Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina have taught young learners in Asia for over 25 years. They are co-authors of Magic Time, Everybody Up, and Oxford Discover, primary ELT courses published by Oxford University Press. Their inquiry-based teaching approach supports a differentiated classroom environment that builds the 21st Century skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.
If you teach English to young learners, take a moment to consider the role you play in shaping their futures. To begin with, you are providing the building blocks of a skill that they can use meaningfully and productively throughout their lives. You are offering the opportunity for global communication, for relationships and careers that will shape who they are and what they do. Most importantly, you can help them change the world for the better.
In essence, the English language classroom exists to prepare students to communicate across cultures, across borders, across perspectives. As the world evolves and becomes even more interconnected, it is our students to whom we entrust the responsibility of building a better global society.
So how will your young learners of English change the world as adults in the future? Here are five ways:
- By communicating effectively in English. Your students will have the ability to read, write, listen and speak with a strong degree of fluency. They will have the social and academic language skills necessary to consider differing points of view, and to persuade and inform others. Here are some tips on how to help your students develop good communication skills in English.
- By thinking critically about knowledge and information. Your students will think deeply about issues, and will connect what they learn with what they already know. They will be able to organize and prioritize the information they receive, in order to make sense of it and achieve new goals with it. How do you bring critical thinking skills into your classroom? Here is a video with some easy-to-use ideas.
- By thinking creatively. Your students will have the ability to take knowledge and create something completely new with it. They will connect information from various fields to arrive at solutions to old and new problems. They will personalize new knowledge, adapting it to create something that is uniquely their own. You can develop and nurture creativity in your classroom with some of these simple strategies.
- By working together, also known as collaborating. Your students will have the social language skills necessary to work with people from other cultures and perspectives. They will learn to share ideas and compromise to achieve the needed results.
- Finally, by caring about the world. Your students will be curious and connected adults who will be able to identify problems and seek out solutions with others. They will strive to make a difference in the world. Try some of these approaches to create a classroom environment in which students are encouraged to collaborate and show caring attitudes towards each other.
Some of these qualities have been listed under the label of “21st Century Skills”. We’re happy to look at them as prerequisites for success. Students who communicate well, who think critically and creatively, and who work well with others, have the tools they need to find success in any field. And it all begins in our classrooms.
How do we build these skills? The links above will take you to a small sample of video tips on using and developing 21st Century Skills in your English classroom. To view all 56 videos available on this topic, visit this 21st Century Skills playlist on YouTube.
If you’re in Japan, join us on Sunday November 22 at the 2015 JALT conference in Shizuoka, where we will present our workshop entitled A Practical Guide to Building 21st Century Skills. Using examples from our new primary course Oxford Discover*, we will demonstrate how the building of 21st century skills can be incorporated into every language lesson. We’ll show how these skills can help your young learners develop English fluency and increase their motivation at the same time.
*2015 ELTon award winner for Excellence in Course Innovation.
Kathleen and Charles will present at JALT on Sunday, November 22nd. Click here for more details.
18 November 2015 at
In the wake of an extremely potential WW III outbreak, this becomes all too vivid and true !!
19 January 2016 at
Katheleen Kampa and Charles Vilina, I have read your article. As I am going to be teacher it was very helpful for me. You gave five ways of how will young learners of English change the world as adults in the future. I agree with all of them and mostly I liked the fifth one “by caring about the world”. In my opinion this part is more necessary than others. To sum up I really liked your article. Wish you success in your future works!