Teaching English is no easy task. The field has undergone sweeping changes over time, as teachers attempt to move beyond outdated methods and texts. In today's fast-paced society, English teachers must meet students where they are. A few instructional trends stand out for their widespread adoption by teachers seeking to inspire a love for reading and writing.
- The Daily 5
One of the most well-known trends in teaching English language to K-12 students, The Daily 5 is a literacy framework that encourages students to become engaged, independent readers and writers. First introduced by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, this framework seeks to meet the varying needs of students while building a love of reading.
The Daily 5 framework offers students five choices of reading and writing activities to take on independently while teachers work with students individually: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Word Work. There is a variety of activities and materials teachers can use to implement the five aspects, and these activities can be tailored to classrooms. Edmentum offers a list of best practices and possible activities for each.
- Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT)
A response to traditional teacher-led, grammar-oriented approaches of language instruction that encourages memorization, TBLT is a student-centered method that relies on interactive, meaningful activities. This approach moves away from grammatical drills, worksheets, and activities to replicate real-life experiences. Students use language to tackle real-world situations, learn how to ask questions, and negotiate meaning in how they interact with groups.
N.S. Prabhu outlines three primary types of tasks: Information gap tasks (for example, students try to coordinate schedules); reasoning gap tasks (students make decisions involving cost and value); and opinion gap tasks (students debate or complete stories).
- Tactile and Embodied Learning
Primarily intended to meet the needs of kinesthetic learners, tactile and embodied learning incorporates movement and touch into the English teaching process to enhance memory and engagement. Real-life objects, crafts, games, and physical storytelling help students become involved in the process of learning.
English Endeavors offers a list of activities for teaching grammar, such as "Hands Up, Feet Down," a game that has students identify sentence fragments and run-ons using physical cues and movement.
- Mobile Learning and Gaming
Apps and online games are more popular and accessible than ever. They offer new and exciting methods of teaching English. The Cambridge Dictionary's Wordable app, for instance, makes learning vocabulary fun through games students can play with friends.
Mobile apps and games are intended to reduce anxiety for students learning English because they remove the performance aspect of being in a classroom. A 2019 study found that mobile apps significantly improved vocabulary comprehension.
- Blended Learning
Mobile or web-based learning is usually not effective on its own. Many English teachers prefer blended learning, which utilizes both traditional classroom support and autonomous web-based tools. While students receive guidance and foundations for learning in the classroom, they can engage with English outside of the classroom through digital games and practices.
Dr. Barbara McCombs suggests that a blended approach encourages students to think for themselves and offers opportunities for more individualized education.
- Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
CLIL is an approach in which students learn English and a second subject at the same time. It is considered a somewhat more natural way to learn any language. Primarily based on English as a second or foreign language, CLIL involves teaching students a second subject in that language. The main idea behind this approach is that students are more motivated to learn English when they cannot comprehend the course content without it.
However, Aleksandra Zaparucha suggests that CLIL is also effective for introducing all students to academic language, which will be helpful as they move from high school into college.
- Media Literacy
The avalanche of content from web-based sources and digital news outlets over the past 10 years has caused educators to become increasingly aware of the need for media literacy in their classrooms. Traditional methods of teaching English focus on equally traditional methods of publication, such as books. Since today's students are mostly consuming real-time digital content, media literacy focuses on teaching them to assess the credibility and reliability of what they read. Edutopia, for instance, offers educators helpful activities and resources for teaching students critical media literacy.
This list of trends is by no means exhaustive, but it offers some food for thought when considering tools and approaches to teaching English.
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