I’ve developed what I call the ‘media-savvy’ approach to language learning and that’s how I like to teach languages but what exactly is it and how can it make it more fun, challenging and effective to learn a foreign language?
The fact is that we already use the media in language teaching and have done for many years, but I think we can make better use of them.
In addition to a course book, I like to use written articles from websites, as well as audio and video. We learn by working with good examples of the language using my 18 principles of language learning. The problem is that the level is often too difficult for learners. It may also not be suitable for learners due to the content or how it’s presented.
Be more journalistic
Looking for key points in a text whether presented in writing, as an audio file or in a video. Like a journalist you have to read or listen carefully and understand as fully as possible and take notes. Many students don’t know how to do this.
Write a summary, choosing from words and phrases in the original but using fewer words. Journalists often have to do this when producing, say a news summary.
Write high quality text, aiming for high editorial standards. Many students find spelling and punctuation difficult. It isn’t properly taught in schools. But if you write for a publication, spellings have to be right.
‘Marking’ is out ‘proofreading and editing is ‘in’.
We are still influenced old-fashioned school methods. Mistakes were considered ‘bad’. Corrections are seen as a lack of knowledge ‘silly’ mistakes to be ashamed of.
But for me, corrections are a form of proofreading and editing. When a student writes a text, and some things need correcting, it is just a normal part of the process, just like writing an article for a newspaper, magazine or publishing house. Mistakes are a powerful way to learn and improve.
Write like a journalist or a blogger.
Writing a piece of text is a fundamental part of language learning but many students simple throw the words together without thinking about who is going to read it. Instead I like to encourage students to imagine they are writing a blog post, or an article for a magazine, to be read by a certain audience.
Interview like a radio DJ
Even the most basic interview can be made more interesting if we imagine it is going to be written up for a magazine, or perhaps recorded for a radio programme. The task becomes more than just jotting down a few words but creating something that is high quality, presenting interesting information.
Read like a news presenter
Often when practicing reading aloud in a classroom, students often read a sentence or paragraph once, are corrected by the teacher. I like to make my students read the text several times, improving their pronunciation and delivery each time. Reading aloud like a news presenter is a challenge. When students are able to read without hesitation or mispronunciation, it’s a great achievement.
These are just a few aspects of my ‘media-savvy approach to language learning, which I use in my one-to-one and group classes.