Starting Up in New York

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LEARN>EXPERIENCE>TEACH: LTMOOC Week 2 Content Based Instruction & Inputs and Outputs


This week’s main task was to read Fredericka Stoller’s piece on Content Based Instruction ( and Tomasz P. Synlaski’s article on Inputs and Outputs ( .

Here are my…

Awesome and thorough analysis of both the interview and the readings! Thanks so much for your comments. What sort of content have you included so far? Has it been authentic, and have you used more conversations, songs, or what?

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eletech: CBI and Input-Output


1- CBI

I think CBI has great potential, and I understand and agree wiht the theory behind. Nevertheless, I have never found a satisfactory answer to this question: Is it possible to use CBI with absolute beginners?

Furthermore, in my context it is very difficult to implement CBI, because we have…

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! We created SpanishMOOC, which uses more CBI than any other beginner course I know of! We had a lot of frustrated learners, and quite a few even gave up despite my encouraging words, but we also had a huge number of people who absolutely loved it and claim it to be faster, better, and more engaging than anything they had done before.

I think my initial attempt at SpanishMOOC needs some tweaking, but I do believe in the CBI methodology, even for complete beginners.

As for the input/output argument, I’m glad that you have so much experience and research to back your claims! Thanks for sharing :)

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Sin título: Hello LTMooc-mates! I’m Jeannie Andersen, from the USA. I have lived...


Hello LTMooc-mates! I’m Jeannie Andersen, from the USA. I have lived and worked in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico for over thirty years. I am married to a Mexican and together we’ve raised four children in a bicultural household.
English is my first language, I am fluent in Spanish, and…

Welcome Jeannie! It sounds like you have quite the technology setup for your courses! I’d love to hear what works well and where you’d like to see improvement so we can make the best learning environment possible! Let me know your reactions to Instreamia, and how it compares with your other technology solutions you currently use.

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I am an English instructor at Ave Maria Language Institute in Managua, Nicaragua. I am looking forward to learning about teaching methodology and creative activities that can be carried out in the classroom. I teach in two different programs: the Academic English Program and the English for Professional Development.

Welcome to the course! I’m glad to have you! Is your English program primarily adult learners or for students?


I am an English instructor at Ave Maria Language Institute in Managua, Nicaragua. I am looking forward to learning about teaching methodology and creative activities that can be carried out in the classroom. I teach in two different programs: the Academic English Program and the English for Professional Development.

Welcome to the course! I’m glad to have you! Is your English program primarily adult learners or for students?

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LTMOOC: What Am I Doing Here?


Hello Everybody,

I’ve been procrastinating this issue for some time…

I was a bit reluctant to create my own blog. But here I am…

My name is Miriam. I’m an Argentinian, born and bred!

I teach English as a second language in Buenos Aires. I’m involved in adult in-company education but I also…

Welcome Miriam! I’d love to hear your tidbits for preparing adults to speak English! We’re looking at TOEFL prep, and I’m sure you have a wealth of insight to share :)

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Unbetitelt: Just me!


Hello everybody,

My name is Easy. I teach English at the Ostfalia University of Technology in Germany. I’m originally from Nigeria but have been living in Germany since 2001. I was raised to speak English and Ibo and I have a good command of German and Hausa. I also learned Yoruba, French and…

Hi Easy! So glad to have you in the course! That sounds like quite the set of languages you speak! I’m sure you have plenty to share from the perspective of a language learner :)

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LRMooc Musings: Intro...


I’m originally from Missouri but have lived more than half my life in Wisconsin. I’ve also lived in Spain a couple of times for extended periods of time as well as a shorter stint in Guatemala. I love to travel and I speak both English and Spanish.

My first career was teaching secondary…

Hi Lauren! It is great to have you in the course! My brother went to your same university (got his doctorate in Economics there). It sounds like you have a great deal to share with the class! I hope you’ll let us know what you think of Instreamia and our methodology, and whether your distance learning experience can help mold and improve our MOOC offerings.

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Content-based Learning and Inputs/Outpus

I studied Spanish for three years at my public high school here in the United States. I dreaded every day of going to my class to receive another disjointed vocab list and listen to our teacher explain a dry grammar principle. When we’d learn about culture or Spanish geography, those topics were entirely studied in English, never using even a bit of Spanish. After three years, I learned and retained almost nothing.

I’ve since received excellent task- and content-focused training, from both a language immersion program, and from my university.

I think putting content at the center of teaching methodologies makes for a better learning experience because it:

  • Gives students context for why they’re learning [boring] grammar principles
  • Helps motivate students toward specific objectives
  • Makes learning a second language mirror more closely the process we went through of learning our mother tongue
  • Makes learning genuinely interesting and fun.
  • Gives students a chance to learn about culture and other topics while using the target language

As for limiting training to solely include inputs, I think that’s taking a good principle too far. I agree that much of students’ learning should be spent absorbing inputs, especially in the first months.

I don’t believe we should exclude outputs, and I disagree that you learn your first language through inputs alone. A substantial effort toward learning your first language (as a child) is spent on outputs. This is especially true once you started attending school - by learning grammar (even something so essential as comma usage), and through thousands of hours of conversation.

I also feel strongly that coaching and correction play a vital role in learning a language - even your first. I also think the proof of the effectiveness of language training (as opposed to solely receiving inputs) is in language and pronunciation coaches, who, as an example, are able to teach actors languages and pronunciations with incredible success in short periods of time.

I also think without formal education, any language would degrade and deteriorate. This is especially true when you consider circles and peer groups. Without the crucial corrections that teacher’s provide to students learning either their first or an additional language, errors can easily become habits and will likely be circulated among social groups.

Some Creole languages are the results of these social groups interpretations of other languages and incorporating their understandings into their speech, as are versions of Ebonics.

I have no doubt that I would be at a severe disadvantage to being able to articulate myself in either my native language or my second language, Spanish, without dozens of people correcting me, teaching me grammar, and coaching my outputs.

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You Have My Words: Should language be taught without grammar analysis?

Awesome response Lisa! I completely agree… I have also met people who have learned English by exclusively watching TV or movies, and I think their writing skills and critical thinking is never as good as someone who has gone through a “traditional” program. I also typically find their accents to be a lot more natural and to generally have quite expansive vocabularies, so I tend to agree that in moderation is a good policy :)


I agree with the proponents of maximizing the use of comprehensible input. Authentic material is great for the language learner. Opportunities to interact with native speakers is fantastic. As, the author mentioned, reading books in the target language and having the lightbulb moment of, “I get…

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SpanishMOOC Debrief

Many teachers have expressed their fascination with SpanishMOOC and have wanted to learn more about our lessons learned and student reactions to the platform. As such, I’ve made available the list of feedback, reactions, suggestions, and reviews for SpanishMOOC and the Instreamia platform. I feel there are dozens of suggestions that could greatly benefit any teacher. There are also several criticisms that will help us make Instreamia better.

 Here is a summary of some lessons learned:
    • Motivation: Students need to be constantly motivated and notified in order to succeed
    • Personal Feedback and Responses: the feedback on written assignments is critical, and it needs to happen sooner, and more often
    • Interaction with Teacher / Graders: Students have questions that would sometimes be better answered in real-time conversations with the teacher or graders – the asynchronous communication sometimes falls short
    • Access to reference and grammar explanations: Students need an index of the grammar concepts, and graders and teachers need to be able to direct students to these when they make mistakes
    • Quality Assurance on curriculum development: Content needs to go through a more stringent review process prior to being used in the course, especially because we are using open source dictionaries as a starting point
    • Scheduling Improvement for Conversation Practice: Scheduling and RSVPs for Hangouts need to be integrated into Instreamia – the time zones and group request process was entirely too confusing, and students need an automated way of getting connected
Next, here is the list of improvements we will be making to both SpanishMOOC and Instreamia in the coming months:
    • Compensated Graders: The individuals who have been so kind as to offer their time to help others learn Spanish will be given compensation for their efforts. This will allow us to attract many more graders, and grading on SpanishMOOC will be a priority in their busy schedules, so the students will receive feedback on their submissions no more than 1 week from the submission date, and usually within 48 hours.
    • Office hours and real-time discussions – Although it will be difficult to meet the greatly varying schedules of every the participants, office hours will be made available for learners to meet with graders, teachers assistants, and teachers, and the sessions will be broadcast, indexed, and made available for the whole class
    • Employment of Teacher’s Assistant(s): The workload for reviewing content and producing high-quality learning modules, as well as technology review and student relation management will be distributed to teacher’s assistants.
    • Development of Grammar Principle Index with @Tagging: Before the next offering begins, students will be able to see a Khan-Academy-Style list of all the grammar principles created on Instreamia, and teachers/graders will be able to link to them (e.g. @ser_estar) within comments, so when they correct homework or introduce topics, they can direct learners to the necessary principle(s).
    • Development of Hangout Pairing (and grading for hangouts): We’ll be creating an automated pairing mechanism that will help you connect with other learners at your level to discuss a particular task (e.g. describe your family). We’ll also be awarding points toward your grade for attending these hangouts, and you’ll have a chance to let us know how it went.

Finally, here are the actual comments, reactions, and responses. They were asked to rate us on a scale from 1-5 and leave a review to share publicly.

Read reviews here…

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