Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Blogstorm: What is Compelling Language Learning?

The new Programme of Study (PoS) for MFL will start from September 2008. It is a thought-provoking document that encourages languages teachers to take their curriculum content into their own hands and seems to turn its back on vocabulary spoon-feeding and topic-based transactional exchanges.

I will agree that “Languages are part of the cultural richness of our society and the world in which we live and work” and that they contribute “to mutual understanding, a sense of global citizenship and personal fulfilment”.

I also approve of the key concepts-linguistic competence, knowledge about language, creativity and intercultural understanding- and key processes-developing language-learning strategies and language skills.

It goes without saying that we need to work with the whole curriculum dimensions: Identity and cultural diversity, healthy lifestyles, community participation, global dimension and sustainable development, enterprise, technology and the media and creativity and critical thinking.

But… what about this compelling language learning thing?

Here is the “recipe for compelling language learning” I concocted from the materials currently available about the new PoS:

• Has clear objectives shared with students
Engages students
• Is authentic
• Develops creativity by making connections between ideas
• Is regularly assessed in different ways and with shared criteria
• Has a memorable original context
• Is active learning
• Can be problem-based
• Can be enquiry-based
• Is cross-curricular and includes literacy, numeracy, citizenship
• Can be themed work
• Can be joint curricular work

Can you help me to complete my blogstorm?


Jess McCulloch said...

I think it's great that the PoS makes a move away from theme based transactional exchanges for language learning that seem to be the cornerstone of most textbooks. Language learning is sooo much more than that.
As for helping with the blogstorm - it seems like you've got the most important things covered. It would be a great conversation to actually break this list down to see what each point actually looks like. One more I would add is something about catering for different learning needs - kinaesthetic learners for example, but this point could probably be covered by the 'Engages students' point, as would 'games-based' learning.

IC Jones said...

Thanks for your comment, Jess. I am planning to use the blogstorm at our next Faculty meeting. I am going to a Head of MFL briefing in Liverpool next Wednesday, so no doubt I will add to the list...

Andrea Henderson said...

I heartily agree with what has been said here. I think a huge part of this equation is really looking at the learners themselves and allowing them to have a role in the planning and evaluation processes. In other words, if you are going to catch fish, you have to bait the hook with what the FISH like...

Also, revisiting the Piaget's stages of cognitive development as well as Bloom's Taxonomy of skills has made me really pay attention to how students learn as well as targeting those higher level thinking skills. I think that helps with the selection of activities that are both age and appropriate and interesting to the students.

One of the five compoments of the language curriculum here in the US is Communities and with the goal of life long learning. I find that when I keep that life learning goal in mind at all times, everything else falls in place. I ask myself what do I want the students to remember from this activity five years from now and that helps to guide my planning process.