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Create a Powerpoint presentation and take it to the University of Havana

April 14, 2013

Here’s what I did:  I offered to give a training about the Flipped Classroom to some

teachers at the University of Havana.   I ended up meeting 16 enthusiastic

professors and more than two dozen students of English language.

You can do this, too.

Some suggestions:

1. Bring a computer and donate it to the university department

2. Bring blank DVDs (in the USA, the cost is about $28 per 100 or

about 1/3 of what Cubans have to pay)

3. Bring books in Spanish.


The vice dean of the department’s office now has a mini library of books by Dan Pink, Malcolm Gladwell and Ken Robinson

The University of Havana has a tradition of supporting

innovative approaches. The director of the Foreign Languages

faculty (FLEX or Facultad de Lenguas Extranjeras) is open to

the idea that students need exposure to native speakers.

The benefit of bringing an expert to teach teachers means

that the native speaker is on campus.  The director,

Dr. Gilberto Diaz-Santos, encouraged me to spend time

visiting classrooms (if the professors give permission).

In most cases, the professor asked me to speak to the group,

but I found it much better to use the donated computer to record

questions from each student.   You can write to Dr. Gilberto



Avenida de los Presidentes and La Rampa (23) has a great corner with an artist’s café

Here is what happened on the second day there:

I gave the presentation in the afternoon, I met with

some professors in their teachers’ planning room for

about an hour and then it started to rain.  A dozen

students were waiting at the exit for the rain to stop

and I asked, “So, do you have two or three minutes to

hear about the differences between the hunter’s brain

and the gatherer’s brain?”  The students nodded furiously

and we moved to an empty classroom on the first floor.


Many Cubans enjoy reading. Bring books — This book by Daniel Amen was read by three people during the week I was there (and, of course, I left the book behind).

I gave my little talk (using a blackboard and chalk) and

asked them to practice asking me questions.  “We wish we

could have more time with you.  We really want to improve

our use of English,” one of the students told me.  The situation

appears open to anyone who wants to go through the process

of gaining permission to enter the faculty building.  But

here’s what any tourist or visitor to Havana can do.

How to interact with students

a.  Go to the east end of the Plaza de la Revolution

(the plaza with the tall 5-pointed tower dedicated to José

Martí and the Che and Camilo murals).

b.  Walk toward the bus station and then turn east to

find the Facultad de Lenguas Extranjeras (FLEX).

Ave 19 de Mayo # 14, esq. Amézaga, Plaza, C. Habana 10600


The street sign is a block of stone.

c.  Across the street from the FLEX building is a batido

and sandwich stand.  Students are there at lunch and

after class.  Just stand around, sipping a batido or eating

a sandwich, holding an English language book and a map.

Eventually you will find an opportunity to say to a group of students,

“I heard that students like to practice with native speakers.”  Other

languages taught at FLEX are Russian, Italian, Portuguese

German and Japanese.


In other words, this is a people-to-people opportunity.  Sure,

walk in Old Havana, but make your way over to the Plaza

de la Revolución and go a little north on Ayestaran Avenue.

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 7.29.29 AM

The Letter “A” shows a Casa Maribel. You can see where 19 de Mayo meets Ayestaran at the bottom of the map. That is where you will be near the FLEX building.


In the map below, you will see the letter A.  The location is given

as entre Ayestaran and Amezaga.  This is a good estimate, but

the A is not in the correct location.  It should be to the right

about two inches.

Here is the approximate location of Casa Maribel.  If you ask here where to find 19 de Mayo and Ayestaran, you will be close.

Here is the approximate location of Casa Maribel. If you ask here where to find 19 de Mayo and Ayestaran, you will be close.

The Facultad de Legnuas Extranjeras is also between Ayestaran

and Amezaga, but on 19 de Mayo Street.

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