Why English Language Skills

The Changing Nature of English

English language is changing both as a subject and as a mode of communication. To learn English is to learn about 21st century communication practices. In order to be an effective communicator in the world today, students need to be adaptable, changeable, curious and resilient.

The aims of 21st century English language are

Efficiency Does Not Equal Effectiveness When It Comes To Language Learning

English language learning cannot just be about rules and routines. It must create a space for students to think for themselves, to negotiate meaning collaboratively, to learn through trial and error.

This is something that's often unfortunately forgotten in many classrooms.

Teachers often think that there's not enough time to teach all the content and all the skills they need to teach, so they teach in order to efficiently get across the ideas they think students need to master very quickly. They don't want to create a space where students make mistakes, because that cuts back on efficiency.

Efficiency and effectiveness, however, are not synonymous with each other.

Just because something teachers do in the classroom is efficient does not mean it is effective in making students better learners and effective communicators.

MOE Recognises The Need For 21st Century Adaptation In The Curriculum

The latest MOE English Language Syllabus was updated in 2020 to bring about several important changes the Singapore Ministry of Education wants to prioritise in teaching the subject in the classroom.

Viewing skills must be taught alongside reading skills.
Viewing skills inform reading skills and reading skills inform viewing skills because there is no text in the world today that does not take into account some kind of visual component.

Exercising thinking skills enable our students to become active learners.
We need to give our students autonomy and agency. In other words, they need to be active learners. It's no longer about teacher-centered instruction anymore. It's about student-centered learning.

Social interaction is vital for the development of effective communication.
Research has shown that language learning is social and therefore has to be understood in a social and collaborative context. Social interaction is vital and necessary for the development of effective communication practices.

How Language Learning MUST Change

Students can no longer rely on the teacher to provide them with essential knowledge and skills.

When it comes to exams, there is an increasing number of unpredictable and unexpected questions. Students who have been conditioned to look out for what is predictable and expected, who have not been trained to think for themselves, will no longer be able to cope with the demands of English language exams.

Language skills must be integrated and not taught separately. We have to teach language in authentic contexts, social contexts.

Students must learn through dialogue and collaboration because this is the way we negotiate meaning and develop language socially.

Future of Language Learning

Active Participation

Learning should follow socially relevant practices in which students constantly participate in online conversations.

Language Rich Environment

Learning should happen in a space in which language is present and can emerge.

Discovery and Exploration

Learning designed to get students to discover things for themselves rather than the teacher telling them what they should know.

Knowledge Making

Learning that encourages students to make knowledge for themselves because the knowledge that they make for themselves is going to be the knowledge that they remember in the long term.

Authentic Tasks

Learning that focuses on tasks students can invest in and believe in.

Meaningful Outcomes

Learning tasks with outcomes that are meaningful and personally relevant to students.

Language Learning Expert Dr. Ken Mizusawa

Psst... he's also a published author & playwright!

This programme is co-designed by Doyobi and Dr. Ken Mizusawa, a Lecturer in the English Language and Literature Academic Group at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore, textbook author, and playwright.

Dr. Ken has experience teaching in the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) and integrated programme at Dunman High School (DHS), Singapore. He was also the Subject Head of English at DHS, where he designed and implemented the interdisciplinary Language Arts curriculum.

Dr. Ken has published a number of educational titles. The play anthology that he edited in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed (2018), has been adopted as a textbook in over 45 Singapore secondary schools.

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