Teach English in Handian Zhen - Binzhou Shi

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In order to finish the TEFL course, I would like to write on a topic that worries many EFL high school teachers in Spain: the lack of motivation, improvement and participation of their students in the classroom. This is a topic that was widely discussed during my MA in Foreign Language Teaching. For this reason I would like to take this opportunity to do some further research on this, since I believe it's a topic of ultimate importance to all EFL teachers working in Spain. I will discuss how to solve this issue through the use of IT created for the purpose of facilitating school exchanges. Spain's Center of Sociological Research (CIS) published statistics pn Spaniards' English language skills, showing that only 53% of citizens between 18 and 25 years old felt confident in their English abilities. These alarming results show the low effectiveness of teaching English in Spain's current education system. Upon completion of Spain's compulsory secondary education studies (ESO), students will have received a total of up to 800 hours of English classes. Considering this fact, it is paradoxical that students do not have a real communication level by the end of their studies. The results are even more alarming if we compare the level of English language of Spanish students to their European neighbors: According to the data provided by Education First (2015), Spain is ranked number 19 of 27 European countries in English level. Therefore, it is of great importance to think about what factors are necessary to improve teaching and learning English in Spain. Several educators point out that the use of a teaching style is still too dependent on theoretical contents and old methodologies. This is the main cause of failure in the English classroom. This inevitably makes students have low motivation, participation and confidence. Moreover, there are a lack of real communicative situations and deficient use of the modern available resources, specifically IT resources. School exchanges seem to be a good focus to fight the demotivation and lack of involvement and improvement of students. Students participating in exchange programs not only enjoy real and immediate communication, but have also manifested a more open and participative attitude towards learning English. However, the results of the INE (2015) on young people's mobility in the first and second cycle of mandatory education, show that only 1.7% of students benefit from this exchanges. Therefore, school exchanges only benefit a low percentage of students, and suppose only a temporary solution to pervasive problems. For all these reasons, I believe it is of great importance to create new methodologies that offer all students the possibility of enjoying real communicative situations in which they see first hand the results of their language progress, while enjoying the advantatges of modern technology. A good proposal would be to conduct school exchanges without moving from the classroom: using IT technologies and different modern communicative tools, like Zoom or Skype is a great solution. This would require international collaborations that could motivate and benefit both, students and teachers. Two different schools in two different countries could arrange Zoom/Skype sessions through the year to allow their students have speaking activities and see their progress and the benefits of learning English. These exchanges could also be done between two subjects: English and Spanish. For instance, in the English class Spanish speakers would improve their English with native students. While in the Spanish class, Spaniards could help English speakers improve their Spanish. Together with these webcam sessions, teachers could create a series of projects to work on during the semester or school year, all of them involving the interaction between students of both schools. Some ideas for projects could be a shared Youtube account, Snapchat interactions showing what they have learned in class, or accounts on RPG educational games like Classcraft. This type of exchange would allow our digital native high school students to use tools that they master, and therefore, make them feel more comfortable in class. In conclusion, we as teachers have to admit that the way students learn and interact in a classroom has changed. If we want to keep providing students with a good English education, we have to adapt the way we teach using today´s resources and we must motivate the students. In doing this we can actually help them improve their language abilities.