You’ve got (e)mail

Below is a copy of the handout  that accompanied this talk at TESOL Spain 2011 in Madrid on March 13, at TESOL France in Paris on November 5 and at the ACEIA conference in Seville on November 12, 2011 .  Thank you very much to everyone who came to the sessions -I really enjoyed sharing my experiences.  Here is a slide from the talk and a link to the powerpoint presentation:  You’ve got mail

You’ve got (e)mail

Email is a simple tool, yet it can do so much – create links between the classroom and the students’ world, motivate students to take responsibility for their learning, offer a “safe” route to integrating technology in our teaching – and much, much more!


Last term, for three months, I experimented with using emails with a class of intermediate adult students .  After every lesson, one of the students wrote a summary of the class and emailed it to everybody else, regardless of whether they actually attended the lesson or not. Likewise, I emailed a list of possible extension tasks, which were typically a variety of writing tasks, of sharing and commenting on photos and online clips, texts and images.  I responded to all the tasks by email, with comments and corrections which were sent to the whole group. Often students would email me back with redrafts or queries and requests for future lessons. Over the three months we racked up almost 300 emails

An extract from the summary of the first class

1  NAMES  We learnt each other’s names and talked about them a bit.  We talked about names that run in the family (= are used a lot in the same family) and patron saints and great grandparents (both paternal and maternal). We talked about the origin of surnames and parents and families, and noticed quite a strong link between Cádiz and the North of Spain (and France in J’s case), and of fathers moving south, falling in love and staying 😉

At the end of the discussion we looked at the pronunciation of the vowels in uncle, cousin and aunt (can you remember them?)

2  LEARNING  You interviewed each other about your past (and present) English learning experiences. I learnt that J is interested in taking the First Certificate exam (J, I’ll send you some links to useful websites later this week), that Ja is moving to Philadelphia at the end of September, that both M and C are enrolled at EOI schools, that M uses youtube and podcasts to practise English, that F has just finished his university studies and has been on holiday all summer, well, not totally on holiday – he was also a student at the summer courses in the morning with Ja and M.

We talked about the difference between primary and secondary schools (and looked at how to pronounce those two words – remember?). We also looked at the difference between job-hunting and head-hunting, and  how sometimes being unemployed is good because it gives you a chance to study or travel.

Suggested homework tasks from lesson 1

These are just suggestions. You can do as many (or as few) as you want. Or do something completely different. 

1 Write about your family and their connections to Cádiz/San Fernando

2 Write about your English learning experiences and why you’re learning English ( you can send me this by email or go to this website and add a short note there

3 Write a list of five things you’d like to learn to do in English.

4 Send me a link to a videoclip, or a photo, or an article on the internet and tell me why you think it’s interesting – we’ll share it with the class either next lesson or next week

5 Write about why you like/don’t like beaches.

6 Write about your impressions and reactions to today’s lesson

or, of course, absolutely anything else you want to do. If you’ve got any other task to suggest, please email it to everybody else too!

Giving feedback on a task from lesson 3 : reformulation

The task:

A possible task to recycle this vocabulary might be to write about what you like doing at the weekend.  Maybe a short text called “What the weekend means to me”. You might want to use some vocabulary from the next section too.

The response:

to me: is time to be with my family or my friends. We meet up  to have breackfast every Saturday morning. We usually eat breackfast chocalate and churros. Children love. During breackfast we decided  we eat/cook to lunch and we go to the center market to buy it. After lunch everybody to do siesta. Later i call phone my friends and we go out  to have a  couple of drinks, i used to go on facebook, surf on internet, send some e-mails. On Sundays i try to do some sport, mayby i play a game of tennis or i go running along the beach.
I see you later.

Giving feedback on a task from lesson 6 : numbered footnotes

Last Wednesday I went to my Madrid. I spend there three days on leaving cv’s. (1) As you know we are in a world crisis and I have to try leaving them in other places (2) .

I travelled by bus. It was awful!!! The way out (3) took me 9 hours!!! I stayed those days in a friend’s house. She also is an unemployed (4) and was studying with me at the university. We have been a moral support to each other these days because both are very bored with it!!

I arrived at the bus station at midnight. Just as well she went to pick me up there because I was going to take other (5) underground line to get her house. Do you imagine me at another station at 1 pm with my suitcase alone calling my friend asking her if she could say to me (6) where I was??? Lol…joking aside…. (very nice expression 🙂 )

On the First day (7) was very tired. I chose the wrong shoes to walk!!! Apart to (8) leaving cv’s I was in the city center the second day at night. I met other friend there. I was 2 moths I didn’t see him. (9)  We were in few typical bars having “cañas” before going to a vegetarian restaurant to dinner. In those bars we had the cañas at the bar but, we had the dinner sit at the restaurant.

When we had a rest we sit (sat)  on a bench and looked at the people on the streets. They went and back (10) very quickly!! Simply…It’s Madrid!! I love it!!

Friday…because of on Friday afternoon the companies are closed, we were on the sofa! We were at home watching on the TV a learning English channel “Aprende Inglés TV” (Vaugham Method) It’s fantastic!! I advice everypeople to watch it or to listen to the radio channel. It’s other (5) way to improve your English in your free time.

I usually watch it when I’m doing my houseworks (12)….lol…

Sounds like you had a good weekend, even if it was hard (and sometimes depressing?) work taking your CV all around town!  I know Vaughan Systems too. The radio programme is amazing. It’s a very different way to study English – and great to do when you’re doing the ironing or the washing up!

Links and references

My blog, Close Up ( ). If you click on “email” in the tag cloud, you’ll find the various posts that I wrote during the experiment.  I’ve also posted copies of the handouts and the slides. (

Our class blog where we’ve stored our lesson summaries for the four months.

Web 2.0 tools referred to in the session

Wallwisher – great for short surveys or questionnaires – often used for birthday greetings

Voki – good for students recording their own voices at home, or as a fun way to set a homework task , links can be shared by email or embedded on a class blog

Fotobabble – a site where students can upload their photos and record a short description, the link can then be shared by email or the photo can be embedded on a class blog

Voicethread – a more sophisticated online recording facility which allows for more than on image and an on-going conversation where comments can be added as text or as audio.

Mosaic maker – a website where you can upload photos and create mosaics


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