Today’s post was written by Bisera Ristikj, teacher of English as a Foreign Language at Goce Delchev Primary School in Negotino, Macedonia.
The foreign language classroom focuses on many different aspects. As young learners are not fully prepared to learn a new language, the educator needs to identify the crucial requisites to boost children’s attitudes toward the new language. One of the key stages when you first meet your new students is to learn and recognize the different skillset of each student. This will support your teaching methods and approaches. For example, you probably have a student who wants to use a tablet to learn, a student who is self-confident and learns on their own and a student who wants to collaborate with all peers and easily accepts all teaching approaches.
There are three basic stages of language learning that help you fully understand how to teach a foreign language and ensure students can become fluent speakers later on. The first stage is learning sounds, or the ability to recognize phonemes, also called phonemic awareness. Stage two is about learning new words or understanding how the sounds go together to create meaning. The amount of the vocabulary will also boost fluency. The next stage is making sentences with the new words.
In the past seven years, I have been teaching English to students aged from six to ten. The curriculum is focused on developing receptive skills in first and second grade and productive skills in third grade.
I have found one perfect tool to cope with the different learning styles and support the development of all four language skills—Microsoft OneNote Notebook. Employing the right digital tool in the classroom promotes productivity and makes teaching and learning easier.
Next, I am going to show you the Microsoft OneNote Notebook with a focus on the new Learning Tools. I successfully implemented the use of the OneNote Learning Tools in my teaching, which has yielded significant impact in language acquisition. This tool supports all of the aspects I have marked as important and crucial when teaching foreign language.
Since most of my teaching includes listening activities, I often record audio to play during the lesson. Students listen and they use the drawing option to complete the exercises in their OneNote Notebooks. In this way, not only do I have complete insight on how they completed the exercise, but the textbook also stays neat for the next class.
Mastering the receptive skills like listening and reading (word recognition) in early ages is a firm jumping board to later develop the productive skills of speaking and writing.
How the Immersive Reader supports foreign language learning
The Immersive Reader can help you save time and become your personal assistant—Preparing for the next day at work can often seem tiring because you need to create a lesson plan and come up with some enjoyable activities that support the lesson objectives and teaching resources. All of my lessons include listening activities to emphasize listening comprehension. So instead of carrying CDs and a player, I can easily type in the OneNote Notebook, and students can play that text with the Immersive Reader. Pause the recording whenever you feel students are staying behind. Another way is to ask students to type in a sentence in the OneNote Notebook and practice pronouncing with the Immersive Reader.
The Immersive Reader serves as a pronunciation drill—In my teaching, the correct pronunciation is something I really care about. So it’s important how the teacher pronounces a word. A word can be spoken in different ways by various individuals, and this depends on various factors as cultural exposure to the language, speech or voice disorders and the education. Good pronunciation is essential for speaking and understanding spoken English. So if you want to give your students a correct pronunciation from a native, the Immersive Reader can completely replace you. Instead of having students search a phonetic transcription on how to pronounce a particular word, just type the word in the OneNote Notebook and let the Immersive Reader pronounce it. It is super easy and convenient, and students are going to love it because it is a new way of learning.
The Immersive Reader gives students grammar input—This feature is my very favorite for a good reason. Teaching grammar to students is one of the toughest tasks because presenting it in an understandable format can be challenging to teachers. My fourth and fifth graders learn how to recognize a noun, verb and adjective in a sentence. This is important when it comes to correct interpretation of a sentence, and students often misunderstand. With the Immersive Reader, they can self-evaluate their grammar knowledge.
Here is a great tip for how teachers can use this feature: Have students recognize the verbs, nouns and adjectives in some part of a poem, text or some sentences by asking them to mark the nouns with purple, the verbs with red and the adjectives with blue—and then ask them to use the Immersive Reader to see if they completed the task correctly.
Use the Immersive Reader to practice tongue twisters—This spring, I prepared a recital for Easter that included reciting poems, an Easter egg hunt and Easter tongue twisters. Using the Immersive Reader, I could adjust the voice speed, which helped the students practice tongue twisters. The task I gave to my students was to say one tongue twister ten times. The good thing was that my students could also practice at home at any time using the Immersive Reader—first with slow voice speed and then smoothly adjusting the speed faster.
Below, you can see a short video of how much fun we have in the classroom with the help of the Immersive Reader to practice vocabulary from the textbook on the unit, including house and furniture vocabulary.
I will leave you with an Immersive Reader tip you can use in the classroom. This hack was created when I first installed the new add-in Learning Tools. My first thought was that this would be really practical, especially in large class of noisy students.
So what does it take to be a great teacher? Besides having students’ needs in focus, trying to find the most convenient way to deliver knowledge. I have found my way with the OneNote Notebook and the great input of the new Learning Tools. To see the Sway version of this blog, follow this link.
—Bisera Ristikj, @TeflBisera