One of the features of demand-high teaching which Jim Scrivener and Adrian Underhill invited us to discuss in Issue 85 of ETp was a recognition that our students may well be capable of far more than we typically ask of them.
I was reminded of this when reading our main feature for Issue 103, in which Gail Ellis and Nayr Ibrahim reject the idea that young children do not possess the cognitive maturity to reflect on their learning, asserting that children are perfectly capable of this and are, in fact, naturally competent and insightful commentators on their own experiences of learning. Gail and Nayr recommend that we introduce reviewing and reflection in young learner classes, so long as it is done in a climate of mutual respect and within an atmosphere that is inclusive and cooperative.
In the fourth in their series on preparing students for the IELTS exam, Louis Rogers and Nick Thorner argue that it is not enough simply to teach students the language required to talk about cause and effect. They believe that teachers need to go further than this, in order to ensure that their students actually understand the concept and are sufficiently skilled in the thought processes necessary to identify when an exam question is asking them to identify and evaluate cause and effect.
Trev Hill recommends that we expect more of our students when it comes to drama activities. He finds that going beyond simple classroom roleplays, and involving the students in longer-term theatre projects brings dividends in terms of the development of their language, their social skills and their willingness to participate actively in their own learning.
Other contributors to this issue suggest that we expect rather more of our materials, or add a new dimension to them. Mark Heffernan and David Byrne explore ways in which we can exploit reading and listening texts to the absolute maximum. Ee Loon Chwa describes how he enhances printed texts that are clearly meant to be spoken by using Voki, an online text-to-speech program with different voice options. This transforms them from writing on the page into proper spoken texts. Simon Mumford adds diagrams and word puzzles to his explanations of language and structure. Jamie Keddie adds video to his speaking activities, using short videos of his friends doing the same speaking task that he sets his students. This gives the students something immediate to talk about, and also provides a springboard for their own ideas.
In our new competition, we invite you to challenge your students to go a bit further in their learning and to produce a short video, based on a story provided by Jamie Keddie.