When Service-learning Goes Live Online: A Study Of Language Teacher Preparation

In the competition to build young English teachers, we need to look at how we train people for the assignment and beyond.

There is something about taking an external exams and having a huge change in life experienced around them that is unique to a service-learning project. Service-learning projects usually consist of a group of young adults being taken on a trip through the atmosphere, jungle, ocean, or land. This type of project engages a wide variety of staff and education partners. The offsite service-learning experience teaches the students skills such as integrity, integrity-of-mind, interpersonal abilities, and self-esteem. Often, an overseas service-learning project is something that some high school students are not ready for. However, there are others that take this initiative on and many of them go on to flourish. One such example is a project based in the Philippines to help low-income students in that area with their English ability.

Philippine Service-Learning Initiative

We are currently studying and learning about the Philippine Service-Learning Initiative. Through this program, four high school students from Malapascua, Quezon, Catalona, and Bilili Quezon are being guided by volunteer English tutors as they build their English language skills. The team gets together every Tuesday and Thursday and work together, each taking on one part of the English language instruction. In addition to the weekly courses, they were also given the opportunity to have an immersive experience in a language classroom with their English teachers. The trip, which was only one week long, was truly remarkable.

Thanks to all of the student volunteers, as well as the multiple other English instructors, a new vocabulary base and study sheet was developed. At the time that I was there, we made certain to rotate all of the staff in the school. They would learn more about how it all worked and also get their own language proficiency tested. The teams was also able to have a quick review session on the items of academic achievement and desired future goals. By the end of the night, the six of them came away knowing that they were to introduce the new vocabulary and study worksheet to the rest of the school. They also had the opportunity to see their teacher in action at the exchange day, meeting with various students in the school and learning in person. In addition, one of the seniors also completed his senior project with the goals of traveling to the Philippines and helping English learners. Seeing such a big difference was beyond anything, and the group was awarded many awards for their significant effort and accomplishment.

Future Plans

After the completion of this service-learning experience, the students are moving into their junior year. Now with the knowledge of their skills and research from their experience, they will be able to use the high school knowledge of English in their career at their new school, Mesa College. Now, just as with many other course loads, they will be taking more challenging courses than they were in the Philippines with a different range of skills. In addition, now that they have a higher level of knowledge in their native language, they can share the knowledge they have acquired and I expect them to push to see how far they can go academically and with the support they have received.

Here is a list of the student’s responses to each question.

Sustained Inquiry Questions (STI): Questions on vocabulary testing in the class. Following are their answer and the instructor’s response.

M-g – “I do not really understand the questions.” – Example: in question 1 about the ACBN words in the vocabulary sheet, can I read them. Also, in this instance, at any time during the first semester of school when we are not on rotation, is it the first day of a new class in new classroom like this one?

STI: Questions on the Language in the course, quiz sheet. Following are their answer and the instructor’s response.

STI: Questions about how to teach the foreign language and getting students ready for a foreign language class.

Sustained Inquiry questions allow us to follow up with specific questions on key issues.

The assessment question is written as follows. The student(s) are asked to think about their language competency over the next two weeks. The full written questions are the following:

Please offer four items on different letters of the alphabet. Be sure to use as many English words as possible (i.e. repeat syllables).

I prefer (to) try to read words as they are delivered.

Be aware that most letters of the alphabet are repeated syllables, but if you do have to read a whole word, keep all the syllables.

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