B1 level is considered to be the ladder from the elementary levels to upper- intermediate ones. Learners become more independent, more fluent speakers and they are at the stage in which they have to revise and improve their English skills and to be more proficient users of the language. Among these, the most important feature of this level (or age to be accurate), is that learners become mature people, with questions about themselves, about the world. They want to search, explore and discuss what happens around them. It is when children are inside an environment where everything changes, they have opinion about subjects, they listen to others and they want to response based on their way of thinking and this is great! But, how can we, as language educators take advantage of it?
Text by: Konstantina Karamouta
I strongly believe in the magic of written communication. When someone writes down thoughts or opinions, he /she has the chance to unfold everything he/she wants to state. Writing gives the chance to think and re-think, to dive into a subject and explore every part of it, it gives the time to go back to what is written, revise and write more. Another extraordinary part of writing is that the author is face to face with the pen and paper and not with another person. Even if a lot of people are going to read what the author writes, this element gives the learner the chance to truly state his/her beliefs inside an invisible comfort zone. In the process of writing we have the chance to give learners topics that matter to them, topics that they can’t analyze in oral context and we have to give them the input to unfold their thoughts. There are some steps to be followed in order to achieve this magic experience of sharing thoughts.
- Authentic Context
We have listened to this term quite a lot of times, but why is it so special? There is the need of showing learners how written work in authentic context is. Authentic Texts give the chance to explore through the language as it is used by native speakers/authors. Some examples of authentic texts and context would be newspaper articles, research papers, novels, traditional fairy stories, instructions on how to make a craft, tour guides or radio interviews. Learners have to be provided with texts from alternative sources to explore different aspects of genres and types of text. According to many researches on English Language Teaching, giving learners authentic context can make learners see how the language is used, to dive into matters from all over the globe or even to explore sociocultural elements through reading. Referring to input, these types of sources are amazingly helpful to students in order to generate ideas and create more thoughts on different subjects.
- Meaningful Context
Meaningful context for the learner or the teacher? For the learner! It should always be about the learner.
A nice tip: Start the year with questions, by asking students what they want to explore throughout the year, what the subjects that they want to know more about are and keep notes. Take their subjects into consideration and start building some series of projects based on what students want to explore. There is no need to build every single lesson on their ideas, but it would be meaningful to them to include their topics into some writing projects.
- Adopt and Adapt
Take into consideration the learning outcomes. Based on the coursebooks, additional material, own-made material there are always some language features that need to be taught. Use a meaningful context, adapt it into the learners’ needs and make a lesson worth sharing. For instance, if the teacher needs to teach ‘how to write an ad’, find some real ads from foreign television, watch them with the students, rate the best ad and ask them to write what caught their interest in the ad and if they would buy the product. Then, ask students to write a scenario for their own ad by working collaboratively, give feedback and ask students to present their ad by role-playing. An engaging activity that will help the learners understand the meaning and they consequently will do their activity effortlessly. The teacher could also add an activity for homework as ‘Write a review on your classmates’ ad: Include feedback, strong and weak points of their ad”.
- Creative Writing
Where the creativity and magic never ends... Don’t underestimate the power of creative writing. Creative writing tasks can include genres that are taught in the curriculum but in an alternative way. From articles, to formal emails or invitations, teach them all but, teach them with a twist. Instead of giving an activity to students ‘Write an invitation for your upcoming party’, ask students to write an invitation for a trip on the planet they invented, ask them to describe what they are going to see there, to set the scene and create images, ask them to write in details what means they will need to go there, everything in an invitation format. In addition, ask learners to draw a picture with their favorite place of their planet to include it in the invitation. This activity could never end.. The learners could give their invitations to other classes and make a project, put drawings and images on the walls and present their planet in real- life situations to students from the other classes. This activity (or series of activities) could give the teacher the chance to make more lessons for more students only by creating one alternative writing activity.
Teaching learners of all stages is a magical procedure. Sometimes it may need time and effort to have everything done but in the end the reward the teacher takes from the surrounding smiles is the most important thing of all. In the century of technology that we have been living in the past years, we as educators have to give students something that will catch their attention, they will put effort on their learning process because they will be interested in it. We just need to be creative and we have to think.
how we can create experiences for our learners. Education has to provide students with knowledge that matters, with critical thinking activities, to give them the chance to be creative, to work collaboratively and to communicate with each other and with the world. During the harsh times we pass through, we have each other and these pure human moments of happiness are everything we need. Let’s make our learners happy, let’s inform them, let’s be there for them. In B1 level and in all levels, let’s build a strong relation with our students and share with them moments of magic.