Educators Sharing Best Practices Around The World

There really isn’t a need, today, for any educator to feel isolated, or to believe that he/ she must reinvent the wheel. Of course, educators can be just as guilty as any other profession of falling foul of NIH (Not Invented Here!). This is the idea that a ‘solution’ may work in one place, but wouldn’t work in OUR place, because it doesn’t comply to ‘the way we do things around here.’

As i said, every profession can fall guilty of this. However, strong introspection and a willingness to challenge ourselves and our assumptions can address the issue. When we see an idea that’s working somewhere else, we need to come at it from the other direction – is there a possibility that I could make that work in our environment? This enables a greater degree of ‘possibility thinking’ and openness, rather than shutting down on ideas and innovations before they’ve been tried.

Here is a brilliant example of this at work. Throughout my three years working in UAE I was very aware that one of the weak or vulnerable areas is considered to be the way that the Arabic language is taught. The methods have tended to be very conventional, very traditional and rote based and are considered incompatible with the approaches of most progressive schools and educators. As a result, all sorts of issues arise for children who are being taught all their other subjects in more advanced learner-centric ways, but are confronted in the language classroom by teachers who haven’t changed their pedagogy adequately. They feel it to a far greater extent because of the contrast. Also, student motivation gets severely strained by the strong early emphasis on writing and character production.

Over the last month I have been confronted with evidence here that similar issues are talked about for the teaching of the Malaysian language and Chinese in the International schools. So, I was delighted to see this article – evidence of the UAE teachers coming out of their shells, ready to open up to new possibilities and new ways of approaching the craft of language teaching;

The National – UAE – Arabic teachers Told Children Learn Languages Better With Hand Signals

The article concerns a conference that took place in Dubai, where teachers of the Arabic language were exposed to evidence and examples of what teachers are doing in other parts of the world when teaching languages. The obvious implication being that what was working in one place, in relation to one language, can be adapted and made to work elsewhere for another language.

As with so many things, there are way more things that make us similar than make us different. This acknowledgement of our innate ‘sameness’ can lead to greater learning from elsewhere about the most effective ways to teach languages and this can only benefit young learners.

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