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
1. In a large class, I use audience interaction app for initiating discussion and for reviewing grammar topics. I run polls that students can take part in using their phones and a code I provide on the screen. The results are immediately projected and can be discussed. If it is a grammar question, the poll allows me to see what percentage of the students answered it correctly and serves as an indication of which topics I should dwell on and which not.
Audience interaction app: SliDo
After ten years as a teacher, I was going to start teaching groups of teenagers for the first time. Up to this point, I had only taught adults, with a few teens in amongst the older students, but now I would have groups of exclusively teens in classes of around 15. Luckily for me I have good friends so they gave me loads of great advice (which you can read here on my blog).
I cannot blame them: (fun) learning can happen without technology but, to be honest, I have never asked myself why I have to integrate some technology in my classes or if I will be competent enough to handle behavior, as I had already had my own personal experience back in 2001, when I had a Mac desktop computer in the classroom, a notebook provided by the district to exchange teachers, and my students had access to laptops either in the library or in a cart to take to our classroom.
Writing is something that people ‘evade’ because it is least needed for survival. Given its importance today, it is paradoxical that writing is sometimes referred to as a less ‘necessary skill’ not needed in day to day life. I couldn’t agree more to Tribble that the ’authority and permanence’ a written piece conveys in comparison to a spoken text or discourse only contrasts the aforesaid view.
This was in the days before Edtech when we frequently used photocopiers and made worksheets by cutting up and sticking bits of paper together, and often our hands. Then when I got my first job, my heavy schedule and a 70% coursebook rule meant my creative worksheet hobby made way for extra coursebook resources like workbooks and test books. Once I’d used the same coursebooks a few times and got to grips with the content, I rediscovered my interest in making worksheets to not just complement the coursebooks but to sometimes replace them and even enhance the content.