Learning and Language Acquisition Expert Sara Davila has experience as a teacher, researcher, teacher trainer and materials writer. She is one of the foremost experts in the Global Scale of English, and has been sharing her knowledge in a series of articles, a top ten countdown of her favourite uses of the GSE Teacher Toolkit.
Today’s post, number 3 in the countdown, provides teachers with practical advice on using the toolkit to plan for progress and help students overcome roadblocks in their language learning journey.
Understanding the Learning Journey
Planning for student progress that is observable and demonstrable is a key teaching priority. Progress can be a big challenge in language education, especially as students reach new levels of achievement where the overall time to learn, or number of learning hours, begins to significantly expand. Staying on track and making consistent progress are key to overcoming the demotivating and frustrating impact of the dreaded language plateau.
Using the GSE Teacher Toolkit makes it easy to plan courses that help students break through roadblocks on their journey to success. Even better, you can plan for personalized progress for individual students when you combine general planning with learner goal setting in the classroom.
Read more about learner goal setting in number 5 in the countdown; using the toolkit to help learners set SMART goals.
The key to planning for successful progress is having a clear understanding of your students’ current language level and what you want them to achieve by the end of their time with you. The simplest way to do this? You need to frame their learning journey in terms of entrance and exit.
Entrance and Exit Planning
We can use entrance and exit information to help guide overall planning for progress in the classroom.
Entrance information is how you describe students when they enter your class. You want to answer questions like:
- What is my student’s current level of language ability?
- Where are they on the CEFR?
- What can they do with English?
In general, this information may come from an entrance test or a placement exam, making it fairly easy to identify the current level of a student’s language skills. When we place a student into an A2 level class, we do so because we believe that the current level of ability that the student demonstrates. We can use this to pin a start range on the GSE to help us plan for progress.
Next, we need to answer questions like:
- What level should they have achieved when they leave my class?
- What is their end goal?
- What is the exit point?
We often know this information, especially in a levelled course, as the target exit point should be the target entry point of the next course. If you are teaching a course and the next level of your programme is an A2+, then your exit goal is the beginning of A2+ or GSE 36. The entrance and exit point of every programme will be different depending on your school, your learners’ first language, and how you are working with language development.
Achieving Progress With Entrance and Exit Planning
By using the entrance and exit information for your course, you can now plan more carefully for progress. The GSE Teacher Toolkit makes this very easy to do. Use the filter features of the toolkit to help you plan your progress. Be sure to choose your basic information, before applying more specific search word filters.
- Who is your target learner?
- What skills are you targeting?
- What is your target learning range (use your entrance point as the start, exit point as the finish)?
Once you have added your filters, choose results and you have everything you need to achieve great progress.
Planning for Progress
When you see the results from your search, you can review the skills that your students can do at their ability level (those skills closest to their entrance level) as well as the skills that will be challenging for your students (those skills that are closest to the exit level). The skills in your search will describe everything possible between these two points.
You’ll need to review that list with your learners in mind to plan their progress effectively. The learning journey, and the skills necessary for progress, will always be different for different groups and learning environments.
By using entrance and exit information it is easy to quickly define and understand the learning journey, the skills we need to focus on, and how to best add challenges that will engage each of our learners personally. This kind of planning also makes it easy to see demonstrable and measurable progress in the classroom.
The next article in the countdown is about measuring student progress, so make sure to keep an eye on the blog if you’d like to learn more! And you can find the rest of the articles in the top ten countdown here.
There are so many ways in which the GSE Teacher Toolkit can be used to support students in achieving their goals, teachers in achieving their outcomes, and the larger world of education in producing high quality educational courses that deliver quantifiable learning results.
Do you have any questions about using the GSE Teacher Toolkit? Let us know in the comments!