New Year, New cohort. But are your students equipped to learn a language?
As a Language teacher in Australia, I often describe myself as a naive optimist. I almost consider this mindset to be an essential trait of my job. The odds are stacked against us in many ways, yet we continually strive to bring fresh energy and enthusiasm to our lessons each year.
Last year, I realised though, that perhaps we were missing a key step. Although we made huge efforts to teach languages well to our students, perhaps we didn’t always check first if the students were ready for the journey. It’s like taking a group hiking without checking what they have in their backpack. Do they have water and food? Appropriate clothing and shoes? How is their current fitness levels?
Some may argue that they do a quick survey at the start of the year to check if the students have had experience with language learning. This is a good first move but it doesn’t provide us with much real data on how equipped our students are to learn a language with us, now, as high school students.
I have come to the conclusion, that explicit teaching of skills to access learning in language is the essential first step in the language journey. To this end, I have developed two short introductory courses for secondary students called Base Camp level 1 and level 2.
The first course is pitched at Year 7/8 students who may be beginning a language course for the first time. It covers five key concepts to develop student skills in learning and motivation. These include concepts such as implementation intentions, habit stacking and the two-minute rule.
The second course is pitched at Year 9/10 and 11/12 students who may have continued into elective courses. This sequence looks more closely at specific learning strategies to support independent learners. It suggests ways to revise and extend one’s knowledge in the macro skills using accessible resources from the students’ world. This includes various strategies to harness teenager obsession with social media for positive learning gains in language.
Both of these resources outline how to harness research into the psychology of motivation to help students find time and motivation for their language learning and provide an infrastructure for successful learning to occur.
Although there are two levels, I would suggest that students, who have not worked with the level 1 materials, would benefit from working through those, before attempting the level 2 materials. The Base Camp level 1 and 2 resource is sold as a set for $50 and can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you may be interested in attending our Noosa Workshop in July. Details and booking information is available via this link.
Good luck with your new classes in 2020!