The challenge of teaching children through videoconferencing

Carrasco autumnApril in Uruguay, the academic year is finally settling down. In the past four weeks I have been falling in love with the autumn landscape that surrounds the British Council Uruguay and thinking and I have also been thinking how much I have abandoned my blog… the launch and development of operational processes at the Remote Teaching Centre in 2015 and my studies have kept me busy indeed!

Anyway, I feel very inspired by the work we have been doing so far and keep on wondering how to tackle the main challenges of the project: active English remote teaching to young learners in primary state schools, team teaching with a local classroom teacher and adapting the lesson plans to the needs of such a variety of classes along the country.

Picture yourself as a teacher in a videoconference room in front of a TV screen with a camera, a computer and a remote control, the only resources to teach English to a 20 to 25-children class in any province in Uruguay. At the other end, a local classroom teacher who knows the children very well and will ideally love the project –or might have very strong arguments against it- with whom you have to coordinate the development of your remote class. This teaching situation will challenge you as an English professional in many ways and will oblige you to develop new strategies to enjoy what you do and feel relaxed, keep an excellent quality standard and fulfil the programme objectives.

In this context, last Friday I had a beautiful meeting with my colleagues at British Council Uruguay where we started discussing what the main challenges might be and how we will tackle them as a group. Underlying our discussion and plans there are pedagogical/methodological considerations I would like to examine during the year while we develop practical strategies to improve our teaching. There is a recurrent topic that comes to my mind in the Young Learner teaching-learning situation: the importance of body movement and the balance between intellectual and physical work in the YL class. This issue is as old as our profession and as simple as it is presented. Nevertheless, it seems to me that we still have a lot to do in the classroom to improve our practice. Secondly, another underlying issue is the fact that multi-level groups become more and more frequent in our schedule and that it is difficult to attain the aims of a homogenous programme with heterogeneous learners.

All in all, these two aspects of the pedagogy we use will keep me busy this year. I hope we can find ways to understand the problem better and act upon it with solid strategies that can be built together as a group. Looking forward to our next meetings and chats.

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By adrianadelossantos

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