As the world changes, learners change. Best practices for facilitating instruction change to meet learners’ needs with the implementation of ever-growing technology and virtual tools. Learners these days are getting prepared for jobs that do not even exist yet; thus knowing a language is a powerful tool in a toolbox for future endeavors. World Language Instruction has changed over the past twenty years to meet the needs of learners and their needs with language acquisition. It has become evident, that has to in order for successful bilingualism to occur. Here is a list of innovative practices that are currently ongoing with World Language instruction that you should look for.
- Comprehensible Input
“Comprehensible input is language input that can be understood by listeners despite them not understanding all the words and structures in it. It is described as one level above that of the learners if it can only just be understood.” (Teaching English) Facilitators should not be explicitly teaching vocabulary or grammar to learners, it should be infused in meaningful and appropriate communication so learners internalize vocabulary and grammar concepts. They are exposed to natural occurring communication appropriately paced so they can reproduce outputs equally communicatively.
- Authentic Learning Experiences
Throw out those old textbooks! Learners are looking for real reasons and scenarios in which learning a new language will help them and allow them to be successful. Learners want it to be REAL and they want to picture themselves using the language. Authentic learning experiences consist of shopping on websites from real Spanish stores versus looking at an outdated textbook with clothing pictures. Learners want to practice their ordering of food in a REAL restaurant, they want to listen to read REAL news. #Nofakenewshere Let’s give them REAL learning experiences (check out these suggestions here).
- Less Focus on Grammar
The days of sitting down and conjugating 50 verbs for mastery is out the door. The goal of learning a language these days is to communicate and talk, not be able to sit down and conjugate verbs correctly. The focus is understanding language and being able to communicate effectively. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be understood.
- Culture Driven
In January 2018, ACTFL published an article found here about the importance of leading with culture. The discussion is about how having cultural competence can lead to successful communication. Understanding where a person comes from, how they live, and what/who they interact with is important to effectively communicate because we can understand their perspective. For example, take one of the can-do statements designed by ACTFL around this topic, “I can converse with peers from the target culture in familiar situations at school, work, or play, and show interest in basic cultural similarities and differences.” Culture can clearly drive communication.
- The Role of Technology
Technology plays a large role in daily lives, but nonetheless, it also has a large impact on World Language Instruction. Technology has allowed learners opportunities to access authentic resources from all around the world (newspapers, magazines, music, videos, recordings of native speakers, etc.), it has allowed learners to meet native speakers through chat or Skype, and it has allowed learners to access learning materials anytime, anywhere. There are hundreds of apps that can help learners develop their vocabulary and find resources to help them learn a new language. The reality though, as ACTFL states, “Interaction with a language educator is critical to building spontaneous interpersonal skills needed for real-world communication. Intercultural competence is best acquired through human interactions and meaningful experiences facilitated through a language educator.” Technology has provided so many opportunities to gather resources and communicate, but learners should have access to an educator and real-world communication with an educator to support them in their language learning.