After the results of Pearson’s 2017 ELT Teacher Awards came in, we decided to analyse the different entries with the help of a leading market research agency. Using advanced software to make sense of all the information, we were able to identify some of the key trends and challenges that are affecting teachers around the world right now. Let’s take a look at what we found!
1. Collaborative learning
Collaborative learning was one of the hottest topics for our teachers. Enabling collaborative working between classmates is viewed by many as essential to successful learning. The results showed many teachers use tools like Padlet, Google docs and Facebook groups to do this. Some other interesting collaborative learning tools we identified are Alternative Reality Games to enhance learners’ general performance, and Role Playing Games to help assess oral presentation and critical thinking.
2. Enhancing communicative skills
Communication skills turned out to be the main skill set that teachers around the world want to improve. Some different techniques they use include project-based learning, Table Talk, and PechaKucha. Project-based learning helps develop communicative skills in a collaborative working environment, Table Talk makes conversational English relevant to real-life conversations outside of the classroom, and PechaKucha can encourage students who have problems speaking in class.
3. Promoting a global community & cultural exchange
Teachers around the world agree that, for students to progress, constant immersion in English outside of the classroom is key. Some of the tools and initiatives used in this regard include using Skype video conferencing with global classmates, English language camps and exchange programmes, national student competitions, and the recruitment of international volunteers. Taking English outside of the classroom is also seen as important because it promotes a sense of global community and cultural understanding.
4. Video content is king
Today’s teachers tend to see video as the most accessible channel for students, and they routinely use ready-made content in class as the basis for listening or speaking exercises. Where there is a specific learning need, however, they increasingly like to create tailor-made video content to share with students on open source platforms. Students are also encouraged to create their own videos, often as part of a final, project-based learning assessment.
5. Non-digital games & game-based learning, but not gamification
The results showed that teachers tend to have a traditional approach to games, using non-digital tools such as board games, puzzles and puppets. However, a number are also using digital game-based learning apps in class, with the Kahoot! programme being particularly popular. Only a couple of teachers said they used gamification techniques, such as leveling up with points and other rewards.
6. Using mobile phones in class
The majority of our entrants embraced using smartphones in the classroom, although some teachers in schools with poor technology said that their students’ phones were more advanced than the technology they had access to. In this case, they often used WhatsApp to communicate and share information in ways that weren’t possible before. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at some practical ways of using WhatsApp in your classroom!