Reflections on action research and language teaching

I have been exploring different approaches to language teaching for five or so years now, moving from standard PPP (present, practice, produce) paradigms to an solidly IT based course. Four years ago we introduced a BYOD (bring your own device) policy with students largely using iPads. This connectivity has provided a steep learning curve as teachers and students tried and kept or discarded different platforms, methodologies, publishing and submitting systems and learning options. Task based teaching and learning, immersion environments, student centered learning, differentiation and teaching from culture have all come to be integral parts of our course design. Our goal is to move towards student driven learning with our first attempt this year in Term 3 at senior levels for student’s final NCEA submissions, and with junior levels in the second semester.

At the same time as our content delivery has been in an intense research cycle, driven by both 1:1 connection to the web, and a growing availability of online resources and collaborative teaching information, we have been experimenting with course content, with mixed results.  Both learning and teaching has become more digital, with students recording and publishing oral and written work online, using platforms such as Language Perfect to drive vocabulary acquisition and a plethora of sites for listening and cultural activities. Nevertheless, student resistance has maintained the teacher as a central figure, with a reluctance to become truly independent learners as 1:1 devices and web connectivity both offers and demands. Our current goal is to continue redesigning our courses to cultivate and encourage independence and place the teacher firmly in the role of guide on the side.

Some references

Visible learning and the Science of how we learn

John Hattie & Gregory Yates, Routledge 2014

Visible learning for teachers

John Hattie, Routledge 2012

Task Based Language learning and teaching

Rod Ellis, Oxford 2003

Language and Culture

Claire Kramsch, Osford 2001

See also blog links in my profile and blogroll for further explorations of language teaching and learning practice.

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