The Simplicity of 3D in TEFL

(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)


This short presentation of a Three-Dimensional Model is based on the com-bination of several pieces of information that have come to my knowledge quite recently and led me to repeat, in a new context, some important assertions I had made before. It all started with my conversations with Ms Maria Zaphiropoulou concerning her doctoral dissertation on The Multiple Intelligences in TEFL Approach. At the same time, a dear student of mine, making instinctive use of several intelligences, stated that her strategy with new vocabulary is to link it to other words she knows and to envision the words in colorful settings or even in the lyrics of songs she likes. Next comes the publication of a book by Dr Stavros Zoumboulakis (Για το σχολείο, Εκδ. Πόλις, 2017) in which this eminent Modern Greek scholar enunciates the basic principles that govern schooling and the priorities of both students and teachers.

 

By Constantine Rompapas

 

The following building block is a contribution by Ms Marina Vlassi who, in her recent presentation at the TESOL Greece Convention, showed us how to use a short Shakespearean dialog, a classic poem and a popular song as a substitute textbook. The last piece of the 3D Model, which sheds ample light to, highlights and consolidates the other two dimensions, springs from the advice I gave to the president of a private school, in the immediate past, on how to set broader objectives so as to ensure a whole-some education.

 


Year after year, educators face the daily challenges of their work while at the same time they come across an overwhelming amount of information related to teaching. Luckily there is an accessible way out along an easy route leading to success. All you have to do is make good use of the theories researchers propose and of the practical advice offered by select colleagues and all of a sudden your goals will become clear and within reach.


The three-dimensional model described below is simple. It is based on what EFL teachers most probably already know and just adds to that the tools of differentiated instruction and the elements of quality they should infuse into students.


The Primary Dimension


Educators get a substantial amount of information at school before they start their careers and, no matter what they teach, they should become proficient in their field. It is their duty to keep up with all the new findings relevant to their subject -something that is a continuous process but usually a rather easy and interesting task -just attend conferences and subscribe to newsletters.


The field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language is among the most widely researched ones and it requires a lot of effort to stay up to date “taking into consideration the developments in the theories of foreign language acquisition”. This should be the basic ground on which English teachers are to tread at all times and I believe that most of them do their best to train their students in the variety of skills required for them to communicate efficiently in English.


The Multilateral Dimension


No matter what methodology they choose to apply, EFL teachers should differentiate their instruction according to the needs and the potential of their students in order for their work to be complete -because “being educators, as well as subject specialists, they have a measure of responsibility for the development of the whole child, not just his language skills”.


In order to pave the way to an effective learning procedure, EFL teachers are to make extensive use of new inquiry in order to supplement the current widely implemented Communicative Approach -which no doubt serves the whole range of levels, external exam oriented classes included. Luckily, so as to allow for deeper educational work as well, teachers can easily enhance their work by widely addressing the eight, so far, Multiple Intelligences presented by MIT Professor Howard Gardner -i.e. Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal and Naturalistic Intelligence. Educators the World over have come to realize that these eight intelligences allow them to teach in a variety of ways because they ‘complement each other as students develop skills or solve problems’. Thanks to Dr Gardner, EFL teachers can now diversify their teaching and help their students acquire a working knowledge of the English language. This kind of work would result in an elegant new approach that can lead their students to success.


The Holistic Development Dimension


The third dimension -which transforms teaching into indisputable art- makes ample use of what Dr Gardner proposes in his book “Five Minds for the Future”. Those distinct ways of thinking -i.e. the Disciplined Mind, the Synthesizing Mind, the Creative Mind, the Respectful Mind and the Ethical Mind -and some more pending to be documented- are abilities, which ‘young people and the society need in the twenty first century’. It is true that our society does not always provide opportunities for the advancement of key values, yet it is the unwavering duty of all educators to make sure that the three-fold principle ‘Excellence-Commitment-Virtue’ be adopted by their students so that they can lead their lives without major compromises.


One way to help students choose the right priorities is to set practical or moral dilemmas, the processing of which would eventually ensure a meaningful life. Keep in mind that many scholars contend that having an integral character is a superior virtue compered to excellence. Dr Gardner maintains that he does not say excellence is not desired. He simply says that in the end societies do not need more intelligent and outstanding members but more citizens of a good character. It goes without saying that the combination of the two is highly desired, something that makes the concepts of respect and moral excellence extremely important.


There is no way to forsee the needs of society, nor the conditions of life, twenty or more years ahead. Therefore, EFL teachers should do their best to equip their students with the necessary knowledge and universal values. They should train them analyze and process practical and intellectual problems, develop a ceaseless curiosity, a powerful memory and the ability to evaluate new inform-ation and to formulate new ideas. Above all though, they should show them how to appreciate the value of human achievement and the importance of virtue. This way their students will not only learn English but will eventually come to lead ‘a good life’ as well.•


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Bio
Constantine Rompapas, a former EFL teacher, Coordinator of the Department of English Studies of the Zirides School and TESOL Greece Chairman, has been involved for years in school administration and, as a freelance consultant, in Innovative Education, Strategic Planning in Education and Multiple Intelligences School Instruction.
He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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