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.
In modern approaches to comprehension and vocabulary learning the focus has shifted from product to process. Text comprehension is seen as a process where the reader actively constructs meaning. The reader builds a mental representation of the textual meaning based on information in the text and on the activation of complementary knowledge resources (JohnsonLaird, 1983; van Dijk & Kintsch, 1983).
Millions of students all over the world are learning English, and while it can be fun and rewarding, it can also be challenging and humbling. Language acquisition is a monumental task, and it takes courage to overcome the linguistic hurdles, especially in the early stages. One strategy students utilize to help with learning English is occasionally using their native language (L1). But as teachers, we are tasked with making sure students are learning English, not excelling in their L1s. So how do we manage their use of L1 without interfering with their acquisition of L2?
The proponents of the direct method advocated that mother tongue must be banished from the class. On the other hand, the advocates of bilingual and grammar translated method went to the other extreme and opted for the liberal use of mother tongue.
But I am of the opinion that neither method is entirely feasible. I feel that mother tongue can be used very judiciously, which is also a debatable issue. Who will decide the judiciousness? The teacher or the students? How can a teacher decide when and how much mother tongue can be used in the English class?
Recently a group of former students who celebrated their tenth graduation anniversary came to visit me. They presented me with a nice bouquet of flowers, then exchanged quick glances, formed a circle and sang, “You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out...” That was the very first song, the first game we played in class when they were eight years old! This little episode reminded me a simple truth I learned thanks to them two decades ago: with the young children anything goes.
Teachers must be cognizant of this issue when they design their lesson plans. Teachers dealing with with ESFLLs (English as a Second/Foreign Language Learners) have to anticipate that the students might easily get distracted if the class activities are not engaging enough. Accordingly, the students will get bored after some time. Hence, their levels of concentration will fall. On the other hand, teachers guarantee their EFLs (English as as First Language) students’ high concentration as long as the class content is explicitly explained without any incomprehensible vagueness.
It’s important that a lesson reaches a conclusion. I personally like to use the last five minutes or so to tie up any loose ends, set any homework and play a game. However, for me, one of the most important things that learners can do at the end of the lesson is reflect on what they have learnt and their own contribution to the lesson. Here are three simple ways this can be done.
I love games, because playing a game is like living a short life with a very happy end: if the game is interesting, engaging and meets the educational goals, each participant is enriched with either new skills developed, or existing skills enforced, or, on the part of a teacher, with the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment. There is a ton of great games around for vocabulary and grammar that are easy to find on the Internet, or in books, and that are sure to make lessons memorable and effective. I mean offline lessons, but how about online?
In international schools, students come from various linguistic backgrounds. In this scenario how can we teach students in their native language?
It would certainly be perplexing and cause misunderstanding among the students. Maybe, when the majority of the class are natives, the mother tongue can be used for abstract contexts
I do not deny the fact that children can grasp and learn subjects with ease in their mother tongue, but they are put under a lot of strain to practice learning all their subjects in English.