If you have taken language classes, surely you used a set textbook or two. Each unit was about a grammar rule, say passive voice. There was a reading passage, a listening comprehension activity, and practice exercises, both written and oral. Then, on to the next unit and grammatical item. The problem was that the material did not necessarily prepare you to interact with real people in the real world. That is why at English Services, we use only real material developed in-house.
One of the methods we use successfully is the project-based learning (PBL) approach. PBL incorporates meaningful, real-life situations into classroom projects. This method is highly effective because it includes speaking, reading, writing, and listening as well as critical thinking skills.
The premise of each project can be a question or finding the solution to a real-life problem. The projects focus on issues that are relevant, meaningful, and useful to the students. For example, a conflict resolution and negotiation project starts with a lead-in question. Then, the instructor sets tasks that delve deep into that issue, like watching videos, discussing a passage, or practicing specific vocabulary. At the end of the project, the students will have learned new language and soft skills.
As each project deals with specific topics, it needs materials specific to that topic. Because textbooks do not necessarily provide them, we have a team of dedicated content specialists that creates the material that best fits each project or workshop.
Disadvantages of Using Set Textbooks
A textbook is a classroom tool and a resource for students. However, it may not be the best tool for certain methods like project-based learning. Here’s why:
- Textbooks can be expensive.
- They tend to be the only source of information.
- The material is old or outdated.
- Textbooks are not tailored to the specific needs or interests of students.
- They do not prepare the students for real-life interactions. The language can be staid or too formal and may not include colloquialisms.
Why We Use Real Material
Our team of dedicated content specialists creates unique material for each topic and each proficiency level. Besides, the real material is designed to develop language, communication, and other skills, like making presentations or dealing with change at work. The basis for the lessons is authentic material like interviews, news items, podcasts, or videos.
These are the main advantages of using real material in class, also known as realia:
- It improves communication skills: the use of TED talks, videos, clips from films, and podcasts helps students to develop their listening comprehension, expand their vocabulary, learn grammar, and improve oral production. Besides, real material allows students to experience the language in context and apply it correctly.
- It provides a deeper understanding of a culture: real material is meant to be relevant for the speakers of the language, which gives students a wider and more authentic vision of the culture where that language is spoken. Also, students learn about the values, beliefs, and points of view of native speakers.
- It fosters motivation and engagement: Using real material can be engaging and attractive, which, in turn, promotes student engagement and motivation when the material is relevant.
- It prepares students to deal with real-life situations: using realia helps students develop the skills and confidence necessary to communicate successfully in the real world.
We believe that our lessons should be effective, engaging, and fun. That is why we incorporate elements of gamification and use effective teaching methods like project-based learning with our own real material. Get in touch to find out about our language workshops and courses and boost your team’s communication and language skills.