Interactive Writing Workshop

A Writing Workshop will be offered twice-a-week over a three week period.

When: Mondays and Thursdays from 4-6 during January.
Where: in our new location, Inchataro 128, catty-corner from the Seminario on the road Rey Tanganxoan up to Santa Maria.
Start date: January 11 to January 28.
Cost: $500. Centro Eva’s low prices continue

The workshop will provide online assistance for those participants who are interested in further drafting.
Participants can advance as much as they want to in the time frame of the workshop.
After the workshop, those participants who would like to continue can advance to the International Writing Exchange, where you can put your writing into practice and receive feedback from other participants around the world.

For more information, call 443 102 4808 or write an email to

Improving your Speaking with Connected speech practice

Hello Listening and Speaking Writing Workshop Participants!

We have been looking at some examples of connected speech in the listening and speaking workshop. The example we saw is from Elemental English videos on Youtube. Watch them in order to improve your speaking and connected speech. We also saw videos on Richard’s site, Lingua Spectrum.

Rachel’s English is another great place to listen to learn how to speak well in English.


Please practice listening on this really great site for listening and practicing with accent reduction is

Randall’s Train your Accent.

Your task for this week’s workshop:

1. Practice Reading the Tongue twisters with connected speech. Choose one that you will record on an online site.

2. Register as a member on

3. Record your tongue twister on your Voicethread account.

4. Save and share your recording on Voicethread.

5. Write a comment to this post. Include your name and the URL of your recording. Here is an example:

Hello, this is Ellen and this is the URL of my Voicethread recording. Enjoy!


Curso para Preparación con valor escalofonario de la SEP!!

Aprende cómo sobrevivir en el aula como maestro de inglés, desarrollar clases memorables, y actividades interesantes mientras que preparas por las certificacionese en inglés de TKT…..

CEDPROM I ofrece este curso con dos enfoques:
1) preparación para TKT, módulos 1,2,y 3, con valor escalofónario de la Secretaria de Educación.
2) aplicación de estrategias de aprendizaje activo.

El próximo curso inicia el 22 de agosto
Informes en CEDPROM 1 en Camelinas 3537 o llama 324 3137 o 443 102 4808 para más información. Todavía hay algunos lugares…cupo máximo 20.

One of the activities we will be doing in the TKT preparation course offered in CEDEPROM I, starting next August 22 is to observe different TEFL classes, on site or online, and determine the identifying characteristics that make each class follow a certain methodology. In the process, we have even found several different methodologies in classrooms that look just like yours.

In her post comparing a TEFL class online with her own suggestions, Adriana, a past TKT candidate, has shared a GREAT class that I recommend watching because it uses many motivational techniques that work. It is a task-based class, so the learning focus is centered on the students, not on the teacher, and involves the students on many levels.

Check out Adriana’s blog at

A shared article makes great reading…and writing: Lost in a sea of yellow

I’d like to share a great article with you. Although it is about reading, we know that it also has to do with writing….it is impossible to disassociate the four language skills. So, the question that is addressed here is an article by Maryellen Weimer, PhD. This article is shared from:

“A lot of students are in love with their highlighters, especially those bright, fluorescent-colored ones. They use them to highlight course materials, sometimes underlining whole pages of text….”

With this great beginning, this article will point out a little-considered point for teachers of EFL and ESP in writing and reading contexts.

Why is it sooooo difficult to write in English?

quantum.writingIn class, we looked at a book chapter that was presented in two different formats: one in a reduced manner with graphic organizers, and the other in textual format. We were able extract the main idea and supporting details, and transform certain pages in the book chapter into another graphic organizer using, an online mind mapping tool.

We saw that the book chapter dealt with the process of writing, an element of writing in English that is inherent to the writing skill in the English language, but does not occur when writing in the Spanish language. Therefore, should we assume that as Spanish speakers, in order to perform adequately in the writing skill in a foreign language, such as English, we should follow the writing process? What do you think?

Here is an article that explains why it is so difficult to write in a foreign language. When we write using a second or foreign language, we are using a different discourse pattern than what we learned in our first language.

Here is an interesting read:

Second language acquisition from Moni Madrigal

“We don’t like group work”

Did you know that you are not alone in not liking group work. I’d like to share an article with you about students all over the world who feel this same way and give their reasons for not liking to work in groups.
Here is the article reproduced for your reading pleasure or you may go to the source to Faculty Forum, a free e-magazine where this article appeared.

groupwork 6 sem

February 22, 2012
My Students Don’t Like Group Work

By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Teaching Professor Blog
Add Comment

Students don’t always like working in groups. Ann Taylor, an associate professor of chemistry at Wabash College, had a class that was particularly vocal in their opposition. She asked for their top 10 reasons why students don’t want to work in groups and they offered this list (which I’ve edited slightly).

  • It’s hard to focus during small group exercises.
  • We are always rushed.
  • Group exercises mean we do the work and the teacher doesn’t.
  • We’re trying to work on material we didn’t understand in the reading.
  • If we want to work in groups, we can form them on our own; in class we would rather hear someone who understands the material explain it.
  • We’re all confused; getting in a group merely compounds the confusion.
  • I don’t like the people in my group.
  • Group members don’t show up or don’t contribute.
  • We’d get through more material if you lectured.
  • I can’t sleep during small group exercises.

A few of these reasons have convinced some faculty that not much learning occurs in groups. Others may be a bit more ambivalent but figure if students are opposed why bother with a questionable strategy and have their resistance to deal with as well.

Taylor responds as do many of us who use group work regularly. “Some of these reasons are exactly why I use small group work in class.” (p. 219) Group work engages students and forces them to work with the material. Of course, it’s easier, and from the student perspective preferable, if the teacher provides all the examples, raises all the questions, proposes and evaluates various solutions, i.e., does all the work. All students have to do is copy or download the teacher’s material.

It’s also true that working in groups is harder than doing it on your own. Groups have to cooperate, communicate, delegate and depend on each other. But for most tasks, groups can do more and do it better than individuals. In the professional world, there’s hardly a career where some (if not most) of the work is done in groups and not necessarily groups populated with your friends.

To students and some teachers, lecture looks like a “neater” way to learn. It certainly is more efficient, but the question is what kind of learning results from lecture? Too often lecture material is memorized—it hasn’t really been figured out, often it can’t be applied and regularly it’s quickly forgotten. Learning most things is a messy process. Confusion, frustration, even despair regularly occur. If students never experience those feelings, they also never experience the thrill of finally figuring something out, of really understanding and of being changed by what they’ve learned.

Does this mean group work should replace lectures? That teacher explanations are always ruled out? Of course not. It simply means that teachers need a repertoire of instructional strategies and that the decision of which to use when should be guided by a collection of variables that does not include whether students want to work in groups.

Taylor says she uses groups over student objections because they work. “By the end of the semester, there are improvements in their performance, teamwork and ability to solve problems. And this is what education is about: students’ growth and learning. Our role as educators is not as a performer or entertainer, but as a facilitator who guides students through the challenges of the learning process, whether they like it or not.” (p. 219)

What may be most useful here is her head-on strategy for dealing with student objections. If you ask students why they don’t want to work in groups and assemble their list, you can respond to their objections. Students may not like all your answers but at least the conversation introduces them to the educational rationale behind having them work collectively and it isn’t because you’re making them do the work you don’t want to do.

Reference: Taylor, A. (2011). Top 10 reasons students dislike working in groups … and why I do it anyway. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 39 (2), 219-220.
Add Comment

Tags: collaborative learning, evidence for collaboration, group work activities, group work strategies

Follow the discussion
Comments (17)

kingscollegecelt 15p · 42 weeks ago
The last point is essential. Giving students the rationale for why they are doing any activity or assignment can help cultivate good dispositions toward learning. It can demonstrate that the activities are not simply hoops to jump through, but real exercises designed to build their knowledge and skills–just as much as the exercises they do in the gym are designed to build strength and agility.

drjeffreyp 13p · 42 weeks ago
My students abhor group work as well. I find it interesting though that once again we hear ” In the professional world, there’s hardly a career where some (if not most) of the work is done in groups and not necessarily groups populated with your friends.” This is so often stated in support of group work and yet I don’t find that to be the case in the professional world.

This is not to say that we don’t work with other people but that work is usually individually based (i.e., I do my work, you do yours; we work in a really big office [think cubicles]). This does not suggest that we’re doing group or team work.

I don’t have to like you, go to lunch with you or invite you to the BBQ in order to work with you.

Groups also promote groupthink, which I would argue is not good for anyone, but certainly seems to be in keeping with many an educator’s philosophy.

My $.02. As a friend of mine says, “yours may vary.”

shawnpatrickdoyle 28p · 42 weeks ago
Groups represent groupthink, but I don’t think the design of group work is to come up with an answer that is not crosschecked or verified in larger discussion. Practicing working in groups in class and then coming together to talk about what you learn might even be beneficial because it can be used as an occasion to point out biases that the group forms in the process and generating strategies to get around them.

I also get frustrated by the excuse that group work is preparation for the real world where they’ll have to do that. I think it’s based on a faulty premise that college translates to the real world directly, which it does not. Few jobs require workers to learn four different subjects and then write papers or take exams about them. There is a lot of value in college, but it’s value is never as easy as it seems to be presented in the argument being that it trains you for a job.

debh · 40 weeks ago
Odd as this may sound my students often enjoy group work. I assign projects or problems and they enjoy the change up from sage on the stage. They develop teams or better supportive relationships that carry some of them through their college experience.

alstoots · 42 weeks ago
From this article, and my experience with higher education, it sounds like students just don’t like the interaction socially with their classmates. I’d be willing to bet that many students, if asked of lecture time, would have a laundry list of dislikes starting with “boring” and going to any other length. Most employees will interact in some way in group projects and we should be training students even before the college level to become comfortable with working with people who may not be friends, who may not agree, and who may not pull their own weight. Reality is, at some point in your career, you’ll face one or all of those situations. The point of furthering your education is to gain the skills necessary to move forward in your career. That being the case, why shouldn’t group work be a part of that training? It’s a skill that needs to be mastered.

alstoots · 42 weeks ago
Quite honestly, I’m growing tired of whining at the college level from students who feel things aren’t being given to them that they deserve or are entitled to. They will be in for a rude awakening when they get a job in the future and the world isn’t handed to them. It’s time to grow up and learn how to work well, not just play well, with others.

drjeffreyp 13p · 41 weeks ago
Not a fan of whining me self. That said, what is the purpose of a college education? Why is it that the for profits seem to be doing so well?

I think we need to decide the purpose of higher ed (and I’m OK if it’s to prepare individuals for a career), then focus head long into that purpose.

How many years now has the real world told us that our students were not prepared? If true, why and how can we, how should we then prepare them?

42 weeks ago
Hello Dr. Weimer:

Thank you for providing a very thoughtful post about group work.

Your list of reasons why students do not like group work includes some of the top reasons I’ve heard as well. The primary objection from my students involves equal contributions by team members. Do you utilize a team contract at the start of the project? When I utilize group work I implement it as an in-class activity – to supplement the class lecture. I’ve found that it helps to engage students in the topics being discussed and many students will participate in a small group setting, rather than raise their hand during the class lecture. Plus I’ve noticed that it tends to break the ice among students, which allows them to develop a perception of being part of a larger dynamic group.

I am surprised by the following in your post:
“It certainly is more efficient, but the question is what kind of learning results from lecture? Too often lecture material is memorized—it hasn’t really been figured out, often it can’t be applied and regularly it’s quickly forgotten.”

From my perspective, this is why I take time to learn the material prior to delivering a lecture – I want to learn and comprehend the meaning of the assigned materials so that I can apply and explain it well. This approach allows me to find relevant examples, current videos, case studies, etc. – which allow students to interact with the information in a way that they are likely to remember it. What is your approach?
Dr. J

prof. El-Bahai · 42 weeks ago
thanks for all the interactions
simply a patinet would not be happy with the bitter medicine till he is cured !!!!!!
as doctors we have to prescripe the medicine and students like patients have to drink

shawnpatrickdoyle 28p · 42 weeks ago
I think the point that the groups have to be a part of the instructor’s repertoire is important. I have many colleagues who go into group work with an idea that students don’t like it, they try it once after lecturing the whole course, and then students don’t respond so they say group work doesn’t work. For group work to work, students need practice at it just as they do any other skill.

One point to consider responding to students’ sense that group work just compounds confusion: there are some studies that show that group work can help students reach a correct answer even when both of the students get it wrong. I don’t have the original source for that, but I know that Sian Bielock mentions it in her book Choke.

Barbara · 41 weeks ago
Great article review. Because I am a fairly new educator, I am interested in anyone’s opinions regarding, the following question. If I want to include group work is it better to give the students some rationale for the purpose of the group work, or is it better to just assign it?

Suzanne · 41 weeks ago
I had to read this post. I have experienced both sides of the coin on this one but have not entirely thrown out the group work. I teach at the university level in a very multinational classroom. The dynamics are interesting – typical American students despise group work while the Asian, Middle Eastern, and Africans students enjoy it. Yes, there are the common complaints stated above but I have to say, it is absolutely a joy to see a group of Asian students huddled together trying to solve a problem. They do not give up until they all understand how to solve it. Group think is not part of their genre. Maybe as Americans we let our independent nature take over our sensibilities, when the group work should be seen as a learning opportunity where people share ideas, work toward a common goal, and support each other until there is deeper understanding. Needless to say, group work remains a 50/50 proposition in my classes.

Matt Birkenhauer · 41 weeks ago
Of course, there are two kinds of group work: That work done in the classroom (which the teacher can monitor closely), and group projects which are assigned outside of the classroom and are ongoing. As a teacher of mostly first-year students of composition, I frequently use the first kind of group work. But I sometimes wonder if, for first-year students at least, there ought to be a moratorium on the second kind of group work, as students are still learning to be students. For those students who are not responsible, everyone in the group—including the hardworking, responsible students—get “punished” because of the slackers in the group.

Matt Birkenhauer · 41 weeks ago
As for Maryellen’s point—and I hear this often in defense of group work outside of the classroom, that “In the professional world, there’s hardly a career where some (if not most) of the work is done in groups and not necessarily groups populated with your friends,”– this is only partially true. As my wife (who works in the corporate world) points out, these are “vetted” groups of seasoned professionals who were vetted by the hiring process itself ; also they are often groups of seasoned professionals who, by the time they work with each other, have already had to work with others under such situations. To compare this to many of the first-year students at a typical large state university is, I think, a stretch . . . .

@yogiconomist · 41 weeks ago
The key to me is the last paragraph of the post – a conversation addressing student objections to group work. In many situations (classroom or not) the action of “acknowledging the hard” can make room for moving forward. In this case, a brief class discussion could include why groups often *suck* to work in, why it still might be important, and some strategies for making group work more tolerable.

KarenH · 29 weeks ago
Not sure why you are comparing group work with lecture. Group work is inquiry based; and there are many wonderful individual inquiry based activities as well. Lecture is a completely different issue. Lecture is the opposite of inquiry based learning, not the opposite of group work.

JSmith · 5 weeks ago
I have worked in the professional world in team-based environments, and I’m now doing a masters program. I can tell you with all honesty that the “group work” that happens in college is in no way comparable or relevant to what I’ve seen professionally. Here are some reasons why: 1. people in a real job have more “skin in the game” and much more motivated to work hard and contribute. 2. there is usually a common work space/work hours that people work together in a real job-which makes the process much more effective. 3. in a real job, there is some oversight and someone who has the authority and desire to call out slackers and has vested interested in the work being done–this is directly the opposite of what I’ve seen with many professors who want nothing to do with “group drama” and tell us to work it out among ourselves, which means that those of us that are competent usually end up carrying those who aren’t.
Group work as it is usually designed in college encourages social loafing. Slackers aren’t pushed to strain themselves to produce work of high quality. High performers cannot explore their own potential.
The best thing that professors can do for their students is to instill a sense of self motivation, self reliance, and individual competence, because those are the people that succeed in the professional world and contribute the most to the teams that they work in.
Also, from a pedagogical standpoint, if your students tell you that they don’t value the group work that you are assigning and that it doesn’t work for them, you should listen and make some adjustments. Usually, the only people who “like group work” are the people who are lazy and incompetent and look forward to a free ride on someone else’s work.
I’m a big believer in the work of Paolo Friere who talks about students knowing what works best for them and how they learn best.
One way that I could see group work being useful is if each person writes their own paper and then presents their work in a group format-something similar to a paper roundtable at a conference. That way there would be collaborative learning, but each person has to bring their own work to the table.

picture of group work from personal classroom files

Writing in abreviated format: now why would anyone want to do that?

Hello Writing Community and Writers

As we gear up for this Saturday’s class, I imagine you might be wondering why I asked you to read a chapter on Quantum Writing from the book Quantum Learning. Throughout our careers we will have to summarize, gather our ideas, synthesize, and collect our diversified thoughts and the abundance of ideas and concepts that we expose ourselves to into an understandable mode of writing so we can share with other people. The amount of information we gather is so vast that we need to collect it in such a format so we can access the knowledge readily when we need it.

When we prepare to write a paper, an essay, a composition, an article, a thesis, or a dissertation, we need to organize our thoughts to produce our ideas logically into understandable formats for other people. So, have a look at these cognitive tools which might change us from being product-oriented into  process-oriented writers. We will be working with them during our next class and after class you might want to have some for your own….well, here they are!

Be thinking about how you would use these cognitive tools in your daily life. We will share next class.

Cultural Dimensions

Cultural Dimensions

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to write in English? Watch this video about international students studying in the USA as they talk about their difficulty about writing in English. This article will give you an overall idea of cultural dimensions:

Access the different sections below in the book module to see videos and read short articles about each dimension. As you finish finish learning about each dimension, write notes about how this affects you and your writing. Which dimensions can you relate to in your life? Which are stronger in Mexican culture compared to English-language culture? Are there any similarities?

You will share your observations and notes by talking about them in a Voicethread that you create and uploading it onto the assignments folder.


Hello writers!

Welcome to Just Plain English, a place to share your thoughts, challenge those of other people and develop as a writer.

Then check out this video about plagiarism, not made by me, found it online,available for download on website

Disney Parody explanation of Copyright Law and Fair Use
Synopsis: Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University provides this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.
***Description taken from website***
Original Video Found at…

I’m looking forward to working with you. Ellen

Welcome to the Speaking-Writing Workshop

Hello Writers!
Much more than a writing course, in our class we will be building a writing community, growing as people, renewing our English communication skills and communicating with other people around the world.

Our writing community will have visitors from around the world. Please click around this site…you can’t hurt anything. Make sure you read the blogging guidelines posts in the tabs at the top, the Blogging Guidelines and the course syllabus tabs.