Category: International

4 Long-Term Benefits of Bilingual Education

This is such a great article on the benefits of bi-lingual education. Sure, we intuitively know what these are, but what are the real metrics? From an educator with a passion for her calling, see if you have any reasons you’d add:

4 Long-Term Benefits of Bilingual Education

Raising bilingual children is the norm in Singapore. From an early age, the children living in this multicultural city are exposed to a number of languages at home, in their preschools, and in their communities. At the same time, the government here has adopted a bilingual policy wherein students are required to gain proficiency in English and their respective ethnic mother tongue, which is Mandarin for the Chinese, Malay for the Malay, and Tamil for the Indians. If you’re staying in the country with your family for work, it’ll be a breeze to find a bilingual program that will provide your children with the right environment for improving their language proficiency. These schools can focus on your mother tongue, English, as well as other languages that your child might be interested in acquiring. With the assistance of the right bilingual program and teachers, your child will have a better chance of acquiring, retaining, and deftly using multiple languages.

The beauty of bilingual education is that it presents students with immediate as well as long-term benefits, many of which the children can utilize even as they find their places as productive members of the workforce and society at large. Here are some of the advantages of having your child undergo a bilingual education program and how they can benefit from it in the coming years.


Tech Tip #172: Translate Webpages In a Second

This is not part of the 169 tech tips for your class book but it will be when I update the ebook:

Tech Tip #172: Translate Webpages in a Second

Over the years, I get more and more views on this blog from non-English-speaking nations. I always drop in to visit and no surprise, their blogs are in their native language (as mine is). Sometimes they have the Translate feature, but not always. That stymied me for a long time. I had to copy the text into another webpage to translate it.

Then I discovered this.

To translate a webpage:

Right click on the page

Select ‘Translate’

A box pops up and you select your language.

Here’s a before and after:

It works with comments, too.

Ever since, I’ve gotten even more international visitors. I’m thrilled with that. (Note: This is in Chrome. It may not work the same in Firefox or Edge).


International Education During the Pandemic

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Christian Miraglia, a passionate educational consultant for T4Edtech, traveled to Italy and surrounding areas and has some interesting insights into their education efforts during the pandemic:

From An Italian Train: Education during the Pandemic

I recently returned from a long-awaited trip to Italy in which I spent a considerable amount of time traveling throughout the Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio provinces. During the first week of travels, I spoke with an educator from Argentina traveling through Europe.  The topic of teaching and technology during the pandemic arose. We discussed how the pandemic affected students, parents, and teachers alike in the United States and Argentina.  As an educator, he worked in the Office of Education Ministry and thus had a broad view of the pandemic’s impact on Argentina. As we shared our experiences from the past year, two common themes arose. 

First, students of low socio-economic status bore the brunt of the pandemic. There was a significant problem in Argentina with access to instruction because of connectivity, which was also endemic to the community I served here in the states. Reliable access was such a problem in Argentina that students did not even bother to attend classes. The issue was so severe that institutions could not track the number of students disconnected from the daily educational process. One can only predict the long-term impact of student absenteeism in the foreseeable future. Continuing my travels in Italy, I wondered how the pandemic affected the Italian nation’s educational systems?

As it was, Italy also had similar issues with distance learning. In a comprehensive article written for BMC Public Health Distance learning in Italian primary and middle school children during the COVID-19 pandemic: a national survey, the study revealed gaps in access. Even though over 80% of students had access to some device, connectivity problems still impacted underserved communities. Additionally,  many of the affected students were from immigrant families where language barriers were already problematic. Italy’s problems mirrored those of the United States and Argentina in that the communities most affected by the pandemic were the most vulnerable. Although efforts to address the access issue took place, Italy faces the everyday struggle of allocating sufficient funds to upgrade the infrastructure to guarantee access for all students. 


How To Move To Canada To Be A Teacher

Here’s a great article from an Ask a Tech Teacher contributor for those of you interested in teaching internationally–specifically, Canada:

How To Move To Canada To Be A Teacher

Canada is a country that people all over the world would love to emigrate to. It has a progressive style of government, very low crime rate and lots of work. It is not easy to get there, however. Since there are so many people trying to get into Canada, the requirements can be quite strict.

That said, there are professions that are in demand and the Canadian government is active in trying to get people to come and do these jobs. There are times when the teacher profession is on the list.

If you have the right credentials then you could end up on a plane destined for Canada. You’ll need to have your health insurance sorted out while you look for a job. Public health insurance in Canada is for citizens and permanent residents.

With all that said, let’s get into the ways you can get to Canada to work as a teacher and then sort those details out afterward.

Pick the right city

There isn’t a nationwide shortage of teachers, but there are areas that are having trouble finding enough. There are rural areas where the most eligible people are moving to cities. Then, there are the cities that are growing faster than ever and with families moving in there is a need for more teachers.

The trick is to first think about what type of lifestyle you want to live and then find the area that best suits it. For instance, Saskatoon is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and is in dire need of teachers. It sits midway between Edmonton and Winnipeg so you have to like it in a rural area. If that type of scenario suits you then you are likely to find a job there.

For those that enjoy urban and city life, Guelph, Ontario is always looking for qualified teachers. It isn’t far from Toronto and has smaller cities like Kitchener and Hamilton nearby.

Even Toronto, the New York City of Canada is always looking for teachers so there really is a mix of different types of places that suit every lifestyle.


Education in Kosovo

I had an opportunity to chat with Doruntina Alshiqi about the education system in Kosova. I love hearing how learning is accomplished around the world. It reminds me that we live in a bubble, thinking our approach is great but often, other systems work just as well. I found it fascinating to hear Doruntina’s experience. I think you will too.


Primary education is provided for students here. It consists of schooling from grade one through five. This is a requirement by law for all children and students enroll at the age of six. The second component of education is the lower secondary educational system, which is usually for teens around 12 to 15 years of age. It provides education through grade nine. This is publicly funded and free of charge.

From here, students move on to secondary education. This is either professional education or general education. Most students spend three to four years at this level. This level of education is not a requirement under law, though. Most students who enroll in it do so to learn trades and skills that they will use to build their careers and lives with. These schools have a goal to prepare students for vocational work directly out of school or to prepare them to enter university.

Higher Education in Kosovo

Much of the country is rebuilding and reorganizing. This includes the educational system in the country. Universities and educational institutions provide higher education in Kosovo. Both private and public schools are available here at this level. Students are able to earn an associate’s degree, which generally takes under two years to complete in a specialized area of study, a bachelor’s degree, which takes between three and four years to complete, or a masters degree, which can add an additional two to three years of education on. Post graduate education to earn a PhD is also available. Many students enroll in these programs part time, though full time education is still widely available as well.

It is important to note that many of the schools, under the guidance of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology is being altered. The goal is to align the educational system along the lines of other European countries.


Multimedia content personalizes learning

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Josemaría Carazo Abolafia, is an educational researcher and teacher who lives in Spain–and doesn’t own a car! He has a Masters in Ed from Penn State University (any Nittany Lion fans out there?) and is working on his EdD. Josemaria and I share the belief that “…[technology] must be transparent, like a lens; otherwise, it hinders learning.” Here’s his take on the use of videos in education:

Multimedia content as a way to learning process personalization

People can learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone. It can be called the multimedia learning hypothesis (Mayer, 2005). My experience teaching with videos supports the idea that students not only learn more deeply but also faster. Consequently, the syllabus can be enlarged when classes take advantage of multimedia means -as it happened.

Moreover, multimedia content helps to individualize the learning process for every student, who really can learn at its own pace.

The multimedia content that I use consists of about 250 videos. Most of them are between 2 and 5 minutes long. Each video contains an explanation that happened during a real class, recording what students were watching -classrooms have a projector- and listening. They can be checked out at It might be important to point out that my students are 17 years old and over.

However, using multimedia content to elicit learning does not lack inconveniences. The same problems that hinder learning when using textbooks occur when using videos. On the other hand, the same techniques can be useful in both cases. A constructivism insight and the cognitive load theory ground the solutions proposed to avoid those inconveniences.

Three difficulties when using multimedia content

I mainly found 3 difficulties when using videos as the main learning content format:

    1. Reception overload. More frequently than wished, the student doesn’t get the gist of an explanation on video format, and she or he has to re-watch the video 1, 2 or even 3 times. There’s no doubt, it’s frustrating for anyone.
    2. Lack of learner’s intervention. Passivity.
    3. Lack of variety -not related to the content but the format: video, text, website, lecture, and so on. 

Based on several learning theories, I focused on 3 ways to tackle these problems.


Empatico-Build Global Awareness in Students

Every day it seems, the world gets smaller. Studies show that 244 million people worldwide live in a country other than their birthplace. Doesn’t sound like a lot? In fact, it’s a 44% increase from the year 2000. Where it used to be sufficient to teach students how to thrive in their home country, that falls woefully short in a world where the internet reaches everyone, anywhere, where geopolitical borders have little effect on international activities, where the customs and culture of a country have a significant impact on student learning. Today’s challenge is to teach kids how to accept other worlds without judging, preaching, or rejecting.

I’ve been on the hunt–for a long time–for resources that help students develop global awareness and perspective-taking while learning to reject the judgmental attitudes that seem to fester unchecked among those who don’t know the truth. Enter Empatico, an initiative of The KIND Foundation, with a goal of connecting 1 million students in twenty-five countries from disparate socio-economic backgrounds.

Their thinking is that the more empathetic children become, the more in tune they can be with the needs of their peers, the more they will collaborate and find creative solutions to global problems. Developed by teachers and using a free online learning tool, students broaden their worldview through meaningful interactions with peers across the globe. Teachers are provided everything necessary–lesson plans, materials lists, a video conferencing platform, and more–to make this happen. Activities range from 2-3 hours, spread over multiple meetings (called ‘Short Spark Activities’) to 8-12 hours (called ‘Longer Fire Activities’).


How to Grow Global Digital Citizens

digital citizenWith the rise of online games, web-based education, and smartphones that access everything from house lights to security systems, it’s not surprising to read these statistics:

In 2013, 71 percent of the U.S. population age 3 and over used the Internet

  • 94% of youth ages 12-17 who have Internet access say they use the Internet for school research and 78% say they believe the Internet helps them with schoolwork.
  • 41% of online teens say they use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork.
  • 87% of parents of online teens believe that the Internet helps students with their schoolwork and 93% believe the Internet helps students learn new things.

Since so many kids come to school with a working knowledge of the Internet, teachers feel comfortable using it as a teaching tool but just because students use the Internet doesn’t mean they do it safely and wisely. In fact, despite that the UN considers access to the Internet a human right, many adults and even more kids don’t know how to act as good digital citizens when visiting this sparkly and exciting world. When they first arrive, all of life’s rules seem to be upended. Users can be anyone they want, break any cultural norm and even be anonymous if they’re careful, hiding behind the billions of people crowding around them.


22 Tips on How to Work Remotely

remote workI first considered this topic at a presentation I attended through WordCamp Orange County 2014. I had several trips coming up and decided to see how I addressed issues of being away from my writing hub. Usually, that’s when I realize I can’t do/find something and say, “If only…”

I am finally back from three conferences and a busy visit from my son–all of which challenged me to take care of business on the road and on the fly.

Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. I first thought about this when I read an article by a technical subject teacher(math, I think)  pulled away from his class for a conference. Often in science/math/IT/foreign languages, subs aren’t as capable (not their fault; I’d capitulate if you stuck me in a Latin language class). He set up a video with links for classwork and a realtime feed where he could be available and check in on the class. As a result, students–and the sub–barely missed him. Another example of teaching remotely dealt with schools this past winter struggling with the unusually high number of snow days. So many, in fact, that they were either going to have to extend the school year or lose funding. Their solution: Have teachers deliver content from their homes to student homes via a set-up like Google Hangouts (but one that takes more than 10-15 participants at a time).

All it took to get these systems in place was a problem that required a solution and flexible risk-taking stakeholders who came up with answers.

Why can’t I work from the road? In fact, I watched a fascinating presentation from Wandering Jon at the Word Camp Orange County 2014 where he shared how he does exactly that. John designs websites and solves IT problems from wherever he happens to be that day–a beach in Thailand, the mountains in Tibet or his own backyard. Where he is no longer impacts the way he delivers on workplace promises.

Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use or am going to arrange:


Chinese Class vs. American Class

chinese educationAn efriend and former NYC teacher, Steve Koss taught in China (winner of a top spot on the annual PISA best-education-in-the-world) for part of his career and was not surprised China came out with some of the best test scores in the world. He shared his experience while teaching there. Compare what he saw to what we have here in America keeping in mind that we languish somewhere below middle on that international PISA test.

  • Every classroom was a bare, cinder-block-walled enclosure, no heat in the winter, no cooling in the early summer, virtually nothing decorating the walls. Students spent their entire school day in the same room – teachers came to them.
  • Every classroom held 48 – 50 students, lined up in traditional, ramrod-straight rows. Textbooks and workbooks for students’ full set of the day’s classes were piled on and under their desks – no one had a locker.
  • Teachers lectured from a dais at the front of the room. Students sat quietly at their desks and listened, took notes, occasionally recited in unison or responded, standing, to a direct question from the teacher. Questions from students were a rarity.
  • Many, if not most, lectures were straight from students’ texts, sometimes nothing more than
  • teachers simply reading from the textbook.
  • Teachers appeared at students’ classrooms just before lessons began, departing back to their subject area offices immediately upon finishing their lessons. Casual student-teacher interaction was minimal at best. Teachers spent much of their office time (they only taught two class periods per day) playing video games and reading the daily newspaper.
  • Copying of assignments was rampant – and tolerated. As, all too often, was cheating on exams. Scores counted more than how they were achieved.
  • I saw no evidence of what in the U.S. we would call “student projects.” Classroom activity appeared to be the same lecture and recitation style every day.
  • Students were actively discouraged from asking questions. I was told on more than one occasion that students’ parents could actually be called into the school so that a teacher could complain that the child was disrupting lessons because he/she was asking too many questions.
  • Schools had no clubs or activities and minimal if any organized sports teams. One school where I worked claimed to have two or three interscholastic sports teams, but only for boys.
  • Students typically took seven or eight classes each semester, leaving no time for activities even outside of school.
  • Never once among the hundreds of students I saw and taught did I see a student with a physical handicap or a visible learning disability. I don’t know where those students were, or if they were even still permitted to attend school by high school age, but if so, there was no inclusion.
  • Physical education consisted mostly of lining students up in straight rows and performing low-impact calisthenics and movement.
  • The last semester of senior year is dedicated nearly exclusively to preparation for the gaokou, the national, three-day-long, college entrance examination.
  • Schools were evaluated, and principals and teachers rewarded, according to their students’ standardized exam results.
  • Teachers earn extra income from tutoring. They are allowed to accept money from their own students (or gifts from those students’ parents), a sure-fire disincentive to effective teaching in the classroom setting.
  • There was no parent involvement in the schools whatsoever. Parents visited a school for only one of two reasons: to be roundly chastised for their child’s behavior/performance, or to present a gift for extra tutoring services rendered.