During September many new trainees have started their courses and are on the road to becoming successful teachers of foreign languages. We need you! I’ve heard that you are very keen and enthusiastic and certainly the trainees I had at York last year were, and the new group who have just started seem to be! Wherever you are training and whatever course you are on, the language teaching community will support you, in fact I would describe the support in the language teaching world as phenomenal. Teachers of languages have a lot in common and seem to be chatty and friendly; perhaps it goes with the job! I have made so many friends over the years, people who I really treasure. I have also found that teachers of languages are dedicated professionals who are life long learners, always striving to provide the best education for their learners. Experienced teachers are still always discovering new ideas and resources and as many people are involved in research at universities across the world we should be trying to keep up to date with new developments. Classroom based research is also so helpful. So, don’t worry at all if you don’t know everything, nobody does.
I’m constantly finding things to read that I find interesting and stimulating. At the moment for example, I’m thinking a lot about first and second language acquisition and the importance of shared reading. I want to follow up an area of research that caught my eye a while ago. I filed an article with extracts from Dr Sarah Eagle’s research.
‘During shared reading of picture books, adults do more than just read the text. They label and name, praise and encourage, and they also expand on things the child has said, providing more information and answering questions. During shared reading, if parents join in with the child’s exploration and with the building of connections between the text and the world as they know it, they are able to contribute to their child’s understanding of the text…’
‘‘Children’s questions and actions demonstrate that they approach shared reading in a playful and exploratory way, and that they are active in making connections between aspects of the text and their own lives and background knowledge.’’
This, I feel, is relevant to the MFL teacher of all ages of learners. I’m particularly interested in the study she did with Futurelab.
From research to design: Perspectives on early years and digital technologies and Paper 1: How might research on family reading practices inform the design of interactive digital resources for pre-school children? This study “It’s not chalk and talk anymore” School approaches to developing students’ digital literacy. on the Futurelab site is an interesting one too. You can see other publications on this link and your tutors will suggest lots of links to good research too of course.
So, if parents of young children adapt their conversation, we should in the foreign language classroom too. In fact, this is what a conscientious teacher of a foreign language does all the time when they are planning. They adapt the sequence of learning according to the needs of the students to answer their questions and try to relate the lesson materials to their context. You will hear the word differentiation mentioned a lot. The main thing is to get to know your students and adapt lessons for them.We are living in a world that is full of gadgets, wonderful websites and apps and one that is changing very fast, but do you think we still need teachers? I do! Students I have taught have admitted to me many, many times that although they benefit an enormous amount from the internet and love to use technology in all its forms, they like the personal intervention of a human being as well! We need dedicated teachers AND technology.
Here is another reason to consider…
All the very best to you and also to the NQTs. I would like to assure you of my personal support. Please feel free to add a comment to this blog or ask questions.