Integration in learning

The other day, a very good friend of mine was complaining to me that her little boy was having problems with his English at school. That they try, they try, they learn the words, but that they are not good at it. That the little one is unhappy because he got a B on the vocabulary test again. He didn’t get them all right. That how to help him? What to do with it?

Honestly? Well, not to him. The teacher needs to be helped.

I didn’t think that English or any other foreign language is still taught in this way in Slovakia. Crushing out the verbiage. I apologize in advance to all the teachers who do not teach the language in this way… It really got to me. I myself remember how I struggled to use my school English in practice after coming to England. What I was taught in school did and did not integrate into spoken language. Basic communication was a problem and no one understood anything. And not only to me.

On one line

All of us who came from schools had at least some basic English or even more, but when we arrived in the UK we were all on the same line.

We were starting over.

We knew nothing. We couldn’t communicate and our ‘speaking English’ was just shit! 🙂 I still remember how the enthusiasm and pride of knowing a language in a foreign country went straight through me in my first job. When my English colleagues asked me the question “What do you mean!?” after every attempt I made to communicate something with them, my self-esteem dropped so low that I have not found it yet.

Totally fopa!

I’m not saying that I overdid it with the English teaching. After all, I went to a language school, I graduated with an A and I could sing a few English chart hits. It’s been a few years of learning since Russian was replaced by English or German in our schools. Long enough for me to master basic communication in a mecca while flipping burgers on the grill.

NO NO, she didn’t!

Writing vocabulary

Yes, we also wrote out the words. I was also traumatized by the methods of learning in school. In addition to the teacher’s monologue on the discovery of America, the debates in the English classes were also conducted by asking questions of the teacher herself, such as: ” Why do you think is Colombia called Colombia?….that long, long silence…from the time the question was asked until almost the end of the lesson. It didn’t help even when she called on me, one of her best students. I didn’t want to get involved in the intense debate either. I don’t know if we were taken aback by the answer because it was so primitively simple or because she made us wait so long for it and no classroom debate took place. “Becaaause of Columbus! “was the answer. (Like when he discovered it, it was named after him :)).

No, we were not encouraged to integrate classroom learning through debates, pair discussions or small group discussions. We had no place to express our opinions or to listen respectfully to the opinion of others. All teaching was separate, segregated from the whole, and in this form sometimes made no sense. But teach and explain to a young child that the word ‘put on’, without any further context, means ‘to put on’.

We couldn’t integrate the things we learned into learning, much less life. So far, I feel like I’ve been taught nothing except reading and arithmetic in elementary, middle, and high school. I don’t use any of that in my life at all.

Even that Columbus, that supposedly he didn’t discover America after all…

We are not good enough

And so I wondered how I could help a boy who was experiencing at such a young age the feeling that he wasn’t good enough. It is a programme that we all carry in our lives, probably all of us who grew up and went to school in Slovakia. Where the grade, one number out of five, speaks to our overall ability and level of knowledge. Where a grade means more than the effort or desire to learn. That mark becomes our label and is hard to peel off.

And that’s only because of the words we can’t remember…

Where there is a will, there is a way

And it’s as simple as that. Just a little bit of wanting and change the run of the mill. Look at the children’s learning outcomes (in this case, grades) and from the learning outcomes back to yourself as feedback, dear teacher. Why does the child have a bad grade again? Where am I making a mistake? (Even a teacher can be wrong.) Where is my teaching unsatisfactory and misses my goal, to teach the child a language or something else? How can I change my learning system so that my children’s results are better and meet the desired learning outcomes?

There are games, songs, books, pictures, toys, cards or simple dialogue that children can have among themselves. There are lots of different interactive ways to help children with learning and integrating the new into the whole. Children are close to these forms of learning and naturally apply them in their lives.

I suggested to my friend that the little one play an online game with my kids, Minecraft or something where they can ‘grind’ and ‘talk’ together. But she hasn’t called yet, because the little one doesn’t play such games. You can probably see what the point was. Children communicate with each other immediately and learn quickly. Especially in joint ineraction. For years I taught children in England whose second language was English. I saw how difficult it was for them in the beginning to function in an environment where nobody understood them. In an environment where they understood nothing and no one.

You wouldn’t believe how quickly all the children were able to learn a new language, just by being integrated into an environment where they were immediately learning and absorbing everything new. Can you imagine if I dictated to them the words they should learn at home?

What you learn when you’re young…

Despite living in England for years, I know my English is not great. I consciously blame the school system in Slovakia, which provided me with this level of education as a child. I came to England late, when all the ‘damage was done’ and the lessons learned were impossible to unlearn. That stupid me was raking it in at college!…if I’d given up on it then and gone out into the world while my brain was still young and developing, goodness knows where I’d be now…haha!

"Som vášnivá klavíristka a nadšená propagátorka výuky hry na klavír, založenej na jedinečnom prístupe k vašim individuálnym potrebám. Ukážem vám, ako sa tešiť z hrania vašich vytúžených skladieb hneď, a to bez poznania nôt a zdĺhavých rokov hrania!" Viac o mne nájdete tu >>

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