Language Teaching: Learning from the Past training materials – guest blog by Nicola McLelland & Simon Coffey
We are delighted to announce the launch of new teacher training materials under the theme of Language Teaching: Learning from The Past whose publication has been supported by HoLLTnet and other partners. We hope you will find them useful both in initial teacher training and in Continuous Professional Development. The five packages use examples from the history of language learning and teaching to help language teachers reflect on their language teaching today. As you can see from the list below, the materials tackle five themes that are already core to teacher training (particularly in the UK).
Each unit takes a key theme, with a short introductory video (8-12 minutes), a handbook of activities which you can pick and mix from, and a facilitator’s handbook with extra guidance. They are very flexible: you could select one activity, e.g. for a warm-up activity, or use a full package for up to a half-day session. Each handbook also includes a short historical overview and some reading suggestions. You definitely don’t need to be an expert in history to use these materials! Our facilitator’s handbook gives you all the information you need to lead a session confidently.
We warmly welcome your feedback through this link (which you can also find bottom right on the project page), about what works, what could be improved, but also ideas for further topics, etc. Please do also spread the word about the materials!
Our five themes are:
- Differentiation and Diversity in the language classroom How have teachers recognized that learners have differing backgrounds, abilities, and needs, and reflecting e.g. on assumptions made about language learning ability, about gender and language learning, representation of ethnicity in language teaching, social class and language learning?
- Teaching Culture What cultural knowledge do we teach – or should we teach – students about the target culture? What view of the target culture is projected, and why, e.g. emphasizing similarities or differences with the learners’ home culture, high culture and/or everyday culture? And what are we teaching without even realizing? For example, historical language teaching materials often send signals about the expected class, gender and ethnicity of the “typical” language learner. What signals do we send today to our learners?
- Teaching Grammar: The teaching of grammar has recently regained prominence in language teaching, after period where the emphasis was more on communicative effectiveness than on accuracy and metalinguistic knowledge. This unit shows teachers different ways in which grammar has been taught, and why, to help inform their own decision-making about teaching grammar today.
- The Target Language and (m)other tongue use: Another contested topic is to what extent we should use the target language and minimize the use of English (or the L1( in the classroom? How do we draw acknowledge, and draw on the expertise of, students who are already competent bilinguals, speaking another language besides the language of instruction?
- Making the Case for Languages: Policy and Advocacy. Teachers increasingly find themselves playing the role of language champions in their schools and communities. This unit therefore gives teachers an understanding of key policy initiatives over time, and examples of arguments that have been shown to be effective (though sometimes taking a long time).
The project is an AHRC-funded collaboration between the University of Nottingham and King’s College London, and we owe its successful completion to our excellent Postdoctoral Fellow on the project, Dr Lina Fisher.
Nicola McLelland (University of Nottingham) and Simon Coffey (King's College London)