Peppa Pig. Pancake Day: using stories in the FL classroom.
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Sabrina Peck (2001) highlights that children need to listen and speak about something that interests them (children centred). This holistic perspective focusing on the child seems to be widely accepted among researchers. Broadly speaking, the most updated trends as for FLT agree on some essential principles:
• Focus on meaning, not correctness.
• Focus on collaboration and social development.
• Provide a rich context, including movement, the senses, objects and pictures, and a variety of activities.
• Treat language as a tool for children to use it for their own social and academic ends.
• Use language for authentic communication, not as an object of analysis.
It is worth noting that Littlewood (1981) refers to an additional value of social interaction activities. In this sense, learners must pay greater attention to the social as well as the functional meanings that language conveys. It also implies that the activities devised to promote interaction should be closer to the type of communication outside the classroom, where language is also a form of social behaviour. In social interaction activities, the learner is expected to deal with the language according to social and functional considerations; and accordingly, the language produced must also be evaluated in terms of social acceptability as well as functional effectiveness. An example of social interaction activity can be a guided role play in which students try to find the shortest route to a specific point in a town, simulating the social roles involved in real interaction.
Text extracted from: Método de resolución de casos prácticos:
2. METHODOLOGICAL ASPECTS TO DEVELOP COMMUNICATIVE ABILITIES IN A COMPETENCE-BASED CONTEXT
The development of the learners´ FL communicative abilities in a competential context is in line with the ultimate goal stated for FLT in primary education, which is the development of a certain degree of communicative competence. Similarly, it is commonly accepted that the contribution of the FL area to the Key Competences goes through the application of active and engaging methodological strategies (this idea should be related to the regional curriculum).
Therefore, in order to organise this first question, I shall spell out some of the most remarkable methodological principles to be considered for the positive development of the learners´ communicative abilities:
– According to RD. 126/14, the linguistic starting point for communication in the FL in Primary Education is very basic. Thus, in order to take advantage of the learners´ previous knowledge, we shall design tasks related to familiar contexts. This contextualised use of the FL will allow for real and motivating communicative practice.
-Authenticity: Authentic use of the FL language will engage students in asking for the language help they need, manage with daily classroom routines, using classroom “learning stations” and current material from the media or other sources, connecting with other speakers of the target language, etc.
-Active learning. This communicative principle can be summarised in two facts: the child must be the centre of the learning process and children learn best when learning is experiential.
-Challenge. We have taken into account in this programming the importance of getting the level and balance of linguistic and cognitive challenge, building up activities not too easy, nor too difficult.
-Scaffolding. It involves building on students´ existing knowledge, skills, attitudes, interests and experience; repackaging information in user-friendly ways; responding to different learning styles, fostering creative and critical thinking.
-The project-based model. Libow and Stager (2013) define the term project as kind of work which is substantial, shareable, and personally meaningful. In other words, when a teacher creates a well-designed prompt that capitalises the learners´ curiosity, they can embark on complex, long-term learning adventures. A highly remarked concept by Libow and Stager is that of “shareability”. With this term they refer to the idea of producing a product that can be shared with other students, the learning community and even a much wider digital learning community. The active involvement of students in creating something “real” in a FL to be shared, presented, personalised and uploaded to a digital platform, shall foster not only real use of the foreign language, but also a high level of motivation and involvement on the part of the students.
To wind up this first part, it is worth remarking the methodological considerations in the FL curriculum, explicitly related to: providing students with opportunities to express their ideas and feelings in real situations; the relevance of the oral component; the use of stories as motivating contextualising elements; and the use of varied and motivating resources.
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