’s Graham Stanley who is the project manager, in Uruguay, my first question was about how the project, called Plan Ceibal, had all started. It turns out that Uruguay had a big advantage in carrying out this project by being absolutely digital through the One Laptop Per Child programme.
absolutely round the clock
Now we fly over to the Philippines and meet Leath Traill who talks about CTs and RTs. CTs are the classroom teachers in Uruguay, and RTs are the remote teachers, in this case, in The Philippines where they go absolutely round the clock. So why Filipino teachers?
Time now to meet one of the remote teachers, or RTs as they are called in Plan Ceibal.
As I found out more about the project I couldn’t help but compare it to Sugata Mitra’s idea of a school in the cloud. We talked to Mitra in this podcast in show 72 back in 2008 if you want to find out more. As it happens, Sugata Mitra was speaking at the IATEFL conference in Harrogate in the UK where his talk unleashed a huge discussion between those who support his efforts and those who think he is trying to make teachers redundant. You can follow some of those arguments on Graham Stanley’s blog. And it was at Harrogate that I met yet another piece of the Plan Ceibal puzzle, Mercedes Viola, based in a private language school in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. At the IATEFL conference, Mercedes gave a talk on how the staff at her school also work as RTs, remote teachers, supporting the CTs, the classroom teachers in rural Uruguay, through their absolutely pioneering online remote teaching work.
And we’ll finish with Graham Stanley telling us about one unexpected side effect of the Plan Ceibal project:
The one group we couldn’t talk to because they are in the process of learning English are the CTs, the classroom teachers in Uruguay and their young students.
So how did you like your trip around the world? Is teaching the children and their classroom teachers English in this way doing some good?
Don’t forget that you can add comments to our blog or go over to our Absolutely Intercultural Facebook page where we add interesting links several times a week. At the moment our theme is stereotypes. Do you have a good link to share about stereotypes?
The next show will be coming to you from Germany with Laurent Borgmann on June 6th so until Stay Tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox