MEC, Thinking Outside the Box, and English for Specific Purposes

And sometimes it happens that you discover that having taken the Moodle Educator Certification Program, you dare to use Moodle in ways that you would most probably not have tried before.

To create English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Moodle Templates with content to be taught by Hebrew and/or Arabic speaking teachers who are NOT teachers of English as Foreign Language but have to teach “Technical English” in the framework of their fields in High School.

And no, it is not just Templates made up of one or two learning units: they are a kind of Mini-Moodle courses in English. Colleagues who teach their subjects in Hebrew or Arabic (to mention just a few examples, “Communication, informatics, and the Internet“, “Hair Styling and Beauty Care”, “Information and Data Analysis“, etc.) are meant to help their pupils learn Vocabulary and some Reading Comprehension. “Thinking Outside the Box“, I decided to try to do much more using just a fraction of what Moodle offers. That is a direct impact of MEC on me.

Many years ago in Israel, “Technical English” was taught in High School using printed material that did not exactly cater to the needs of some 15% of the pupils who live with some kind of disability. Accessibility was not an issue. Moodle makes it easy to cater to these pupils. In fact, Moodle serves the range of learners (of English in this case, but not only) that goes from struggling to mainstream pupils. Accordingly, having chosen Moodle as the venue, I am trying to go beyond helping teenage pupils learn specific Vocabulary and some Reading Comprehension.

The Israel Ministry of Education encourages teachers to use Virtual Learning Environments. Moodle is one of the options teachers are provided with (obviously, for free). I could have chosen any, but since I am crazy about Moodle I chose it to, on the one hand, show decision-makers in the Ministry the potential that can be unleashed with Moodle, and, on the other hand, show pupils that they can learn not just English, but to be independent learners (provided they get appropriate guidance from their teachers).

I am grateful for the significant support I have got from Dr. Tziona Levi, the Director of English Language Education – Ministry of Education, Israel, and from Dr. Aharon Shachar Division Manager (Scientific and Engineering Sciences) – Technology Education Administration- Israel Ministry of Education. Being primarily a teacher in the field (although I am a Teachers’ Teacher accredited by the Ministry, I am basically what I am: a teacher at school). This cannot be taken for granted. The Ministry is taking a risk having me prepare those Templates.

Collaborating with Ministry officials and teachers from the different fields, we are putting up together courses that enhance English skills such as Reading and Listening Comprehension, but also provide a framework whereby pupils can improve their Speaking and Writing skills, too. Teachers who will facilitate the courses will be able to request as many copies (with their pupils enrolled) as they need, and check that their pupils make progress. Moodle will do much of the checking since I make use of Moodle Quiz to let pupils check how they are doing (Speaking and Writing are left out , though encouraged because you can’t expect somebody other than a teacher of English to teach and check that in a professional manner. Teachers are encouraged to collaborate with their peers, and pupils to turn to their teachers of English. Being proactive is the key to success.)

How will this turn out to be when tried for the first time, hopefully, next school year? Time will tell. I have been involved in helping teachers to use Moodle, and am now doing so with some of the teachers who will eventually use copies of the Templates. I believe that when they learn to use Moodle with the role of teachers, teachers can do more than just proctor.

The following video might give you a glimpse into some Templates that are being developed:

Eduardo Lina

Eduardo Lina

Born in Argentina, Eduardo has been living and working in Israel since 1979 - and he loves to use Moodle! Married to Susy, with two daughters: Gabriela and Maia, and one granddaughter, Sol, Eduardo is teaching English at school. Having completed with HRDNZ both MoodleBites for Teachers and the six MEC courses, Eduardo is a Moodle Certified Educator. He is a Certified Israel Ministry of Education Teachers’ teacher. He has developed and facilitated several Israel Ministry of Education's Spanish and English as a Foreign Language online workshops.

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