The writer and linguist Steve Pinkers asserted that “the language we use influences the way we think”. the way we think”. As English language teachers we know that, as social beings united by different cultures and languages, we use language to communicate and build a new system based on common characteristics, connecting, in turn, with other perspectives, with other realities.
Our concern for teaching as part of a D school team that teaches 50% of its curriculum in English led us to want to connect with linguistic and educational programmes that would encourage the implementation of practical and enduring language learning beyond the school, as a way of accessing the plural and diverse society of which we are a part. Clearly we are aware that there are no magic formulas for learning language or scientific areas, but we were looking for a methodology that would favour the motivation and interest of the pupils and that would involve and that would bring about a pedagogical transformation in our teaching practice. That is how SeLFiE came into our lives.
We embarked on this e-Twinning project because it was an innovative project that allowed us to interweave the contents integrated in the different areas through a playful resource, such as the story, turning it into a didactic resource. Ice boy, Pompei and Guardians of the Sea accompanied us during the last academic year, helping our students to acquire a foreign language through STEAM themes and active pedagogies that supported inclusive, cooperative and meaningful learning.
Our 5th and 6th grade groups were connecting the information in the stories with the concepts from a multidisciplinary perspective, which allowed them to discover, create, relate and assimilate their previous knowledge with the new acquisitions, as well as offering the possibility of sharing and exchanging experiences with other schools in the project. The aim was to unify English, natural sciences and plastic arts in order to understand them as one and to connect each story with our own experiences. Each reading was intrinsically linked to our context: the sea, the hallmark of the island’s identity, and the coincidence of experiencing the eruption of the Tajogaite volcano firsthand, allowed us to internalise each learning situation and make it our own.
Although the beginning was a great challenge for us, as it was the first time that we had used a story as a basis for teaching. Although it was a big challenge for us at the beginning, as it was the first time we had used a story as a basis for teaching the different learning situations, we quickly became part of the dynamic thanks to the guidance of the SeLFiE team. As teachers, we learned to see beyond a textbook without limitations in the teaching process, being able to adapt it to the pace and needs of our students. We created materials based on their interests and guided them in an educational process where they were the real protagonists.
For our students it also meant an evolution as they learned to see beyond English grammar, to give functionality to scientific knowledge, to communicate in a creative and digital way, and to acquire greater autonomy in their own learning, promoting, at the same time, a cooperative and inclusive learning. In addition, the novelty of reading, understanding and internalising a story in English was a new resource, as this linguistic skill was limited to small texts or active listening to stories. In this sense, the development of reading In this sense, the development of reading skills has been key to good learning in all areas and its practice has helped them to develop their capacity for observation, attention, concentration, analysis and critical spirit, as well as to generate reflection and dialogue.
Among the benefits in our teaching practice, we highlight the possibility of promoting a lively learning of English as an important tool to be developed within the educational sphere with the intention of taking it to the social and scientific sphere. Although the proposed activities were generated for a specific level, the flexibility of the different SeLFiE booklets made it possible to implement learning situations with a curricular anchorage loaded with motivation and well contextualised to the needs and realities of our students.
This new methodology has meant a pedagogical growth in our professional development with qualitative professional development with qualitative improvements that have allowed us to put into practice a more functional teaching, more sequenced and connected to our own idiosyncrasies. Discovering it has opened the doors to a more real and reflective teaching process, being able to integrate all learning in a way that is closer to the students.
Lorena Ayut Arrocha y Débora de las Casas Cabrera
CEIP Gabriel Duque Acosta