Learning culture through ‘Text & Comunication’
Text & Communication is an optional subject for 1ºBACH students at Orvalle. This year there were 46 students split into two groups covered by two teachers.
The Four aims
The aims of the course are fourfold:
- Practicing English in a real-world context
- Improving various academic skills such as reading, writing and speaking,
- Encouraging students to express themselves clearly and concisely in both written and spoken English are considered highly important.
- So too is the idea that students learn to analyse primary sources, developing their own ideas about famous world events or important themes. Finally the course is designed to develop linguistic and digital competences and to heighten students’ cultural awareness.
Inspired by CLIL and PBL
The activities and projects used in the course are inspired by CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) and PBL (Project Based learning). Students are encouraged to form teams and work together to help each other understand the complexities of any given subject. Attention is given to the ability to research and present information in such a way that others can understand it. This means developing an ability to grasp the vital information needed to better understand a subject and, most importantly, demonstrating an ability to communicate these findings to a group. The idea is that the group then presents their work to the class and in that way the content is taught and shared.
Continuous assessment is used to grade the students as they progress throughout the course, giving a chance, too, for students to monitor their own progress. Occasional written tests check for correctly assimilated information and overall knowledge, while oral projects are presented at the end of every term, focussing on a key figure or issue from the year in more depth. Rubrics are used to assess students and peer assessment helps give the teachers and students useful feedback. The learning is always and exclusively collaborative.
Searching for and presenting cultural information
British Colonialism is the first subject studied by the students while each term focuses on a different aspect of recent history, studying the formative years of countries which now play key roles in the modern world: the USA, South Africa, India, Israel and Australia.
In the first term, which focussed on the birth of the modern USA as a country, as well as creating detailed presentations, students were asked to present their work to a class of younger students at the school. These students, who had no prior knowledge of the subject, were also given a brief test to see what they had understood. In this way students on the course were given evidence of the importance of communication in presentations. Showing and teaching the class something they were good at and preparing a Thematic Notebook were other projects undertaken.
Let’s talk about the issue!
In the final term students were asked to prepare a mini TEDtalk designed to raise awareness of an issue currently affecting the world with which they felt affinity. Focussing on simplicity of the message, body language and communication, the students were also asked to design a poster campaign including factual information about their issue, which they had to present to the class.
(Some of these posters and infographics, exploring the causes, development and consequences of the students’ chosen issues, are shown here.)
Written by Sonia González & James Hartley