Word(le) clouds, Paint pictures

Wordle cloud, Paint fish

Here's one that came from one of the sessions on our CELTA course in the last week…

I suggested Ananova.com (specifically the bizarre news stories in its Quirkies section) as a great default home page for both teachers and learners, with the Dead angler becomes fish food story an example of a text you could do in class.

We then took the story — assuming that we'd already "done" the text in class — to Wordle.net and converted it into a cloud. By a bit of simple editing, first with Wordle, then with Paint (which we used to add an eye to create a word cloud fish), we've then converted the text into a picture which we could use to decorate a class blog.

As I suggested earlier, I still have my doubts about using Wordle as a classroom activity — principally because your learners will be manipulating the image, but not the words themselves: they want to be tinkering with the language not just looking at it, if we want people to learn language.

But as an "after reading" activity, to add some color to a class blog, to add some fun, you might still justify it…

And as one of you pointed out in at least one of the sessions this week, we might also possibly use the word cloud as either a prediction or a reconstruction activity…

>> How to change the default start page of your browser

Mobile phone pix

In the bar: "He was cutting a pineapple"

Here's one that came from the session on our CELTA course, July 24. I sent six of you out with your camera-equipped mobile phones to take pictures of people doing things. My instructions were to ensure that you asked politely for permission to take the photo, and thank the person for their assistance.

My assumptions were that you were teens; that you had such technology in your pockets; that we had been doing either the present or the past progressive; and that we had a class blog on which we could afterwards post the pictures with an appropriate caption (in the example, "He was cutting a pineapple…").

The point of the exercise was to raise the question of how much language would be learnt and/or practised and/or used relative to the amount of time invested in the activity. What is the return on investment, in other words, a question I would always ask myself with technology.

This isn't an idea that I've actually tried out with language learners, but I think I would: when are teens — or adults — more likely to learn: "doing" the language via a photocopied exercise or doing an activity in a way that is actually significant to them (and fun!)?

CELTA session, June 9

One of the images we took this morning (see 3, below)

Hello, and welcome if you've come to today's session…

Your task
I'd like you to rank the items below, from most to least, in terms of how much language learning you think they would produce.

You should justify your decision. If your answer is "it depends", please specify: it depends on what?

Write your answer here on this blog, using the "comments".


  1. You finding images to use in some way in class (what way?)
  2. Persuading your learners to change their default start page to the BBC World Service and to spend 5 minutes there every time they log on (ie. every day), listening or reading
  3. A project in which your learners take photographs on their mobile phones of objects of value to their partners; write texts describing their partner's objects; and publish their work on a blog [see another example]
  4. Using Glogster to create collages which they then describe orally (present) to the rest of the class; also then sharing their work online
  5. You writing grammar exercises, posting them (and the answers) on a class blog
  6. You sharing a blog with teaching colleagues (but not with your learners), on which you share problems and successes and reflect on what happens and what you are doing in class (etc)


  • (2) is being done outside class, at home and/or at work
  • (3) to (5) w0uld depend on our sharing a class blog with our learners, and could all be done on the same blog at different times of the term
  • (6) might indirectly produce more, better language learning by improving the quality of the teaching
  • There is, obviously, no right or wrong answer….

See also

CELTA session, May 9

Hi, and welcome if you've come to this morning's session…!

I'm going to divide you into three groups, and ask you to look at 3 different projects which involve language learners using technology:

  1. A creative writing project
  2. Pictures on mobile phones
  3. Score your own wonder goal!

You've got about 20 minutes to actually do the project (or as much of it as time allows).

Then I'd like you to use the "comments" feature to answer the following questions:

  1. Could you have done the project (or something similar) just as well without the technology?
  2. What would the advantages/disadvantages of using the technology be?
  3. Do you think the technology leads to a lot of language learning with these projects?
  4. What else do you like/dislike about the project, and why?

Answer the above questions in the comments on the appropriate post (ie. via the links above, not in the comments to this post).

>> See also
For any of you who feel that you don't know much about technology, you might find the Technology 101 section here on this blog useful.

There are some books on using technology in the Bibliography section that you might also find useful.

And here's how to change the default start page of your browser, which was mentioned during the session.