Use the target language in lessons
The more you expose your students to the target language, the better. Immersing your students in the target language helps them use it more independently and this can lead to increased confidence and better vocabulary. Students enjoy listening to ‘real people’ speaking the target language, so get your colleagues involved. If a teacher with some knowledge of the target language comes into your classroom, involve them in the immersive experience. Encourage students and staff to use the language, even if they make mistakes, and emphasise that communication is the key.
Encourage students to adopt a hands-on approach to language learning
Students need to be involved in tasks they find interesting in an environment where active and successful learning is encouraged. Students make the most progress when they are enjoying themselves. Competitions and quizzes keep motivation levels high, and rewards for communicating in the target language in the various skill areas offer chances for constant self-improvement. The smallest of tasks, such as matching pictures to words or phrases, or even word searches, can be turned into competitions – against the clock, first to finish, fastest class, etc.
Some of their favourite lessons were ones like running dictation. They worked in pairs: one student would read a piece of text that I had taped to the wall at one end of the classroom, then run back and repeat it to their partner who would write it down. They really enjoyed active tasks. Students also liked activities such as ‘Who am I?’ where each student has a post-it note with the name of a famous person on it on his or her forehead. Students walk around the classroom and can only ask questions which require a yes or no answer, such as ‘Am I a man?’. Competitions to see who can guess the most famous names in a certain amount of time always work well.
Never forget, grammar is the foundation for building language skills
Communication is a crucial part of language and so is grammar; they need each other. Effective lessons strike this balance between the two so that students can learn, enjoy and make progress in their target language.
Grammar is the foundation for building language skills. Learning grammar enables students to speak and write more accurately, confidently and fluently. I have found that asking students to explain grammar rules to each other and to the rest of the class gives them more confidence. It also indicates to the teacher whether the grammar needs clarifying or explaining. By teaching each other, they also consolidate their own knowledge or discover holes that need filling.
Bring language and culture alive in the classroom
Highlighting cultural as well as linguistic differences is an essential part of language-learning. It can spark your students’ interest and encourage independent learning. Teach your students about the countries where the target language is spoken, as well as the language itself. Have your students seen any foreign television programmes or films? What do they already know about the cultures of the countries where the target language is spoken? What else do they want to learn?
Bringing the language and culture of the countries where the target language is spoken into the classroom means your students become more motivated to learn. Organising email pen pal correspondence offers a way for students to learn about their peers abroad. The practical challenge of writing to them and understanding their replies will provide an added incentive to further their language skills. Cultural trips to the cinema or to a country where the target language is spoken show students that the target language is spoken in the real world and has practical uses.
Available at: <https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/
essential-tips-teachers-modern-languages>. Accessed on:
March 1st, 2019 (Adapted).
Another title for this article can be:
- A Essential ideas for learners of modern languages
- B Strategies to be used in modern language classes
- C Teaching modern languages is very easy
- D Teachers of modern languages must use difficult strategies