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What are the 21st century skills that English teachers should incorporate?

What are the keys to being


English teachers in this century? What is the value contribution of Our World, Welcome to our World
and Explore Our World Series that National Geographic Learning offers to teachers and children at
the primary level of education? Interview with Dr. Joan Kang Shin in occasion of her recent
conference 'Are you a 21st century teacher?' realized in the city of Lima (Peru) on August 27th 2014.

Dr. Joan Kang Shin is the Director of TESOL Professional Training Programs in the Education
Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and specializes in the training and
professional development of teachers of English to young learners. In her role she is responsible for
administering professional development and teacher training programs that reach teachers in over 100
countries around the world.

She is Senior Editor of National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning innovative Series Our World,
Welcome to our World y Explore Our World, directed to children of primary school that are currently
being launched in Latin America.

Dr. Kang Shin is also the Project Director of the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) funded STEP T
for ELLs Program (Secondary Teacher Education and Professional Training for English Language
Learners) in the Education Department at UMBC. This five-year program provides professional
development to secondary math, science, and social studies teachers in Maryland to give effective
content instruction to English language learners (ELLs).

In addition, she keeps herself busy as an English Language Specialist for the Office of English
Language Programs (OELP) in the U.S. Department of State and has conducted EFL teacher training
programs with hundreds of teachers in Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Korea, Laos,
Libya, Morocco, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam, and U.A.E. She has reached
audiences of up to 300 through online webinars and trained groups of teachers through digital video
conferencing in Cuba, India, Sudan, and Taiwan.

What are your expectations of your presentation Are you a 21st century teacher? What are
the objectives of the presentation?
Dr. Joan Kang Shin: The presentation I am doing called "Are you a 21st century teacher?" focuses
on how English language teachers can transform their classrooms to build students' 21st century
skills. I think that most teachers feel the pressure to keep up with new technologies and the increased
connectivity of people around the world through social networks. I hope that this presentation helps
English language teachers realize that their job is so important because of the status of English in the
21st century as a global language. It is the language of science, technology, business, tourism,
diplomacy, and global problem solving.

What are the 21st century skills that English teachers should incorporate? What are the
keys to being English teachers in this century?
Dr. Joan Kang Shin: Using English in the 21st century means building skills for communication and
collaboration as well as helping our students gain a global perspective on the world. One important
aspect of establishing a global perspective is to teach about international cultures in the classroom. In

the past, English teachers would introduce only English-speaking cultures, like the U.S. or the U.K. in
the class. Now our young learners will grow up using English to communicate with people from any
and all countries around the world. English is no longer just associated with the U.S. or the U.K.
because there are so many more speakers of English as a second or foreign language now. We have to
prepare our young learners by introducing all different cultures from around the world in our English
teaching materials.
We should work on students' critical thinking and problem solving skills and encourage them to be lifelong learners. As Alvin Toffler said, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read
and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." We have to focus our learners on
handling the enormous amount of information they now have access to through technology, the
internet, and social networks. This extremely important with English because the majority of the
information accessible online is in English.

What is the value contribution of Our World, Welcome to our World and Explore Our
World Series that National Geographic Learning offers to teachers and children at the
primary level of education?
Dr. Joan Kang Shin: As a series editor and author of Our World, Explore Our World, and Welcome to
Our World published by National Geographic Learning, I strongly believe that our goal to create an
English language series that also prepares children for life in the 21st century has been realized. Our
motto is "Bringing the world to the classroom ~ and the classroom to life!" These 3 series for
preprimary and primary school age students does this. With stunning National Geographic photos and
videos, our English language materials inspire children to learn by bringing images of the world into
the classroom. Children are curious about the world, so these materials tap into their curiosity and
motivate them to learn and communicate in English. But National Geographic is not just about
amazing photos. It is about real world content. The richness of the content in the areas of science,
social studies, culture, history, and the arts builds students knowledge about the world as they learn
to communicate in English. This provides opportunities for authentic communication about real
people, places, and points of view from around the world.
Of course, the activities have developed appropriately for kids at every age. They include songs,
stories, videos, hands-on games, computer and interactive white board games, and projects that will
engage children and give them lots of chances to listen, speak, read, and write in English. They
encourage both visual and digital literacy that will help our young learners communicate in the 21st
century.
Ultimately I hope that Our World, Explore Our World, and Welcome to Our World will help bring up our
young learners as good, productive global citizens. The 21st century is an exciting century but also a
challenging one. We want our kids to explore other people, places, and cultures in order to encourage
them to care about the endangered world we live in. If they are inspired to care more, maybe they
will grow up and participate in solving the issues plaguing our planet. As English is a global language,
they will need it to be good caretakers of our world.

September 2014