Methodology for Designing Authentic and Created Materials for the English Classroom
“We say Yes more than No. We remain curious and stay open to others’ ideas. We learn by doing. By following an idea. By experimenting with our hands. By taking risks. By trying, struggling and failing forward fast. - City Studio Vancouver Manifesto”
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Rachel S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
My teaching experience comes from a background in the visual arts. I have worked as a teacher's assistant for visual artists and designers who facilitate collaborative social practice projects for youth and young adults. Social practice is a theory that attempts to link practice, and context with social situations. When integrated into an educational environment, social practice theory allows students to experiment freely, and interpret coursework creatively and imaginatively; where, students are encouraged to think outside of the box. The social practice also has a focus on students working outside of the classroom in the real world where they may practice context and theory to advocate or provoke social change.
Integrating a social practice framework into the English classroom may be a way to activate and engage young students that may not find full interest in textbook course work. I would hope this theory may act as an underlying system for creating supplementary course material as well as choosing authentic materials that are relevant to the students' interests and needs.
Students’ Level and Interest
When developing created materials I learned through this course that I need to understand the student’s specific levels and interests. Through the engage stage of a lesson, I can glean insight into what the students would like to learn more about, and what topics intrigue greater interest and participation. Since I have a background in visual art I think developing artistic visual aids will support students' understanding and overall enjoyment. Using the social practice theory I may develop lessons that allow students to draw or build visual projects that are related to context-based teaching materials. In this way, the students may learn to experiment with their hands and learn by doing and not simply watching and listening. They may be more inclined to take risks with the English language if it is allowing them to interpret their own and or collaborative creative visions.
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Introducing authentic materials into the classroom is also very necessary in facilitating an environment for language growth. When choosing authentic materials I am drawn to seek out materials that may allow the student to draw parallels between their own culture. An example of this could be presenting films that depict their country from the perspective of my own ( for example a Canadian film depicting a Russian story). This could allow for critical discussion around different societies' views, and allow the student to explain what may be an actual reality in their home country.
Through the methodology of social practice, the inclusion of authentic material is one way to bring the teaching into a real-world context. However, actual real-life experience is also relevant and helpful in facilitating well-rounding teaching. This could be done by simply taking the students outside and teaching a lesson about gardens while sitting, where students may have the chance to plant their favorite flower. Introducing students into real-life experiences should aid in their future endeavors with English in the real world. It may also be a tool that will give the students something exciting to work towards.
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In conclusion, I look forward to designing supplementary course work that allows students to be inspired to experiment and create original ideas that will assist in their productive learning of the English language.
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