Language Teachers Discuss Teaching Issues with International Expert
A seminar ‘Inventing a Whole Language Foreign Language Classroom: Thinking Outside the Box’ by Professor David Schwarzer (PhD in Education, College of Education and Human Services, Montclair State University, United States) was held at HSE Perm as part of collaboration between the School of Foreign Languages at HSE Perm and HSE University District. The event drew 62 English teachers from 16 Perm and 12 Perm region schools.
Professor Schwarzer visited HSE Perm under the Fulbright academic exchange programme. He highlighted theoretical and practical issues that arise in foreign language teaching methods using a holistic (whole language) approach, and shared his experience in creating a language environment in language classes that includes:
— project work
— reading children’s literature in the classroom
— making a portfolio, and a journal covering dialogue and other tasks involved in the learning process,
— alternative assessment methods.
He stressed the essential role played by the use of materials that are available to students outside class that relate to their life experience (ranging from advertising to computer games), and organizing education projects that have an immediate practical impact.
The participants said they learned a lot about new and interesting ideas for classes that provided food for thought. Professor Schwarzer was impressed by the skills shown by teachers from HSE Perm’s university and school cluster.
He mentioned that he had very positive impressions of the seminar and teachers, as they discussed issues that impact all English teachers, wherever they’re from: Poland, New Jersey, Alabama, etc. He stressed that they are all focused on students’ motivation: how to involve them in their studies, to assess their knowledge, what language to communicate with them. He also noted that he was pleasantly surprised at how many teachers participated in the seminar. He said this shows that there is a good connection between the university and the schools. He mentioned that his university also has a teacher training centre that works with 32 school districts, but added that he’s not sure they could organize such a big event.