In this issue Ester Molina, a primary school teacher in Córdoba and president of CETA (Córdoba English Teachers’ Association) since 2010, shares her ideas with us on challenges teachers face in class, on CETA and their annual conferences, on CLIL and much more!
I am the new CETA Association President since 2010. I helped to manage our Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Spring Conferences for English teachers titled “TenAgers”, “CLIL on the mouse” and “Active and Attractive Teaching: Confident and Comfortable Learning” respectively.
Now we are organising the next event programme, XIII CETA Conferences, titled “Understand and Use”.
The main aims of this Association are:
– To promote joining and meeting among English teachers from all levels.
– To improve the chance for teachers training, being in contact with new methods, resources and contents.
– To be a place for discussion, debate and new English Teaching experiences.
We need to renew our webpage in these days, but all the teachers interested in CETA as new members or to get information on our events, can contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Personal opinion about challenges teachers:
Today the Spanish culture of learning tends to get more competent, autonomous, critical and creative citizens. Learners must work by tasks (in pairs, groups or individually) for a final product and during the process, they must choose several useful and new tools as part of motivation: ICT resources, actual topics on their own interests, etc. The contents are part of this process of learning; they are not just the final aim and the teacher is a guide, a model, a help for them.
I love working by projects, but never forgetting knowledge and culture. Pupil motivation is higher when they learn in a useful way. Knowing the aims in advance, having appropriate resources and choosing attractive topics and tasks to get a concrete final product, give them the chance to increase their knowledge and skills. The children feel more confident and comfortable being able to become better learners.
I have been able to prove this effective method of work in my classes for many years as an English teacher and teaching other subjects from the Curriculum. Nevertheless, now the specialist lessons are getting harder because of some pupils problems and special needs, which are increasing from the youngest. I feel the teachers waste too much time in solving wrong behaviour and promote right habits in class, more than in teaching a second language. Getting an appropriate atmosphere is our challenge, but working as teachers in the teaching and learning process, not like second parents. Different capacities, variety of attitudes and grade of motivation, family problems and an infinity of atmospheres at home, grade of maturity and competences inside the same group of students; it makes the process very complicated because teachers must adapt their work to all these elements, many of them new for us.
My opinion on CLT and CLIL:
CLT(Communicative Language Teaching)
In my opinion, this approach to ELT is the best and the most effective way to get our learners can see English as a useful language and this concept of a new language is absolutely necessary to implement it from the beginning, from the first exposition to English in our context.
In general, Spanish people are ashamed and scared to talk in another language and I think this is another of our hardest challenges. We should change these feelings improving oral and communicative skills (our weak point).
We have the same problems in all levels of education. I think we need to develop communicative skills and a confident and comfortable atmosphere in our English classes from the first years of teaching and learning L2.
CLIL(Content Language Integrated Learning)
It is a method of teaching based on using English as an implement to teach and learn contents. The pupils acquire knowledge from different subjects through English. I think CLIL method is the best way to get English useful outside the English lessons. It also helps to increase self-confidence and using communication in a foreign language.
My view on the future for ELT:
Although ELT is developing in a new direction following the principles of the CEFR and with the help of the assessment through the ELP, English evaluation continues being stressful. People (teachers, students, parents…) need numbers to classify or identify the level of knowledge. The best way for them is using the traditional test and the well-known marks. I do not agree with it and I think the assessment concept and global mentality about measuring levels must change in a close future.
I believe in the concept of “can do”. The experience says to me that if you get to transfer to your pupils the idea of “English is useful and fun”, the results are better in order to skills and feelings when they face to a different language. If they feel comfortable and confident learning English from the beginning, they will be able to improve their competences by themselves throughout life. I would like to claim:
Do not disturb the process using a stressful assessment!
On the other hand, ELT shows English as a new phenomenon: “It is not more of the same”. Native speakers are becoming less relevant and this language is not already a foreign language. Non-native speakers who use English to communicate with other non-natives have a different model of English. The target model of English is not a native speaker but a fluent bilingual speaker.
Nowadays there are many situations where people need to communicate with others in a common language being from different countries: English as a useful tool, again!
In my opinion, one of the most important factors to success in ELT is not the learner age but the learner attitude. Nevertheless, teachers should be conscious of how decisive their role is as guides and models in the process.
The first contact with English in the classroom should be a positive experience. We must be affective and sensitive teachers to get, in a key context, the learner to be able to develop proficiency, to communicate in an instrumental new language and to enjoy using English. Therefore, the students will just like improving their English not only in class or in other subjects but throughout life.
I am a Primary English teacher since 1992 and I would like to go on my job for much more time.
Awareness and Proficiency are directly related to the grade of exposition to English, but I think it is not enough. I love challenges and becoming an efficient English teacher nowadays is a difficult one.
Let´s overcome the difficulties and theory will become reality thanks to Primary levels!
Many thanks to Ester for sharing her interesting ideas and views with us!
Do you work at a primary school? Do you face some of the challenges Ester mentions? Share your ideas with us by sending us a mail or leaving a comment.