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C arlo s A .

M ay ora

Integrating Multimedia Technology

in a High School EFL Program

D ue to the current status of

English as a global lan-
guage of science, tech-
nology, and international relations,
many countries around the world
multimedia technology has been used
for EFL instruction, better results have
been achieved with training students to
be autonomous learners. This explains
the growing number of schools with
consider the teaching of English a facilities for students to access com-
major educational priority (Crystal puters and audiovisual equipment.
1997; McKay 2000). However, Eng- In this article I will describe a Tech-
lish as a Foreign Language (EFL) is nologically Enhanced Language Learn-
often taught under unfavorable con- ing (TELL) program I had the privi-
ditions, and, as a result, high school lege to be a part of and will describe
graduates are not always competent how that program improved high
users of English. EFL teachers in school EFL instruction. The project,
South America, Asia, Africa, and else- known as the High School English
where, for whom this situation is Program (HISEP), has been operating
probably familiar, can profit by shar- for several years now in a private high
ing information about the problems school in Caracas, Venezuela, and is
they encounter and by investigating an example of how TELL can be used
the various alternatives available to to complement and reinforce tradi-
improve EFL instruction. tional in-class instruction.
One important alternative is to
Some challenges of teaching EFL
take advantage of the continuing
advances in multimedia technology For several reasons, EFL instruction
and to make an effort to integrate this often does not accomplish its objective
technology with in-class instruction. and leaves students without an ade-
It is well documented that multime- quate level of proficiency in English.
dia technology can help with some Of course, a major issue is the EFL
difficulties associated with the EFL environment itself, because there is
situation, such as large class sizes and an overall lack of English speakers for
mixed-ability classrooms. And where students to interact with. Below are six

14 2006 N U M B E R 3 | E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M
additional factors that contribute to the lack of headmaster to look for an external solution to
success with EFL in high schools in Venezuela improve the teaching of English. The school
—and probably many other countries. selected a company with a long history in EFL
1. Late initiation of official instruction. Al- teaching methodology, to conduct a program
though some private schools include analysis. The analysis specified that although
extracurricular English classes, there is some unfavorable conditions could not be
no official EFL curriculum for preschool changed, some improvements to the program
or primary schools. Thus, most students were possible, including problems associated
do not begin formal English instruction with large class sizes, the lack of contact with
until they are 12 or 13 years old. English, mixed-ability levels within the same
class, and the need for student autonomy.
2. Insufficient time for instruction. Many pro-
(Pino-Silva and Antonini 2000).
grams allow only three academic hours
In 1999 the HISEP was implemented,
weekly for the teaching of English.
and a key element was to join multimedia
3. Overcrowded classrooms. As many as 40
technology with traditional classroom Eng-
students may attend the English class,
lish instruction. This connection was not
making it difficult for the teacher to keep
meant to replace the classroom, textbook, or
control and provide individual attention.
teacher but rather to supplement them with
4. Mixed-ability classes. Some students in the hope of achieving the program’s main
the classroom are more advanced in objectives: to develop the students’ mastery
English because they have traveled to of reading, listening, writing, and speaking
or lived in English-speaking countries, skills, as well as the subskills of vocabulary and
while others know English only from grammar (Pino-Silva and Antonini 1999).
what they have learned in school. As Some specific objectives were: (1) to increase
a result, teachers often have a hard students’ awareness and understanding of
time providing the appropriate level of their own learning processes; (2) to develop
instruction in classes with such disparity an autonomous attitude in students toward
in English proficiency. language learning; (3) to help students rec-
5. Low salaries for teachers. Salaries for ognize and incorporate pertinent strategies
English instructors in public and private that help them learn on their own; and (4) to
high schools are low, which causes good encourage students to think critically and
teachers to leave the educational system express themselves reflectively (Pino-Silva and
for more profitable jobs in private acad- Antonini 1999, 2000). Throughout the years
emies or commercial establishments. multimedia technology for language learning
6. Use of untrained English teachers. The has had demonstrably positive results, and so
void created by departing teachers opens its integration with the existent high school
vacancies that are often filled by native curriculum was a logical step.
English speakers who are generally
untrained in language pedagogy. Justification for using multimedia
technology in language programs
Although these problems are not easily Numerous researchers have reported on the
solved, they must be explored and remedied theoretical constructs that support the use of
if EFL instruction is to be successful. The multimedia technology for EFL instruction
following description of an English program (Jonassen 2000; Kitao 1995; Kang 1999;
illustrates how some of these issues were solved Pino-Silva 2002, 2004; Stepp-Greany 2002).
by adding TELL to the EFL curriculum. This research shows that using multimedia
Context: A private high school technology in the classroom:
About six years ago, administrators at • allows students to work individually at a
the Emil Friedman High School in Caracas computer station, at their own pace, and
decided to make some major changes to its according to their own needs;
English program. The school had constantly • helps teachers to deal more effectively
received complaints from students and parents with a large group of students;
about the English program, which led the • makes the introduction and presentation

E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M | NUMBER 3 2006 15
of content more dynamic and attractive out in advance (Pino-Silva 2002, 2004; Reis
for students; 1995; Stepp-Greany 2002). For example,
• increases student motivation due to the some issues to consider before deciding to cre-
interactive nature of the activities; ate a TELL center include:
• trains students to self-monitor and self- • teacher resistance to technology, because
assess their progress, which promotes of a lack of interest or knowledge, or
autonomous learning; because of uncertainty regarding its
• promotes a task-based approach to effectiveness;
learning; • the impersonal nature of the multimedia
• allows students to experience real-life equipment and its potential to limit
and communicatively meaningful interaction and present tasks that are
language situations and contexts; and so repetitive that there is a danger of
boredom and passive learning (Jonassen
• introduces a variety of print, audio, and
visual materials that match different stu-
dent learning styles and preferences. • the costs of maintaining and upgrading
multimedia equipment, which can be
With the rapid development of the Inter-
witnessed today as the VCR format is
net, computer use in the classroom also offers
being replaced by DVD; and
additional possibilities for designing com-
• concerns about the actual autonomy that
municative tasks such as those built around
multimedia allows students, since it is
computer-mediated communication and tele-
still the teacher who chooses the options
collaboration, including the ability to interact
students must work on.
in real time with oral and written commu-
nication, to conduct information searches to After careful consideration of the above
find attractive and meaningful material, and advantages and disadvantages, the HISEP was
to engage in distance learning and e-learning designed and implemented. A TELL center
(Anderson 2003; Belz 2002; Dudeney 2000; was developed in accordance with theoretical
Jonassen 2000; Pino-Silva 2002). principles and research findings reported by
The literature that deals specifically with language teaching professionals. Today, teach-
the use of videos in the foreign language class- ers and students at the high school call this
room also indicates many benefits (Ambrose center the English Learning Center, or simply
2002; Antonini 2004; Gower, Phillips, and the ELC.
Walters 1995; Hemei 1997; Hoven 1999;
The English Learning Center:
Mackenzie 1997; Rubin 1994). For example,
Materials, activities, and evaluation
the use of videos can:
• be more appealing and entertaining The ELC is an integral multimedia environ-
for the students than audio exclusive ment consisting of 36 stations (18 computer
materials; stations and 18 video stations). It receives
about 360 students per week. Activities at the
• expose students to authentic language in
ELC both complement and reinforce what is
natural situations;
being taught in the classroom. Every student
• provide a situational and visual context from the last year of middle school to the last
to language interactions; and year of high school attends one 90-minute
• expose students to authentic nonverbal ELC session per week in addition to three
(body language, cultural traditions) and academic hours for in-class activities.
verbal (register, colloquial speech) ele- For each ELC session, a 40-student class
ments of language. is divided into two equal groups; one group
To be realistic, teachers should not think stays in the classroom for traditional lan-
of technology as a panacea that solves all the guage instruction using the communicative
problems associated with language teaching. approach, and the other group attends the
The use of technology in EFL instruction ELC to work individually for 90 minutes.
should be based upon numerous pedagogical This 90-minute session allows every student
considerations, which must be well thought to work 45 minutes at a computer station

16 2006 NUMBER 3 | E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M
and 45 minutes at a video station (Pino-Silva down and bottom-up processing. Activi-
2002, 2004.) ties include answering multiple-choice
The computer station questions, filling in the blanks, drawing
Students at the ELC work on computers inferences, and listening for the gist
loaded with the multimedia software program (Antonini 2004).
Focus on Grammar, which leads them through • Post-viewing activities give students the
a series of activities selected by the teachers opportunity to evaluate and comment
according to each student’s particular level on the video and the associated activi-
and need. While using the computer program, ties. Students answer various open-ended
students typically focus on formal aspects of questions about the video in terms of
grammar, although they work on listening their personal enjoyment and the rel-
and reading activities as well. Completion of evance of the content. At this stage they
a specified number of activities is mandatory are required to reflect and write about
for all students. Students are also provided the content of the video, which encour-
with a list of supplementary activities that are ages them to think critically about the
optional for those who finish the obligatory subject. At first they can write their
activities or who feel they need extra practice. comments in their native language, but
The video station they are progressively required to express
Today, the development of listening com- themselves in the target language (Pino-
prehension is linked more to the use of video Silva and Mayora 2004).
materials than to the use of materials such as
Evaluation of ELC activities
audiocassettes or CDs (Hoven 1999). At the
video stations students work on vocabulary The complete evaluation for HISEP stu-
building and listening comprehension exer- dents is composed of two parts, the classroom
cises from recorded news reports, movies, song activities and the ELC activities. Classroom
clips, and documentaries. evaluation involves a midterm test, work-
The creators of the HISEP developed work- book assignments, class participation, exten-
sheets with specific activities related to the con- sive reading evaluation, and self-assessments
tent of video segments that were selected from of students’ contributions to the class. The
programs of topical interest to the students evaluation of the ELC activities involves three
(Pino-Silva and Antonini 1999). During a areas:
45-minute period, students choose how many 1. A computer-station assessment that
video segments they want to watch. automatically evaluates the students’
The exercises associated with the video performance on grammar and listen-
materials are conducted before, during, and ing comprehension lessons (Pino-Silva
after the video presentation, which are known 2002). Students answer tests on the
as the stages of previewing, viewing, and post- screen and receive their score as soon as
viewing (Gower, Phillips, and Walters 1995). they finish. They then have the chance
These stages are designed to maximize student to check which of their answers were
understanding of the subject matter, which will right and which were wrong.
in turn increase motivation and involvement. 2. At the end of each video session, stu-
• Previewing activities activate students’ dents receive the answer keys for the
prior knowledge and raise their expecta- worksheets they completed and have the
tions relating to the content of the video. opportunity to correct their work and
At this stage the teacher can prepare monitor their progress; this material is
vocabulary lists, reading texts, and com- kept as a portfolio and is evaluated once
prehension questions about the video so every term on criteria that include the
students will start reflecting about what number of worksheets completed, the
they know of the topic. completeness of the work, the quality of
• Viewing activities give students practice self-correction, and a special credit for
in both content-based and form-focused the substance of students’ comments in
tasks that require them to use top- the post-viewing section (Pino-Silva and

E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M | NUMBER 3 2006 17
Antonini 2001; Pino-Silva and Mayora responses must be supplemented by more for-
2004). See Appendix 1 for the portfolio mal assessments to adequately judge the success
evaluation parameters. of the HISEP. For this reason the program’s
3. Weekly self-evaluation exercises occur effectiveness, including both the in-class and
during the last five minutes of every ELC activities, is evaluated annually by the
ELC session. On the computer screen, HISEP staff. One component of the evaluation
students rate themselves on eight items is a survey designed, administered, and analyzed
on a 1 to 5 scale ranging from Very by the program administrators (Pino-Silva and
poor to Excellent, including punctuality, Antonini 1999). Presented below are some
time management, and dedication to partial results from one survey that was admin-
work (see Appendix 2 for self-evaluation istered during the 2002–2003 school year to
form). The score they give themselves is determine student perceptions of the ELC.
their grade for that session; at the end of A total of 316 students were given a survey
the term, the self-evaluation scores for instrument consisting of a number of state-
all sessions are averaged. ments about equipment, personal progress,
and EFL methodology, and they were asked
Student perception of the ELC to rank these statements on the following
Up to this point I have given a brief overview five-point scale: 1 = Very poor; 2 = Poor; 3 =
of the procedures and activities of an ELC ses- Average; 4 = Very good; and 5 = Excellent. Addi-
sion. To get an idea of how well TELL actually tionally, the final item on the survey offered an
improves the students’ competence in English, opportunity for students to express their own
it is useful to gather different types of quan- opinions about the ELC activities. Students
titative and qualitative data from test scores, responded anonymously so they could feel
surveys, and interviews, among other methods. completely free to be honest.
The first indication of the HISEP’s success The evaluated aspects included students’
comes from anecdotal evidence. After gradu- views about the opportunities offered by the
ating, many students said that the working ELC and how much benefit they derived from
sessions at the ELC during their last years of the computer activities and video-based listen-
high school were a key factor for their success at ing tasks. Figure 1 shows the evaluated aspects
passing English proficiency and placement tests and the percentage of students who ranked
at universities or other institutions. However, each aspect positively. (To determine a “posi-
although such evidence does suggest the success tive” classification, the percentages of Very
of the program, these personal and informal good and Excellent responses were combined.)


Percentage of students
Evaluated aspect who ranked the aspect
as Very good or Excellent.
Opportunities provided by the multimedia material and ELC method
to listen to authentic English
Opportunities provided by the multimedia material and ELC method
to increase vocabulary
Personal progress on the acquisition of English through this
approach and through technology
Opportunities provided by the multimedia material and ELC method
to practice grammatical content
Overall perception of the effect of the computer software activities
on the process of learning the language
Overall perception of the effect of video segment activities on the
process of learning the language

18 2006 NUMBER 3 | E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M
The results show that all these students felt means that, according to the students, the
that the ELC provided them with substantial HISEP and ELC have been positive for the
opportunities to listen to authentic language, learning of English. Multimedia materials and
which is a key element for the acquisition of tasks are motivating and appealing for stu-
English. A large majority of the students also dents, which improves their attitudes toward
felt positive about the opportunities the ELC learning and makes the teacher’s job more
provided to increase their vocabulary and productive and rewarding. These student per-
practice grammar. In addition, most students ceptions suggest that the HISEP and ELC
indicated that computer- and video-based help English teachers to tackle some of the
activities had a positive effect on their process unfavorable conditions of teaching EFL. For
of learning English. Finally, when asked to example, dividing classes in half lessens the
self-rate the effect the technological approach effects of overcrowding, and having students
had on their personal progress, 86 percent of work individually with multimedia allows
students responded Very good or Excellent. each one to work on tasks at the correct level.
The last part of the survey consisted of an
open-ended question where students could Conclusion
express their opinions or make suggestions Through this article I intended to give col-
about their experience with the ELC. For leagues a picture of how TELL can counteract
reporting purposes, the various open-ended some common problems of teaching EFL. My
responses were grouped according to their suggestion is simple: to implement a program
similarity, and Figure 2 below shows the fre- that seeks to raise in the student an autono-
quency of grouped responses. mous attitude toward learning a language and
Figure 2 reveals great satisfaction with the the integration of multimedia technology as a
ELC. Nearly half of the comments indicate reinforcement of in-classroom activities.
that students regard the ELC in general as a It is important to recognize that in many EFL
motivating, productive, and advanced way to situations not all schools have the resources
learn English. Only ten percent of the com- and space to install and maintain a multi-
ments are truly critical. An additional 30 per- media center like the ELC. Nevertheless, it is
cent of the comments may appear “negative” a challenge for language teachers to seek ways
but actually express the need to increase ELC to improve our classes, and there are plenty of
sessions, practice oral skills, and introduce ways for teachers to begin to install at least the
ELC activities directly into the classroom; beginnings of a multimedia lab. If your school
therefore, these comments actually support can not afford a large language laboratory, more
the ELC approach and provide useful feed- modest or smaller areas may be used. In fact,
back for the administration. sometimes all that is needed to take the biggest
These results are similar to those obtained step in the direction of TELL is a change of
during four other assessment periods, which teachers’ attitudes toward technology. Teachers


Comments of frequency
of comment
1. The ELC is motivating and productive. It is an advanced way of learning English. 44%
2. We should have more weekly sessions at the ELC. 20%
3. ELC materials are motivating and adequate. 8%
4. The ELC puts us ahead of other schools regarding technology and educational resources. 8%
5. I like ELC, but I think we should have more opportunities to practice oral fluency. 7%
6. I don’t like ELC. It is not an appropriate method. 7%
7. Sessions may get boring and dull. 3%
8. In the classroom we should have some of the ELC resources and activities. 3%

E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M | NUMBER 3 2006 19
can begin little by little, such as transitioning using computers. In English teaching: Theory,
from audiocassettes to CDs and then moving research and practice, ed. K. Kitao and S. K.
Kitao, 545–67. Tokyo: Eichosha.
gradually toward videocassettes and DVDs.
Mackenzie, A. S. 1997. Using CNN news video in
Talk to school administrators and headmasters the EFL classroom. The Internet TESL Journal
and generate interest in investing in a small 3 (2).
multimedia area with two or three computers. CNN.html.
Technology is prevalent, and it is the teacher’s McKay, S. L. 2000. Teaching English as an inter-
role to think about how to acquire it and inte- national language: Implications for cultural
materials in the classroom. TESOL Journal 9
grate it into the curriculum. (4): 7–11.
A final word on technology: whatever you Pino-Silva, J. 2002. Pruebas computarizadas de
use it for in the classroom, it is not going to inglés: Desarrollo y actitudes estudiantiles
do the job for you. You will still have a great [Computerized English tests: Development and
responsibility as a conscientious materials student attitudes]. Research project, Universi-
dad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela.
developer and adviser to develop the mul-
–––. 2004. Implementation challenges of a video-
timedia activities and to train students in based listening comprehension program. Paper
their proper use. I think that one of the most presented at the 22nd annual Venezuela TESOL
important things I learned from the ELC and convention, Caracas.
HISEP experience was the understanding that Pino-Silva, J., and M. Antonini. 1999. Programa
de inglés de bachillerato [High school English
technology use in language instruction must
program]. Program report, Unidad Educativa
be based on sound pedagogical and theoretical Colegio Emil Friedman, Caracas.
principles, and that both teachers and technol- –––. 2000. An EFL program for Autonomous
ogy are part of an interrelated system. Learners. Paper presented at the 34th Annual
TESOL Convention and Exposition, Vancou-
References ver, Canada.
Ambrose, D. 2002. Finding new messages in tele- –––. 2001. Portfolio assessment in a massive
vision commercials. English Teaching Forum 40 English program. Paper presented at the 35th
(2): 44–46. Annual TESOL Convention and Exposition,
Anderson, N. 2003. Scrolling, clicking, and read- St. Louis, Missouri.
ing English: Online reading strategies in a Pino-Silva, J., and C. Mayora. 2004. Any com-
second/foreign language. The Reading Matrix ments? Eliciting students’ reactions to video-
3 (3): 1–33. based listening tasks. Paper presented at the
Antonini, M. 2004. Designing activities for video 22nd annual Venezuela TESOL convention,
materials. Workshop presented at the 22nd Caracas, Venezuela.
annual Venezuela TESOL convention, Caracas, Reis, L. 1995. Putting the computer in its proper
Venezuela. place––inside the classroom. English Teaching
Belz, J. 2002. Social dimensions of telecollaborative Forum 33 (4): 28–29.
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Technology 6 (1): 60–81. ing comprehension research. Modern Language
Crystal, D. 1997. English as a global language. Cam- Journal 78 (2): 199–221.
bridge: Cambridge University Press. Stepp-Greany, J. 2002 Student perceptions on lan-
Dudeney, G. 2000. The internet and the language guage learning in a technological environment:
classroom: A practical guide for teachers. New Implications for the new millennium. Language
York: Cambridge University Press. Learning and Technology 6 (1): 165–80.
Gower, R., D. Phillips, and S. Walters. 1995. Teach-
ing practice handbook. 2nd edition. Oxford: CARLOS A. MAYORA graduated with honors
Macmillan Heinemann. from Universidad Pedagogica Experimental
Hemei, J. 1997. Teaching with video in an English Libertador, Instituto Pedagogico de Caracas.
class. English Teaching Forum 35 (2): 45–47. He has taught English at private academies
Hoven, D. 1999. A model for listening and view-
and at the Instituto Pedagogico de Caracas.
ing comprehension in multimedia environ-
ments. Language Learning and Technology 3 (1): He currently teaches EFL at the high school
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Kitao, K. 1995. Individualizing English instruction

20 2006 NUMBER 3 | E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M
Integrating Multimedia Technology in a High School EFL Program • Carlos A. Mayora


Excellent: Above 90% of the mean of worksheets calculated for the group. 7
Very good: Between 89% and 70% of the mean of worksheets calculated
for the group.
Good to average: Between 69% and 50% of the mean of worksheets cal-
Amount 4
culated for the group.
of worksheets the
student Poor: Between 49% and 40% of the mean of worksheets calculated for
completed the group.
Deficient: Between 39% and 30% of the mean of worksheets calculated
for the group.
Very deficient: Below 30% of the mean of worksheets calculated for the
Excellent to very good: More than 90% of the worksheets the student com-
pleted were consciously corrected. S/he clearly demonstrates awareness of 5–4
own errors and mistakes.
Good to average: Between 89% and 40% of the worksheets the student
Self-correction completed were consciously corrected. The remaining percentage of
of activities worksheets were either loosely corrected or not corrected at all. Rights and
wrongs are not evident.
Deficient to very deficient: Below 40% of the worksheets the student
completed were consciously corrected. The remaining percentage of work- 2–1
sheets were either loosely corrected or not corrected at all.
Excellent to very good: More than 90% of the worksheets the student
completed show s/he went through the activities systematically and
thoroughly. All tasks were finished. The student provided dates and all
other required information.
Systematic Good to average: Between 89% and 40% of the worksheets the student com-
approach pleted show s/he went through the activities systematically and thoroughly.
and dedication The remaining percentage of worksheets show incomplete or unfinished
to work tasks. The student did not provide the dates or other required information.
Deficient to very deficient: Below 40% of the worksheets the student com-
pleted show s/he went through the activities systematically and thoroughly.
The remaining percentage of worksheets show incomplete or unfinished
tasks. The student did not provide the dates or other required information.
Excellent to very good: More than 90% of the commentaries the student
made in each worksheet show reflection and comprehension of the content
of the video segment. The student takes risks expressing opinions and
emotions toward the information.
Relevance Good to average: Between 89% and 40% of the commentaries the student
and contribution made in each worksheet show reflection and comprehension of the con-
of wrap-up tent of the video segment. The remaining comments are either shallow or
commentaries irrelevant to the content of the video segment.
Deficient to very deficient: Below 40% of the commentaries the student
made in each worksheet show reflection and comprehension of the con-
tent of the video segment. The remaining comments are either shallow or
irrelevant to the content of the video segment.
(Pino-Silva and Antonini 2001)
Continued on page 37

E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M | NUMBER 3 2006 21
Nunan, D. 2002a. Listening in language learning. odology in language teaching. ed. J. C. Richards
In Methodology in language teaching. ed. J. C. and W. A. Renandya, 124–32. Cambridge:
Richards, and W. A. Renandya, 238–41. Cam- Cambridge University Press.
bridge: Cambridge University Press. ———. 2003. Language learning styles and
———. 2002b. Learner strategy training in the strategies: an overview.
classroom: An action research study. In Meth- tw/~language/workshop/read2.pdf
odology in language teaching. ed. J. C. Richards
and W. A. Renandya, 133–43. Cambridge: PATRISIUS ISTIARTO DJIWANDONO is director
Cambridge University Press.
of the Language Center of the University
Oxford, R. L. 1989. The role of styles and strategies
in second language learning. ERIC Clearing- of Surabaya, Indonesia, and teaches
house on Languages and Linguistics, Washing- discourse analysis, teaching listening, and
ton, DC. language testing at Widya Mandala Catholic
———. 2002. Language learning strategies in a University. He has written two books on
nutshell: update and ESL suggestions. In Meth- reading strategy.

Integrating Multimedia Technology… | Mayora

continued from page 21


Integrating Multimedia Technology in a High School EFL Program • Carlos A. Mayora

Very Very
Items Excellent Average Poor
good poor
1. Punctuality
2. Readiness to work
3. Behavior
4. Respect to classmates and teachers
5. Equipment handling
6. Dedication to work
7. Personal appearance
8. Time management
(Pino-Silva and Antonini 1999)

E N G L I S H T E A C H I N G F O R U M | NUMBER 3 2006 37