HONORED GUEST TODAY: Sylvia Guinan sharing her experience with our apps!
I have had a very interesting time in the last few months plotting new online courses that exemplify my brain-friendly approach to teaching. One such adventure was my journey with English Addicts, the exciting portal that has excellent news lessons for learners, combined with a philanthropic scope that immediately attracted me to the concept from day one.
What’s English Addicts?
If you are not familiar with English addicts yet, you may find it useful to read my first article on the subject which gave my initial impressions and predictions.
I first started using English Addicts for my one-to-one private lessons on skype. The obvious attributes of English Addicts as a news source quickly became evident to students who found the learning experience to be truly liberating, as it put learning into their own hands in a fascinating real world context.
These attributes, which I described in my first article, I will summarise here:
1) Excellent quality ELT journalism
2) Expertly pitched articles for three levels: easy, average and difficult.
3) Educational integrity evident in the sensitive, yet frank coverage of global issues that real world journalists often fail to achieve.
4) Promoting autonomous learning and learner empowerment.
5) A perfect structure laid out for those of us who want to flip our classrooms and have students prepare lessons before coming to class for consolidation.
6) Encouraging greater rapport and engagment in class.
7) Time-saving for busy teachers who feel safe in the knowledge that English Addicts delivers a rich variety of language learning opportunites.
8 Focus on reading, listening, vocabulary and speaking.
9) Encouraging web-questing opportunities that not only increase higher-level thinking skills, but also teach students how to sift mindfully through the internet for quality content rather than get distracted by cyber-noise and poor quality websites.
10) A philanthropic model that can bring English to the third world and those deprived of a proper education.
Where ideas come from
My only qualms when Brad Patterson asked me to share my teaching experiences with English Addicts was that I would struggle to concisely express the potential of this initiative for making a difference in education. The ten points above are but the tip of the iceberg for me, as I continue to be inspired by new teaching ideas and contexts in which to use it.
Advanced English Online Course
My next step was to incorporate English Addicts into my advanced level brain-friendly online course. I decided to use asynchronous news lessons to supplement my live online sessions of general English.
Rich news sources combined with live classes on related topics make up the foundation of my course to be launched August first. A preview is now live here and a number of students have already enrolled.
Film & News Course
Finally I have set up my Film & News Course soon to be launched on WiZiQ, the platform where I teach groups online. In this course the students study certain topics asynchronously, while I find film clips that match the news item of the unit to be explored.
Students come into the live film session, armed with vocabulary and subject knowledge of the issue at hand. We have lessons that exploit the combined media in creative, productive ways that enable students to feel comfortable speaking about global topics in English.
Should any students wish to take exams after the course, we have the Edulang Certificate Of English or more traditional exams that require deep knowledge of vocabulary, global issues, and fluent confidence.
Further plans & possibilities
I intend to include project work as part of the course, as I want students to choose their own topics so as to explore, do research, embark on web quests to become citizen journalists of the world. As a follow-up students would present their projects online. Excellent training for the world of business, work and academia in English.
I do a lot of work with interactive posters for music lessons,stories, poetry; the visual arts. I believe that more exciting news projects could revolove around students creating their own news, multi-media posters, or videos. I also see potential for using English Addicts beyond ELT, but I’ll save that for a future article (or two)!
Sylvia Guinan has been teaching ESL/English for fifteen years in primary, secondary schools, language, and literacy institutes and has recently moved a majority of her teaching online. She’s originally from Ireland, though now lives on a beautiful Greek island with her husband and four children. Feel free to check out her blog here or follow her on twitter here.