21 maio 2018 English on a daily-basis: making it happen!
At the beginning of a new semester, learners are usually excited to get started, enthusiastic about learning and with high hopes of finally achieving that much sought-after fluency. As the course unfolds, so does life: learners have to juggle work, school and their own personal lives, coping with everything at the same time. And as that happens, one of the most common comments I hear from my learners is that they wish they had (more) time to study English, do homework, listen to podcasts, watch the news, you name it… I have particularly heard this a lot this semester, and it got me thinking: ‘Ok, what can I do to help them?’ Setting homework is clearly not enough and it might be counter-productive as well: more things to do that won’t be done, just adding unnecessary weight to their workload.
As teachers, we are in contact with English every day, and we sometimes take for granted that so are our learners, but… #notreally! What if we, as teachers, could facilitate that process? By using a very simple but highly effective framework we can help our learners include English in their daily lives in such a way that, if they really want/need to learn English, they will not be able to live without it! Research says that by focusing on changing one habit, we can re-programme the other routines in our lives as well. So, how about helping our learners discover the joys of English on a daily basis and enhance their learning experience?
Here are 3 perhaps ambitious, but valid activities to try out with our learners in order to do so:
- Make English fun, real and relevant!
Making English part of your daily routine using real life resources (Netflix, Radios, Podcasts, Songs, News, TV shows etc.)
As you watch/listen to something in English, be more curious, attentive and proactive! Start making your own Lexical Notebook by recording new expressions in context. You can use a notebook, post-its, your mobile, or whatever works for you. The important thing is to relax and learn at the same time, maximising your learning opportunities.
It is paramount to teach learners how to do so in class so that they know exactly what to do on their own. For teachers to get to know more about ways to work with Lexical Notebooks, here are interesting sites: www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/lexical-notebooks; www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/lexical-notebooks-or-vocabulary-cards; www.etprofessional.com/considering-lexical-notebooks
Bring current affairs to class on a regular basis – a wonderful way to learn new expressions as well as cultural aspects of the country of their choice!
Finding out what is going on in the world via News apps. From the options below, choose 1 or 2 apps so that you can receive their headlines on your mobile on a daily basis:
BBC News | The Guardian | CNN App | Appy Geek | BuzzFeed News | Smartnews | Inoreader | NPR News Radio
As you read/listen to the news in English, be more curious, attentive and proactive! Start making your own Lexical Notebook by recording new expressions in context. You can use a notebook, post-its, your mobile, or whatever works for you. The important thing is to relax and learn at the same time, maximising your learning opportunities.
Once again, it is paramount to allocate some class time to let learners explore, experiment and understand how the apps work with the teacher’s assistance as well as help them see the benefits of receiving Push Notifications of their choice, selecting headlines of their interest to learn new expressions while keeping up-to-date. There are more app options available here: www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-news-apps/
- Find out what each learner is into and motivate them to learn more about it in English
What are your interests or passions? Cooking? Photography? Running? Jiu jitsu? Pets? Flowers? Or…
Have you ever watched YouTube videos about it? Or read blogs about it? Challenge of the week: find out what’s out there about your favourite hobby and bring to class on (set date) to share with your classmates.
As you get to know your learners, take the time to find out what their interests are and start researching possible interesting blogs or videos to share with them, and teach them to find those! I usually use the online platform Edmodo to share interesting things with all my groups – it’s quite user-friendly!
Last but not least, we have to set the example ourselves by being curious, proactive and attentive, conveying the message that learning is ongoing and lasts forever. Hope you find this post useful and do let me know if you try any of the 3 suggested activities out or have other ideas to make English part of our learners’ daily lives for good 😉