This is how I start every new group. The first couple of classes I concentrate on knowing the students by assessing what they already know and are able to do. If I base my diagnostic stage on grammar alone, it would be impossible to say for sure what they can do, but when comes to language as whole, then skills (speaking & listening, reading & writing) gives me what I want to know for a start. The ability to understand what they hear (Listening comprehension) and respond accordingly (speaking) in order for communication to take place is what our course at UDI SATC is based on. Our goal is that students are able to communicate orally, and I refer to that development of language orally, and students develop that simultaneously during the course (listening and speaking) – by providing opportunities to engage with the language through oral situations. However, I find that reading & writing are also very important and a great source of input for language learners. Therefore, if I can provide tasks that the skills are integrated, it is even better. I always keep this in mind even when I am working with the coursebook or worksheets.
Then, never a speaking activity is just about speaking, nor a reading activity is just about reading.
I take every opportunity to engage students in a variety of skills practice as possible within the same task, even if it is a simple one like Brainstorming a topic. Now with the 9th graders where we only have the grammar syllabus, the possibility to use their regular classes workbook (not mandatory for us in the UP English Project) and having to create our own material or select worksheets elsewhere, it is much easier to focus on the necessity to use English and through technology make language practice with an audience more engaging and meaningful for teens. That is why my reflection on Students’ feedback
becomes so important. It is harder for Teens to bear artificial settings and that is why engaging them through games seem to make the fireworks when comes to motivation or are believe to be the best way to engage them in learning. However, even though I think games can be fun, reality will show us that they are not always fun and it is not fun for everyone. Then, reflective practice
is what will take us to find out what really happened and assess if language learning really took place on a daily basis. Thus more than lowering students affective filter ( games are often used with the aim to engage them into learning, as motivating factor, but I personally don’t believe it to be effective as such), I aim toward to develop competencies and skills that will make them able to connect with people ( f-2-f or online) and use English effectively. I also realized that technology may make language learning more engaging, meaningful and real for them and combined with the classroom it can be very motivating and effective for developing all sorts of competencies/ skills and also language skills. The classroom may be seen as a preparation stage for real life. If I could get them to see it that way, a big step towards becoming a learner instead of a student would have been taken.
GREAT REMINDER: THAT IS WHAT REFLECTION IS ALL ABOUT.