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IATEFL scholarship 2015: Shortlisted entries 1

Read our shortlisted entries from Monika Bulik, Irena Ilic and Nina Klancnik for our  IATEFL 2015 Scholarship and take a look at their creative ideas on how to teach life skills in the classroom.

Monika Bulik, Poland

In this shortlisted entry, Monika from Poland suggests an idea to develop teamwork among teenage students, by going beyond her classroom walls to create an engaging ‘city experience’.

I believe communicate/cooperate is an extremely important life skill because nowadays I can observe that more and more students avoid teamwork at all cost, for the simple reason that they cannot share tasks or responsibility. According to my students working individually is time-saving. In my opinion if they don’t cooperate, there’s no need to communicate. Efficient communication and cooperation are fundamental for their future employment.

Recently, I have organised for my students an Urban Game in Warsaw, called City Experience. They were split into 3 teams of 6 members and had a number of tasks to complete in a limited time, moving around the city centre and they weren’t allowed to speak in Polish (their first language).

Irena Ilic, Serbia

Irena Ilic’s project to create a plant calendar was chosen for our shortlist for being a creative way to build her students’ confidence and self-reliance, while practising their written language skills.

One of the most important life skills to be taught in the classroom today is the skill of self-reliance. The greatest reward for me, as a teacher, is seeing my students become confident and respectful individuals, who are aware of their capabilities and talents, shortcomings as well, and who know that they can rely on their own selves to cope with both daily-life issues and great challenges of life.

One of the activities, which is a year-round project, includes making a plant calendar at the beginning of the school year, planting seeds and keeping a garden journal. Students are asked to find out what kinds of fruit, vegetables, and flowers are to be found in each of the 12 months and then make a calendar, either in the form of a poster, or a personal calendar in the notebook. In springtime, students plant seeds of herbs (included in their calendar) which do not need much time to germinate (parsley, origanum,purslane, etc.). Students keep a garden journal, where they write simple statements about the growth and blossoming of their plants, and draw pictures. In this way, both educational and linguistic goals are achieved.

Nina Klancnik, Slovenia

Taking inspiration from her personal love of travel, Nina from Slovenia creates scenarios in different countries for her students to practice their negotiating, problem-solving and communication skills.

I’m a big believer in using real life skills in the classroom and one of the best ways to do so is to apply my globe-trotting self to my teaching self. Travelling is the best life coach, be it from the point of view of language learning or living itself. What I do in my classes is bring realia from my travels and make sure they relate to current topics – menus for pretend restaurants, airplane tickets for mock air travel, subway maps and tickets for surviving underground the bigger cities, general maps for orientation, boxes of medicine for playing doctor etc. Then we devise a scenario in which students find themselves in a foreign country, either troubled by or in need of something. They use the realia to act out the situation at hand.

Usually they get very excited by these activities and want to play over and over again, however, I often get the feeling they don’t actually understand the importance of the skills they are employing at that very moment. Students, especially younger ones, have trouble making the connection between their classroom and the real world. We teachers tell them they will need a certain language item or skill later in life, but they just smirk and go on with their teenage lives. Even if this annoys me from time to time, I then think it’s no matter. The life skills I’m providing them with in such classes (communication, listening skills, building confidence, problem solving, negotiating – just to mention a few) stick, whether they like it or not, and I’m sure that there will come a day when they will find themselves at one of London’s airports or restaurants, successfully communicating their way through the process, maybe not realizing where this knowledge came from but certainly proud of themselves for being able to do so.

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