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.
In the past couple of years, I’ve experimented with a new approach, and I finally feel like I’ve hit upon something which works.
In the Cambridge DELTA exam, Paper One Task Five, you have to look at a piece of learner-produced writing or speaking, identify 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses of the text, providing an example for each, then choose one weakness to prioritise for follow-up work. My new method is inspired by this approach of prioritizing areas. Both my intermediate teen and upper intermediate adult students seem to have responded well to it.
BILINGUISM AND MULTILINGUISM.
Nina MK, Ph.D.
Over the years I've found that whenever I've told someone that I teach English as a Foreign Language, the next question they invariably ask is "But how do you teach learners who don't speak your language?".
A seemingly valid point but of course we all know it's not necessary to be able to speak your learners' L1s to be able to teach them. Useful yes, but necessary no - if it was many of us would not be where we are today - but this is especially true for multilingual classes since it's unlikely that any teacher would be able to speak all the languages of their learners.
21st century skills include collaboration, cooperation, critical thinking and creativity. There is wide agreement that a focus on these skills is needed to prepare students for the future. However, our planning is so tight that maybe we do not include explicit activities that develop these skills or if we do maybe we do not assess them.
When I was beginning to learn Spanish, there was nothing scarier than trying to communicate in that language to a proficient speaker, nothing more satisfying than when I felt understood, and nothing as deflating as being met with a blank stare.
Here are four ways I encourage my Beginning English Language Learner students to speak English:
1. Use the English Central website