YL column: 5 Ways for Young Learners to Share their Work

by Kylie Malinowska

Congratulations International House Journal of Education and Training. 20 years of sharing information with educators and trainers around the globe! In honor of this achievement, this issue’s YL Column is…

Five Ways for Young Learners to Share their Work

  1. Roll out the red carpet

It’s the end of year/semester performance. The parents are seated in neat rows. You’ve spent weeks rehearsing ‘Heads, Shoulder’s, Knees and toes’ complete with handmade flashcards of the body parts. The YL DOS introduces your class, the music starts…and…your learners suddenly turn into monkeys. Flashcards are upside down, your favourite student is singing ‘neee ne ne neee ne nee’ looking at the floor. One student is waving at their mum. Another is facing the wrong way.  Sound familiar? If only there was a way to share with parents just how much your very young learners can do, right? There is!

Film your learners (singing, acting out a play, reading a story, playing a game, or create a film using a slide show of students work) then roll out the red carpet for a grand viewing with parents. Put up some credits at the end stating exactly what each child did. Who chose the costumes? Who made the posters? Do you have some funny out takes you could include at the end while rolling the credits? Or, you could use photos of the learners making the props, setting up the set, etc. It’s a great way to show parents not only what your learners can ‘perform’, but also the work that goes into putting it all together and what has been accomplished, in English, before the big day. It can also be a nice keepsake, and enables learners who need to miss the last lesson to be included.

  1. Practice makes perfect and a picture says a thousand words

I love the idea of giving learners a chance to practice what they want to say. At the last IH AMT in London, technology queen Nikki Fortova introduced me to Knovio, a great way to do this. It’s a free program so simple to use that you could use it with learners of all ages and don’t need to worry about your own tech skills. To prove how easy it is, here the very first one I made. I made it in a matter of minutes together with my then three-year-old twins the day I got home (tired and brain fried) from the AMT.  I asked them to choose some pictures they liked then copied and pasted them to a PowerPoint presentation. I then showed them each picture, recorded what they said, edited the slide to include the script. Then hit publish. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Knovio, or any similar program, is a great way for learners to share because:

  • They can practice speaking before sharing with the class
  • They can add visuals for more effect and support
  • They can do it in class or at home.
  • Shy learners won’t have the whole class looking at them while they speak.

And the concept is suitable for all ages, for example:

  • VYL: talk about pictures or tell a story
  • YL: Present a project.
  • Teens: Prepare for a speaking exam (not only can they keep recording until they get it right, they can share the video with the teacher, their parents, other learners – they can also look back on it later to see how they have improved).

You can find ideas for setting up and using project work here

  1. Teacher as server

Back in my day, we didn’t have mobile phones. We walked 20 miles to school barefoot in the snow and wrote notes to each other on scraps of paper. Okay, only half of that is true.

I love an idea once shared with me that encourages young learners to write and share notes. And not just for the nostalgia. The basic idea is your learners send each other handwritten notes, but it must go through the server (that’s you, the teacher).

Ideas include:

  • teacher corrects the notes or underlines mistakes before handing them on
  • learners using notes to check answers with each other or sharing their ideas before feeding back to the class
  • using notes to ask each other for help with a question or task
  • using notes to practice a grammar point, e.g. asking each other what they are doing over the weekend
  • writing in text speak then ‘translating’ the notes to formal English. Or, you know, just English as we knew it back in our day.
  1. Social media

There are a billion, no, trillion maybe, ways to use social media to share information. Class blogs, Facebook groups, the list goes on. Here are just two ideas.

  • Learners, e.g. teens sitting a formal exam, collect pictures, videos or articles (e.g. on Pinterest or some other kind of electronic notice board) that THEY want to read or talk about. It could be a class account or individual accounts shared with the class. The teacher uses this as a resource for class.
  • Learners summarize a reading/listening/grammar point/ meaning of a new word/ anything really that you’ve just done in class. The catch? In 160 characters or less. They then post to twitter using a hashtag that the whole class is using. Or, share them with just the class using a paper twitter board (you read that correctly. Put up a poster for learners to hand write tweets on. Or glue strips of paper with tweets. Or create a simple document if you have an IWB – you don’t have to share your tweets with the world).
  1. Take advantage of the IH Network

As a teacher at an IH affiliated school, you have something very special at your fingertips: 160 schools spanning 52 countries! Some schools are already making the most of this with things like the IH postcard project

Here are some other ideas for taking your classroom to the (IH) world.

  • Your own school journal that is written by YLs and shared with other YLs. IH Prague Journal of Learning and Fun? IH Newcastle Journal of all things British?
  • Skype/facetime dates. Meet online with other YL classes around the network and give a presentation about your destination, e.g. a class from Poland could meet with a class from Portugal and give a presentation or Q and A on a particular topic such as food, architecture, history relating to their country.
  • Use one of these storytelling apps to create stories to share with other learners from other IH schools.
  • Watch out for IHWO’s social media campaigns
  • Get your learners to write an article and take pictures about what has been happening at your school for the IH Interschool’s Newsletter

NOTE: Be sure to be very aware of both safeguarding, e.g. don’t publicly share photos or personal information about your young learners and ensure they are the right age for social media sites, and general sharing principles, e.g. consent, copyright, etc. And hey! This could be a lesson in itself. Teens could create a blog post of tips for sharing information online for other learners to read.

Author’s Bio: Kylie Malinowska is a teacher, trainer, presenter, writer, sleep- deprived mum of twins and coffee addict. She is the Young Learner Advisor and IH CYLT Coordinator for International House World Organisation and currently based in Prague where she also teaches and trains part-time for International House Prague and Akcent College. yladvisor@ihworld.com klokanomil@wordpress.com