So, I have been observing learners doing ‘stuff’ this week. A few highlights have been:
Maths quizzes (with a teacher holding fractions on his head)
50 strong student sing-a-longs
5 year olds creating paintings collaboratively
Street art projects (see picture)
In each of these engagements, learners are using new language. They are learning through interdisciplinary studies (maths, the arts, language). Most importantly they are doing ‘stuff’ that they have never done before, or at least doing it in new and different ways. This newness encourages learners to take risks and to think in new ways. Why learn language via a grammar presentation and worksheet when:
a) learners will have done this before, many times?
b) we can motivate and challenge learners by taking them out of their comfort zones?
c) we can build self esteem through offering learners opportunities to succeed in new ways?
Our language goals are broadly shared with more traditional teaching methods — we all want to build learners’ language competency. What is different is the vehicle for learning: competition, teamwork, collaboration, fun, connections (with peers, other disciplines and the real world).
The result is memorable experiences, which, being memorable, consolidate and extend learning and understanding in ways that traditional approaches cannot match.