Final Project Course 5

What Happened?

For the final project, my students and I redesign the fifths grade Unit Places I Like to Visit. When I was planning this unit, I prioritized the main principles of New Pedagogy:

  • Learning partnership between a teacher and students – we discuss the format and platform of the final assessment and discuss I Can Do statements.
  • Learning engagements are based on real-life problem-solving and connected to students’ interests – all learning engagements were based on authentic resources and final assessment – to create a guide of Moscow that would be interested for kids. Choose the places that you like, find cool information that attracts kids’ attention.
  • Digital tools and resources are integrated into the learning process – we have an integrated lesson when the IT teacher took us through the Book Creator platform and answered all the questions.
  • Evaluating students’ progress together – we have the Common Rubrics for Presentational Skills. The students knew the rubrics, and before the assessment, we have discussed the expectations of each criterion.

How? – KEY LEARNING ENGAGEMENTS

  1. The provocation was a question – How many continents in the world? The answer is it depends on what school you attend. Students record their answers on Flipgrid and listen to each other questions and record the comments.
  2. We watched the authentic video and created Kahoot games to check each other knowledge.
  3. Discuss the questions and answers that students used in Kahoot Games, make some notes for future games.
  4. Read and watch short authentic pieces about Moscow and discuss them.
  5. IT integration lesson to discuss Book Creator.

What Impact Did it Have on Your Practice? 

I recognized the importance of students’ voices and interests.

The use of technology increases the students’ motivation and pushes their autonomy.

My role as a teacher is changing, and I am becoming a guide or facilitator of learning.

Students’ Learning

Students learned the new information about their famous places in Moscow in a target language. They were able to write a recommendation of different places in the city and give reasons why others might find them interesting. They present information digitally. 

https://read.bookcreator.com/8dPLC0Y8ZdfIgJBhPwydN5ss0P23/aestfZZxRLOO2J0199axXA

Next Step

Next step –  we will discuss how to be a responsible Internet user and the basic rules of Internet Etiquette.

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN TECH-BASED TOOLS FOR LEARNING LANGUAGES

Learning a language is a challenge.

Learning a foreign language is a double challenge.

Learning a foreign language online is WHAT?

 

When we started online teaching, it was incredibly difficult. On the way, I discovered different online platforms and tools. However, we do not want to choose a new app only because it is new and fancy. It has to be a tool that helps our students learn a foreign language and develop 21st-century skills, and it should not be too complicated to use.

AstroReality, (2019, October 29). Famous quotes about technology in education.

“Technology encourages learners to build castles in the air. After all, imagination is at the heart of innovation.”

When I saw this photo and read the following quotation about technology in education, I realized what is crucial for me – encourage my students to use their creativity and imagination.

Unfortunately, there are not so many for learning Russian as a foreign language, and my students are too young to have an account.

Our school paid a Linguascope account, but this platform has only a beginning level for Russian. When we wrote a request about other levels as French and Spanish have, we have got the following answer:

Thank you for your email. No, unfortunately, at the moment there is no plan to develop Russian resources beyond the beginner level. There is simply not enough demand to justify it.

 Best regards,

 Mr Stéphane Derône

www.linguascope.com • www.educandy.com • www.learningscope.com

Follow us: www.facebook.com/linguascope • www.twitter.com/linguascope

Oh, well, I have to create online resources by myself for six grades (KG-grade 5). Thank my colleagues, we found a way to work collaboratively.

Music and videos are the most powerful tools for learning a language. So, I started to create Google Slides for each song and story.

I wanted to try to use Quizlet. I think it is a good platform to practice vocabulary and grammar based on a tried-and-true memorization tool: the flashcard. Great platform, but I can not use it because of the age of my students.

I tried FluentU, the same story! I can demonstrate it on my Smartboard, and we can do it as a group. But I can not subscribe to this app, and my students are too young. It does not work as well; my students are not in my class and play on-screen all together. It takes too much time, and it is boring.

I have chosen two platforms that I use on a regular basis – Kahoot (to assess key vocabulary, grammar structures in context, and knowledge of a unit) and Flipgrid (for interpersonal communication and presentational speaking).

Lately, I found a new website for learning languages – Duolingo. I am planning to test by myself, check the privacy policy and implement it in my classroom. It looks interesting and offers different levels.

My students enjoy incorporating technology into their language learning routines, and they always ask if we are going to play online games. When there is a choice – paper and pencil or Google Slides for presentational writing, the majority choose Slides.

Plans for future

After my COETAIL journey, I have started to think about creating a platform for learning Russian as a foreign language for elementary school students. I have a lot of ideas and resources. The challenge is to find the professionals who will help to create the platform.

My Community

I was thinking about what my Community Blog should look like.

First, I decided to find a definition of the word community. 

COMMUNITY –  a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/community). 

So, my small community is a group of WL teachers who teach Russian, Spanish, and French. My big community is WL teachers around the world. My interactions mostly happened in my small community.

I am a World language Coordinator, so I have the responsibility to educate my colleagues. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w83S-0m8Mz4

All exciting ideas that I learned during my COETAIL journey, I shared with my colleagues. For example, I ran a PD workshop, “Digital Safety and Student Privacy,” for my interested colleagues. I believe that it is essential to train teachers to examine online resources, protect students’ data privacy, and check the safety of online educational resources. It is essential because we (teachers and students) have started to use more and more apps and online programs. 

 

When I was working with Google Slides, I learned how to Create Engaging Presentations with Slides, I created one lesson, shared it with my colleagues, and now we are working collaboratively. So, how it works:

  • We meet and discuss possible learning engagements.
  • I create a Google slide and put it in the folder “Collaboration”.
  • We assign the tasks and deadlines. 
  • We go back to our classroom and develop learning engagements.

(Examples of learning engagements)

There is another duty that I have as a WL teacher in my small community. This duty is curriculum writing. We have a consultant, Greg Duncan, who runs workshops and leads our thinking. We did concept maps and started to write I can Do statements for units. I am implementing my knowledge of New Pedagogies in this work.

(Slide  from Greg Duncan’s presentation)

Despite the difficulties of this year, a lot of learning and work is happening in my community.

 

 

Teaching a Foreign Language to KG Students Online

Learning a language is a natural skill for little kids. Teachers do not teach them how to pronounce words correctly or translate words and phrases. Students in kindergarten are learning a foreign language how to speak through observing, listening, and repeating. Generally, we group students according to their language proficiency. Sometimes it is challenging to divide students in the kindergarten class by levels, and pretty often, I had five-year-old total beginners and some kids who were exposed to the Russian language. 

It is not that simple to teach successfully many students of different proficiency levels at the same time in class. Teaching a foreign language in a kindergarten requires energy, patience, and imagination. With every single word or phrase I teach come visuals, emotions, and body language.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

And this year was a Bingo. We were teaching KG class 4 times a week for 45 minutes remotely. This situation pushed a new approach to teach Russian as a foreign language. I could not use the same activities.

 The challenges were the following:

At the beginning of the school year, my five years old students could not work on iPads independently. We needed to teach them how to join meetings, how to work in Seesaw (we use this platform as an electronic portfolio), how to take a photo and download it in Seesaw, how to record themselves and upload it in the Seesaw, how to share their screen etc. 

The biggest challenge was to keep students next to the screen learning a foreign language for 45 minutes and keep their motivations. My team came up with the idea to create a slide presentation with a variety of activities for each lesson.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, The Summer, 1563. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The results:

The KG students created their own portraits using fruits and vegetables, and they were able to describe their portraits demonstrating their knowledge of two topics “Fruits and Vegetables” and “Parts of the Body”.

The results are the following:

KG students started to use technology “to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.” They became Empowered Learners. 

Their knowledge of the names of fruits and vegetables is improved as well.

What is the New Pedagogy of Online Teaching?

At first, I thought to replicate online what I usually do in a classroom. I have faced some challenges (traditional learning engagements to develop and assess interpersonal and presentational speaking did not work; keep the interest of 5 years-old students for 45 minutes, play games or sing songs online is almost impossible, and by the end, poor internet connections, etc.). 

Photo from Austrian National Library on Unsplash

I have been working as a WL teacher for the last seventeen years. At the beginning of my carrier, I was the primary resource in class, and I was leading the learning process. Nowadays, technology is changing the way we teach and leading to the emergence of a new pedagogy. 

The new pedagogy requires educating students with new skills and knowledge (critical thinking, independent learning, and the use of relevant technology).  

In my final project, the students take an active role in developing a learning pathway and creating the final product. 

Kahoot Games  as  a New Approach in a WL classroom 

I have started to use Kahoot two years ago and found that students of different ages love to play Kahoot games. I used Kahoot games for a variety of goals:

  • Introduce new vocabulary
  • Assess prior knowledge
  • Improve reading skills
  • Formative assessments

When I evaluated this platform, I looked at it as an Augmentation in the SAMR model. The technology is used to substitute the traditional way of teaching “with some enhancement to the student experience.” (SAMR Model: A Practical Guide for EdTech Integration)

Kahoot’s format is only multiple-choice questions.

It would be great to have a choice of different answering formats in Kahoot. It can be used to check a simple understanding of vocabulary from a unit. Also, questions and answers choices can be a deeper level of thinking if students have enough vocabulary and knowledge of the subject. For example, when I assess my students’ prior knowledge, the question will be “What is it?” If I want to evaluate their knowledge, the questions will be “What is the main street of Moscow? What does it mean, Red Square?”

The competitive nature of the application makes the students use proper hand-eye coordination and quick problem-solving; improve their reading skills in a foreign language. Students always ask for more games. 

The next step of using Kahoot and reevaluate its meaning was when I asked my grade 5 students to create their own Kahoot games. The task was to watch the video about general geographic knowledge and create a Kahoot game to check the classmates’ understanding. This task takes the Kahoot platform to the higher level of the SAMR model. I believe it is Modification. We are moving from enhancement to transformation, and the task requires critical thinking and problem-solving skills. First, to choose the main concepts, then come up with various answers, select a good image.

We are playing a Kahoot game that was created by one of the students online.

Takeaways

Language-wise – the answers should give a hint, but not repeat the words from the video; it means to use synonyms; write numbers in words not in numbers because you do not assess the understanding in Russian. 

The students’ reflections were the following:

“Next type I will check the spelling of the words if I see the words were underlined with the red lines. It looks like my classmates could not understand some of my answers.” 

“I should type the numbers in words.”

“Next time, I will use a variety of questions, not only questions about facts.”

Conclusion 

I found that this type of activity increases the students’ motivation and allows students to demonstrate their language knowledge and skills and integrate their digital skills to be a Knowledge Constructor and “critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.” (ISTE STANDARDS FOR STUDENTS)

MY THINKING

This school year is entirely different from the previous school years. When I decided to take the COETAIL journey, my main goal has been to start implementing technology more often. Since the last March, I have been teaching my lessons remotely and will be teaching till the end of this school year. So, I had to learn fast and start using a different approach to teaching a foreign language to elementary school students. It was a challenge, and still, it is pretty tricky.  “To have a second language is to have a second soul. (Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor).”

For my Course 5 project, I have chosen the fifths grade Unit Places I Like to Visit.  The unit focuses on learning about geography, nature, climate, and places of interest in Russia in Russian.

I planned to start a unit with a provocation.

What is a provocation?

It provokes thoughts and ideas; it allows demonstrating prior knowledge and come up with various questions.

Types of provocation in WL classroom:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Real artifacts
  • Interesting photos
  • Phraseological unit, idiom

The purpose of provocation is to hook the students; push questioning and sharing connections; provoke curiosity.

I created a Flipgrid task – What do I know about my plane? Students’ task was to answer the following questions in Russian: What is our planet’s name? How many continents are in the world? What are the names of the continents? How many oceans are in the world? What are the names of the oceans? On what continent/s is Russia? What oceans are around Russia? What cities in Russia do you know? – and record their answers in Flipgrid.

Feedback and students’ reflections:
“I know some names in English, not in Russia.” “I am not sure how many continents and oceans.” “I am living in Russia already 5 years but can name only two cities – Moscow and St. Petersburg.”

The follow-up task was to look at the map and find the information that you did not know and read about different approaches explaining how many continents (6 or 7) in the world. It led to a fruitful discussion. When planning a new activity, my main focus is always authentic and engaging. The practice shows that students are much more inclined to participate, acquiring new knowledge in the process.

 

Course 4 Final Project

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

For my Course 5 project, I decided to redesign the fifths grade Unit Places I Like to Visit. My choice was done because of the following reasons. First of all, grade five students who are more independent can lead their own digital learning. We will most likely continue the Distance Learning pathway, so I need partners and co-designers of the process and not waste time explaining the basics in English. Also, I wanted to take the learning outside the classroom. It will be a project that will help new members of our school community learn more about Moscow and things they can do here. First, we will do the project in Russian, and then students can translate it into their own language – we might have the virtual guide about Moscow in English, Danish, Bulgarian, Turkish, Korean, French, Hindi and Polish.

The guide can be done using Book Creator or I-Movie. We will discuss it together and will choose the best tool for this project.

Picture from http://www.mosgid.ru/

ISTE Standards for Students

For this unit, I chose the following ISTE Standards for Students:

ISTE Standards for Students, 3 (Knowledge Constructor) Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts, and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

3b Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility, and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.

3c Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

ISTE Standards for Students, 6 (Creative Communicator) Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

6a Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

6b Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

6c Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models, or simulations.

6d Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

In this unit, the students will need to be Knowledge Constructors (Standard 3) by applying what they learn about Moscow and how to write the travel guide. The students will be Creative Communicators (Standard 6) by choosing the best tools or digital media appropriate for their goal – attract people to visit/ explore Moscow.

How does this unit reflect your learning during COETAIL?

As I was developing this unit, I wanted to implement two big ideas:

  1. Use of new knowledge and skills with authentic audiences for “real” purpose; 
  2. Technology should be used for modification or redefinition of the learning process. 

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

My main concern about this unit is an assessment. We have clear guidelines on how to evaluate language skills. If I start implementing ISTE standards, should I assess them as well? If yes, so what are the rubrics? I know that my students have different knowledge and abilities of how to use technology. 

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you? What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

 The shift will be that the students will take an active role in developing this unit. We will discuss the final project and establish the steps together. They will be partners co-designers of this unit. Students should be active participants, set learning goals, develop stages of achieving these learning goals, not be afraid to make mistakes and support each other.

What outcomes do you hope to see when students complete this unit? How will you know that students have learned the concepts?

At the end of the unit, I hope that my students will be able to create an interactive tour guide around Moscow; use a variety of language phrases and different tools to attract the audience.  The rubrics for evaluation we will develop together; they will be based on their learning goals.

 

Putting Deep Learning into Practice

The nowadays reality (on the one hand – a very high degree of students’ boredom in the framework of classical education and the lack of connections with the real world; on the other hand – the students’ engagement and excitement of the digital world (the social network spread and gamification of the world) makes appear a new approach to teaching – Deep Learning.

https://www.cecweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/deep-learning.pdf

There are different frameworks and methods that can be used in the classroom to implement Deep Learning.

Challenge Based Learning  (CBL) is an approach that helps students understanding the world around them and solve real-world problems. I think that approach was designed for middle and high school students, probably students in grades 4 and 5, who can be ready for this approach as well. CBL helps develop and improve the following skills: Leadership, Creativity, Media Literacy, Problem-Solving, Critical Thinking, Flexibility, and Adaptability. Technology is a tool for students to explore, connect with each other and a teacher or/ and consultant, record their thinking and findings, and communicate the result of work to the community. 

What do we need to have in order to CBL happen? Computers,  media creation tools, the Internet, and mobile devices for any time, anywhere access to information, content, and communication, a collaborative workspace that is available to everyone 24/7. At a minimum, the workspace will include a calendar, a place to store notes, documents, and other digital assets such as PDFs, video clips, and audio and video podcasts. 

There are different stages of CBL.

Students can create different types of products, including a challenge proposal video, a set of guiding questions, research plans and results, solutions with testing plans and evaluation parameters, a solution video, student journals, and individual reflection videos. CBL requires some sort of prior knowledge, higher-order thinking skills, and good digital skills. 

As an elementary school teacher, I can see some challenges in implementing this approach in my classroom—first, age restrictions and some online tools’ complexity. As a result, it can be done only in the classroom setting with a teacher’s support or at home with the parents’ assistance. 

As a foreign language teacher, I can use CBL only with the students who have already reached Intermediate High or Advanced levels and can speak, read, and write in a target language. Unfortunately, students can reach these levels at the end of Middle school.

The more appropriate framework for elementary students who are learning a foreign language will be Game-Based Learning.  

“The ALLURE method of game design uses learning, engagement, and assessment principles inherent in complex game mechanics to create a spectrum of highly engaging learning experiences, digital or non-digital.” This method is frequently used in our school in WL classrooms.

http://www.joebisz.com/conferencetrading-complexmechanic/

The other features of GBL are:

  • Networked or Sensory Environment
  • Fast, Random, or Simultaneous Access
  • Frequent Rewards or Feedback
  • Challenge
  • Narrative or Fantasy.

A good example is the Kahoot Games. Students can access at the same time, it is challenging (it is written in a target language and assesses the knowledge, gives immediate feedback). The last Kahoot game I created was based on Christmas and New Year Celebrations, similarities and differences between Russia and The USA. Students love to play these types of games and sometimes challenge themselves and create their own games for classmates to play. We make the games after the presentations to check for understanding.

Another type of popular game is a Rival Game when a student or a group of students has a goal to compete against another student (or group); it pushes students’ abilities and makes them cooperate against a challenge.

(Simple and Complex ALLURE Version, by Victoria Mondelli and Joe Bisz, 2019)

Role-play is the most powerful game in language learning. Students are engaged in a variety of authentic situations and play different roles.

So, Game-Based Learning is known and widely used in WL classrooms in our school. It does not require a high level of language proficiency. It is age-appropriate for elementary school students. It is fun and engaging, authentic, and easy to implement.

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a “teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.” This type of project contains curriculum and instruction; the students work on it during an extended period of time, trying to solve a real-world problem or answering complex questions. The final product is presented to a real audience. This method also requires a good command of Russian or any other language. I use this method when the students are ready to do in a target language in the unit’s framework, for instance, “Healthy Choices.” The students collect the data of their classmates’ food preferences, analyze the menu of our school, research healthy and unhealthy food choices, make a list of recommendations on how to improve the school menu, and present it to the owner of our school cafeteria. Students work on developing their content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills in a target language.

Design Thinking

https://spencerauthor.com/designthinking/

Design thinking aims to examine a problem from a human-centered perspective and develop a creative solution to this problem using different innovation strategies. A human-centered approach means that we analyze our students’ personal needs and create a learning process that allows a variety of human experiences for specific students.

Each student has a device (I-pad or computer) and access to various apps for language learning (Linguascope, Quizlet, Kahoot, This is Language). The WL teachers do not use textbooks; they constantly modify and adapt materials to the students’ needs and proficiency level. In each theme, we have essential questions in English and Russian; the students self-evaluate themselves at the beginning of each unit in order to understand what they already know and can do. After that, we discuss the theme and write a lot of questions that the students would like to be able to ask and answer in a target language and brainstorm about a possible format for the presentation of the final product. Students have the right to choose any format to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. For now, the rubrics of summative assessments are based on ACTFL standards. During my learning journey with COETAIL, I have started to think about how not only to implement the ISTE standards in my teaching but also incorporate them in rubrics for assessments.

 There are so many frameworks of teaching nowadays. We can use any of them depending on what learning goals we have and what matches the best to our students’ needs. But we need to remember that students are learning when the situation is relevant, the language is real, and activities are meaningful and exciting.

 

Week 4: Unleashing Deep Learning

Technology integration is more than just bringing a device or introduce a new learning platform. There are different levers of integration.

SAMR in the Classroom

In the majority of cases, we use technology to substitute or practice knowledge and skills. Especially now, during DL time, I am using Google Slides, Google Jamboard, and Google Docs for presenting new material, practicing new knowledge and skills, assessing and giving immediate feedback. 

In a classroom, I would go around and listen to students’ dialogues and help them; now, I put them in Breakout rooms and do the same. Unfortunately, I can see others. 

When the students are writing their assignments in a classroom, I would go around and support them. Now we are using Google Docs or Google Slides, and I can write comments. The next level is Modification when students start using different tech tools to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and sharing their learning experience. We have begun implementing Flipgrid to reinforce interpersonal and interpreting skills, and students are able to watch (listen to) an authentic piece, express their thinking, and discuss the ideas. 

Another platform is Seesaw; we use it as a student’s e-portfolio to collect and track students’ work. All teachers working with a student in the school provide information about the student’s progress in the Seesaw. Students define their learning goals in all subjects, collect their learning engagements and assessments, and reflect on their learning strengths and areas for improvement. 

A courageous classroom

Learning can be a challenge; learning a foreign language can be a double challenge that is why it is essential to create a classroom culture and climate that supports communication, collaboration, respect, and responsibility. Once this is established, students will be more comfortable taking risks in speaking the language and not be afraid of making mistakes. At the beginning of the year, we create our classroom rules. The major ones are:

  • I will be a risk-taker and speak Russian in the classroom.
  • I will respect myself and others, different cultures, and opinions.
  • I will work collaboratively with my classmates respectfully.
  • I will be a responsible partner in the classroom community.

 

 

 

Week 3: Learning Deeply, Digitally

Week 3: Learning Deeply, Digitally

“I took a foreign language for four years, but I can’t speak.” 

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Some version of this statement is expressed by so many of the students who took a language class in school or university. Some schools and universities are teaching based on coursebooks. Many activities are based on practicing vocabulary, grammar structures, and scripted dialogues that don’t allow students to practice real-life language and express themselves.

How should an ideal WL class look like now?

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Textbooks are replaced by authentic resources (riddles, games, stories, poems, songs, cartoons).

Culture integrates into the learning engagements organically.

Learning engagements help students communicate in real-life situations, not just master the different parts of the language.

The learning process should include learning goals, needs, motivation, and reflection.

The challenge is that the kids are ready to discuss a question using sophisticated English, but they do not have the same vocabulary and structures in WL.

DEEP LEARNING TASKS SHOULD HAVE:

  • Clear learning goals

  • Success indicators

  • Rubrics of measuring progress

  • Real-life application 

  • A place for teacher-students’ collaboration

  • Technologies are used in the service of deeper learning 

    Analyzing the WL curriculum in my school, I realized that we have been implementing Deep Learning Tasks. The learning goals in the WL curriculum are transparent and based on ACTFL standards on the following categories (Interpersonal (Person-to-Person) Communication, Presentational Speaking (Spoken Production), Presentational Writing (Written Production), Interpretive Listening, Interpretive Reading and Intercultural Communication. The main goal is to develop a functional use of a foreign language for personal purposes and in an authentic context. There are mini (every lesson) goal(s)) and major targets (a year and/ or course goals). These goals are written in the Can-Do statements formats such as:

    INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION

    • I can say hello and goodbye to someone my age or younger (Novice Mid)
    • I can talk with someone about family or household tasks (Intermediate Low)
    • I can ask for and provide information about specific events (Intermediate High)   

      The Can-Do statements help set the learning goals and be used as rubrics for students’ self-assessment and formative/summative evaluations, as evidence of learning and tools for reflecting.

      The primary teaching method in our school is a communicative approach. The objective of this approach is to develop communicative competence, which, according to Brandl (2008), is the “ability to interpret and enact appropriate social behaviors, and it requires the active involvement of the learner in the production of the target language” (p. 5). In order to develop communicative competence, teachers are creating real-life tasks to master the following abilities (p. 6):

      • linguistic competence (knowledge of grammar and vocabulary)
      • sociolinguistic competence (ability to say the appropriate thing in a social situation)
      • discourse competence (ability to start, enter, contribute to, or end a conversation)
      • strategic competence (ability to communicate effectively and repair problems in the communication)

      (BRANDL, K. Principles of Communicative Language Teaching and Task-Based Instruction. Communicative Language Teaching in Action: Putting Principles to Work. Pearson, 2008.)

      The activities that we are using in our WL classes require an exchange of information and solving problems in “real-life” situations taking into consideration the learner’s ability, level of knowledge, interests, age, needs, and goals. For example, the goal – to learn how to exchange information will look variously in different classrooms.

      In a kindergarten class, we will talk about favorite toys. The students will bring a toy, describe and explain why this toy is the favorite one. In grade two, we will talk about favorite games and sports; the students will explain their choices and teach the other how to play this game/sport. In grade five, we will talk about customs, traditions, and celebrations.

       

     

A KG student drew her favorite toy, wrote simple sentences with the teacher’s support, and record herself presenting her favorite toy.

A grade 2 student created a Google slides presentation about his favorite sport – tennis, he explained the rules of the game, added photos, and recorded himself talking about this sport.

A grade 5 student created a Google slides presentation about Holidays in South Korea.

“Technology is just a tool, one that can empower people to change the ways in which education is structured and delivered.”

Technology can be used effectively only when:

  • It enables learning with richer content. 
  • It allows for creating differentiated tasks and assessments.
  • It addresses the student’s learning styles, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • It enhances students’ motivation.
  • It masters a wide range of skills and knowledge individually.
  • It links between in- and out-of-classroom learning.
  • It promotes collaborative learning.
  • It immerses authentic simulations.

 

Technology is a tool, and we, as educators, need to know how to use it efficiently. It requires specific professional development; teachers have to learn new skills and content and “unlearn” the traditional teaching method. It does not happen one day. We need to have a bank of resources and digital teaching platforms with detailed guidance, time to explore them, collaborative colleagues ready to experiment with something new, and supportive administrators prepared to make a shift in traditional school culture.