In today’s world, where news spreads like wildfire, it is not uncommon to find our teenage students taking things for granted and believing whatever is “on the internet”. As teachers, we want our students to become critical thinkers so that they can make sense of this VUCA world. Helping our students to develop strategies for asking (good) questions will not only prepare them for their future but also help them develop critical minds that will maximize their learning experience across disciplines.
Forget the traditional classroom scenario that sees the teacher at the board imparting facts or explaining ideas while students sit passively at their desks. If you really want your learners not only to acquire knowledge but also the skills necessary to make good use of that knowledge in the outside world, then collaborative learning is the way forward.
Collaborative learning builds on two keys premises; firstly, that we learn by doing; secondly, that we learn best when we learn together, with peer-instruction allowing students to check each other’s understanding and address any misconceptions. This of course is central to acquiring good language skills, not only because language is an inherently social act but also because misunderstandings only make themselves known in actual use of language. Continue reading
When we watch a film, we are looking at a story which interprets places, people and events. That’s why films and series are a great classroom tool to understand another culture. If the student can identify with a character in the story, follow the fictional narrative, a life story, conflicts, and events, then they will be able to humanize the film, make it more personal, and, therefore, learn from it. With film we do not only learn content–which can lead us to thought-provoking discussions, stimulating critical thinking, etc.,– but we also improve listening, speaking, writing, reading, grammar and vocabulary skills. Any sort of ESL videos can be used for the learning purpose: commercials, news bulletins, political speeches, movies, and so on. Continue reading