MEC in Switzerland

08-Jun-2007

MEC manager for OPTI, Judith Dick, writes:

Judith Dick

‘Hi! I’m Judith from the French speaking part of Switzerland. I manage MEC at OPTI alongside Pierre-Alain who looks after the technical details. We have more than 1000 students and well over half of them are absolute beginners or low elementary.

Our problem: many of our teachers were reticent to use MEC at first, complaining that beginners couldn’t understand the instructions! We devised the following solution:

When students start using MEC for the first time they download a pre-prepared exercise from their individual servers, or they watch and copy from the projector. They must translate and order the MEC vocabulary correctly. We used TextEdit to create these exercises as we are all using Macs here. You could also use Word on a PC. Here are some examples (tables are shaded in yellow where students have completed the exercises):

The exercises are then saved into a MEC folder on the desktop, always ready for use. Within this folder students keep the files for different MEC activities, vocabulary and instructions that they have translated. This helps them gain greater independence right from the start.

For translations we encourage students to open Wordreference.com in a separate browser. Monolingual dictionaries are great but not much use for real beginners. I suspect quite a number of elementary students find them a challenge too.

We also have another great idea for easy translation if you use Firefox as your web browser. Within Firefox2 (US) you can add a useful instant translation tool. Go to Mozilla Addons click on dictionaries and install the language you require. Then when you hover over a word in your browser, up comes the translation. It’s brilliant and defies all those “can’t dos”!’

What do you think of the OPTI approach? How does it compare to your organization? Leave a comment.

Judith will soon be back with a clinic on her experiences with MEC at OPTI. For more information, watch this space!

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