Learning

Helping Students Create Their Own Learning Goals By Greta. J. Gorsuch – Reflection on an Article

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Students learn (language) for various reasons from those who need English to study in university to those that just want to talk to more people from around the world. But what makes them achieve what they set out to do which is speaking English competently? You could say it is a goal, their intention, their aspiration to be this person who has no problems with language. The only difficulty is, do they really know what their targets are? These can be for a course of English, for example, thirty hours or the end product over a longer period. I will try in this piece to explain some points regarding learning goals in relation to the article by Greta J Gorsuch.

First of all, I have to talk about the teacher and his or her role in the classroom with regard to student learning goals. What do the students think they are there for? Is he or she (the teacher) there to do everything? Is the teacher there to spoon-feed the students so to make it easy for them? These are the sorts of questions that many students may say the teacher is there to do everything.  Greta’s article mentions that teachers are ‘traditionally the primary source of information and inspiration’. It is true that the students can be sat waiting for the teacher to speak, the idea that the students do not speak unless spoken to. They can actually feel afraid to ask further questions or just get the exercise done. This is where concrete learning objectives can try to make the students come away from relying on the teacher to creating goals for themselves as students and as such putting more emphasis on themselves (students) and what they want to achieve.  Greta says ‘language students themselves are the best source of information. To be a language learner doesn’t just involve coming to class and listening to a teacher then going home. It involves being a language learner for life in and outside class’.

It is here inside the class (not to mention outside) that the teacher if they want to create a learning environment they should encourage these learning goals for the students. Some teachers don’t have ‘effective strategies’ Greta says. I agree with her as they can go into the class and teach a great lesson, but there could be more from the students. Greta mentions ‘simple goal clarification activities’ this I think is the ‘use’ part of the lesson where you actually get the student to show that they have achieved their goal if only for that week by speaking and presenting the fact. This incentive I think at least gives students that pleasure of reaching a goal and then setting another one. The satisfaction to think that they set a target and have reached it must be beneficial for future progress.

Greta’s ideas for future progress relate to giving cards out, getting the students to fill in their goals, making sure they are achievable ones at that. The only part I think that they must do is, share these with other students. I think this honesty in class will get the students to realize what they are in class for. They must also be kept focused on these goals. Greta says that ‘ during the next few weeks, get students to look back at their card, and rewrite their responses’. Again you should never shy away from keeping the students focused on their goals. If one student does not feel they have reached their goals this is a great time to focus on why. It is true that a student may do, for example, thirty hours of study and then go up another level, in this student’s head is that they are now a level higher, so their English language must be a level higher. This idea could be far off the mark thus having students with achievable goals makes the students fully aware that they have reached that goal or not, and when this goal is relayed to the teacher he or she can give advice on what they can do next.

To conclude, you must say teachers have to do their job but just as much the students have to do their job. This doesn’t mean forcing them; it means giving them that focus. And hopefully, the students will realize that English language is all part of their life not just in the classroom.

(740 Words)

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Presenting Communicative Activities (lesson example)

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Presenting Communicative Activities

Activity: Describing the future

Lesson Planning  (Lesson objectives)

Students will be able to:

1. talk about the future using

Present continuous – for future events or situations

Future continuous – for ongoing actions in the future

Future perfect – for actions that will be completed by a certain time in the future

2. think about and discuss the future to be able to present a constructive vision (in a group) of the future.

3. presents their ideas to a class of students and answer questions on their presentation.

Lesson Planning (Sample Dialogue)

People will be using this spaceship to fly to the moon.

Everybody will have this in their house.

This robot will have sold a million by 2020.

Resources 

Pictures of the future drawn by children, whiteboard pens, worksheets, student book

LESSON

Stage 1: Questions to initially engage the students  

FUTURE

How will life be in 100 years?

What will scientists be able to do?

Stage 2: Pictures

Give each student (pairs) a copy of the children’s pictures. Tell the students that a group of young children was asked to draw pictures of how they imagine things will be in one hundred years and what scientists will be able to do. The students’ task is to work out what the child has tried to draw and what his/her reasoning might have been.

Questions on the white board

What have they tried to draw?

What was their thinking about the future?

Get class feedback and then give them the actual answers.

Stage 3: Drawing

Students are given a blank piece of paper and asked to sketch a vision of the future (like the children did in their pictures beforehand). The students mustn’t write or say anything about their picture.

 Stage 4: Drawing Reflection

Teacher takes everybody’s drawing and swaps them around so each student has a new picture to look at. Each student’s task is to work out what the other student has tried to draw and what his/her reasoning might have been. Again, they must answer the focus questions on the board.

Questions on the white board

What have they tried to draw?

What was their thinking about the future?

Stage 5: Giving Opinions

Once students have an idea (or timed) of what the other person was thinking about the future he/she must go to that person and explain in English what they thought he/she was thinking about the future. The other students must reply in English as to whether he/she was right or wrong. Once sat back down, a few students are asked about their classmate’s picture as feedback to the whole class.

 Stage 6: Grammar Focus (Describing the Future)

Students are guided to the student book (worksheets) to check understanding of future tenses. Examples are given on the board for further understanding. Students then complete the statements in the student book with the correct verb form. Checking for understanding is paramount.

Stage 7: Writing a Presentation

Students (or groups) are told to prepare a speech using future tenses already studied to explain their drawing further and try to convince the other students that it is a great idea. The teacher must go around the class helping students (groups) and correcting to make their presentation presentable. Students must talk for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Stage 8: Presentation

Each student (or group) must speak for two to three minutes in front of the class showing their picture. At the end, he/she/they must answer questions from the other students.

 Stage 9: Winner of Presentation

After every student (group) has finished a draw can be made for the idea that the students think is the best.