April was a great month for learning, development and discoveries. It was a special month, because I learned a lot with great ELT professionals all over the Globe, Beatles and Turkish dancers. April held awesome Conferences and Chats that made me “Mind the Gap”. Thus, I asked myself: What is the most important Gap that my students have? And How can I help them to overcome their difficulties?
But first, I have a challenge: find the Gap that has been created within my students for many years. I Know, it is going to be a tough one task. So, I have to be prepared for it! Yes, hum or No?!! That is the question!
Every time that I come to class is like my first day teaching. My students have been such a great experimental for my teaching development. Actually, I have to create and find out different sources and new ideas for warm up activities, reviews and on…
However, in this particular class, I have done my lesson plan, everything seemed to be in a perfect symetry… and BANG! the class begun with no sound, no one interact and I just could hear the sound of my voice, echoing in the silent room. Thus, that was what most annoying me. Nonetheless, I had to face the ugly truth: WHY MY STUDENTS DO NOT LIKE TO SPEAK IN CLASS? What am I supposed to do?
Well, after looking for theories, reflections, methodologies and on… now I think that I have an idea!…. Have I found the GAP? More or less! What I could realize is that, They are afraid of exposure themselves and, shyness block them during Speaking Activities. Therefore, the consequence of this hard task are, many students may drop the class, and just a few of them will continuous the course, because they want to overcome their weakness and break their psycological barriers.
To deal with emotinal barries, most of us teacher have to be aware of, what could cause in some students fear and insecurity in the learning process. According to Stigler and Hiebert ” Teaching is a cultural activity, and understanding this is essential”. Well, after that statement I could realize that my Brazilian students need to be sure that what they understood is the real meaning in their native language (portuguese) . Otherwise, They will block themselves and drop the course.
In many Institutions across the country, it is not allowed the use of the mother tongue in the second language acquisition process, because of the teaching methods that are used. Thus, the feeling of being away from their comfort zone ( in this case the “translation”) makes them feel afraid to communicate. I had detected this in the institution that I have been teaching for 5 years.
Moreover, teachers have to be concerned about an Effective communication, which involves overcoming these barriers, and conveying a clear and concise message. Below an example about the five “C”s in the language acquisition field:
Therefore, I have set up strategies to engage my students to minimize their GAP:
How are the lessons organized?
* Select a specific material that is appropiate to this particular issue; (Sitcom, Facebook platform, feedback and on)
* Make my students comfortable and pleased to come to class;
* Bring to class their ideas (relevant with the content);
However, most of the time teachers have to follow the content of coursebooks. In my case, the institution allows me to prepare extra materials that can be devolop within the content. So, It is possible to avaluate how students learn, and about the role that “a teacher” plays in the classroom.
Well, I had the chance to rethink about my teaching, being observed and of course, learning with my students were and are essential for any teaching development process. If,They were so insecure, it was because of our (Brazilians) cultural fundamentals: “We do not teach them how to communicate, but to be accurate”.
It is important that, our students know how to use the rule of the language. Despite that, Teachers have to keep in mind that learning a new language opens psycological possibilities, cultural discoveries and communication. Motivating them to speak, make them feel pleased to learn a new language and, a new culture can be an outstanding journey in the learning process!
And What about the GAP? Was the Gap solved? Not really!
After all, We are in a continuous process of learning..
See you next time!
STIGLER J.W, HIEBERT J. The Teaching Gap. Harvard Educational Review [Online 2001]. Available from:http://hepg.org/her/booknote/99. [Accessed 8th may 2013].
University of Minnesota http://www.carla.umn.edu/assessment/vac/modes/p_1.html