Modernity and a Touch of Fun in Teaching

Logan Bonniver

9 October 2023

When I was a student, I quickly came to the realisation that language lessons often had the same structure. The teacher would give us worksheets and we’d sometimes have a textbook to follow throughout the year. The chapters would focus on themes of little interest to me that seemed to repeat themselves year after year. In illo tempore, I had to muster my own curiosity and do my own research if I wanted to work on topics that weren’t planned in that year’s syllabus. Today, as a language teacher, I constantly search for innovative ways to improve how I share my knowledge – I’ve always been enthusiastic about the idea of giving my students a pleasantly unusual learning experience.

A few years ago, I started using Altissia’s platform in linguistic activities, by incorporating its interactive lessons and practical exercises. The results are impressive, as students who have their own accounts can make progress at their own pace. I’m in charge of supporting them by organising fun language activities in-person or online. With this way of teaching, the teacher no longer has to be the main source of knowledge. We can take a step back from the learning process and guide our students, providing them with a space to practise alone or in a group.

To illustrate my point, here are two examples of Altissia-based activities:

Collective correction of written texts: from an impassioned linguistic symphony to an enriching verbal joust.

The theme has been chosen, the instructions come from the platform and are directly linked to the learning objectives. I send them to my students with a link to Altissia’s virtual lesson. They can use the platform at any time to practise first before submitting their essay. The day before our session, I receive their copies. I have a quick look at them and take the time to carefully anonymise the work. This instils confidence, objectivity and impartiality.

Let’s take a look behind the scenes of this extraordinary and exciting event, collective essay correction. Imagine you’re in a classroom, or even on a video call, surrounded by students with their pens out and a contagious linguistic energy is in the air. It’s here that I take my place as conductor of the orchestra for this linguistic symphony, ready to guide my students to new heights of written mastery, all with a touch of humour, of course!

Collective essay correction is also like a verbal jousting tournament. Each student brings their written work, filled with hopes and alterations, and I, like a knight of language, prepare to draw my red pen. But, of course, my goal isn’t to slaughter mistakes without mercy, but rather to transform them into learning opportunities. After all, a language teacher’s job is to inspire and guide while making sure that no one’s making really glaring mistakes, and if they do, to turn them into hilarious anecdotes that serve the learning process.

As a language enthusiast, I have a simple vision: every mistake is an opportunity to shine. With a wry smile, we can unpack the mistakes made in class together, while always keeping in mind that we’re all here to improve. Sometimes, students show a touch of self-derision and humorously accept the corrections made to their written work. After all, nothing’s better than a good pun to diffuse a situation and put everyone in a good mood.

However, what really makes this experience magic are the exchanges that take place between students. Passionate debates erupt, ideas are exchanged and tongues are loosened. The students support one another, challenge each other and encourage everyone to reach new heights in their language learning. With such a good ambiance, you almost forget that you’re there to correct mistakes, so imbued is the atmosphere with a passion for words and language.

So, the next time you take part in this type of activity, remember that above all, it’s a game. Let yourself get swept up by your teacher’s energy, exchange with your classmates and turn each mistake into a learning opportunity. Behind every sentence that’s corrected hides a passionate teacher who’s ready to guide you with kindness. After all, teaching can be serious, but it’s never wrong to add a touch of fun!

Quirky improvisation sessions in foreign languages.

Nothing brings me more joy than hosting a linguistic improv session. This unique experience gives students an unparalleled opportunity to improve their language skills in a fun and creative setting.

Linguistic improvisation enables participants to put their language knowledge into practice in unreal situations, without the usual pressure that comes with formal communication. I assist participants in their interactions by encouraging them to express themselves freely and to take risks. It’s a real pleasure to watch their progress, their confidence growing and their linguistic mastery improving over time.

As with any other activity, an improv session requires preparation. I scour the platform for themes I want us to work on and I base myself on its content to write instructions for the session. I send all of this to my students along with a link to the relevant virtual lesson. Beforehand, the students can go through the vocabulary lists and grammar lessons to feel well-prepared for the improv!

On the day, I choose five words from the virtual lesson, and I ask my students to use them while respecting certain grammatical aspects. My personal magic touch is to add the challenge of having them mention a word that has absolutely nothing to do with the lexical field they’ve worked on during their improvisation. It’s mind-blowing! The students are always bursting with creativity and never fail to come up with something.

In conclusion, as a language teacher, it is essential to share one’s knowledge with passion and to incorporate modernity in the lessons. Passion is contagious, it inspires students and pushes them to excel. When we teach with enthusiasm, we create a learning environment that is stimulating and motivating. In addition, when we add modern technology to our lessons, we adapt to the needs and interests of the students of today. Technological tools and resources can make language teaching and learning more interactive, fun and accessible. By combining passion and modernity, we foster an enriching and lasting learning experience for our students, allowing them to mastery a language with confidence and thrive in an increasingly connected world.