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  • A teacher sat at a table with a laptop and whiteboard behind her

    Championing language learning and teaching – introducing Learners' Voice

    By Adita Putrianti
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    In today's world, where global communication is not just a luxury but a necessity, having a strong grasp of language learning is essential for expanding horizons. As an educator, being part of a supportive community can enhance your teaching experience and improve results. That's where Learners' Voice comes in – not only as a platform but also as a lively community where learners and educators come together to innovate and excel in the field of language mastery.

    Understanding the complexities of language acquisition and changes in teaching methodologies is crucial for success in the education industry. Joining Learners' Voice can be a significant step forward. This post will guide you through this program, how to join, and how becoming part of the Learners' Voice community can enrich your language learning and teaching experience.

    What is Learners' Voice?

    Learners' Voice is more than just an online community – it's a movement to foster collective knowledge sharing and growth in language learning and teaching. Imagine a digital space that brings together language enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds – students, teachers, language professionals and academics – all united by their passion for mastering and imparting linguistic skills. Participation in Learners' Voice isn't just about passive engagement; it's an active alliance towards the progressive development of language educational practices.

    Participants – who can join?

    We're seeking passionate individuals who are ready to contribute to and learn from a global community dedicated to language learning. Participants include:

    • Language learners: From novices to seasoned language polyglots, anyone striving to enhance their language competencies can find a supportive environment.
    • Educators: Teachers of languages at various levels, ranging from primary to tertiary education, as well as private language institutions, are encouraged to participate.
    • Parents: Those keen on supporting their children's language education and understanding the latest pedagogical trends.
    • Corporate employees: Individuals using languages in a professional setting who would like to expand their communication skills and contribute to language education research.
    • Language test takers: Participants at various stages of language proficiency evaluations, including preparation, test takers and educators, involved in the testing ecosystem.

    What Learners' Voice members do

    Members are invited to engage in diverse activities:

    1. Research collaboration: Work in unison with experts and peers on language research projects.
    2. Discussion forums and webinars: Foster engaging conversations and enhance your understanding of language learning trends.

    Joining Learners' Voice isn't limited to the virtual realm; it's a tangible commitment to advancing your language learning or teaching abilities. Here's how the program can become an integral part of your linguistic journey.

    The Learners' Voice experience – what's in it for you?

    A community that listens

    Join Learners' Voice and ensure your thoughts on language learning and teaching aren't just registered but given the platform they deserve. It's a community that values each unique perspective as a brick in the foundation of innovative language education.

    Professional and personal enrichment

    Participating in Learners' Voice exposes you to a range of resources and interactions that can significantly enrich your language learning and teaching experience. From sharing best practices to receiving and providing support, the community is a huge pool of opportunities for growth.

    Ongoing support, monthly draws and Incentives

    Beyond the exchange of knowledge, Learners' Voice offers tangible rewards for your active involvement. From monthly draws to recognition for contributions, the program ensures that your efforts are appreciated and your aspirations to excel in language learning and teaching are duly recognized.

    How to take that first step and join Learners' Voice

    Joining Learners' Voice is simple and rewarding, with just a few clicks standing between you and a robust platform for growth in language education.

    Start by accessing the community

    Visit our portal or scan the QR codes provided to access the 'Join Learners' Voice' link. The process is quick and you'll be welcomed into a world of like-minded peers passionate about languages. Learners can sign up here and Educators can sign up here

    Spread the word

    Once you're part of the community, share your experiences and encourage your colleagues, friends and social networks to join. The more voices we have, the richer the dialogue and the stronger our collective learning experience.

    Stay engaged

    Active participation is key to making the most of your Learners' Voice membership. Whether you contribute to ongoing research or share your insights on forums, every interaction is an opportunity to learn and grow.

    Your voice matters

    In conclusion, Learners' Voice is an innovative platform that puts the power of learning and teaching back into the hands of the community. For those dedicated to the mastery of languages, this isn't just a community – it's an indispensable tool that can enhance your skill set, broaden your educational horizons, and even offer the chance to shape the future of language education.

    Join us and be part of a rich, dynamic community that values your voice and awards your commitment to language education. 

  • A teacher helping students at a table. The GSE ambassador logo is to the left of them.

    Empowering future educators: Integrating the GSE into pre-service teacher training

    By Belgin Elmas
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    When we used to go somewhere by car, my son, who was just three years old, would repeatedly ask me, "How far do we need to go?" every five minutes. He was curious to know where we were and how close we were to our destination. Even though the answer was just a number, it would satisfy him and relieve his curiosity.

    For language learners, it is important to maintain a high level of curiosity about progress and the distance needed to cover in their language learning journey. This can help identify areas for improvement and help them stay motivated. For teachers, it is also important to have a tool that can assist their students in visualizing their language learning goals more concretely. The Global Scale of English (GSE) is a valuable resource for this purpose. It not only indicates learners' current proficiency levels but also provides learning outcomes to help them progress in their abilities. The scale ranges from 10 to 90 and offers a personalized pathway for improvement in each individual skill based on global research. By using the GSE, both learners and teachers can work together to achieve language learning success.

    I believe the GSE is one of the most valuable resources a language teacher needs in teaching English; the learning outcomes provide clear guidance on what to teach, tailored to the specific needs of learner groups. With five options designed for pre-primary, young, general adult, professional and academic English learner groups, the GSE offers educators clear paths to customize their teaching strategies effectively. It also assists teachers in motivating their students by showing their progress regularly, which provides precious support throughout their learning journey.

    I also believe that the sooner we introduce teachers to this valuable tool in their teaching careers, the better equipped they will be to help their learners. With this belief in mind, we integrated the GSE into our pre-service teacher education program, making it the cornerstone for lesson planning and assessment. This blog aims to explain our implementation process at TED University's Education Faculty English Language Teaching Department, hoping to provide a model for other programs interested in adopting a similar approach.  

    Implementing the GSE

    Our implementation process started with conducting in-service training sessions for the faculty members, many of whom were also unfamiliar with the GSE. To ensure comprehensive understanding, we organized meetings with the teacher trainers responsible for teaching the methodology courses. These sessions consisted of in-depth discussions on the nature of the GSE, its significance in language teaching and practical guidance on integrating it into the curriculum we were following.

    As the second step, we designed a lesson plan to be used for the first methodology course our pre-service teacher trainees would undertake for the same objective we had for in-service teacher training sessions. In this initial lesson, we started by discussing the aims of CEFR and GSE, highlighting their differences.

    Then, we facilitated discussions on how GSE helps to monitor the progress of learners, what the main features are that the GSE has been built upon, and most importantly, we focused on increasing our future teachers' consciousness on how learning objectives can help a teacher. The lesson proceeded with an introduction to the GSE Toolkit, clarifying its categories, contained skills, and the target language learners it caters to. After providing diverse samples across various skills and outcomes, we demonstrated how our pre-service teachers can find learning objectives within the scale and how they can use them. 

    The lesson then transitioned into practical exercises designed to familiarize the teachers with the toolkit. Through guided instructions, such as selecting a target group, a skill, and a proficiency range, we prompted them to engage in activities aimed at perceiving the usefulness of the toolkit. We then asked them to report on some chosen parameters, such as the selected range, the number of objectives identified, and the potential text materials applicable to the chosen skill (e.g., reading comprehension). We followed a similar process for the other skills. 

    The second part of the lesson illustrated how different teaching materials were mapped with the GSE framework, utilizing sample coursebooks like Speakout, Roadmap and Startup. The lesson concluded with getting reflections from the pre-service teachers on their perceptions of the GSE. We gathered their insights on its usefulness, including its impact on curriculum design, teaching methodologies, and skill assessment practices.

    After being introduced to the GSE, we asked our pre-service teachers to integrate it into all their teaching-related courses. They now plan their lessons based on the learning outcomes provided in the toolkit, benefitting from the additional resources it offers to enhance their instructional practices. Teaching Skills, Teaching English to Young Learners, and Material Development can be given as samples of the courses the GSE was integrated into; there is no need to mention that all teaching practicum-related courses are in the integration part as well.

    The benefits 

    What did we gain by integrating the GSE into our pre-service teacher education program? Quite a few significant benefits, actually. Firstly, it standardized the language and terminology used throughout the department; when we refer to terms like 'learning outcomes', 'proficiency of language learners' or 'learner progress', everyone understands the set of terms uniformly across our department. No need to mention that our pre-service teachers gained the privilege of being introduced to a widely recognized toolkit in the field. While their peers may not yet be familiar with the GSE, our students gain early exposure to this valuable resource. Incorporating the GSE into our program also has allowed our pre-service teachers access to a range of valuable resources.

    In addition to the GSE Toolkit, resources such as Text Analyzer or instructional materials aligned with the GSE help our future teachers plan and deliver language instruction more effectively. As a result, our pre-service teachers enter the field with a deeper understanding of language assessment, proficiency levels, and learner needs.

    Next steps

    What's next? There's still much to accomplish and a considerable journey ahead of us. Currently, our primary focus is on making our initiatives more public, aiming to share our experiences with other pre-service teacher education programs considering integrating the GSE into their curriculum. In addition, introducing the GSE to in-service teacher programs in Turkey and globally could also be valuable for enhancing language teaching practices and the professional development of language teachers worldwide.

    Publishing articles, presenting at conferences, hosting workshops, or developing online resources might be some of the sources for sharing our practices. Increasing the awareness of policymakers, school administrators, and language teachers on the GSE and highlighting the benefits of using a standardized granular framework like the GSE can encourage broader adoption and implementation across educational settings. Collaboration opportunities with other institutions and stakeholders in language education will help all of us to reach our destination more quickly and efficiently. Finally, research on the impact of the GSE in language education is required to refine our approaches.

    As a result, we are very pleased with the integration of the GSE into our teacher education program, as it has paved the way for significant advances. While recognizing there's still a considerable journey ahead, we also celebrate the progress we've made thus far and are curious about the other possible opportunities that lie ahead.

  • Children sat outdoors reading a book together

    Why should you use storytelling to teach English?

    By Richard Cleeve
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Stories can make us laugh, cry or tremble with fear. They can teach us valuable life lessons and transport us to other worlds. They've been around since the beginning of language itself, but can they actually help us learn a language?

    Stories are one of the most useful tools when teaching children English. Not only do they help with listening and reading skills, but they can also support speaking and writing skills by providing context, language and structure. 

    Very young learners may already be familiar with stories – they may hear them in daycare, school or at home with their parents. Therefore, incorporating these into their language classes may help them to feel more comfortable in their surroundings. And if children feel comfortable, they are more likely to be receptive to learning. 

    Storytelling usually happens as part of a group in the classroom. This means that it becomes a bonding activity for children where they can communicate and subconsciously pick up the key language. While having fun listening and interacting with the story, they soak up information without even realizing they’re learning.

    So, what storytelling activities can we use with young learners? Let’s find out. 

    Practical activities for storytelling with young learners

    Often, we think of storytelling simply as reading a book aloud to children. Yet, there are other activities you can do. These include:

    1. Choral repetition

    To get young children interacting with the story, first read out a sentence alone. Then, have the children repeat the line with you as a group. Repeat as many times as necessary, until the children feel confident with the language. 

    2. Individual repetition

    If your learners are happy to, ask them individually to repeat the sentence after you. Make sure each one has a turn and praise them for being brave and trying to use the language. 

    3. Play acting

    An activity that works well with children is to act out the story’s characters. For example, there may be animals, fairies, monsters or other exciting characters that they can each act. 

    Ask them to make the noises of the animals, the wind, or the scenery to create an atmosphere while you read. This gets them interacting with the story and the rest of the group, which will help their communication and listening comprehension skills. 

    4. Use puppets or dolls

    Young learners react particularly well to visual aids and realia. Why not use puppets or dolls to act out the characters, or even ask students to have a go with them? They will engage more with the story and the language.  

    5. Dive into the pictures

    Children’s story books are usually quite visual with illustrations and pictures. Make the most of these while telling the story. Try asking students questions about the images to get them using the vocabulary. 

    You could ask them, “what can you see?”, “what’s he wearing?” or “can you find an apple?”. This is another great way to reinforce the vocabulary they’re learning in class. 

    Use these activities individually or incorporate a mix into your lessons. Either way, storytelling will help your learners with more than just developing their English language skills. 

    Storytelling with adult language learners

    While we often think of storytelling as a pastime for children, it can also be a useful language learning activity for adults. 

    Stories are part of our daily lives, from news to social media to books and movies. Therefore, they can be extremely beneficial tools for English language learning. 

    Yet, the way we approach storytelling as a class activity for adults differs to that of young learners. While we typically read fairy tales to young children, we can bring in a much wider range of content for adults, such as:

    • News stories – There may be a current news story that learners are interested in. Ask them to bring in an article to retell in class.  
    • Traditional folk stories – Ask learners what traditional folk tales or ghost stories they were told as children growing up in their hometowns. This can be really interesting for both language and cultural awareness.  
    • Personal life stories – Our lives are a series of short stories that can make for very interesting reading. You can either ask students to share stories in class orally or have them write up a “chapter” from their lives to tell the class. It could be something funny that happened to them or an anecdote from their childhood, for example. 
    • Movie plots – Ask students what their favorite movies are and have them either tell the group the summary of the plot or write it up to share at the end of the lesson.
    • Advertisements – There are some fantastic advertisements which tell mini stories in under three minutes. Have students choose one, show it to the class and discuss it as a group. 

    Storytelling can be a wonderful language learning tool for both children and adults. If you’re looking for a new way to engage, inspire and motivate your learners, why not try it in your next class? 

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* Global online survey on Learner's Voice among just over 2,000 respondents including teachers and learners of English, decision makers in educational institutions and companies, Jan-Mar 2022.