Saturday, June 20, 2009

hello from the dominican republic

Back from the Dominican Republic, I found two weeks of essays waiting for me, makeup classes to teach, and lots of unfinished business. I was a little overwhelmed, but now I'm slowly getting back on my feet.

The Dominican Republic was fantastic. I loved the place, especially the food and the people. The food was delicious, with all the fresh fruit one can eat, and many variations of Caribbean specialties. The people were all very friendly, welcoming, with good English and genuine hospitality. And, it's a baseball-loving country...this is something we have lost.

They have no TESOL organization there, and this is something I might help them work on. I am certainly in support of it, and will do what I can, but my time is limited, and I'm not really involved enough in our own TESOL that I could affect any real change.

I'll link to my presentations themselves, which can be found at the bottom of the template, but I've been too busy to fix them up and present them; in the meantime, it's been pointed out to me that my e-mail address is not readily accessible from them, so I thought I'd rectify that right away and say, by all means, write me. I am grateful for the hospitality shown to me in the D.R., and would be glad to be of continuing assistance in helping teachers ease their classes into the modern ways of communication and expression. I can say a number of things in reaction to my trip there, but let's start with these:

1. In the modern world, there's no reason for isolated English teachers in the D.R. or elsewhere to remain isolated from other teachers in similar positions; they have a lot in common with other English teachers, and should definitely have not one alliance, but as many alliances as possible, with teachers of similar interests and ideas. If you're interested in integrating technology, find other teachers who do the same. They are out there.

2. Each teaching situation is different; some teachers have no access whatsoever, no hope of it, and nothing to put their students on outside of their own cell phones. The best argument for technology is to show how it's already working, and how much easier it makes to get students engaged. Everybody, supposedly, is in favor of engaging students, empowering them and giving them opportunities. It's just the details we have to work out.

3. Issues of going across borders with certain technologies tend to make everything complicated; I am certainly no expert in this. Some things just don't work from one country to another. That's the way it goes in the early days of connecting the world to its various corners. People will soon find, though, that you can't really keep technology, or access to it, out of a place. If you don't believe that, get on Twitter and experience #iranelection: this is a situation that has transfixed me since I arrived; I've become interested in Twitter, and particularly the possibility of writing a book on it; but what do I know? Twitter was all the talk of the conference in the D.R., but even then, the ambassador, or one of the representatives of the State Dep't, knocked it; he felt that substantial things can't be limited to 140 characters. One thing I'll say is, Twitter gets people's hair raised. The argument here is more complicated than the ambassador's remark would state it, but there was some truth in that, too; I'll have to get to the bottom of it. One thing for certain, though, and excuse my ramble, I've gone long enough: the world has changed. It's not going back. The sooner we adjust to it, and help our students do the same, the better off everyone will be. Pictures, and a full report, coming.


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