21st century skills are a must in many innovative teaching methods, and they appear so naturally that we don't even notice them. These skills are not an approach or method, they simply represent the needed characteristics for achieving academic and professional success in the 21st century. Teachers usually single out one 21st century skill and make a lesson around it, when in fact, we should use innovative methods which incorporate many of these skills.
Interculturalism may be a common research topic, but in many instances, it is really hard to introduce different cultures into the regular curriculum. In our country, primary school children have approximately two English lessons per week, and we don't have public English preschools at all.
As educators, we look for the resources that can help us incorporate new teaching trends and improve our professional knowledge. In addition to these sources, one can also benefit from class observations. Taking the time to visit our colleagues’ classes will open up a variety of helpful tools as well as an opportunity for reflection.
We are waiting for our flight at the airport. My husband talks quietly to his colleagues discussing a scientific project while I check in with our children, then click on various favorite links like The Free Dictionary, Teaching English and a few others. All around us people of all ages and nationalities are engaged in similar activities, talking, listening, writing, using their smartphones, iPads and other devices. The number of languages spoken is very impressive.
Here is a ready-made scenario for the lesson "in Russian traditions":
Powtoon is a free, easy and intuitive digital tool with incredible possibilities. I use it frequently with my trainee English teachers at University. I find it is beneficial for developing their digital skills and, at the same time, for discovering new tools that they can use in their classes.
Traditionally language learning has always been associated with reading books, listenin to and using the language to communicate and so on. With digital technology pervading our lives, reading paperback books has taken a back seat. With so much information available on all digital platforms, reading is one important form, albeit binge reading I would say. In a way it is good as there is more exposure to the language, different genres and text types. This in a way facilitates learning outside the classroom where people are learning newer items, vocabulary and forms all the time.
Some of my adult learners of English come to the first lesson with a few misconceptions which I find extremely harmful and definitely see as an obstacle on their way to success in learning. What I always do in the first lesson is “myth busting” discussion, and, I must say, to them the truth often sounds like a revelation. Breaking down these misconceptions is a part of consistent work on building up learning strategies with students (I must note again, it is all about my experience of teaching English to adults).
So, what are the “myths” and the “truths”?
Since our classes have become more multicultural, sometimes we have kids from all over the world; a special celebration for Christmas for example is not always suitable.
So how about organizing weird day celebrations or events that would make children happy and learn at the same time? Here are some ideas I have used over the years:
We often deliver typical ‘festival lessons’ during our teaching. Festivals can provide great themes for learners and help to bring in a great deal of diversity in lessons in terms of vocabulary, colloquial language, storytelling, interesting reading material; folktales, epics, food, colour and a lot more. Many standard course books include festivals and themes that are pretty western and euro-centric with Christmas and Halloween appearing more than others.