So how exactly do we help your teen enjoy and progress in English? If you are interested in our professional answer keep reading! We use an eccletic range of methodologies, in function of what we see is the most effective with teenagers.
21st Century SkillsThis generation are digital learners, they socialize on networks almost as much as they do in person. This means for language learning to be relevant for them it needs to be via media they know and like. So we bring our language learning classes to Web 2.0. They will research, collaborate, record, write-up, present and publish online. We visit specific apps and sites to help to fine-tune their pronunciation, speaking, writing, reading and listening skills.
Project Based LearningTeens like to choose their topics, to set themselves challenges, to find their level, to be given responsibility and to work together to produce something. At Inishouse projects are closely monitored and structured, teens often need to be trained to work effectively in this way, so their project work is divided into stages with clear targets. The Facebook site exhibits many student projects.
Neurolinguistic ProgrammingA third method we employ is Neurolinguistic programming, so we will consciously be working through the same material in a series of ways to appeal to different senses and different learner types. We will use audio, visual, kinesthetic and logical stimuli to help our young teens assimilate material.
Grammar TranslationAt Inishouse we separate very clearly activities that are focussed on real use of the language and those that are focussed extra support for passing grammar exams. In the grammar and writing workshops, we do sometimes draw on more classic methodology, such as Grammar Translation. Teens may sometimes translate or follow a dictation. In exam-focussed activities, adolescent students will be working closely within targets typical for their age-group, as typical at school, such as irregular verbs tests. However, while the targets cross over, the method and group dynamic differs. We will make use of verbal grammar activities: surveys, online quizzes, prezis, videos in classes that specifically target passing exams. By contrast, in classes focussed on real use of the language, grammar is not the principal objective, rather classes focus on communication.
What we don't doNo textbooks, no exams. They have enough of them at school. This does not mean we are doing anything that occurs to us, we do have our targets clear. They are stipulated session by session in the course guide at the beginning of the year. So while we do use some printed material in class, we keep it to a minimum. The focus is on dynamic use of the language. In contrast to the children's programmes, in the grammar and writing workshops for teenagers we can dedicate some class time to working towards school test targets. Although the programming is closely in line with official secondary cycle targets and will coincide, students only need to request it if there is something specific they need to do. And while there are occasional progress checks, we generally avoid placing even more stress on teenagers. The only purpose of these checks is to ensure that students have assimilated material covered in class. We use them to inform our pace, not to beat the students with. We are conscious that the purpose of exams is to test not for students to learn. Our principal objective is for students to learn, and exams are only relevant to us because our teenage students are obliged to pass them.
What we do do: Communicative ApproachIn classes dedicated to communication, our methodologies can seem removed from mainstream curricular English teaching, which tends to be waylaid by exam targets. In the Selectividad exam, for example, there are currently no listening or speaking papers. So at school, at these levels, students simply don't do any. So while Communicative Approach full of oral activities, and is a method that is highly relevant to real life, in the short term, students don't need it. That is until they apply for their first Leonardo, Erasmus or Comenius grant, when their capacity to communicate becomes extremely important, whether they are in FP or at university. Because there is no communication exam, it can seem irrelevant to teenagers and thus be difficult to implement in large groups at school. At Inishouse, because our interest is in students really speaking and understanding the language, and exams are not our first priority, we will constantly be asking your teen to debate, to express opinions in English, to follow video clips. We will ask them to think for themselves, to prioritize and to make choices in English. Adolescents love this but they are not always accustomed to doing this in English. They get plenty of practice and gain in confidence.