Yesterday I stumbled upon a blog post by Willy Cardoso, published on the British Council Teaching English blog. In his post, the author argues that learners’ writings are one of the best raw materials any teacher can have. I totally agree with this, but what really resonated with me was the following tip he shares: “Start a new unit from the last page!”
- Interactivity: the most direct route to learning is to be found in the interactivity between teachers and students and amongst the students themselves.
- Engagement: students are most engaged by content they have created themselves
- Dialogic processes: learning is social and dialogic, where knowledge is co-constructed
- Scaffolded conversations: learning takes place through conversations, where the learner and teacher co-construct the knowledge and skills
- Emergence: language and grammar emerge from the learning process. This is seen as distinct from the ‘acquisition’ of language.
- Affordances: the teacher’s role is to optimize language learning affordances through directing attention to emergent language.
- Voice: the learner’s voice is given recognition along with the learner’s beliefs and knowledge.
- Empowerment: students and teachers are empowered by freeing the classroom of published materials and textbooks.
- Relevance: materials (e.g. texts, audios and videos) should have relevance for the learners
- Critical use: teachers and students should use published materials and textbooks in a critical way that recognizes their cultural and ideological biases.
Even if you have to follow a syllabus (because your students are required to become familiar with a certain number of specific grammatical structures/vocabulary/topics/whatever), you can use this approach without failing to fulfil the red tape requirements. Even if you and your colleagues are expected to create a syllabus based on the coursebook you use throughout the course, you can teach dogme-ish and still be sure that the administrators won’t find anything wrong with your suspiciously-looking methods.