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How to Implement 21st Century Skills in Class

Coming from a background where all spheres of education are teacher-centered, many things I've read, learnt and seen online and abroad have been a big eye-opener in my career (thank you, Internet).  What I do in class and how I see education at large has taken a different turn in the past few years so it's only logical for me to continue helping my learners grow in the best possible way.

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Critical Thinking – a crucial 21st century skill

As English language teachers our primary focus is on the 4 language skills - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. While our students get a hang of these, we have to nudge them towards the 21st century skills especially the 4 Cs - Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication.

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Listening Skills

Listening and understanding spoken speech may be quite a challenge for any student. They may read, write, translate and even speak fluently, but whenever they are up against a listening comprehension task they may freeze, hover in uncertainty or even stop reacting. There are a few strategies which have been useful to me over the years, and which I share with my colleagues at any opportunity. Sometimes an EL teacher with decades of experience, who is used to conducting most of the lessons in their own mother tongue, would ask me for helpful tactics to overcome their own problems.

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Do you assess your students or do you just test them?

There are some terms that we often use synonymously, but actually they are not. When you assess your students, regardless of whether you use a test or not, you evaluate all the information in order to measure it and grade them.

Let´s make it clear:

-Assessment implies gathering information and observing progress. We can document attitudes, knowledge and skills.

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The power and importance of listening

Of the four major language skills, speaking and listening are by far the oldest forms of communication and pre-date formal human writing systems by tens of thousands of years (Brittanica, 2019). What does all that mean? In simplest terms, it means that speaking and listening are fundamental human communicative tools and since the beginning of humankind have been our most basic and primal way of conveying messages.

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Teaching via Listening Activities

A popular saying goes ‘Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk’ In fact, most in the ELT field would agree that listening is one of the most frequently used skills from amongst the four skills ( i.e. Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening).

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More listening practice outside classroom!

“How much of homework that you give your students is listening?” This is a permanent sticky note addressed to myself that will never be removed from my “Organisation and Methodology” virtual board in MIRO, formerly known as Realtimeboard, which I use not only for my online lessons, but also for keeping myself focused on certain job-related issues.

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My top five end-of-year activities: Celebrating the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one!

I often tell my students that last lessons should be like first lessons as the beginning and end of year represent for me the two sides of the same coin. While we are celebrating the achievements of the nine-month learning journey we are at the same time getting ready to embark on a new one which will start after the summer break.

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My top five end-of-year activities: Celebrating the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one!

While we are celebrating the achievements of the nine-month learning journey we are at the same time getting ready to embark on a new one which will start after the summer break. Over the years, I've seen that my end of year lessons have shifted from purely language-related tasks (reading activities, vocabulary recap tasks, writing challenges) to ones which focus more on each student's individual learning journey, their reflection of the year that's passed, their thoughts on their areas of improvement/strength as well as challenges for the year ahead.

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