Learning a new language is no walk in a park. And it is not only so for the students. Teachers also face a challenge of breaking language barriers and creating a culturally inclusive classroom atmosphere. Here are five ways to inject energy and glee into your teaching style. By finding imaginative ways for students to express themselves not only encourages them to have fun, but also to learn much faster.
Play. Conveying the meaning of a new word doesn’t need to include the use of a dictionary. Instead, you can have students mime or draw the meaning of a word while the rest of the students try to guess what it is. By encouraging your students to play and earn points for guessing the word, they will forget they are in a classroom!
Study the culture. It’s no secret that learning a language extends beyond vocabulary and grammar. Cultural competence needs to be a part of a holistic curriculum. Studying the context of expressions from specific locations is more approachable with the use of social media and apps. By pairing students with an online speaking buddy native to the country of the language being learned, they get first hand exposure to the culture of that country, taking their studies outside the classroom.
Act it out. Encourage your students to make up little story vignettes and act them out. For example, they can pretend they are lost in a city and looking for directions, or about to order a meal at a restaurant. By involving their body movements in their speech, their learning will literally sink under their skin. Allow the rest of the classroom to get involved, making the exercise that much more interactive.
Translate. Pick a popular song currently playing on the radio, print the lyrics, divide your students into teams and let them tackle a portion of the text. Best songs are those that include phrasal verbs, colloquilisms and some slang, which introduces your class to layers of cultural context. If they know the song already, they will remember the new words and expression that much better!
Use apps. The benefits of using language apps in your classroom are manifold. A large portion of your students likely own a smartphone – a very potent, portable learning tool! Among many things, the free SpeakingFit app features instructional videos that help your students improve their pronunciation by teaching optimal placement of their tongue and jaw. Have your student practice a difficult phrase with the app before it is their time to speak up.
SpeakingFit also features a vast community of native speakers, allowing your students to stay plugged into their learning, whether they are in a classroom or roaming about. Download it here and share its tools with your class. You can also join our teachers network and begin earning money for your contributions today.