Some reflections on active learning/teaching…

I’m writing my final project of the master’s degree on active methodologies so I’ve spent the weekend reading and investigating about it and there are lots of interesting ideas and projects we could develop with our students…

Active techniques can successfully engage our students, involve them in the learning process and help them to acquire key competences and cross-cultural skills which are beneficial for them.

As we are living in an era of “technological information” and society has changed enormously due to this fact, traditional methodologies no longer work. Our students must be the centre of the process “learning-teaching” and we, as teachers, should be the ones who guide them through the process, coaching and encouraging them to work actively. Through active methodologies you can integrate all the skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking) in the tasks, you just need to be very creative and present contents in an interesting way. We all learn by doing and practicing, memorising stuff is boring and our students deserve a significant learning that will make them become better and prepared for life persons.

I did an internship in a school with students of 1º of Eso and Bachiller for three months and I had to follow my tutor’s instructions… that implied following the book by heart. It was really boring … I tried to make the most of it and provide the students with opportunities for expressing themselves and sharing their opinions whenever possible. I even used some games as: Simon says to teach the imperative or Mimics to practice the present continuous. Whenever I had the possibility I tried to incorporate more active techniques in the classroom but my teacher told me that if we “waste much time on those things” she won’t cover the full book and that means trouble.

It is a pity that our educational system is a mess here in Spain. It is a fact that most of the students finish secondary education without being able to maintain a “basic” conversation in English.

Something is wrong here. I read some articles in the law and all the contents, objectives and competences are correctly stated but what it’s not effective is the way  in which English is taught in Spain by most of the teachers. Most of them just follow the book because they are under pressure as they have to cover the whole book during the academic year and there’s not much time left to do something different (and in fact significant for students). Some teachers care about this issue but others who have opportunities don’t do it because active methodologies imply lots of planning from the teacher and it is time consuming.

In my opinion, more formative courses should be offered to teachers of secondary education in order to make them see the educational needs and open their eyes to reality. We, as teachers, need to be in contact with each other, share our experiences, fears, opinions … and also be in constant retraining.

I hope that in a near future I will become a secondary education teacher and that I’ll have the opportunity to change things. Our students are the future and we have to prepare them for life. For now, I’m more than happy of teaching little kids to acquire English through games, songs, TPR… I’m obtaining wonderful results and they love learning English!

Here are some tips to introduce active learning techniques in our classroom. Those techniques can be adapted to different levels, language level…etc.


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