By Vanessa Simpson, M.Ed.
Language Kids World Founder
I believe through education we can change the world. I believe each child has the potential to achieve great things, to shape their own future and the future of our planet. As teachers, our role is to make sure each child gets the chance to be all he or she can be. We must ensure that children are aware of how important their choices are, and provide them with the necessary knowledge and learning tools and experiences to accomplish this. Our task as educators is no small task. I believe the progress and the future of our civilization is, in great part, in our hands.
I believe that children, like all human beings, are driven by the desire to be happy. Education should allow students to be amazed, to be mesmerized by the world outside and inside of them, to help them learn to love and respect themselves and others, to allow them to open doors and to dream big, and realize they hold the key to their own destiny. Education is far more than just memorizing facts. It is about children discovering the world and themselves and taking ownership and responsibility of their own learning.
When we are teaching a language, we are also teaching a culture. We are helping students open the doors to another way of thinking and experiencing the world. Language classrooms must be an open and safe space that allows children for active, authentic, meaningful and hands-on learning experiences. They also should reflect the diversity we find in society.
Language should be taught in a context embedded setting, helping students make connections and bring prior knowledge to the forefront, which will help them retain new information. I believe that students can only learn a foreign language through input that is comprehensible and meaningful, and embedding context into our lessons and classroom can help us achieve this. Teachers should use authentic artifacts as much as possible and always connect the language with the culture in ways that help students feel closer to what they are learning, to develop a relationship with the culture behind the language. This will motivate them tremendously.
I believe children learn by doing. Teachers must provide opportunities for hands-on projects and varied experiences that help them learn and find meaningful ways to use the language they are learning in class, which will also motivate them as they become increasingly more able to use the language authentically. Dewey says that preparing students for the future “means to give him [or her] command of himself [or herself]”. The role of teachers is to understand their students and to provide them with the information, experiences, tools and learning opportunities that fit their interests and abilities and to help them develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses. As language teachers, we must ensure that we provide opportunities for authentic communication so students can use the language in real and meaningful ways. I believe that is the key to retention, making language learning relevant to each student.
I believe education should be, as much as possible, child-centered and experience-based. As teachers, our job is to know each one of our students and to find a connection, a way to motivate them to learn, to discover the new world that the language we are teaching offers. Our job is to ensure they have the learning experiences and opportunities that will allow them to be confident and happy human beings knowing that they are able to reach their full potential.
 Progressive Education. (2012, August 25). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Progressive_education&oldid=509360426
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