AlphaBEST

5 Ways to Motivate Language Learning

“Teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness.” – Zoltán Dörnyei

There’s no denying the positive impact language learning has on students. Research shows that learning a second language improves cognitive skills and enhances mental development, leading to overall improvement in school performance. Despite its benefits, however, students may not fully understand the value of language learning, which could lead to disengagement and low achievement.

5 ways to motivate language learning

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 Therefore, a more effective question is how educators can foster student engagement and help students achieve a high level of success when learning a second language. A recent article by the Guardian suggests, “the secret to [learning a second language] is rooted in the science of motivation,” and “most people who succeed at learning another language turn out to be strongly motivated.” And according to Zoltán Dörnyei, an expert on motivation in second-language learning, motivation is contagious, and a learner’s motivation depends largely on the level of interest and involvement of their fellow learners and instructors.

Simply stated, motivation is the key to language learning. The next step is deciding the best ways to foster it. The following tips can help educators increase student motivation and deepen language learning:

  • Display enthusiasm. Demonstrate a commitment to and interest in the language, which will impact students’ behavior and their enthusiasm to learn.
  • Establish a safe and supportive learning atmosphere. Learning environments should be organized, well managed and supportive in order to provide students with ample opportunities to learn. Language learning isn’t simple; therefore, students should feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes without ridicule from fellow learners.
  • Make the curriculum relevant to students. Discover their goals and the topics in which they are interested, and try to incorporate them into the language-learning activities.
  • Diversify instructional methods. Students learn in different ways, and educators can use multiple strategies to help students master a second language. A key factor is allowing students to discover the best methods and techniques for themselves.
  • Create meaningful learning experiences. Use tools, such as Skype in the Classroom, to connect with a group of students that speaks the language your students are learning. Building relationships with native speakers is a great way to increase students’ motivation to learn. Students can also role-play situations in which they would need to speak and understand the language, like shopping at the market or asking for directions.

In order for students to achieve language-learning success, educators must implement engaging, student-focused instructional strategies to foster motivation. To learn more, check out, “Wanting it enough: why motivation is the key to language learning.”

Six Resources to Get Students Involved in Community Service

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

Children of all ages can benefit from volunteering and giving back to the community. By getting involved in community service, children can learn valuable life skills, such as compassion, responsibility and self-confidence.

Many of our programs organize service activities to give back to the community, including fundraisers, donations and clothing/shoe drives. AlphaBEST students at Southwest Elementary School organized a baby shower last December for the Salem Pregnancy Care Center in Winston-Salem, NC. Children and families donated new and gently used baby items and supplies, such as bottles, toys, food products and clothes. During the baby shower, children played games, like Pass the Pacifier, and discussed how spring symbolizes renewal and birth.

AlphaBEST students donated baby items to local community organization.

AlphaBEST students donated baby items to local community organization.

Volunteering is a great way to teach children gratitude and to foster a lifelong commitment to helping others in need. In honor of National Volunteer Week, check out the following resources to get children involved in community service:

Foreign Language Learning in Afterschool

foreign language learning for kids

Source: Edutopia.com

Foreign language learning has been a topic of debate recently in the education sphere. Many people believe it’s unimportant, and foreign language programs are usually the first on the chopping block when schools in the U.S. face poor performance evaluations and budget cuts.

Learning a second language, however, yields positive results for 21st century students. Research shows that foreign language learning improves cognitive skills and enhances mental development, leading to overall improvement in school performance. During the Language Zone at  AlphaBEST, students are introduced to Spanish with our 18-week Spanish curriculum, VIVA AlphaBEST. Zone Leaders employ cooperative learning techniques to help students learn Spanish vocabulary and discover Latin American traditions and holidays. Throughout the year, students will also have the opportunity to explore American Sign Language and the Chinese language and culture.

We are Teachers and Middlebury Interactive Languages teamed up to create a poster to further explain the benefits of learning a second language and to remind students why language learning rocks!

(click to enlarge)

Why Learn Another Language infographic from Middlebury and WeAreTeachers

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Five Ways to Incorporate Engineering in Afterschool

Engineering puts the “E” in STEM, an acronym used to describe the study of science, technology, engineering and math. STEM careers are rapidly growing, and engineering represents a majority of these STEM jobs.  (To learn more, read Computing and Engineering in Afterschool). In order to prepare our students for a STEM-driven economy, educators must provide activities that spark students’ interest in STEM. Afterschool is a great catalyst for students to explore engineering though hands-on, student-centered activities.

Five ways to incorporate engineering in afterschool

 

Here are five ways to incorporate engineering in afterschool:

  • Educate. Many students do not know much about engineering or what an engineer does. Once they discover engineering, students may develop an interest in the topic.  Check out this video by NASA to introduce students to engineering.
  • TryEngineering. This organization offers 114 lesson plans designed to get students interested in engineering. Lessons can be selected based on students’ age range and by an engineering topic, like robotics or motion and forces.
  • Use Lego Robotics to introduce students to engineering in afterschoolRobotics. Programs like LEGO Robotics pair computing and engineering to tap into students’ problem solving skills. At AlphaBEST, students build and program robots according to step-by-step instructions. With robotics, students explore the basics of engineering by focusing on what makes the robot work.
  • Mentor. Leverage community resources to put a face to engineering. Invite parents and other community members to further explain engineering and to discuss their careers with students. There are also programs, such as Engineering for Kids®, that will bring fun, hands-on engineering projects to your program.
  • Discover Engineering. This website provides hands-on activities, videos, games, field trip ideas and other resources to discover engineering in your afterschool program. Activities are tailored for educators, parents, volunteers and students, and many of their activities can be translated into other languages.

Educators should build a year-long commitment to spark students’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.  Check out this Pinterest board for 50+ activities to incorporate STEM in afterschool.

Digital Learning in Afterschool

In recent years, digital technology has emerged as a fundamental tool in education, transforming the way students learn and gather information. It supports educators, improves learning and prepares students for future success. Sandy Holt, a 12-year technology teacher and Technology Arts Instructor at AlphaBEST Education, tells us why digital literacy is important for students today and how technology is used in afterschool.

Digital Learning Day: Digital Technology in Afterschool

How has technology transformed education?

AlphaBEST Technology Arts Instructor discusses digital learning(SH): Students are digital natives. They begin to manipulate digital devices at the age of two. By using technology in the classroom, we are turning their knowledge into learning by honing in on their fluency as digital learners. Digital technology is also hands-on, which enhances the curriculum and keeps students engaged.

How important is digital literacy for today’s students?

(SH): Digital learning fosters the four C’s of 21st century learning: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. As technology instructors, we want children to learn how to manipulate apps and programs, demonstrate how to operate those tools to create projects and communicate with others—in the classroom and globally. These skills are preparing students for college and future careers.

How does AlphaBEST use technology to advance learning?

Digital Learning in Afterschool

(SH): At AlphaBEST, we enhance learning with digital arts programs that encourage students to work collaboratively, as well as independently. When working with these programs, such as SAM Animation and LEGO Robotics, teachers are the facilitators and students become leaders. As they complete projects, students become digital creators and learn to solve problems and share solutions with their peers.

What do students enjoy most about using digital tools to learn?

(SH): Students enjoy seeing the final product after working through each step of a project. For example, when using SAM Animation, students narrate a storyboard, create figures to use as props and operate technology to develop the animated movie. Every student has a role, and they realize that their individual work collectively leads to the completion of the project. They are excited and beam with delight when it is time to share their creations with other students!

Digital Learning in Afterschool

Digital learning is a great way to foster 21st century skills in students. Join thousands of educators as they celebrate the innovative use of digital technology!

For more information about Digital Learning Day, visit digitallearningday.org.

To learn more about AlphaBEST Education, visit www.alphabest.org.