Teaching the English language in the 21st century world
In the 21st century, the classroom is mostly clicks, not bricks. Gone are the days when teachers were the sole repositories of knowledge because of their access to textbooks.
In recent times, students can access and even compare and contrast enough information on all subjects from the comfort of their homes and right on their smartphones. This implies that any teacher who hopes to be relevant among internet users must be known for their mastery of ICT. It is therefore essential to incorporate all the modern tools that can help in the teaching and learning of the language in our teachings, in order to be considered as sophisticated teachers in our time.
This piece will discuss teaching English in the 21st century from two angles. The first is the need to adopt a communicative perspective in language teaching, and the second involves the deployment of technology. These are the paths to follow if teaching is to be productive in the 21st century.
…it is essential to mention that despite the level of passion, a modern teacher must be open to 21st century techniques, sources and resources to elevate their skills
A communicative approach to language teaching pays attention to how language is used in real-life contexts. As has been established in one of my treatises, the approach requires that the teaching and learning of languages take place on the basis of real situations.
Such an approach induces communicative competence. It is important to note that English is first a language before it is a subject, and the primary essence of teaching it as a subject is to help students acquire fluency in the language.
On this premise, nothing less than a communicative approach to language teaching can yield the desired result of achieving language fluency.
With this in mind, teachers should focus more on the interactional use of language rather than the rules of correctness and inaccuracy.
The other aspect of language teaching and learning in the 21st century involves the application of technology. The reality of teaching tech-savvy students is different than many teachers experience. Information and resources are now available to students.
Language teaching in the 21st century must go beyond simply teaching prescriptive rules to achieve the four Cs put forward by a non-profit organization in the United States known as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (Plucker , Kaufman, & Beghetto, 2016).
These four Cs are communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. I cannot dwell on these four in this treatise, but Halvorsen (2018) reported that these four Cs can be used to promote the acquisition of the four communication skills and can be easily activated when students are asked to seek a topic, discuss or debate that topic with peers, and write about their findings. It also implies that language teaching in the 21st century must be student-centred.
Also Read: English as a Global Language: A New Case for Nigerian English
Studies have proposed how technologies can be embedded in language teaching. Sharma & Barrett (2007) and Lewis (2009) offer how to incorporate technology into a language classroom, and they have a list of offline and online tools teachers can leverage to enhance their work.
An important offline tool is the electronic dictionary. Anyone who cares about using the language well should have at least an offline dictionary on their gadget, which allows them to look up the meaning of words even when there is no Internet access.
Word processing tools like PowerPoint and interactive whiteboards are other offline tools available to the teacher. Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is another important aspect of 21st century language education that must be practically taught by teachers.
Additionally, email, chat, and texting are all forms of modern correspondence that should be taught with their proper grammar and etiquette. There are several sources and technological resources that are also crucial for teaching modern English.
Web technologies that include blogs, wikis, podcasts, digital portfolios and social networks are real educational tools. WhatsApp, for example, offers features like strikethrough, italics, and bold that can make online interactions easier.
In conclusion, it is essential to mention that despite the level of passion, a modern teacher must be open to 21st century techniques, sources and resources to elevate their skills.
Additionally, we have passed the time when parents and teachers could disapprove of student use of gadgets, even in secondary schools. What is important now is to guide them to maximize their phones and other gadgets for their personal development.