da.fr.lv.ro. en.thinking-approach.eu
The place where language meets thinking
Diary of a language teacher

The place where language meets thinking
This blog is my personal account of getting to know en.thinking-approach.eu – the website where one can get the experience of independent work on language and problem solving skills.
About me: English teacher in Europe
Mon, 25 August
Another ‘new’ site...
Our annual conference took place this weekend. The plenary was about another ‘new’ site. I am almost sure it’s going to be one more collection of nicely packaged multiple choice exercises. The guy also said that the website can teach thinking skills. As if we can’t think...
Wed, 10 September
Autonomy can be learned
Autonomy is definitely a buzz word. For me it means teaching the kids to plan, implement and evaluate their learning. Easier said than done, right? Good news is that this site doesn’t tell – it shows! Take the difference between aims and activities. Earlier the folks kept saying that their aim is to read a book or watch a film. No matter how much I tried to explain that reading and watching are activities – no result. And here they just got it. By themselves.
Dri, 3 October
Constructive approach in action
I have always liked the idea of the learner building his/her knowledge. However, when it comes to learning websites, the pedagogical principles are forgotten. Learn, practise and take a test. Even with a nice design it’s about giving knowledge rather than constructing it. Compare it to making own grammar rules and developing strategies for writing. I virtually see the kids build their knowledge.
Fri, 24 October
Integrated European tools
Some European language learning tools are really useful. Things like European Language Portfolio, especially the parts dedicated to CAN DO statements. It was a nice surprise to find a resource where CAN DO statements are neatly integrated in a larger framework for learning to plan and evaluate. As well as the idea of a portfolio, where both process and assessment portfolio are present.
Wed, 5 November
Really learner-centered
Personal portfolio is a starting point for all learning here. Instead of following the prescribed syllabus the kids make their own ones. The site always gives feedback. I must admit that I was very suspicious about this feedback first. However, as time went by I realised that the site often “notices” more things than I do. I can always join, though.
Sun, 16 November
Learners writing own grammars
No matter how weird it might sound but the approach works. Not all my kids liked it in the beginning, though. But now even the Sceptic admits that he remembers his ‘rules’ better than those from the book. And don’t forget the learning (huge!) that took place while they were developing and testing these rules. Another thing I loved is creativity. Creativity in grammar – think about it. I greatly enjoy both grammar and creativity but earlier these two somehow didn’t go together. Now they do.
Thu, 27 November
Open text based tasks
What I hate about work with texts is when everything stops after a few comprehension questions. It’s easy to do it differently in the classroom but what about online learning? How can we have open end text based tasks online and give the kids feedback on their answers? It appears we can. The site offers a wide variety of creative tasks like telling a story from another point of view, making a text into a film, translation assessment, etc. And my kids always got their feedback even when I had no clue how I could help. I think I can even learn something myself here :-)
Wed, 3 December
Learning to think
Remember my first post where I laughed about the idea of teaching thinking? I was wrong. I agree we can already think. The question is how well we do it. Just count how often we think in terms of could-have-dones. How often do we read empty compositions or listen to boring presentations? Can’t we or the kids do better? I am sure we can. It’s possible to learn to think better. Now, after three months, I can finally formulate the main idea. This site shows the students HOW to think better. It gives specific tools for good thinking. For example, the tools for effective description, seeing things in a system, conflict resolution, etc. And the kids are mastering these tools in the process of learning a language.
Wed, 10 December
Ways of using the site
I was asked to summarise how the site can be used. Here’s what I’ve tried during the semester:
  • Individual tasks (perfect for ‘know everything’ kind of guys and doesn’t take a second to prepare)
  • Collective syllabus design (the planning module helped a lot to involve my kids in the task)
  • Grammar study (works fine both individually and in class)
  • Creative tasks (mostly the text module – gives plenty of motivating texts and tasks based on them)
  • ICT lesson (the whole group working with the site and me acting as a facilitator)
  • Printed version of the materials in class (all text and grammar materials can be printed out and used in class)
Teacher's Diary