APPI – MULTIWAY AWARD 2016
Using L1 role models with whom students might identify with can be an interesting strategy to be explored in search of a purpose to maintain students’ levels of motivation high enough to keep them focused on doing their best. Thus, students can be invited to do project work in order to find out the stories of well-known Portuguese people, for whom English has made a difference in their lives and careers. This approach aims to show students that there are Portuguese citizens who can be a good source of inspiration for them. In fact, their example has shown that, although they are very good at what they do, English has been an important ally, without which their lives and even the world might have been different. Here are some examples of areas and names that might be included on a list to be presented to the students: Sport (Cristiano Ronaldo, José Mourinho, Carlos Queiroz); Fashion (Sara Sampaio); Cinema (Joaquim de Almeida, Diogo Morgado, Daniela Ruah); Art (Vhils); Journalism (Márcia Rodrigues); Cookery (Henrique Sá Pessoa); Music (Mariza); Politics (António Guterres, Durão Barroso); Science (António Damásio); Business (António Horta Osório).
Project work allows students to do research work, for which the Internet is definitely an excellent source of information. Project work offers students the opportunity to work together, thereby stimulating communication and respect for those who are different, helping to define strategies to solve problems and to overcome conflicts, and contributing to a greater cohesion in the relationship among peers. Being able to work as part of a group requires skills that will turn out to be essential in the long run when students become professionals. Through project work, students will learn a lot from each other, and together it will be easier to go further.
Oral presentations are memorable moments of giving and taking. Sharing information in a formal way engages students in doing their best. In the case of L1 role models, presenting true facts about the life of well-known Portuguese citizens can stimulate one’s interest and curiosity towards a relevant topic used to help students set themselves personal goals. While listening to their mates, students are given the chance to perceive what it is like to be able to follow a presentation and to understand the message in a foreign language. For those who are giving their oral presentation, the perception of their mates’ attention and interest works as an important feedback that will feed their sense of achievement and therefore their self-confidence as speakers of a foreign language.
Debating ideas and opinions is a classroom strategy that involves a lot of interaction, discipline and respect. It can take place after oral presentations, so as to lead students to discuss important issues related to the work that has been developed. Debating ideas in depth brings more awareness and maturity, helping to consolidate points of view. In the case presented here, students can be asked to discuss questions like:
- How important has English been in the life of these famous Portuguese people?
Helping students to find a purpose to learn English aims to raise their awareness of the fact that English is more than a subject they study at a local school, i.e. it is a global language with such power that can contribute to important changes in people’s lives.
Global understanding is a concept that requires creativity to be dealt with by teachers in their classrooms. The way teachers approach it determines how students will be able to realise that the local and the global, the personal and the collective are the two sides of the same coin. Being able to grasp the global dimension of a language like English means having a good motivation to join a vast community of millions of people who communicate, discuss issues, and find solutions, united by the same language around the same planet.