I am quite intrigued by the new ‘skill set’- termed as 21 century skills, that has emerged as indispensable and wonder whether it will render a certain segment of learners or professionals obsolete in terms of the abilities and skills they possess in times to come.
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.
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.
The infotech boom has already shrunk many bustling and coveted campuses that boasted of long queues and a scramble for admissions. Today we see most of the reputable universities and colleges offering online and blended learning options. With the accelerating pace of technology, the education sector has also expanded its reach through online courses, free learning / training programs tutored by computers. The new technologies have already offered an explosive potential for online tutoring and e -moderation.
Today most learners’ intended purpose is to communicate, engage in real life situations, there is a paradigm shift in the way content is supplemented with ‘real world information and contexts’ rather than the pre-decided information. Nine out of ten students I meet say they learn language by reading and listening to news, watching movies, videos, so on and so forth. This is a clear indication that text books are not enough and exposure to real stuff is needed to develop communicative competence.
This can be debated as being unrealistic and a barrier in our deliverables as we live in a fast changing world where we have little time to stand , stare or care. With inclusive education getting a push world - wide in many schools and universities, inclusivity in fact has become a niche area of policy of many big organisations striving to have their names listed as top employers. It's too wide a term to be discussed and therefore I would narrow down to share practices from my classroom teaching experience.
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.
It calls for prowess along with ‘sense sensitive training’. In this post I would like to share my experience of teaching a bright and ambitious visually impaired teenage girl, in the mainstream classroom.
I vividly remember the first day when I was in for a surprise. I marched into my classroom armed with usual handouts and power points oblivious of my class profile. At the door stood a woman who apprised me of her daughter’s small amount of residual sight not enough to read and study.
If one is able to identify and see one’s own movement , it builds up a lot of confidence which in return has a domino effect on his or her motivation for learning. In addition to informing instruction and developing learners with the ability to guide their own instruction it helps in sharing and understanding of learning intentions in relation to successful learning.
In a classroom situation do we actually follow the models or stray away to respond to the emerging situation , and yet achieve the learning aims is something worth reflecting upon?
For me teaching methodologies are like ‘straight Jackets’ that help us slip into the lesson and ‘play safe’ making it easier for us to meet ‘our’ aims. But do we stick to these when we are in a classroom or wander away to deal with emergent language or spontaneity. I recount a lesson while being observed for my DELTA. It was a Vocabulary lesson and I was following text based approach.