Pedagogy is defined as the “method and practice of teaching”. Pedagogy is where we learn the how of teaching. Most of us would agree it is as essential to a teacher as our content knowledge. It is just as difficult to be a Japanese teacher if you don’t know Japanese, as it is to teach Japanese as a native speaker if you don’t understand methodology.
So, let us agree on this point, teaching involves having something to teach and having the skills to share that knowledge with others.
But what about learning? What does it take to learn a language? Could we say that learning involves having someone or something to learn from and the skills to access that learning? Can we say with confidence that are language students are coming to us with those requisite skills?
Perhaps, the very first concepts we should be teaching in our language courses, is the how of learning. The success of all our subsequent lessons will be improved if students have fundamental knowledge of learning habits, study skills and motivation techniques. The poor continuation rates in languages suggest amongst other things, that students are not finding it an easy choice.
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 macroskills using accessible resources from the students’ world. This includes various strategies to harness teenager obsession with social media for positive learning gains in language.
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 .
I consider this resource a prerequisite bridging course for all language students. Don’t start 2020 without it!