"Ceibal en Ingles" is a programme for children and teachers at primary school level, which offers the opportunity for pupils to learn English via telepresence technology, whilst at the same time developing classroom teachers’ English proficiency. The formal launch of the project, by Minister of Education Ricardo Ehrlich, accompanied by the CEO of Plan Ceibal, Miguel Brechner took place on 15th August 2012.
Remote lessons are delivered via a weekly one hour videoconference where the remote teacher interacts with children and class teachers in real time. This year, teachers from the British Council in Colombia and the Cultura Inglesa (AACI) in Argentina are teaching the remote classes. Next year the intention is to involve remote Uruguayan teachers as well. In order to make sure that the classes are engaging for the young learners the class teacher works together with the remote teacher and they use plenty of interesting and attractive resources, such as flashcards, videos, PowerPoint presentations, games and songs.
Local classroom teachers, who usually have only a very limited knowledge of English, are also taking the British Council’s online course, LearnEnglish Pathways to develop their own language skills. They are being supported by mentors who monitor their progress and provide encouragement. The children have access to the British Council’s LearnEnglish website materials on their OLPC laptops.
Currently the program is being implemented in 50 classes from 20 different schools. The local teachers participating in the project have volunteered to join the programme, driven by their motivation and enthusiasm to learn English. They receive training and mentoring support from the remote teachers to plan and then deliver two follow-up lessons each week where the language presented in the remote lesson is practised extensively and used in communicative contexts. Eventually the plan is to reach nearly all primary 4 to 6 classes throughout the country, teaching around 5000 remote lessons per week.