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Collaboration as a key teaching skill

Teaching English is about much more than just what goes on in the classroom. As professionals, it goes beyond what we can do as individuals and is truly one of those professions that are done best when done with fellow colleagues. Collaboration is a competence that takes teachers to the next level, so we’ll explore who we could collaborate with to make our students’ learning experience more impactful and meaningful. 

Collaborate with colleagues

Collaboration with colleagues brings about a plethora of benefits for the teachers involved, so let’s identify just a few of the possible ways you could get started or continue collaborating with fellow teachers. 

  • Professional learning network: These range from international associations to groups of teachers in a small rural public school. In these groups, you can be in charge of your own professional development, explore your interests, stay up to date with what’s going on in the teaching world, ask a friend for feedback, and even brainstorm with your colleagues to fine-tune ideas and teaching strategies. 
  • Online: Especially with the current state of the world, online communities have become more important than ever. They are connecting teachers from around the world, who despite the differences between their students, educational contexts, and curriculum are all going through a similar situation as they shift to remote teaching. It has truly become a safe space to ask questions, engage and collaborate with others and at the end of the day to not feel alone! 

Our ELT Thinkers make part of a WhatsApp group where we do just this. Here are a few examples of how we collaborate daily.

ELT Thinkers collaborate

Collaborate with students 

Although we mostly consider collaboration to be with colleagues, we can also put into practice our collaboration skills with our students. We could do this in two ways. 

TEACHER-STUDENT COLLABORATIONS

Here are a few ideas when teachers collaborate with students. 

  • Encourage and praise students by reminding them how they’ve managed to achieve their goals, not only which ones they’ve achieved. 
  • Keep students in the loop and be realistic with the lesson aims. 
  • With your students decide on topics of interest that can help them not only learn English but expand their knowledge on particular topics.
STUDENT -STUDENT COLLABORATIONS

We should also promote collaboration among students, as two of our ELT Thinkers mention here: 

  • Share and co-write texts of a previously agreed literature genre and topic, as a means to help students increase awareness of the subtleties involved in writing and for overall improvement of writing skills. Register and English proficiency level should be carefully considered. Andres Roa
  • Pairing students up to write a story to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. We guide them through the exercise by writing questions or prompts for them to discuss and elaborate. We have questions that cover the setting of the story, the plot of the story, and the development of the story. For example: What is the setting? In other words, when and where does the story take place? Use the five senses (smell, touch, see, taste, feel) to describe it. – Rodrigo Mejía

Collaborate with communities 

We can also take our collaborations outside of the classroom and extend them to other people within our community who can share their own experiences and knowledge. Through these connections, you could integrate language with culture, help students expand their knowledge on everyday topics, as well as promote lifelong learning to your students and the people in your community. 

Are you interested in becoming a more collaborative teacher? Check out our 14-day ELT Collab Challenge!

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Tatiana

Gómez Ramírez

A Webinar on “From EFL to ELF: Implications for Language Teachers”

As Seidlhofer and Widdowson (2018) point out, ‘the global learning of English needs to be based on its global use’ and that this means that English as a lingua franca (ELF) ‘corresponds more closely for what is real for learners, and is a more realistic objective for them to achieve’. In this presentation I shall first show how the roles of English have been expanding in many so-called Expanding Circle countries with a focus on the countries of East and Southeast Asia and will illustrate how English has become the major lingua franca of the region. English has indeed moved from a foreign language (EFL) to a lingua franca (ELF). I shall then give examples from the Asian Corpus of English (ACE) of how English is being re-shaped by these Asian multilinguals who are using English as a lingua franca. My talk will then outline 5 principles for an ‘ELF-aware approach’ (e.g. Kirkpatrick 2018) to English language teaching which takes into consideration the diversity and complexity of ELF, while not underestimating obstacles that teachers might face in attempting to apply an ELF-aware approach to their own classrooms.

Revolutionizing Language Learning With Creative Writing

This virtual seminar cheerfully and optimistically hopes to change the way writing is approached in English language learning programs (from elementary schools to programs in higher education) by demonstrating the power of creative writing. Drawing from Randolph and Ruppert’s new book, New Ways in Teaching with Creative Writing, this session helps participants become aware of the various tools that creative writing can offer English language learners while they develop their craft. We will briefly look at the general challenges that English language learners face in their writing classes and then show how activities in poetry, prose, and dialogue can solve these issues and enhance both their critical thinking and academic writing skills. Ultimately, participants will understand how these creative writing activities promote a fun, effective, and positive writing experience that motivates their students and improves their skills. Participants are encouraged to bring a smile, a creative mind, and an energetic teaching and learning spirit to this uplifting and useful virtual seminar.

Banner-Differentiating-between-different-online-learning-environments

Differentiating between online learning environments

This is a temporary emergency transition, which calls for us to react with certain considerations in mind. First things first, it’s important to understand the clear differences in education when using technology. 

So, let’s define the different teaching experiences we can have and analyze the considerations we should have when engaging our students in each one.  

Now, let’s review some of these learning environments to understand the main differences.

“Face-to-face learning is an instructional method where course content and learning material are taught in-person to a group of students.” 

Extracted from https://tophat.com/glossary/f/face-to-face-learning/

In a face-to-face teaching environment, teachers can easily create a rapport with students and implement classroom management strategies easily by the physical location of students, groupings, etc. In this kind of teaching environment, it’s important to consider the classroom environment with things that will engage students, motivate them to participate, and promote collaborative and active learning. It could be said that doing these activities is easier in a physical classroom, where you can use your tone of voice, physical prompts set up in the classroom, or even body language. 

“Blended learning combines classroom learning with online learning, in which students can, in part, control the time, pace, and place of their learning.”

Extracted from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/The-Basics-of-Blended-Instruction.aspx

Blended learning takes one the best of both worlds and promotes autonomous learning, as well as scheduled encounters or interactions with students. 

“Online learning results from careful instructional design and planning, using a systematic model for design and development.

There are nine dimensions that offer levels of complexity and alternatives for teachers. These are modality, pacing, student-instructor ratio, pedagogy, instructor role online as well as student role online, online communication synchrony, role of online assessments, and finally source of feedback”

 Extracted from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

Online learning involves a highly prepared learning environment that is set up so students can learn on their own and participate or collaborate using different spaces like forums. This kind of education requires an LMS, Learning Management System, that can track students’ progress and allow online teachers to give feedback. There are many variations of online education, but they all have the above-mentioned characteristics in common.  

Now, let’s move on to the one that we should be focusing on during this crisis, which is remote teaching. 

Remote Learning “occurs when the learner and instructor, or the content, are separated by time and distance and therefore cannot meet in a traditional classroom setting. Information is typically transmitted using technology, be it email, discussion boards, video conference, or audios so that no physical presence in the classroom is required.” 

Extracted from https://trainingindustry.com/glossary/remote-learning/

Emergency remote teaching (ERT) “refers to a temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery model due to crisis circumstances.”

Extracted from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

Many teachers are struggling to transition into an online teaching environment when in reality it really comes down to determining the best delivery model for your students. Here are some ideas to consider on the connectivity considering they have a device available like a computer or laptop.

Connectivity

Ideas 

Students don’t have internet access at all

  • If they have computers available, save on a USB the activities along with recorded instructions for students to follow. Have students save the activities on the same USB and return to you.
  • Send text messages with the instructions for tasks students can complete on their own. 

Students have access to the internet for brief moments during the day

  • Send emails with activities that they can complete and send back. 
  • Use an LMS, Learning Management System, or similar platforms like Google Classroom, Edmodo, Schoology to send, receive, and grade activities. 
  • Chunk activities so students can finish in time if they are expected to do online activities.

Students have stable access for up to 2 hours daily

  • Hold live sessions with a video conferencing tool like Google Meet or Zoom. 
  • Assign collaborative activities using Google Drive or similar platforms. 
  • Assign brainstorming and collaborative activities like Padlet. 

Students have stable access 2 or more hours a day

  • Do activities in real-time such as Pear Deck, Nearpod, or similar platforms. 
  • Assign self-paced activities on platforms like Deck Pear, Blendspace, or Nearpod.

Note: As you move lower on the chart, you can continue using the aforementioned activities 

In the case the students don’t have any device available, try these options: 

  • Make an alliance with a local radio station to offer the students their lessons at specific times of the day. 
  • Print the activities and organize a distribution network, for students to work independently.
  • Create a learning hub in your community so students can pass by with the safety considerations to pick up and drop off learning material.