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METHODOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES

THE MULTILEVEL EXPERIENCE

Multilevel classes demand from students that they learn in a collaborative way. The same text or
the same listening passage can be used to provide students with different experiences. Let’s take a
text in which people introduce themselves to an audience, for example. Basic students can
identify their names, nationalities, professions, and common everyday activities. Intermediate
students could focus on their professional background and their future projects. Advanced
students could be asked to analyze implied meaning and feelings or regrets mentioned in the text.

And what exactly is the reasoning behind the decision to do such a thing, you ask? Basic level
students cannot order from a “basic level” menu or watch a “basic level” movie when they are in
an English-speaking country. Language is used in interactions despite their levels of language
command or those of other language users. That is why need to be “trained” to adapt and solve
communication problems.

By that rationale, we can think of the following gains for students in a multilevel experience.

 adaptation and problem-solving skills


 observation of successful communicative practices
 paraphrasing and negotiating meaning
 tolerance and collaboration as key elements for international communication
 higher-level students can review previously seen topics
 lower-level students can experience pre-teaching

BLENDED LEARNING

We use Blended Learning in our method by following the Flipped Classroom Model. We provide
students with the content they will use in the classroom in videos they can access outside the
classroom at their discretion and pace. By doing so, we offer students the opportunity to adjust
those resources to their own needs. They get to make decisions: Where will I watch those videos?
When will I watch those videos? How many times do I want to watch those videos?
Besides that, Blended Learning enables us teachers to diversify our classroom interaction. We do
not always need to have teachers—and only teachers—presenting language topics. Teachers can
deal with students’ questions, monitor interaction, provide feedback, etc., sure, but they are also
there to care for the human element. By doing that, we make the following concept real: Do not
simply teach English to people; rather, teach people how to use English according to the message
they want to convey.

In the Blended Learning model, teachers move from the role of “the single source of knowledge in
the classroom” to that of “artisan of classroom interaction,” a role that is much more significant
and pertinent to students.

HIGH ORDER MENTAL SKILLS

Our activities employ mental skills that are the essential to the organization of knowledge and
communication. It is always preferable to have students, and not only the teacher, do the
following:

 notice and distinguish


 organize
 categorize
 compare
 contrast
 infer
 summarize
 interpret
 solve problems

Naturally, we also need to provide room for other mental activities that are part of our students’
learning process, such as the following:

 repeating
 memorizing
 correcting
 copying
 substituting
 completing

But the basis of our method is leading students to the experience of these High Order Mental Skills
that provide our minds with a more global perspective of the language landscape.
ACTIVE LEARNING

An active learner takes responsibility for his language acquisition by acknowledging that she is the
only factor that may have a game-changing role in the learning process. By encouraging students
to take up that role, teachers take a significant step back in terms of class control and
management and “invite” students to explain, to interact, to make choices, and to reflect upon
their choices and their consequences.
That may sound simple-minded and even obvious, but, for many decades, learners have been
subjected to a certain tradition of acquiring knowledge as a passive experience, of teachers seen
as the source of all knowledge, of boards seen as a place where all subjects must be contained, of
books as unquestionable vessels of explanations, and of students that come to class to listen to
teachers and not much else. To dismantle that system of forming passive learners, we at Wise Up
have opted to the following:

 to provide classroom walls that all students can write on


 to provide students with books in which they write their own grammar rules as well as
their notes and observations
 to train teachers to step back and let students take control
 to employ correction techniques that lead students to think about their mistakes
 to have classroom activities in which students have to stand up and speak
 to provide language coaching sessions in our lessons
 to provide extra activities students can choose from
 to provide online engagement reports for students to keep track of their commitment
and progress

In order for us to form active learners, we need to put together a system that makes students
believe that they can take charge of their learning process. It takes time, sure, but it’s well worth
the effort.

DISCOURSE ANALYSIS AND LANGUAGE LEARNING

The concept of language in the Wise Up material is that language a dynamic system which is
directly connected to its environment. For this reason, we believe one can only study language
within contexts and their speakers. It is through the Discourse Analysis perspective that we
present and analyze language with our students. That way, they see a purpose in the language
they are studying.
Picture this: two friends work at the same company. One day, they have an online video
conference about buying and selling supplies. After the online conference, one of them sends an
email to his workmate detailing the results of their meeting. After work, they meet at a restaurant
to celebrate the success of that meeting. What kind of language do you expect them to produce in
the first, second, and third situations? Will it be in the same register all three times? We must
remember the fact that they are the same participants in three different contexts, with different
social roles, interacting through different modes and media. The type of language produced in
each of these situations will certainly vary, because they have different purposes and are in
contexts. The variation of these texts is what Discourse Analysis studies.

According to Guy Cook, “Discourse Analysis examines how stretches of language, considered in
their full textual, social, and psychological context, become meaningful and unified for their users.
(…) Traditionally, language teaching has concentrated on pronunciation, grammar, and
vocabulary, and while these remain the basis of foreign language knowledge, Discourse Analysis
can draw attention to the skills needed to put this knowledge into action and to achieve successful
communication.”
Cook, Guy. Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Discourse Analysis has to do with how language is interpreted and used, giving special emphasis to
the social nature of the interaction. Language is seen as a dynamic, social, and interactive
phenomenon. For that reason, we believe that analyzing the context and the language choices a
speaker makes plays an essential role in our students’ learning process. And that is the very
beginning of our journey through the Wise Up method: context.