Today's learners are indeed more diverse than they ever were. With the huge influx of people from other continents we are faced with completely new challenges. It used to be simpler to teach school children just because we have to follow the national curriculum. Thus we have a certain program, a set schedule; our academic year is more or less neatly divided into terms. We know that each year we have to achieve new levels, and to reach the final exams requirements by the time our students finish school. We are also aware of the fact that all classes are mixed-ability ones.
A teacher's role has significantly changed through the years with the emergence of technology. Electronic devices connected to the Internet exist everywhere and are used for a variety of tasks, from the most trivial ones to the most complicated. And of course the classroom could not be an exception to this reality. Our students learn how to use tablets, computers and smartphones from a very young age and they cannot imagine their everyday lives without these devices.
Nina MK, Ph.D.
Instead, we assess students on the four skills at various points during the term. There are usually two speaking assessments – one in the style of a mini presentation, and the other as a pair or small group dialogue.
There is a saying in my country: teachers are the people who continuously sow the Sensible, the Good and the Eternal. And then of course we reap what we sow. The four C’s announced in our May-June topics sound like something worth sowing, reaping and developing. In an ideal world we would teach our students how to communicate in a foreign language, how to establish cooperation, how to collaborate on projects and how to enhance everybody’s creativity. All these C’s presuppose the existence of certain factors.
A wise, very experienced German colleague once told me that while it may be relatively easy to teach students how to build all the types of questions, it is infinitely more difficult to teach them how to understand all the types of answers they may get. This wisdom stayed with me. We teach speaking skills step-by-step, using texts, audios, pictures. Students read a text and compose comments, listen to dialogues and make up their own, look at pictures and describe them. These are all staples, our daily props. We encourage them to produce full sentences, not just Yes-No answers.
This post is a reflection on a previous experience of assessing a project that was relying heavily on creativity.
It was in celebration of the international women's day that we at Al Azhar English Training Center started a poster competition to celebrate it. The competition was to create a poster around a female role model who had an impact on society, which was two weeks before the 8th of March and it was open for all levels.
Using technology in the 21st century classroom is I think a sine qua non. Students are digital natives. They are born into technology, they use technology daily and different devices are part of their everyday lives.
From a very young age, they know how to use a tablet, for example, and how to find videos that interest them, or even apps that are entertaining for them. Not including technology in the teaching procedure is like speaking to them in a different language. The benefits of using it in the classroom are numerous.
However, despite all the advantages and being of primary superiority the technology itself does not automatically effect the process of learning.
Schools undoubtedly avoid using technology because they lack the sufficient budget spending it entails. On the opposite, the government spends the considerable amount of money on teacher training; consequently, most of us have received varied intensity education in the field of using technology in the classroom. Fortunately, my personal preparation has been quite sufficient since 2008.
TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM.
Nina MK, Ph.D.
Here are some cautionary tales about technology at school.