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Teach English in Baoji Zhen - Huai'an Shi
As life is getting faster and requires more efficient ways of learning both for children and adults teachers are to keep up with the trend. Methods which were used before the introduction of new technology to mass public, though still effective in their own way, do not meet the high demands any more. For decades teaching listening and speaking skills was rather insufficient: while students were given tons of translations and exercises focused on reading and writing, communication skills left largely underdeveloped. Speaking of state schools, the situation still persists in many countries, however, with varying intensity around the world, it has been changing. Acquiring listening proficiency is not limited anymore. YouTube is a well-known enormous storage of video materials. Short simple “digestible chunks” of material may serve as excellent starters in the engage phase of a lesson, longer ones may be integrated in the study phase, in fact, there are videos which are virtually games, e.g.: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeTVoczn9NOZA9blls3YgUg, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvHg58jTqzc&t=130s . Such a game or, alternatively, a cartoon may become a reward tool for younger students: when they are active and deal with the tasks well, last 10 minutes of the lesson they may play or watch what they enjoy. Additionally, they may be asked questions after watching or suggested to guess and write down an ending to the cartoon they have just watched - the cartoon has to be stopped at some moment leaving an element of mystery for the next time, which will make the students eager to find out whose ending was right. Listening activities are useful for mastering pronunciation, reading (such as Stories for Reproduction by Oxford University Press, https://deepenglish.com/) and speaking. It may be rather troublesome for a school to invite and employ a native English speaker from abroad. In the XXIst century, however, one does not have to be physically present in the class. There has been an interesting experience of having school classes with a native speaker online (native teachers could be contacted with on https://www.italki.com/). The idea, however, is not new: residents of remote areas in different countries of the world have tried it with their local teachers years ago. Next, it is time to resort to the media. It is a brilliant opportunity to make English a natural part of students’ life and study: a teacher needs to create a community on https://www.blogger.com/, https://padlet.com/, Twitter or any other popular website, start discussions (which must end with a question for students to respond), post jokes, news, begin polls or word games – both the young and the adults will love it. Start a challenge! Students may compete individually, in pairs, groups or even between the classes. It may be based on progress sharing (badges may be used for encouragement https://info.credly.com/), creating projects, including videos on a given topic (like these: http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/), interviewing etc. The results of their work will surely be worth demonstrating in class or at a special English school event. Using media helps create an informal learning environment as well as motivates students to look up a word one more time before leaving one’s comment, and repetition is golden. Further on, materials may be placed online on virtual learning environment websites, such as https://moodle.org/, https://www.simplevle.com/, https://www.blackboard.com/ etc. Uploading some materials there could help save time during an actual lesson, answer students’ questions, keep in touch with them. It may seem time-consuming at first, but it definitely pays off soon, especially what concerns auto-check exercises, which eventually save tons of teacher’s time (e.g.: https://www.classmarker.com/). On top of that, there are applications which teach vocabulary in a playful manner: a teacher needs to create drilling cards related to the topic and send them to the students (such as https://quizlet.com/). Learning a language is hard work, but new technology is capable of making it a little less hard by suggesting easy access to materials, not too boring repetition and a less formal manner. It creates an immediate connection between learning and practical appliance of the acquired knowledge. Every basic skill, as well as vocabulary and grammar, may be taught in a totally new amazing way these days within the classroom walls. It is not only modern and efficient but also highly enjoyable. It is the education of the future.