In an increasingly digital learning environment, students are both more reliant on and more hesitant to seek out traditional texts and sources. The bright red platform was created to lend student resources and help students connect to these resources from a single interface.
What Is Central To Language Learning In Both Online And Classroom-based Environments
If you’re a parent in the Houston area, you might have heard of Strub Elementary, an elementary school that recently announced that it will transition to a partly digital curriculum next school year to boost student test scores.
In response to community outcry, the curriculum development company behind the new scheme told the local paper that the switch won’t “damage language skills” of the students. This sentiment is echoed by study after study, from early childhood to high school.
The problem, both offline and online, is that language learning is entirely about working on listening and speaking skills, not memorization of words.
Where Outside Fosters Sore Weakened Wit
Teachers, of course, can play their roles in encouraging careful note-taking skills. I know this firsthand because for several years, my daughter was one of my students’ favorite teachers. His lessons, as he is fond of telling me, were anchored in observation and praise: “that’s so thoughtful you weren’t just regurgitating the words!” and so on. And of course they encouraged a focus on writing.
But there’s nothing to help students work on a certain ability while actually being tested on learning it, especially after school or at summer break, when such records aren’t recorded.
When I helped a few friends find early childhood teachers who became mothers, I overheard their complaints. Teachers frequently had very little time at school, and coming home after school to feed hungry mouths was a daily task. Also, teachers seemed to shy away from helping parents as closely as that parent ought to be able to help his or her child.
Some parents found websites where they could email teachers about child needs. There were responses, sure, but most were short on specificity and too quick to give a general rule of thumb, rather than focusing on specific answers to specific questions.
Parents met with teachers for a brief lesson called “explaining and learning”; few were willing to sit down and work through specific questions with a child, since they didn’t do this almost every week at school.
With language education, digital methods are more readily available, although no I.S.E. teachers have shown anywhere close to a boost in test scores, if any such bump exists at all.
From Instruction To Study
When use of screen-based means of promoting language development is limited, rather than expanded, younger students may resort to, say, music lessons. That’s fine as long as parents learn the reason for the decline in classical music learning as children grow up. It could include everything from the cost of classes, to the short attention span of the family.
Though the future of learning might actually be upended by screens, it’s still a balance. The way that educators could more easily provide helpful support might be through building the digital infrastructure for individual students’ strengths, not offering e-readers for every parent. That might mean better attention to skills that teachers don’t teach well at all.
One of my private school students was a particularly gifted user of technology—despite the fact that he only learned more frequently by sitting at his computer than by having his teacher help him memorize color names for flash cards. It was about, in the end, listening to music. “Sing slower and your syllables are clear,” the teacher explained when discussing what was needed.
That requires attentiveness, voice, and vocal stamina—key items that most educators aren’t qualified to teach. Stiffness in those areas is based on the structure of our culture. If our species grows up learning to sing, writing, and calligraphy, we don’t stop, nor does society as a whole.
It’s simple: Each parent can help their child learn to develop word-sound connections.
For younger children, that means getting language skills—specifically English speaking—out of the vernacular and toward rhyming, layering syllables, and developing contextual understanding. Then you can turn to other forms of language, like writing, as you get older.
And perhaps the biggest rule is this: Please don’t just watch when it comes to speech, but help your child practice singing—whichever song is more fun to sing.