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RESULTS OF A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL MEDIATED BY ICTs FOR ENGLISHTEACHERS OF STATE SCHOOLS IN COLOMBIA Luz Dary Arias S.

, Doralba Prez I.and, Esperanza. Vera R. Docentes investigadoras Universidad Pedaggica Nacional (Colombia) luzdarias@hotmail.com, doralbaperezi@yahoo.fr, evera@pedagogica.edu.co Abstract The main purpose of this paper is to socialize the results and experience of the study A proposal of teacher development mediated by ICTs, conducted by the research group Hipermedia, Evaluacin y Aprendizaje del ingles from Universidad Pedaggica Nacional of Bogota, Colombia. This research, which was developed in 2009 with sixteen teachers of three state schools, explored the pedagogical practices of the participants evidenced in the implementation of a professional development proposal based on ICTs, particularly in relationship to the development of listening skills and intercultural competence. The main questions addressed in this research were: 1. What role does a proposal based on ICT play in the professional development of some state school teachers in Bogota? 2. How do teachers transpose the strategic knowledge acquired in the design of activities to develop their students listening skills and intercultural competence? The data for the study was gathered by means of surveys (a preliminary survey about teachers perceptions of technology and final survey), some logs collected throughout the process of teacher training sessions, artifacts and an interview. . The theoretical framework is built up around different aspects such as culture, intercultural competence, and ICTs and teacher development in Colombia. The participants in this proposal considered it interesting, useful, complete, enjoyable, and attractive since it allowed them to strengthen their language knowledge and become familiar with new strategies for the development of listening skills and intercultural competence, letting them at the same time to reflect upon their cognitive and metacognitive processes. They also perceived that this proposal offered them the opportunity to think about their pedagogical practices to reaffirm or to innovate them. Teachers celebrated the chance they had to transpose their knowledge of some strategies to their teaching practices and suggested useful experiential activities to engage students. Besides, they highlighted the relevance of fun activities in the development of communicative skills and language learning, as well as the meaningful use of ICTs and previous knowledge to construct new knowledge. (Vera, Prez & Olaya, 2010) Keywords: Professional development, intercultural competences, ICTs, listening skills. Background This research had its origin in the need some high school teachers from state schools in Bogota have in terms of receiving continuous in-service education, taking advantage of the benefits of ICTs in language learning and teaching. As noticed in the national wide study about pedagogical uses of ICTs in Colombian schools, Caballero, Prada, Vera & Ramrez (2007) pointed out that there is an increasing need to help teachers complement and further their pedagogical practices with technologies at a large scale by providing them with the necessary time, space, training and technological resources, so that they can integrate ICTs into the school curriculum in a meaningful way. Taking into account these needs, the research team used mainly two technological tools to develop this professional development proposal (PDP): an interactive role play game called A Journey to Britannia, designed and validated by the research team between 2002 and 2004 and some webbased free resources such as podcasts, vodcasts, and a product developed by Oddcast called monkey-e-mail.

A Journey to Britannia is an interactive role play game aimed at helping English learners develop their listening skills, by learning strategies for that purpose. This learning environment is grounded in an approach that fosters the development of the communicative, strategic and intercultural competence framed both in the context of a contemporary user and the medieval epoch of King Arthurs legend.

Logging in to the interactive game The game is made up of two modules: one designed to provide training in the use of seven listening strategies through explanations and interactive games, and another that contains two big missions the user is expected to fulfill to be able to come back to the XXI century in modern Great Britain. The first module contains seven games related to the strategies chosen from those proposed by Oxford (1990) namely reasoning deductively, getting the idea quickly, language transfer, using linguistic clues, thought groups, using key words and semantic groups. Seven listening strategies The second module contains mission A and B, where the user interacts with characters from the present-day and medieval times in a simulated manner. The gamer has to choose the best option to interact with them, taking into account the linguistic and contextual factors of the communication being held in each situation. If the user chooses the correct utterance, s/he wins a life and continues interacting with the characters: otherwise, s/he loses one of the initial sets of lives given to him/her. All the information about the gamers failures and successful attempts is stored in the user profile created when entering the game and which is available every time s/he accomplishes a mission (Vera & Arias, 2008). Entering the missions in the interactive game Within this game, we included some of the key aspects of real life in Colombian and English cultures as well as some of the fantastic elements of King Arthurs legend. All of this with the view of bringing that foreign culture closer to our students and helping them value their own culture. The podcasts, videos and vodcasts used to motivate the participants to create similar products were also related to culture. For example, one of the videos used to help teachers reflect on how to integrate the study of culture into listening activities was one of the series of videos called Colombia is Passion. In that video a girl describes some of the best things we Colombians are proud of. Teachers were asked how they would use that video as input to develop their listening lessons and they came up with interesting ideas transposing the strategic knowledge acquired in the PDP, some of which will be described later in this article. Next, we will include some relevant definitions of the constructs of culture, intercultural competence and teacher development and ICTs and some studies that can serve as local references of the way they have been approached in our context. Culture According to Nieto (2002), the concept of culture should not only be associated to topics such as festivals, food, and dances of a cultural group even though these are important elements of it. In fact,

following Nieto (2002) and Hinkel (1999), we consider there are other components that make part of the culture of any group and that should be taken into account in the language classroom: the peoples life experiences, their relationships with other members of the their group and with their contexts. Hinkel (1999) also establishes a connection between the culture and other dimensions such as race, social background, gender, and in the language teaching context, language. This latter dimension should not be overlooked when teaching a language. In fact, the foreign culture and its language should go hand in hand, given the fact that language affects peoples lives, experiences and relationships. In this respect we agree with Allman (1990 in Nieto) when he affirms that language is one of the fundamental signs of humanity and that it is the palette from which people color their lives and cultures, (p. 96). Intercultural communicative competence (ICC) Fantini (2001, in Real, 2009) defines ICC as the ability to interact appropriately and efficiently with members of other cultures and languages. Although there is no consensus on a unique definition of ICC, this author specifies a series of elements that constitute this concept: A variety of features such as flexibility, humor, respect, and patience, among others. Three domains: the ability to establish and maintain relationships, the ability to communicate efficiently, and the ability to cooperate with others to achieve common goals. Four dimensions: Knowledge, (positive) attitudes, skills, and awareness. Mastering a second language: The knowledge of a second language determines how individuals see themselves, and, at the same time, allows them to communicate with others within intercultural experiences, (Fantini, 2001). In order to expand this characterization of ICC, we rely on Oliverass (2000) assertion that people have their own cultural knowledge and that they reflect on their own culture, which will determine the way they see the foreign culture. This leads us to think that in the language classroom, teachers should address the students own culture and also their foreign one if they want to foster their ICC. Many studies focused on ICC have been carried out in Colombia. One of them, developed by Alvarez and Bonilla (2009) with future language teachers in a private university of Bogota, was aimed at analyzing the participants ICC development. Among the results of this study, we want to highlight that the students: Understood what culture implied and its meaning. Showed their perceptions of ICC clearly. Evidenced different ways to build interculturality based on subcultures (since this was the main topic of the activities developed by the researchers and the participants). Improved their understanding and tolerance toward other cultures and groups. Raised their awareness of the importance of understanding other cultural groups. Identified some aspects that relate language and culture, such as the speakers role, space management, register, etc. Reflected on the fact that to approach a foreign culture it is essential to recognize otherness. Other studies worth mentioning are the ones conducted by Mojica (2007) and Real (2009). The former, whose purpose was to explore the cultural perceptions of the participants, showed that they built their own concept of culture departing from their ways of knowing the world, and that their cultural perceptions emerged from their experiences, what coincides with Morans idea (2001 in Mojica, 2009) that culture must be understood as a way of living and participating in life. Reals research, aimed at developing students intercultural competence through literary circles, evidenced a great variety of feelings and values towards the foreign culture, such as respect, tolerance, admiration, and also the establishment of comparisons and contrasts between the students own and foreign cultures, processes that are necessary to develop ICC. Finally, it showed that students established a great quantity of connections that allowed them to understand and have a critical point of view of other cultures, based on their perceptions and their own culture. Those connections were based on lived experiences, known people, previous knowledge and documents previously read like tales, legends, etc. Teacher professional development mediated by ICTs

Diaz-Maggioli (2003:1) defines professional development as an ongoing learning process in which teachers engage voluntarily to learn how best to adjust their teaching to the learning needs of their students Bearing in mind the above definition, there are some aspects a teacher should dominate and that consequently, any professional development program should embark: disciplinary knowledge, in our case English language, and the pedagogical tools necessary to teach it; tools to build a professional and cultural identity given the fact that a teacher is a factor of social change; motivation to carry out research in his daily work; ability to reflect on his own performance and that of other members of his educational community; and skills to use the resources available in his context, (Vergara et al, 2009). One type of resources the teacher should be aware of in order to be able to use it in his teaching situation and, at the same time improve his students learning processes is ICTs. He should not only know how to use them for personal purposes, but also for professional ones. This means that the teacher should know how to evaluate them, how to integrate them to their syllabi and of course, how to adapt them. For this reason, we consider ICTs should be one of the main aspects around which teacher development programs should center. However, there are several reasons that might have an incidence in the lack of success of teacher development programs mediated by ICTs: Isolated courses that have no continuity, lack of economical resources, poor access to technology (Osin & Huergo, 1999:19) One of the pillars of the current policies of the national government of Colombia is the emphasis on teachers appropriation of technological tools so that they can enrich their pedagogical practices. The teachers professional development program for the use of ICTs designed by the Ministry of Education (MEN, 2008) focuses on two main phases: First, helping teachers become aware of their use, facing fears, acknowledging resistance and discovering obstacles so that they eventually include them in their practices, and second, fostering a more professional appropriation of ICTs so that teachers can transform curricular practices. An example of a professional development program is Escuela Virtual (Virtual school), conducted in a rural area of Caldas (Colombia), and whose purpose was to integrate ICTs to the program in order to improve teaching and learning practices. Its objectives were to provide teachers and staff with the necessary tools to facilitate the use of ICTs in the classroom based on meaningful learning and collaborative environments, (OPRELAC, 2005). Its impact lies on the fact that some educational institutions started to use ICTs in a qualified way, it enhanced the exchange of collaborative projects supported by telematic means, and helped change the teachers perceptions of ICTs as pedagogical tools. Methodology A qualitative case study approach suited this investigation considering that, as Merriam (1988:19) affirms, a case study design is employed to gain an in-depth understanding of the situation and meaning of those involved. In this study the purpose was to analyze the pedagogical practices of a group of teachers and draw conclusions only about them and only in their own context, several public schools of Bogot. In the same line of thought, Cohen, Manion and Morrison(1995) state that in a case study the researcher observes the characteristics of an individual, a group or any delimited community with the purpose of studying and analyzing the phenomena that constitute the life of the individual or group that participate in the study. According to Denzin and Lincoln (1994), qualitative research makes use of multiple methods to achieve its goals and besides, it is an approach in which researchers do not test hypotheses but rather observe what is present. Setting This study was carried out with a group of English language teachers of several public schools of Bogot, given the need for professional development programs public institutions and particularly, English language teachers face, and considering the challenges posed by modern world, moved by technology.

Although or purpose was to choose schools that had appropriate technological infrastructure and Pentium III computers, and if possible, a language resource center, we found that just a few of them complied with these requirements, and thus he had to work with schools in which the teachers were enthusiastic to work with the group of researchers but that struggled to use the resources available. Participants The participants that composed the sample for the study were 16 teachers from seven public schools of Bogota, who participated voluntarily. All of them had a bachelor in English language teaching awarded by a university, two held a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics to TEFL and six were studying masters degrees in programs like technology applied to education, linguistics, and Language teaching. Ten participants had taken shorter formal programs called specializations in programs such as Virtual Learning Design, Pedagogy, and Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language, University Education, and Language Teaching for Basic Education. In relationship to the teachers views of ICTs, all the participants (100%) considered that technological tools could be useful in their work as teachers, and 80% considered their skills to use ICTs were good. However, not many of them report using them in their teaching processes with their students, and the ones that reported using them, affirmed that the tools they use the most are e-mail and Yahoo and Google to ask the students to search information. Instruments This part will present the instruments used to collect the data necessary to respond the research questions and the usefulness of each one of those instruments in the data collection process. Logs: According to Fogarty (1994), logs are academic diaries that focus on the work that the participants do in their own context and not on aspects related to their personal lives as journals do. Interviews are direct dialogues between researchers and participants. They are useful to collect data with research or teaching purposes (before and after instruction) and when feedback on a specific topic is needed, (Genesse & Upshur, 1996). The information collected with this instrument was the acquisition of strategic knowledge and its transposition in the design of activities by the teachers. Surveys: Sagor (2000) considers surveys popular instruments because they "are efficient and versatile, useful to gather data concerning affective, cognitive or attitudinal issues, (p.104). With the use of surveys we wanted to dig into the teachers perception of the proposal. Artifacts: The podcasts and listening comprehension activities designed by the participants were analyzed as evidence of their pedagogical practices when using ICTs. Physical material as a form of document consists of physical objects found within the study setting. Anthropologists typically refer to these objects as artifacts, (Merriam, 2000: 117). Artifact allowed us to see teachers cultural vision and how they would improve their students listening comprehension skills and intercultural competence. Interviews: Useful to establish direct dialogues with participants, this instrument is useful to collect data in research, in teaching and in getting feedback on specific issues. According to Patton (1990 in Merriam, 1998:71), it is useful to find out what is in and on someone elses mind, reason why we decided to administer it in this study, considering that we wanted to deepen on the teachers perceptions of the proposal, their advances in the design of activities for listening skills and ICC, and their awareness of their own listening skills development. Results of the study in terms of culture and intercultural competence Although in the complete report of the study we provided answers to three research subquestions, in this article we will only present those related to the inclusion of culture in the teaching of listening and the aim of developing the intercultural competence, which are part of the second subquestion explored in the study. The category we describe below was the fourth one for that subquestion and has two main subcategories: Activities for integrating cultural aspects with the teaching of listening comprehension This category is the result of the teachers responses to the question Have you done any listening activity that involved the cultural component during the professional development program? One the

intentions of this professional development program was to show the teachers how to integrate the teaching of listening skills with the cultural aspects of the target language and ICTs to make the learning process more meaningful and enjoyable. The teachers were asked to analyze a video that makes part of the advertising campaign Colombia Is Passion and to think about the possible uses they could give to this material in a language class. This task allowed the teachers to generate a series of didactic activities to enhance the learning of cultural aspects of both the mother and the target language. The teachers produced as well activities where the knowledge of the students own culture became a source for understanding and learning the target culture. From the analysis of the answers given by the teachers, we can infer that most of the ones who reported having done any listening activity that involved the cultural component, had an intracultural vision (Stern,1992), because they focused their attention on the study of just one culture at a time. Only two teachers evidenced to have an intercultural vision, because they emphasized on the importance of comparing and contrasting the two cultures; besides, one of them highlighted that the software used during the program has several aspects related to intercultural competence. We believe that this fact may have played some role in the teachers awareness of the importance of integrating cultural aspects into teaching taking advantage of the use of ICTs. This category Activities for integrating cultural aspects with the teaching of listening comprehension is divided into two subcategories that characterize the types of activities the teachers designed as can be seen in the excerpts below. 1. To make emphasis on one of the two cultures: their own culture or the foreign one Referente a las festividades tpicas del habla inglesa (EF. D18) [] Ensear la cultura de nuestro pas y conocerlo a travs de este video (Colombia is Passion) (A1, D3) Trabajara las habilidades auditivas, as como la cultura de nuestro pas, a travs de proyecciones en videobeam para los grupos de estudiantes, juegos sobre lo proyectado y creacin de videos cortos similares a ste. Los contenidos podran ser: elaboracin de descripciones, a travs de estructuras como there is/there are, uso de adjetivos, entre otros. Las estrategias a utilizar seran Getting the idea quickly, Thought groups y Using linguistic clues (A2, D4) El video se podra utilizar de manera educativa para ensear valores como el sentido de pertenencia, identidad, etc. De igual manera se podran tratar temas como la naturaleza, animales, ropa, estilos, culturas, etc. Se podra incentivar y motivar a los estudiantes a que creen su propio podcast a partir de su visin, sus costumbres, regin, comida, animales, y as de esta manera sacarle provecho a todo el video. En cuanto a los contenidos, se podra trabajar cualquier tema, puesto que dependiendo de las necesidades y de los intereses del profesor se podra adaptar para as tener una mejor repercusin. Por ejemplo en el tema gramatical presente perfecto, se puede hablar de los pases a los que ha viajado, las costumbres, los lugares tursticos, museos, etc. Se podra trabajar futuro si se quisiera dar una prediccin acerca del pas o de cmo sera Colombia en unos cuantos aos, y as sucesivamente (A2, D11) The examples above show how the emphasis is made on the study of one of the two cultures through activities such as typical celebrations of the target culture, analysis of videos, games based on the videos and creation of students own video clips. The third example reveals the interest of the teacher in the teaching of learning strategies and the fourth example draws attention to the teaching of cultural values that define the students identity. They also evidence that the teachers participants are aware of two important aspects: the fact that culture is a complex concept that involves many components that characterize any group and that should be taken into account in the language classroom, such as the peoples life experiences, their relationships with other members of the their group, their lifestyles, etc., and that, according to Hinkel

(1999), there is a connection between the culture and the language. Those examples show that many teachers try to define a grammar issue that could be studied together with certain cultural aspect. Similarly to what Real (2009) found in her study, the examples given above also show that some teachers view the importance of departing from students lived experiences and previous knowledge, based on the places they have visited or reading they have done. 2. To make emphasis on the relationship between the two cultures Story Telling for celebrations: St. Valentines, Halloween, Thanks giving, Independence day. El trabajo con el software da muchos aspectos culturales. Contrasting cultures (EF. D17) Actividades que tengan relacin tanto con Colombia como con las diferentes actividades propias de pases de lengua inglesa, y en lo posible intentar relacionar los dos (EF. D16) As we can see in the examples given, these two participants used or planned to use not only language, but also other means like stories, and activities related to celebrations in order to make learning more meaningful and to promote the comparison between the two cultures in contact. Kramsch (1998) affirms that language is the fundamental means through which we carry out our social lives. When language is used in communication contexts, it is linked to culture in different and complex ways. That means that culture expresses a cultural reality. Hence, the importance of raising teachers awareness of the close relationship between language and culture and of the type of activities they should design. Stern (1992) explains that language teaching can and should approach the learning process in an objective and critical way through the study and practice of structural, functional and sociocultural aspects and should also offer opportunities to live the language as a personal experience and by means of contact with the target community. It is important to highlight that the teachers performed the role of mediators between the contents of cognitive strategies for listening comprehension and their students. That is to say, they became mediators between their students and the learning content filtering and organizing it making evident the relationships among contents Roggof (in Barraza, 2001). To achieve this, they used different means: situational like images, stories and role plays; instrumental like games, videos and songs organized in such a way as to help learners give meaning to what is being learned. Teachers also used or suggested using other means to have students share the meanings they had constructed about the topics studied namely written, audiovisual or multimedial texts, specifically brochures, maps, comics, biographies, collages, videos and podcasts. Conclusions We can state that most of the teachers showed how they could transpose the strategic knowledge acquired during the implementation of the professional development program and their own previous methodological and cultural knowledge to plan activities that could help their students develop their cultural knowledge. The teachers evidenced their awareness of the importance of the inclusion of the cultural dimension in the language teaching and learning process and that consequently culture and language should not be studied separately. Some teachers understood the importance of using the students own culture in fostering an understanding the foreign culture and the potential of ICTs to improve students intercultural competence. There is still a need to work on the development of the intercultural competence in language students so that they can develop empathy towards the foreign culture and an appreciation for their own culture. In order to be able to do so, it is crucial that teachers be provided with support from institutions and the government in terms of training, technological resources and connectivity, time to devote to innovate their pedagogical practices and to reflect upon them.

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