Updated: Apr 17
Dear NTN member,
Today we launch our official #NTNewsletter, where you will find out about the organization development and the progress of our network. In this issue called “Online English Teaching and the Nascent Teacher Community of Nariño” we will talk about NTN, our first events which took place from May to September, and the current state and projects of this organization.
First up, let us introduce Nariño TESOL Network: it is a non-profit academic organization, but beyond that, we are mainly a community of English language teachers based in the Department of Nariño, Colombia, whose mission is to create professional development opportunities in our region—though any language teacher from around the world is invited to connect with us. If you wish to learn more, watch our first live presentation on our brand new YouTube Channel and browse our website.
Our goal is to give life to our own online and in person TESOL conference, but until we are able to make it happen, we've come up with a few interesting ideas so that you get to know us and participate. Up until now, we have hosted 3 web conferences, 1 showcase event, and 1 workshop. If you missed them, keep reading and follow the links to each event's YouTube video.
Say hi to our team:
Our first event took place online on May 28, 2021 and our guest speaker, Diego Boada, PhD, stole the screen to share his findings on a research about Communities of Practice carried out through a Social Network Analysis, which studies phenomena based on social structures instead of individual attributes. He highlighted the importance of teacher networks and started by distinguishing between a network and a “rosca”, a word that encompasses nepotism, unfairness, social inequity, and inefficacy in any institution. Furthermore, we should focus on what networks and communities can give us: a Community is about sharing an identity, beliefs, and intention, while a Network is about connections, relationships and shared resources; both complement each other.
Under these criteria, Diego recommends that in order to build up a network, we need to focus on making significant connections and create spaces for participation and information flow, and to build up a community, it is important to facilitate collective trust and commitment by means of example and rules. This way we can develop a shared identity and learn in a collaborative way. To sum up, for either process it is important to set norms, to analyze the best technological tools for communication, engagement and decision-making, to promote real-life interactions and orientation for new teachers, to share resources and opportunities regularly, and to get support from educational institutions.
Our second webinar took place online on June 19 and we had three guest speakers: Mariana Aristizábal, Juan Carlos Ruiz, and Eloísa Puello. They and our president, Santiago Gustin, shared their experiences on applying for and being a Foreign Language Teaching Assistant in the United States with Fulbright.
They told us that it is a 1-year process and you need to save some money for it, but once you have been patient and know that you have been accepted, the university and the program will take care of you and the experiences you'll face will be 100% worth it.
The Fulbright FLTAs recommend that if you apply for this program, it is okay to be nervous but do not let it intimidate you to the point of resignation. If you are an English teacher, do not worry because the ELT knowledge you have is what you need for Spanish teaching as well. Once you set foot on US ground, be proud of your own culture and share it with your students, and never forget to be creative and to be yourself. Finally, know that after this experience, not only you will have grown personally and professionally, but it will also create more opportunities for your career.
Although our third webinar was “private”, the only requirement for you was to be an NTN member, which you already are if you are reading this newsletter. It took place online on July 9 and we met Tammy Wik, the company’s Marketing Director. She kindly showed us how to use this resource website to teach online. The platform includes a wide variety of materials and content for English learning and can be acquired by teachers or institutions, but the pricing is set per teacher; each teacher account includes 100 free licenses for her/his students. Among the materials, you can find collections of lessons, flashcards and assessment resources, and with the “folders” feature, you may plan your personalized lessons. Within each lesson there may be up to 16 types of tasks which include warm-up, comprehension, and production activities, and all communication skills are covered.
Finally, remember that by being an NTN member you get a free 2-month trial!
Our first product showcase event took place online on August 27, where we met with Jair Ayala Zárate. He showed us ETS’ newest online assessment products: TOEFL Essentials and iBT Home Edition. Some of the differences between the products are the following: while TOEFL iBT assesses 100% academic English, takes 3 hours, and ranges from B1 to C2, TOEFL Essentials assesses 50% academic English and 50% general English, and ranges from A1 to C2, not to mention that this one adds an unscored video statement and is half the price.
Although Essentials is online, more friendly for test-takers, and is being accepted by many universities, iBT is already accepted by 11 thousand universities around the world and can also be taken online with its new Home Edition. Moreover, both online tests have a new feature called “My best scores” which allows test-takers to validate their best attempt within a 2-year time frame. Finally, Jair’s tips to get better results on any test is to improve our test-taking skills, which are: time-management, note-taking, synthesizing, paraphrasing, and analyzing information.
And our fifth event and first “Share & Collab”, which is an NTN workshop, took place online on September 24. We were gathered by Araly Rodríguez to share four online teaching tools that are great to promote interaction and motivation. Nearpod, for instance, has a wide variety of activity types, Quizlet is great for live lessons, Baamboozle for teamwork, and Wordwall includes many ready-made lessons. These tools come in handy to complement our online classes and review previous content. Finally, don’t forget to check our collaborative online teaching tools list, which you can enrich by commenting.
Thank you for reading us and for being part of this community of language teachers.
Nariño TESOL Network
P. S. NTN wants to invite you to join our community and participate actively. Therefore, we want to hear your voice, so let us know if you are interested in becoming a facilitator or guest speaker in our events. We will gladly work alongside you to deliver an amazing presentation to fellow English teachers.