Here I want to expand a little bit more on one of the tips discussed in the blog post about ways in which teachers can help students reach elementary proficiency in a year. Being able to problem solve in the TL is a pivotal skill for students to learn. But what are some strategies that you can use to help students develop this ability? Below are 4 tips to help your students learn how to problem solve in the TL.
Creating an engaging questionnaire for your students in the beginning of the year will enable you to learn the problem solving areas in which individual students struggle. The questionnaire should be in the native language and give students a variety of scenarios to try and solve. The questions on the questionnaire should get students to evaluate a problem, brainstorm possible solutions, and identify what knowledge or tools are necessary to accomplish a task. For example teachers can ask questions like: “How would you explain to someone how to tie their shoes?”, and “If you had to teach an exchange student about a unique American holiday, how would you teach it and why?”. Here is a Critical Thinking Sample Lesson and here is a Critical Thinking Exercise.
2. Create fun and appropriately leveled problem solving exercises in TL:
Before undertaking this activity make sure your students have enough vocabulary in their back pockets. The more words they know that describe a specific person, place, thing or idea, the better your students will be able to successfully complete this exercise. The possibilities are limitless for what you can come up with for this exercise. Ideally after a few practice runs, youcan begin to grade students. The scenarios should get more difficult as the semester or year goes by. If you need to get your creative juices flowing here is an SampleExerciseinTL and Example TL Scenarios.
3. Learn not to engage in over correction:
The one thing that can really demotivate students is when a teacher engages in too
much correction. So instead of lots of correction during the exercise, it may be beneficial to give an overall assessment at the end of the skit. Giving students feedback like th
e picture at the right is unhelpful. Also it’s probably a good idea not to make corrections in red for certain grade levels. However, if you want to give individualized assessments for each group member feel free to do so. You will have to find the right balance for your classroom environment.
4. Encourage persistence:
Practice makes perfect! For some students this exercise may be extremely challenging. One way to encourage persistence is to celebrate class milestones with prizes or treats. If your students thrive best when given incentives, take advantage of them to get students to persist in their foreign