Creating a Dynamic Language-Learning Experience
I grew up around a community with many non-English speakers. I worked in an environment where those who could not communicate with others due to the language differences were treated as if they had some form of disability. This simply was unacceptable and I set out to make a difference. I moved to Mexico, became a Certified ESL Teacher, and quickly advanced to the position where I would be more of a mentor than a teacher.
As an ESL and foreign language coordinator with 13 years of experience, I quite often found myself faced with teachers and instructors who were challenged by the day-to-day tasks of keeping up with learner’s individual needs while staying on track with our mandated curriculum, yet my heart always heard the long-term goals of the students. I would interview EACH ONE at the start of our courses, getting their perspective on why this new language was important in their lives and how it would open up their future. Challenging teachers to bring back the passion was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had yet.
How many of us as teachers are trying to get through the day, just get to the end of the lesson, check off a list of tasks, hand out homework, sigh when the students are finally out the door…? How did that happen? When we began our career, did we know it would be this challenging? There are many unstable conditions that contribute to the feeling of losing control of our environment:
- Parents and Administrators are demanding and we need their support
- A classroom full of learners tested into Level 2 are never all “Level 2”
- There is not enough time in the day to accommodate all learners’ areas of opportunity
With so many contributing factors, how do we balance?
There are many options. We chose to focus on using tools that allow for differentiating instruction as one solid option. My team and I began to look at ways that technology could help us flip the classroom and give that individualized attention each learner deserves. We needed a solution that would provide instruction, preparing learners with a base understanding of their target language so they could come to class standing on a more stable foundation.
Our opportunity to use the Rosetta Stone solution and it’s Supplemental Educational Materials allowed us to flip the classroom in a way that brought our learners to the same level of understanding before entering the classroom. Assigning a minimum amount of progress to be completed by a specified date let the learners complete the tasks at their own pace. Each student was able to review areas of weakness as many times as necessary and advance as quickly as needed through areas where they felt more confident. Learners were encouraged to take notes throughout their self-study and bring questions to class.
Knowing that your learners have covered a specific core concept will allow you to prepare a more dynamic class where learners are ready to put into action what they have begun to learn online. With Rosetta Stone’s Supplemental Education Materials, the possibilities are almost endless!
From Grammar lessons to whole class activities, the Teacher’s Guide provides lesson plans to accommodate all learners, from those who need extra support to those who are ready for increased challenge. There are journal and cultural activities, whole-group review activities, even role-play skits! Workbooks provide many worksheet styles for all learning styles and individual needs. You will have access to quizzes and tests. With flashcards, memory games and story books, the options are ample enough for any level of support your learners could possibly need.
A complete lesson plan would look like this:
- Request that learners complete Lesson 1, and the first 3 activities (Pronunciation, Vocabulary and Grammar). Remind them that they must achieve the check mark on those activities.
- When they come to class, you can do a simple vocabulary review using the list provided in the Teachers Guide, the Image Cards or Flash Cards.
- Then the Grammar and Usage section in the Teacher’s Guide will take the learners through the necessary explanations before they are ready for the whole group activities. Each activity within the Teacher’s guide has a reference to the amount of time this particular activity should take as well as the different learning domains it accommodates.
- Once the whole group activities have been completed, the learners can be assigned worksheets from the Workbooks that are sequential to their course. These worksheets can be assigned to compete in pairs or individually as homework, for a grade or for extra credit.
- Storybooks with audio and activities, Flash Cards and Memory Cards are also available, again, all aligned to the learners course.
- When learners are ready, there are end-of-lesson Tests with accompanying audio for Listening and Reading comprehension as well as end-of-unit tests.
Think about creating centers, where you have several learners working on their lessons and activities on the computer, several more sitting at tables working together with the memory cards or flash cards, another group working silently on their worksheet and a small focused group working with you, where you can focus on their areas of opportunity or on building up their strengths.
I encourage you for who you are, more than an educator, more than a language teacher, you are a champion. You have the opportunity to change a life, to make or break. We became teachers to make, to open more than doors, to knock down borders. Don’t stop believing in who you are and who your students will be. They will look back and know that you made a difference in their tiny life. You believed in them.
About the blogger:
Rae Moline is the Global E&E Training Lead and a Client Services Consultant at Rosetta Stone. Rae joined the company in June of 2010. Before joining Rosetta Stone, Rae resided in Latin America for 13 years where she was the Foreign Language Instructional Coordinator at a large, well-known institution. She developed the curriculum for preparing learners to face their personal and professional fields with confidence and enthusiasm.