I recently started to brush up my German. I last studied German many years ago at school and I can’t say that it was a great success. In fact, I failed the exam and had to retake it. Hardly surprising, as I seem to remember spending a good portion of the exam time writing out David Bowie lyrics!
Apologies for the late posting of this month's blog topics! Here they are.
Promoting 21st Century Skills is one of the professional practices in the British Council’s new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework. But what exactly are 21st Century skills and are they the same as digital literacies?
In two recent articles written by Gavin Dudeney, he explores the four key digital literacies: focus on connections, on language, on information and on (re)design. He also looks at the distinction between these and 21st century skills.
“I know English already” and “Why do you use a dictionary, don’t you know English already?” Those are among my favourite phrases which I rather often hear from students and colleagues alike. I believe they explain the situation with intermediate and upper-intermediate levels quite well. Let us look at some common problems and some helpful motivational strategies.
Learning a language is like riding a rollercoaster. The first time you say hi to someone or do your shopping in the new language, you feel on top of the world: this is easy! I can do it! Then there are days when your tongue feels like it's made of lead, you've forgotten all your vocabulary, and people are just talking too fast. Your heart sinks, you feel a little low - and then, after a while, you get back on track.
Teaching English for quite a long time, I have seen my students undergo the same stages on their learning path: enthusiastic start, when they are all highly motivated and driven; steady growth in all 4 skills from A0 to B2 levels; and then, very often, coming to the point when suddenly the progress slows down and they seem to be stuck, using the same patterns, the same language forms and the same vocabulary. This situation makes them feel dissatisfied and frustrated, as they do want to move forward.
This can be debated as being unrealistic and a barrier in our deliverables as we live in a fast changing world where we have little time to stand , stare or care. With inclusive education getting a push world - wide in many schools and universities, inclusivity in fact has become a niche area of policy of many big organisations striving to have their names listed as top employers. It's too wide a term to be discussed and therefore I would narrow down to share practices from my classroom teaching experience.
Are all your students in the best possible place?
Do those who need support from the wall sit next to it (remember a student might not be lazy and uninterested just because they are leaning against a wall) Are those who need to see clearly close to the board? Are those who find concentrating more difficult sitting away from attention grabbing posters or windows? Most students will automatically, even unconsciously sit in a place where they feel comfortable so you might not need to fix what is already working well.
It’s probably to do with having mixed level classes; any language teacher knows that by definition every group class is heterogeneous, different learners find different aspects of language learning more or less challenging, be it comprehension, writing, etc.
Let’s look at the following tenets of IP:
Here on the TeachingEnglish webpages, we're starting off 2018 with a conversation about inclusivity. Who should be included in our classrooms? And how? Here's what happened when I decided to talk about refugees with my students. I teach in Catalonia, a northern region of Spain with a strong sense of its own identity. Over the past couple of years, Catalonia has seen a growing movement for independence. You'll find people animatedly debating language, history and identity on every street corner and in every café.
Nowadays our classrooms are increasingly becoming diverse. The traditional classrooms which used to be more uniform are a thing of the past. In recent years most classrooms include students from different backgrounds, cultures, religions and family situations and this makes the job of the teacher even more complex and demanding. The aim of education and the basic duty of an educator should be to find a way to teach students acceptance, understanding and respect for anything different.