Archivo de la etiqueta: teacher training

Back to paper: supporting university student learning in the age of screens

Two years ago I had a particularly revealing experience in one of my classes. As I walked around monitoring student work, I noticed that at least two thirds of them were using their lap-top computer for purposes unrelated to the class. It was March, and many of them were editing drafts of their TFG (end of degree dissertation). Others were chatting on Whatsapp. Many were doing both.

Laptops abound in class!

Students sometimes come to class with the idea that they can sit through the session minding their own business and somehow make up for it at home, just reading through the Powerpoint presentation. That may be so in cases of traditional lecturer-centered instruction, but it is misled in the kind of student-centered learning scenarios recommended in this blog. And even more so when students are trying to process concepts and ideas in a foreign language, as in many EMI settings.

That same year, I visited PH Zug, in Switzerland, where I was initially surprised by my Swiss colleague’s use of a course package much resembling the ones I used in my student time in the 1990s. A paper package in the age of Moodle and e-campuses?

Sample pages from an ELT Methodology package used at PH Zug, Switzerland

Looking at its contents, I noticed that it offered a nice combination of theory, tasks and, perhaps more importantly, space and boxes for students to record their notes. I shared this with my colleagues back at Comillas and, while not moving away from Moodle-centered documentation, we have lately been handing out a number of worksheets such as the one below:

The rationale is simple. In an age in which students are reluctant to take notes, worksheets help students to have an outline of the class, as well as an opportunity (if not an obligation) to keep a record of their tasks and discussions – and this without the need to open the laptop. And even if the students choose to complete the worksheet in digital format (also available), the task-oriented nature of such documents help them stay focused, instead of drifting off.

Further, in EMI settings, we have found that the worksheet approach helps to scaffold group work, peer discussion and, especially, speaking in the foreign language during feedback stages.

As perhaps the most obvious con, this approach uses more paper…so let’s make sure our paper is recycled!

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Seminars on EMI and CLIL at PH Zug, Switzerland

International visits and teacher mobility experiences are, without a doubt, one of the biggest perks of my job. They are enriching in so many ways, but perhaps foremost among them is that they make you see what you do back home in a new light.

In November 2018 I was lucky to visit the delightful town of Zug, close to Zurich, as part of the Swiss-European Mobility Programme. The visit was a short one – just two days of work, one of them devoted to visiting local schools, and the other one to teaching at the university.

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During my day at PH Zug, I conducted seminar presentations on three topics:

  • The Comunidad de Madrid Bilingual Education Program
  • Scaffolding Instructional techniques for CLIL Primary Education
  • Effective scaffolding of learning in EMI higher education courses

It was definitely fascinating to try to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of such an ambitious CLIL program as the one we have in Madrid together with students and teachers who are working in a context where there are very limited CLIL experiences, mainly some EMI instruction in public high schools.

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With Dr Olivia Green, who kindly organized my timetable of teaching and school visits

It was also exciting hearing about how PH Zug’s gradual efforts at implementing EMI in teacher training courses is contributing to the university’s internationalization, and at the same time is welcome by the national German-speaking students.

More so, there is also some work being done on using French as a medium of instruction, and promoting French CLIL in German-speaking schools. I can’t think of a better way of promoting a true multilingualism and building bridges between the different language communities of such a diverse country as Switzerland.

In an age where the European integration project has come under attack, it’s inspiring to be able to enjoy experiences of international cooperation and sharing of ideas as the ones I enjoyed during my short stay in Zug.

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Who’s who at the college. What a great idea!

 

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