Monthly Archives: May 2015

METHODS introduced to Learning Support Unit at MCAST

Dissemination of CLIL and Methods – LSU Unit Day 2015

The MCAST team  had a great opportunity to disseminate the 5 Methods of teaching strategies outlined in the Project to the Learning Support Unit (LSU) lecturers. This unit specializes in teaching key skills to foundation level students (Level 1 and 2). LSU lecturers also interact closely with vocational lecturers to ensure content is a key component to delivery in Math, Maltese, English, IT and PD (Professional Development).  Responding to an email sent out to the department, a brief power point was delivered to 23 participants.

MethodsLSU

We had an opportunity to take questions from lecturers and who showed genuine interest in developing their teaching skills and learning about strategies and tools that will facilitate the development of their lesson design and encourage student activity. All present agreed that TBL is the most popular method they use till now, but that they really wish to know more about the process and attend a future course to develop and practice creating new lessons using Methods explained to hone in on their lesson design skill

.Methods LSU

Lecturers were divided into groups of four and participated in a Simulation activity. The simulation was developed for the Institute of Agriculture and Business. (see attached worksheet) Teams had to read between four field choices and choose the best one that would fit the needs of their class project as outlined in the student brief. This went extremely well. Lecturers got to see that this method evokes discussion and requires use of prior knowledge and critical thinking skills. It helps develop their competency in both language and content of subject.

The MCAST team was very excited with the outcome of this workshop and look forward to holding more workshops that will provide further discussion and practice of the different Methods.

Julie Galea, LSU Lecturer, MCAST

Final meeting in Guadeloupe (29th June to 3rd July 2015)

The Guadeloupean team, LGA (Administration and English teachers) and the Mairie de Morne-à-l’Eau are now preparing for the final meeting in Guadeloupe.

They plan to invite as many language teachers as possible from vocational high schools, and also secondary schools, to continue the dissemination process. Some members of the Academy of Guadeloupe (School Inspectors and Academic Representatives for the Mobility Program) will be invited in order to promote the Methods Project and its impact for the Academy (preparation of mobility programs for students). We will also focus on Tourism and invite the different representatives of the Touristic field, advertising a new type of tourism called EDU-TOURISM. This is based on the opportunity to incorporate familiarisation to the culture into the touristic discovery process. In other words, tourists can learn not only about the country, but also about the culture and its specificities by using the different methods. The Guadeloupean team will be pleased to implement the concept of EDU-TOURISM when welcoming the partners, thus combining the pleasant to the useful.

Images Final Meeting

Dissemination in Guadeloupe

Dissemination started with a Pilot course held on 16/10/2014. The language teachers of LGA invited all the teachers (only a few were available but from different fields: French, History, Design Art, Technical teaching, Maths,…), the administration members and also the English assistant to participate in the Pilot course. They presented the different methods and did a practical workshop for the occasion. The session had very positive feedback since all the educational staff tried to find how they could practically adapt the methods to their specific field. Eg. A maths teacher suggested the creation of a number search using Hot potatoes (CALL method) instead of a word search.

As a result, almost all the participants asked the English teachers to teach them English for their personal use at the end of the pilot course using the Methods they liked best.

Images Dissemination in Guadeloupe

Using Simulations for linguistic and cultural preparation for mobility

One of the main features of simulations is that they provide rich communicative environment closely related to real life situations. As such they are an optimal language teaching method for preparing students for mobility. The topics can be selected according to the sequence of events as they occur in the actual mobility process, covering situations where students are most likely to be confronted with a problem eg: lost baggage during the travel, finding different places in the host town (accommodation, language school, host company, medical help etc.), first contact/ interview with the host mentor, complaints regarding the work placement, losing a personal document or reporting a theft ( loss of money/credit card, document) – at the police station, emotional problems emerging from homesickness, cultural differences, socializing etc .

During the linguistic preparation the situations above can well be simulated and the classroom adapted to the student’s future environment- his/her host country (e.g. posters, notices, city maps, photos, links to websites, information about stereotypes…). While doing the simulations the students have the opportunity to check their skills needed in such situations and identify the gaps in their language and/or intercultural skills which might slow down the communication and even make solving the problem very difficult or impossible.

The feedback from such simulations can serve as a basis for creating additional supporting materials to fill the gaps and  improve the communication skills thus preparing the students to face problem situations with self-confidence.

For more support  you can download the Simulations manual from :

http://languages.dk/methods/index.html#Manuals_and_guides

The 21st Century Student … and Teacher!

We often hear teachers bemoaning the fact that students often ‘do not learn’ what they have been taught. Sounds familiar?

Unfortunately, many teachers still equate teaching with learning!

But ….. there is no one-to-one mathematical relationship between teaching and learning!

So what can we do as teachers?

To use a quote from Von Humboldt, which is still very valid over a century later:

“You cannot teach a language. You can only create the conditions under which it can be learnt”.

The conditions could be a number of things – the affective environment, the type of tasks set, the perceived value of the language context, or the principled eclectism approach adopted by the teacher.

The METHODS Project highlights the need for students’ involvement and engagement in order to increase motivation and create better learning environments. It also provides concrete ways in which this can be done, in the 5 downloadable Guides and other resources.

We hope that by focussing on these 5 methods, teachers will be more open to teaching in ways that target the learners of today, either by:

  • focussing on them as individuals with their own styles and needs
  • seeking to lower affective barriers to learning
  • By using materials that engage and stimulate them, resulting in greater motivation
  • By using technology in their teaching, and bringing their classrooms into the 21st Century

Technology has become a must for teachers.

“Technology will never replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will replace teachers  who don’t”

Dr Ray Clifford (1983)

The 21st Century student is a digital native. Even young kids often own mobile phones and/or tablets and have access to computers and the internet. Computer-mediated communication is a way of life. To them, a world without computers is like watching a silent movie in black and white.

In recent years the rapid development of mobile computing devices has seen technology enter the classroom in ways that 20 years ago we would never have dreamt possible.  Schools are investing in computer hardware, but even if not, it is worthwhile checking whether everyone in the class has access to the internet. If so, the teacher can extend teaching outside the classroom walls.

A question many teachers ask is:

Where do I start ….. and how?

The CALL Guide offers the language teacher advice on a number of tools and activities that, when carefully planned as part of the pedagogical classroom, will assist in the learning process.

CALL is not intended as a replacement of existing teaching practices.  Students should not sit at a computer to learn a language, but they should learn a language which occasionally requires them to sit at a computer as a complement to their communicative development. Therefore, CALL is a tool which facilitates learning.

And remember ….. CALL engages learners in a way familiar to them. This can lead to higher levels of motivation, as learning should no longer only be the old-fashioned paper-and-pen learning, but should encompass a variety of technology tools which are part of students’ everyday life.

New Training Opportunities for Educators in Malta

MCAST participants from the Pools – Methods project will be running Volunteer In-service Teacher Training Courses, provided by the Department of Education, and will be held over three days in July and September 2015.  These courses are designed to engage educators in different method workshops that will help engage students in more autonomous learning.

We are exciteMethodsLSUd to have an opportunity to provide hands on workshops to educators at all levels interested in up-skilling and becoming familiar with new teaching methodologies that allow for integration of language and content.

The MCAST team is also preparing workshops for Profession Development days and are looking for schools interested in hosting such training courses. The participants will experience different teaching methods by doing activities, instead of just hearing about them.  This is a move away from traditional training courses and invites the educators to participate in developing their skills by actually experiencing various new methods in use.

Methods to be disseminated in Padova during the Eurocall 2015 conference

Let’s meet in Padova (near Venice) where METHODS partners will present the project results with newsletters and brochures during the Eurocall 2015 conference 26th-29th August.

Padova, Basilica di Sant'Antonio

The theme of Eurocall 2015 is Critical CALL, fostering the notion that we now want to step back and critically appraise the field of CALL, to unpack and examine some of the assumptions that may have become ingrained in our practice, and also to reflect on the current state and the future of CALL, language pedagogy and research.

The University of Padova, established in 1222, is one of Europe’s oldest universities and has over 60,000 students. Most of the university buildings are to be found within the beautiful city of Padova, in the north-east of Italy, just half an hour from Venice.

Conference languages: English and Italian  (Plenary sessions will be in English, some parallel sessions may be in Italian)

Read more about the conference here: http://www.eurocall2015.it/en/sistemacongressi/eurocall-2015/website/home/

In the event that you cannot participate in person then you may still join us through the Eurocall virtual strand: http://www.eurocall2015.it/en/sistemacongressi/eurocall-2015/website/virtual-strand/