Saturday, 20 October 2012

Meet European Teenagers

I couple of years ago I was constantly thinking about how to teach English in a meaningful context, to make pupils understand that English is not just a subject in school but also an international language used world wide. Of course my pupils know that English is useful when they travel to other countries, but English teaching did not make sense to them. Furthermore, I have these computer boys who learn and use English when they play World of Warcraft, Leagues of Legends and so on and these pupils who listen to lots of music and learn English. But it was hard to make especially the computer boys to see the meaning of English in school. When our school started this one-to-one-project we saw the opportunity of reaching the world outside the school building. Finally we discovered eTwinning!


 eTwinning is a platform that gives opportunities for teachers and students in Europe to meet and cooperate in various projects by using ICT and services that eTwinning offers. There is more information about eTwinning in our course book and on  but in short this is how it works:
  • You register on eTwinning homepage as a teacher, but your headmaster will have to be included and informed.
  • You write a presentation about who you are and what kind of project you are interested in.
  • There are various possibilities to search for specific projects, schools or persons (eTwinners) or you will be found by someone who finds your project idea interesting.
  • When you find a partner you plan and register you project. The administrators will then send you an approval/confirmation that you can start your project. There is among other things an email-function for you to use.
  • You will be informed how Twin Space works and then it is only for you to get started.
  • When you have accomplished your project you can apply for a Quality Label.

Our projects

This year my classes are involved in three different project: European Teenagers, Getting to know each other and Newsbox. A fourth is soon starting, Young Europeans Speak – YES!
     These projects have the same aim in common: The purpose is to let the students to get to know each other and each other's culture, meet teens from another European country and see similarities and differences. We also want students to be able to use English in meaningful contexts in order to develop their linguistic ability. Furthermore, the aim is to use ICT as natural means. There is also an English syllabus and the curriculum to have in mind, but that comes naturally: speak, listen, write, read, find strategies of learning, cultural exchange, the international perspective… .
     In these projects we cooperate with students and teachers from Poland, The Netherlands, Spain and Germany. We meet in group projects, Skype-sessions, exchange information on Twin Space (texts, Power Point-presentations, pictures, videos), we use blogs (news magazine), recordings (Voki), co-writing ( to mention some. When we read and listen to other European teenagers’ work the teaching and learning of English comes naturally and it is for real. All these persons exist and all the texts, pictures and voices that we read and listen to are for real.

Thanks to ICT and our one-to-one-project this is possible.


  1. I have also very good experience of eTwinning. As you can see, I have posted an entry about my project. I learn something each time I participate in a project,among other things logistics when running a project; ICT tools becomes more and more a natural ingredient. The technique is there to support the language learning; the technique is definetely not in focus. However, I am aware of the fact that there are a lot of schools in Sweden that are not equipped with more advanced technology, where the ratio, student and computers, is very low, and that there are still teachers who feel insecure and need capacity building.This digital divide needs to be prioritized on the government's agenda when setting up the budget. Have you experienced any downsides or difficulties with participating in an eTwinning project? It could be interesting to share your experience.

    1. I have read your entry about eTwinning and I can see that you have lots of experience. I do agree, language learning is in focus and ICT makes it possible for us to communicate. On the other hand, I think that our work in school should also give students the opportunity to learn about ICT, since that is a part of our everyday life. Not every child/teenager in school has the possibility to use ICT at home, due to their economic situation in their family. Furthermore as you say, there are differences in how well equipped schools are and that this digital divide ought to be diminished by government's interest and priority.

      You asked about downsides or difficulties with participating in an eTwinning project. Since this type of project takes time, time is sometimes a problem. Our timetable only gives me two lessons à 60 minutes a week with my English classes participating in the projects. We do not meet that often and that affects our work. If we are up to an idea and our lesson runs out we have to continue next week, start all over again.
      This year we have "discovered" Skype-sessions, which makes it possible for participating students to meet for real. These meetings are important for our students to understand that what we do is important. Last year when we did not meet face to face it sometimes was a bit hard to motivate the more uninterested students because their argument was that we never met so why bother.
      Finally I have to say, if my school was not that well equipped as it is with one-to-one-laptop I would not participate in eTwinning-projects. We had this "computer room" before but the computors were too old and we could only book the room a couple of weeks in advance. It would have been impossible. What about you, how well equipped are your school? What experiences do you have?

  2. You seem to have lots of experience when it comes to projects and your school seems to be very well-equipped with computers and other ICT tools as well. As you can read in my blog I only have worked with projects linked to” European Studies”. The ICT we have used in class so far is e-mail, Skype and PowerPoint presentations. I would like to know more about “Twin Space” and “ Vok”. What kinds of links are they? How do you use them? What advantages and disadvantages have you experienced when working with your projects? From my point of view it is sometimes a problem with computers being out of orders and students not doing what they are supposed to do. I would also like to know more about how you organize the work with your students – time, deadlines, evaluation etc

    1. The ICT that we use are, like you, Skype (both webcam and cellphones), Power Point (picture/text/speach), Movie Maker, Voki, cellphones for pictures and movies, Vocaroo (recording). Twin Space is the platform that is used in eTwinning where we meet and exchange information/tasks, pupils and teachers have their own "room" for communication, information, chatt and so on.
      The advatages I have experienced when working with our project is first of all that English learning are for real and that our work matters - we have receivers that are interested. Second, we get real discussions about the English language: choice of phrases, grammar, pronunciation to mention some. Students understand that they know lots of English and they reflect upon their own learning.
      The disadvantages are first that we do not have enough time; our English lessons are too limited in time since we only have two lessons a week and it takes time before we complete our work. Second, you as teacher are not always the expert of the technique. Sometimes your students have ideas how to use ICT in another way than you thought of first and you will have to feel comfortable with that. Sometimes the technique does not correspond to your needs and then you will have to solve the problem. This might be a challenge!

      How to organize our projects, a short presentation: We teachers plan the project together. More often than not our project lasts for two terms, from September to June. We have have one task per month and we decide how to present it. Some tasks students cooperate in groups, some individually. We study our collaborators' work, discuss and comment. Evaluation is carried through regularly with my students and my European colleague and at the end of the project.The whole project idea is of course based on the syllabus in English and our curriculum Lgr11. What about you, who do you organize tasks in projects linked to "European Studies" that both challange your students and catch their interest and attention?