Time to rethink our approach to education?

Earlier this week I was working as an interpreter at a conference about new approaches to education which was being held at my school. The main theme of the conference was the development of critical thinking skills in our students, shifting the focus of the class from simply acquiring knowledge to learning how to process the vast quantity of knowledge which our students are exposed to today. This shift requires us as teachers to move away from the idea that we are the primary knowedge bearer in the classroom, and although this may seem difficult for many of us, in reality it frees us up to work on higher level thinking skills as our students learn to process, filter and apply the information which they acquire outside the classroom.

It also gives us the opportunity to  focus on developing the social skills our students will need in their future professional lives. The fact is that with the ever increasing pace of change today, the best way to prepare our students for their futures is not by giving them specific knowledge, since many will probably work in professions which have not yet been developed. Faced with change, it is better to equip our students with the skills they need to be adaptable enough to take full advantage of what the future has in store for them. This is the chalenge for educators in the 21st Century.

As part of the conference, we were shown a version of this extremely thought-provoking video, which I decided I would share here.

What’s Trending? – Using popular internet videos | ETp

In this article from the English Teaching professional blog by Chia Suan Chong we can find various ideas for exploiting viral videos from YouTube in the language classroom. She begins by giving examples of videos which have gone viral recently, then explains the phenomenon in more detail before giving some excellent ideas for things to do with these videos in class. A great way of engaging particularly teenage students.

Español: Logo Vectorial de YouTube

http://ht.ly/leGps

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Real Beauty | Film English

Another great lesson plan from Film-English. Thanks as always to Kieran Donaghy.

http://film-english.com/2013/05/06/real-beauty/

See another of Kieran’s film-based lesson plans here.

For other video-based ideas click below:

Video listening comprehension

Having taken up the 5 posts in 5 days blogathon challenge laid down by Tyson Seburn on 4C ELT, I must now try to get back on track, since I failed to send a post yesterday. As a result, I hope to post three posts between today and tomorrow.

For this post, the third in the five post challenge series, I thought I would share something I did in class the other day. Following on from Wednesday’s post, about dubbing video, this simple activity is another way of exploiting video in class. However, this activity is designed for a lower level class. Choose a film which is familiar to the students, so that they can follow the action without too much difficulty, or with plenty of visual humour. I chose ‘The Curse of the Were-rabbit’, from Aardman productions, with the younger classes, and with the older students I used ‘Love Actually’. wallace and gromit

Before you show the film, give different groups of students a vocabulary topic – for the Wallace and Gromit film I chose ‘vegetables’ and ‘rabbits’, while in ‘Love Actually’ the words were ‘Christmas ‘ and ‘Love’ –  and brainstorm possible words that might form part of that topic. Ask the students if they know what film they are going to watch based on the vocabulary topics they have been given. Then tell the students that when they hear something from their vocabulary topic they are to stand up. Alternatively, have the students make large signs with their vocabulary topics written on them, so that they can hold them up when they hear their words.

It’s important that this activity doesn’t go on for too long without a break, as the students may find it difficult to concentrate for more than about ten or fifteen minutes, but they usually find the challenge very stimulating and participate well. The main point here is that the students are exposed to authentic language, while at the same time not having to worry about understanding everything, which they cannot do and so may become easily frustrated.

Armstrong and Miller, RAF Pilots

This activity is one of those I described in my post ‘How to … exploit video in class’.

The objective is to get the students to produce a possible alternative script for this video clip. Play the video with the sound turned off, and ask the students to describe the situation which they see. If necessary play the video twice. Ask them where the men are, what their job is, and why the film is in black and white. Fill in cultural details as you consider necessary.

In pairs, the students should discuss what the men might be talking about, and what they have just heard on the radio. After sharing this in class, the students work in their pairs to write a possible dialogue which fits in with the changes of speaker on the video as closely as possible. Be prepared to play the video several times while they work so that they can check how well their script synchronises with the film.

Once the students have prepared and rehearsed their scripts, they perform them in time with the film in turn. I usually give them two attempts at this. It can be a nice touch to record them as they speak, then play back the recording in time with the film, so they can see how their words fit more clearly.

When all of the pairs have performed their scripts, the class watches the original version of the video with sound.