What were the aims of our project?
The Common European Framework of Reference recognises the importance of language learning strategies but we felt that teachers needed clear guidance as to how to teach them. So we wanted to explore:
• how to go about strategy instruction
• whether strategies could be taught for different skills and to learners of different ages
• what were the effects of strategy instruction on these learners
What were our key tools to achieve the aims?
We set up an interactive portrait gallery, Teacher of the Week, on the ECML website, while an online forum gauged reactions about the key constituents of status. In two workshops, participants from about 30 countries created a metaphorical self-definition of language educators called Language Teachers’ Wonderland. The document describes a set of conditions among which language educators wish to operate and develop as professionals.
How did we investigate these questions?
We agreed on certain common principles for strategy instruction. Then each delegate tried out materials based on certain skills and strategies and evaluated the results. The skill area chosen and the age of the learners depended on the delegate’s particular national context. The final publication not only provides concrete, practical teaching materials but also links our findings to theoretical insights from research.
What were the main results of the project?
Regardless of age and skill area, strategy instruction can help to improve learners’ performance and motivation and develop greater autonomy. However, it needs to be systematic, include opportunities for extensive practice and provide students with clear guidance on how to plan and evaluate their learning for themselves. Teachers also need support in working out how to integrate strategy instruction into their teaching on a regular basis and deciding which strategies to teach when.
Where can you read more about the results of our project?
In the ECML publication ‘Helping learners learn; exploring strategy instruction in language classrooms across Europe’.
Vee Harris (United Kingdom)
Alberto Gaspar (Portugal) Barry Jones (United Kingdom) Hafdis Ingvarsdottir (Iceland) Renate Neuburg (Austria) Ildiko Palos (Hungary)
Ilse Schindler (Austria)