Consider ways in which you can provide learning activities which will motivate your learners and analyse both the strengths and limitations of resources available, with particular reference to new and developing technologies. How can functional skills (literacy, numeracy, language and ICT) be improved by using these resources to carry out activities?
Learning activities form an inherent part of the learning process without which learners rates wouldn’t be retained, performance would be fractured, and motivation lowered. What makes a meaningful resource? How can a resource be geared towards learning? How do teachers know if the resource is successful or not? All these questions would be answered in the course of this brief study. I shall also suggest ways functional skills could be imbedded whilst recognising strengths and weaknesses of existing resources. In this essay I shall refer to my own practice as an ESOL teacher for intermediate learners within a diverse environment.
As an ESOL teacher, it is essential for me to select resources that would address leaners’ needs and at the same time motivate them in order to achieve targets and stabilize learner retention rates. Choosing resources with material a learner has never seen before and that would challenge his/her ability could demotivate this learner (Skinner, 1938). However, I am aware that I should take into consideration Blooms’ taxonomy which intends to make learning a progressive experience. In line with both arguments, it is mostly important to avoid creating any feelings of anxiety from learners, and make sure that a resource or activity is non-threatening. For this to happen it is primordial to use learners’ preferred learning styles when teaching or preparing resources, and use the ILP as a reference to gear learning towards the right direction.
Generally, I often use interactive games involving pairs or groups of mixed ability and get them involved into the activity whereby I act as a facilitator rather than a teacher. This also makes promotes a student centred approach. Many learners are motivated when they are given responsibility for their learning, and when they are encouraged to be autonomous learners by making decisions and think for themselves. However, with those who tend to be less independent and autonomous due possibly to their low ability, I make sure a differentiation sheet is given to them. Differentiation sheets present tasks in a clear, fun, and are picture supported. The content is written in large font and a small reward is given at the completion of the task to boost confidence (ibid). Regarding autonomous learners, I choose activities that to encourage visual interpretation, kinaesthetic movement, and some audio based learning. Having a variety of methods assure differentiation and improves the motivation level of learners. Again, it is important to use a variety of styles such as audio, kinaesthetic, and visual mostly. Earlier I mentioned the importance of keeping the affective filter low (Krashen, 1985). For instance, an ice breaker activity in my first lesson with new students could be a true and false game about me, then with students themselves. Activities should help create a rapport with the learners and teachers. Krashen (1985) explains the importance of a classroom atmosphere in that it could lower the affective filter of a learner thus boosting learning. Contrarily, if learners are tested formally, this could nurture negative feelings such as doubt, or anxiety that would affect performance and engagement. With fun activities, emotional blockage is reduced and learning is more enjoyable while bolstering self-esteem and nurturing motivation. I thus use props and authentic materials that are easily relatable such as tube maps, train tickets, magazines, catalogues and so on. A lesson that has worked well was when I had to teach colors, shapes, and some adjectives and for this, I used a basket full of stuff I bought from a...
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