Make statements about what skills your students need to learn. Use Yitzah’s blog posts to help you describe activities you do in class. Post your ideas to the lesson forum and comment on other teachers’ ideas.
The lesson showed us that students need to practice different listening and reading skills: identifying words, judging information from a text and connecting ideas; students also need to practice vocabulary to communicate on a range of topics but they need to improve word order and supra-segmental pronunciation.
I believe students need to work on the four English skills. How? by playing games which make them think about the language they are learning. I try to use as many Drama games I can and they really work. Students engage on these games and they are able to use the language more freely and actively in the English class.
I agree with you regarding using games in the classroom. I personally use them in regular basis and have so far found them very helpful and effective because games creat a non-threatening and positive environment in which students maximize their ability to the best.
Hello! I agree with you about improving supra – segmental pronunciation. We live in a city in which English is not spoken, so my students use the language only in class. Good pronunciation is something I have to work harder with them. I give them listening and pronunciation activities to do at home in order not to forget the English sounds.
And it is something they worry about themselves (my adults students at least), “am I speaking clearly enough?”, “is my intonation correct?” because they know a lot can get mixed up in communication. Teen students are mostly focused on internet slangs and getting the sentences correct according to what they want to express.
Hello Larissa, Vhanessa, Maria, and others!
Can you add any ideas to my Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 lists?
Can you agree or disagree with any of the items on the lists?
Wow, for me, this question is massive, giant, gargantuan, and sometimes overwhelming. My head begins to spin immediately because when I hear the word “skills” My mind starts racing – The 4 skills, skills for being a good communicator, skills for being successful, life-long skills, and so on…
My brain divides this question into three parts, which I will begin to introduce here:
LEVEL 1 (The Basic Level – Immediate and the foundation of language learning)
Four skills plus grammar and vocabulary
LEVEL 2 (Using the language most effectively)
Reading the room / Reading between the lines
Google Search skills
Spelling / Typing skills
Speed reading / Skimming / Scanning
LEVEL 3 (Building a successful career)
The Most Beneficial Lifelong Learning Skills
2. Problem Solving.
3. Critical Thinking.
7. Information Management.
This was NOT my list, and there are many more similar to this list
I only took into acount the skils that were more proeminent during the lesson, but as for the levels, here are some considerations.
Level 1 – although not a language skill, “cultural awareness” is embedded in all of the linguistic axis, also, considering that as a skill (intercultural awareness) might teachers not to avoid talking about culture in their classes (just as grammar and vocabulary)
Level 2 – Reading the room or between the lines = inference, I guess we can call it that, right? ;
the reading skills (inference, skimming, scanning) should also contemplate associating or comparing information as well as new literacies (such as images); active listening is a very broad term for lots of specific skills that should be listed (listening for gist, using aural cues to identify primary and secondary information, identifying irony or sarcasm, for example); and for the speaking skills, I would suggest the inclusion of formulaic language and hedging.
Level 3 – I reject the label “building a successful career”, that does not resonate with a goood number of language learners. I do miss a component of empathy or tolerance in that list, not because we must teach the values themselves but because they are necessary to engage our students in responsible and respectful conversations.
@Larissa — I really like that you’ve added empathy and tolerance to the list. While it’s not really possible to teach those skills directly, we can certainly do our best to create classroom and learning environments where empathy and tolerance are modeled, nurtured, and encouraged.
@Steven I believe that Level 3 skills are useful to every teacher, not only language teachers, since they are life skills. As language teachers we are fortunate enough to include these in our traditional teaching, since we can have students work together – set a leader – take decisions – adopt to situations etc and use the oral / written language to do so. This is very enlightening! PS. The link does not work (for me in Greece at least)
Being 21st century language learners, students need communication skills, collaborayion skills ,critical thinking and problem-solving skills.In other words , they are expected to be able to communicate in the target language with regard to listening,speaking ,reading and writing. Also, they will need to collaborate with their peers in lots of role -play activities ,group presentations, class discussions, task-based activities.In addition, students will need to learn how to think out of the box, think critically and solve problems to keep up with the rapid changes in language learning.
Hi Thuy!!Yes!I couldn’t agree more!!It’s 100% my way of thinking!!I’ve tried my strategies along my teaching years but only when I switched to the developing of the 21st century skills did I find clear results!!
Thanks for your ideas!!
I have to say that after years of trying out more structured and grammatical approaches I learnt that my students had better language acquisition by playing games and taking more active roles in their learning, even when they have to practise writing or reading skills. What I started doing many years ago was doing all activities more communicatively. My classes are 100% dynamic, interactive and communicative.
Looking at @Steven Herder’s list I believe we need to start by developing level 3 to pass on to level 2 in order to get level 1, that’s what I’ve noticed provides better and quicker results!!And most importantly sustainable and comprehensible output.
I begin my classes with relaxation games, then some body or/and brain exercise and at the point of explaining and practising grammar topics I use songs, and a lot of games!!Grammar games are great fun!!
When my students need to develop their writing skills I use the flipping classroom technique, they write their pieces at home and bring them to class for group discussion, I’ve found that super useful because we all generate instant feedback!
For the reading skill, we always read together , making the activity a collaborative one, we all share the task and I do not interrupt for pronunciation corrections!!This could be immensely frustrating, I keep record and share the corrections later!
I hope some of my ideas are useful for you!!
I don’t think there is a clear cut division between levels. We can have A1/A2 reading classes that focus on strategies and do not lack creativity, information management or similar or even writing classes that focus on spelling or paragraph and are communication-oriented. I think level 3 demands more awarenss from teachers when they are developing their lesson plans.
I don’t think either, but what I see apart from the interelation between them is that if you focus on level 3 more at the moment of showing the activity to your sts you get better results. I’m not saying you need a different planning, your planning could be the same, it’s just the approach what changes!
Thanks for answering to me!!
Larissa, Mariana, and Hang,
What a great beginning to our discussion. I think I could talk with you all for a long time!
Larissa – thank you for comments on my levels and for your clear rejection of my level 3 title. I see your point. I also agree with your comment about empathy and tolerance. I actually focus on Social Emotional Learning (SEL – https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-sel-essential-for-students-weissberg-durlak-domitrovich-gullotta) a lot because Japanese students don’t get enough of this after elementary school. JHS and HS are too much rote learning or memorization of rules, data, and English classes are more “decoding” classes than language classes.
Mariana – As you have learned over the years, learning language in fun, creative ways is much more effective than learning in boring ways. In my case, I think I focus less on games these days and more on making language real exchanges for my students, mixing more content about evolving as a well-balanced human, AND enjoying our time together in the classroom with humor, trust, and encouragement to focus on efforts not on results.
Hang – YES, YES, YES. Our students are expected to do just about everything with language these days. The good news is that most students CAN find things they are good at, if we help them to reflect on themselves and their natural skills.
I look forward to seeing you all if you join us on the weekend for session 2.
In my teaching environment, speaking and listening are the skills that need more attention. It’s still more about reading and writing, and there are students who can do grammar tests perfectly, but are afraid to speak.
What my colleagues and I have noticed is, that nowadays we haave students whose English is very good, and students whose Engish is really poor, there is almost nothing (or no student) in between. Those who are good in English are students who have been in touch with English from early childhood, through cartoons, music, games. They are learning on their own, and even without classes at school, their English would be the same. Those students usually have some problems with grammar (they cannot define grammar points, I mean they are not aware if some tense is Present Simple or Presenty Continuous, they just use it naturally, like their mother tongue, without thinking what tense it is, or what thense they should use if they want to say this or that). I often learn from these students slang – like slang they use in playing games, or just teenage slang 🙂
The students who are not good in English, it seems that no amount of classes or work of teachers can help them – they are just not interested, and just don’t get it.
Ok, I am aware that this is overly generalized, but, the sityuation seems to be like that, more or less.
@Branka I have encountered situations like this as well. Some students cannot understand the use of learning a language, especially if their environments are monolingual. This is why it is important to open a window to the world for them and motivate them to communicate and see how useful it is to speak another language in all fields of life. Speaking a language is a life skill and not only a school subject.
In my opinion students not only need to learn the knowledge(grammar and vocabulary) to be a successful language learners, they also need to learn the both receptive (listening and reading) and productive (wringing and speaking). In addition, being able to aware of the target culture is absolutely important. Other skills are linguistic, communicative, pragmatic and discourse to name just a few that enable learners be successful.
@Yaseen. It sounds like you have a very well-balanced approach. While I agree that it’s important help students become aware of culture as they learn, I’m wondering what “the target culture” would be in your context and how you help students become aware of this.
When I am on the phone, chatting with my boss, I generally have a pen and a paper to jot down the main things we talk about. I listen and I speak, not only questions and answers. After ending the call (we don’t hang up anymore as there is neither a receiver to hang nor a hook to place it) I read my notes. Four skills in some minutes.
In real life we use more than one skill at a time, so why do teachers, books and linguistics try to separate the main four skills (main, because there are others) and teach them isolated as if the brain had four warehouses where to store the abilities?
I guess our challenge is to help our students to develop these skills in relation to both, the language they are learning and their real-life needs.
And what about the other skills?
The social skills that arise when students interact and cooperate need to be guided by the teacher. They need to be explained, especially when group work is required.
The study skills, those which let them feel they are incorporating, making use of new things and, in turns, mastering them. These skills move as teachers from the comfortable position of transmitting and later evaluating to that more demanding of generating curiosity and hunger for answers and knowledge. Learners need to know how to study and when it comes to the study of a language, the use of memory, the articulation of thoughts, the reproduction of sounds, the recognition of grammar rules and the situational context are equally important.
The awareness or objectives skills also need to be guided. Students are taught but learners need to be aware that learning is also a personal process. They must be exposed to different activities but they should not rely on the teacher to conduct their learning. Instead they have to discover what they have learned, what they need to work on and how they can find help in order to become efficient learners. In words, they must be aware of their lacks and consider them goals to overcome.
@Ruben In my 20 years of teaching, I have found out that students have neber been taught how to study and mastering this is half the work. It is our job to make students learn how to study in a correct and helpful way.
@Theodora Papapanagiotou. I agree with you, but, in this moment in which we are confined to technology due to the quarantine and distance learning suddenly became the one and only way of explaining and showing, I find it hard, too hard, to decide how to explain students what they need to learn and how to do it. I´m missing my classroom.
In learning languages, students need to develop the four skills: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. However, this is not only limited to that. In order to develop them and their fluency, they also need to learn grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and other sub-skills of each main skills, like in reading skills we have: paraphrasing, summarizing, scanning, skimming, etc. Besides learning those sub-skills, it’s also essential for students to develop their soft skills which are needed in life, not only in language learning.
From my own experience of working with college students especially my first-year students I’ve found that quite a number of students have a vague idea or even no idea of what critical thinking is . As a result of this, they have got problems with developing , organizing ideas ,coming up with persuasive arguments,exchanging and evaluating one another’s work.
In order to prepare for college work students need to develop a full range of thinking skills . In other words ,they need to learn both the lower- order critical thinking skills of remembering, understanding and applying knowlege through brainstorming , organizational activities and high-order critical thinking skills of analyzing, evaluating ,creating to get ready for academic success.Therefore, such exercises as taking notes,recalling information ,using it in new contexts or activities like categorizing information, camparing data , selecting the best solution or developing arguments for a discussion should be encouraged and practiced.
Apart from all the four skills our students need to learn in the class, I think other skills that are really important to build in the class are collaboration and lateral thinking skills. I think that building these skills will not only make our class improve much better, but also prepare our students for skills in order to survive in the future.
@Steven Herder. It is true that you can devide learning in levels in order to make goals achievable, but I think social skills and study skills need to be worked from the very beginning. A person needs to be explained how to learn and how to apply whatever is learned in a determined environment.
Thanks so much for your sharing in the first live session yesterday. Regarding the question of how to teach the concept “critical thinking” to students or how to make it accessible to students I agree with you that the graphical representation of Bloom’s taxonomy will give students a better insight into the six levels of thinking skills from the least to the highest order of thinking skills i.e remembering ,understanding,applying ,analyzing ,evaluating and creating.
Thus,in order to increase the amount of classroom interaction ,maintain active classroom dialogue and encourage student involvement ,it is important for teachers to use questions not only to assess student comprehension of the material but also to help them extend their thinking by connecting ideas and applying concepts to the real world.
Looking back at the question “At what age should students be taught critical thinking ?”, I at first thought that we should teach critical thinking to teens to get them ready for college work and more academic success at university later on .However, in fact critical thinking can be developed in early childhood education since children can learn anything they are exposed to very quickly.
@ Yaseen Muhammad
Thanks for your question.
One activity that can be used to engage students using the higher order thinking skills is having them create a visible and personal representation of unit concepts, such as a poster, a chart or graph, a brochure or a class book.
Another activity is giving learners an opportunity to generate questions through class discussions, online forums ( like what we have been doing so far in this course ) and assignments.
Last but not least is having students get involved in peer feedback ,peer correction.It is the exposure to other students’ work that helps them realize how well they write,design or create.Also, students can learn even more from their peers than they learn from their teacher to some extent.
Hi everyone ,
I have been working as a teacher of English as a foreign language for young learners especially primary grades for five years . one of the biggest obstacles that met me at the beginning of my career is how to set or flame students intrinsic motivation as they are too young to set goals towards learning new languages and it was my first mistake as a teacher that to ignore or dismiss students attitude or just depend on my own experience and perspective .
I tried to change and fix my point of view , so at the first class i asked second grade students what is the purpose of studying language from your point of view or do you think that studying language makes a difference ? and there was a surprise , they offer me so precious purposes for their learning . so one of the most important skills they need to learn is how to set or find a purpose for their learning .
this will take us to what happened next in this class to show another important skill they learnt . after discussing their reasons m they started to tell about their preferences about how to study English . for example > through songs or stories , individuals or groups , how to fulfill homework , classroom contract ,………etc . And it was the concept of (freedom ) it is some kind of skill that they needed to practice .
day after day , a rapport was built between me and my students . they even some times called me mum . they showed a sense of belonging to the class , they kept it glamoring , they loved morning meetings and many of their birthday parties were held in the class .
this was also a skill that grew with them ( feeling belonged and connected ) .
fun , they needed to practice how to master fun in academic way as i like to call . they practice fun while role playing , presentations and even during breaks .
all these skills prepared students for competence and power . when they practiced the skill of being free in his choices , funny and cheerful , and belonged to a community m they practiced easily skills of language .