In all areas of the curriculum we need to consider the significance of what we are teaching our students and how relevant it is for them or for their futures. I think this has never been more important than in the teaching of ESL or modern foreign languages. We need to take into account the content of our classes in terms of vocabulary and subject areas because let’s face it, there isn’t enough time to cover all the bases like when we are teaching a child in their native language. What I like to do is reflect on the content of my classes while planning and think to myself, ‘when are my students actually going to use this vocabulary and how often?´. When we study literacy and language in our mother tongue we usually begin with high frequency words to ensure that we have a good base vocabulary to be able to tackle the majority of everyday issues. Also, it is important to consider they type of language that our students will be exposed to. It is important to explain that languages develop and change over time and that some forms, despite being correct, they are just not said as often as others. I like to use the gerund as a way of explaining this, showing that modern English generally leans towards its use over that of the infinitive. For example, it is far more common to hear “I continued studying” than “I continued to study”.

 

Our students have an incredible capacity for new vocabulary if they are focussed and see it as useful.

 

When we are planning classes or reviewing the content of units of study, it is all too easy to be lead or influenced by the resources that we have at hand, and we generally allow them to dictate what we will teach. For example, in the text it puts it so and so a way so, therefore, so must I. But try not to slip into this trap as it can make teaching boring not just for you but also for the student. Our students have an incredible capacity for new vocabulary if they are focussed and see it as useful. Make sure that students are progressing and learning phrases and expressions that they will actually use. Relevance is essential for this to happen and we must provide interesting and practical activities in which students can see this for themselves.

As well as relevance it is of the utmost importance that students enjoy what they are studying, as we all know it is very important to reuse and recycle vocabulary to make sure that it is properly reinforced and taken in to later be able to use it, but we need to do it in a way that is dynamic and entertaining. I personally love coming up with new activities that will create a sense of competition or challenge. What is important (a point that I touched on in post VOCABULARY) is context; students need this to properly understand something without the need for direct translation, by creating contexts in which students can picture themselves using the language being used in class we will definitely make sure that students see the relevance of what they are learning.

As the teacher we need to be diverse in our teaching methods and use role-play, competition, games, stories (etc) to be sure that our students have the opportunity to simulate real life situations in which to use language and then have the necessary skills to use them when needed outside the classroom.

As students, when embarking on what is the long journey towards fluency in a language should always start with what is relevant to them as this is what they are most likely to use on a daily basis. They should learn topics that they will talk about such as their free time activities, profession or area of study. This information is called high frequency vocabulary and can be found here on intercambioidiomasonline (HERE).

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF RELEVANCE IN LANGUAGE LEARNING

Recent Posts
Showing 7 comments
  • lisajwood
    Reply

    I totally agree about not letting the resources we use necessarily dictate what we teach. We need to use our own crtical thinking skills in order to pick and choose the most relevant material for our students and not feel pressured to cover all content in the textbook, if using one.

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] their own and investigate, experiment and use language. It is also a great way to get context (see 17. The importance of relevance). Through focussing on vocabulary we can easily recreate real life conexts with which to use […]

  • […] 17. The importance of relevance […]

  • […] With a language learning partner you are both learning a language together. You should begin when you have a similar level (exactly the same is not essential). Your partner and you should set specific targets to be reached and also, specific times in which you will practice the language. It is important to be strict with language usage in this set time, no slipping into your native language. There are many benefits to studying with a partner, such as: competition, motivation, confidence boosting, peer learning and fun. You can learn from each other and help motivate each other to progress. It is very important to avoid your mutual language. If I were you, I would ban it from the start to avoid confusion. You should both study aside from this exchange and use your time together specifically for speaking and listening, what you can do is set specific topics to research in order to know what you are going to speak about at each meeting. (look at 17. The importance of relevance) […]

  • […] In this part of the exam you have 4 or 5 short texts and 10 questions about them. You need to answer each question by saying to which text it refers (A-E). You need to START WITH THE QUESTIONS, and then look in the text for similar vocabulary or themes. You should SCAN READ, meaning, not focussing on overall comprehension but LOOK FOR KEY INFORMATION. SEE OUR POST ON STUDY SKILLS HERE […]

  • […] the acquisition of knowledge and its application to a context with which the student can relate (HERE). But the question is, just how do I do […]

  • […] With a language learning partner you are both learning a language together. You should begin when you have a similar level (exactly the same is not essential). Your partner and you should set specific targets to be reached and also, specific times in which you will practice the language. It is important to be strict with language usage in this set time, no slipping into your native language. There are many benefits to studying with a partner, such as: competition, motivation, confidence boosting, peer learning and fun. You can learn from each other and help motivate each other to progress. It is very important to avoid your mutual language. If I were you, I would ban it from the start to avoid confusion. You should both study aside from this exchange and use your time together specifically for speaking and listening, what you can do is set specific topics to research in order to know what you are going to speak about at each meeting. (look at THIS) […]

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0