Active Learning as a Strategy that Promotes 21st Century Learning in ESL Writing Classrooms
We have witnessed much progress in the implementation of the 21st Century in Malaysian classrooms. The Ministry of Education has been emphasizing teachers to embrace 21st century teaching and learning in their classrooms. In the field of teaching English as a second language, teachers have also been implementing 21st century learning strategies but personally, I doubt the implementation is comprehensive.
Teachers have to go for active learning in their writing classrooms. Teachers should facilitate learning: accompany their students on a journey of exploration and reflection. And it is their learners who take the lead in classroom learning. Active Learning is indeed the need of the day as it promotes real learning and language development among the learners.
Well, active learning is not about learners running here and there in classroom. Neither it is about jumping around or racing in the school compound to complete language tasks. Active learning is about learners owning their learning process or experience. It is simply about learners learning by doing; playing active roles throughout the learning process. Active learning can be promoted in writing classrooms when teachers apply these four concepts of learning.
1. Individual task
Compose an outline
Writing the essay
2. Pair work
Producing a PowerPoint about a given essay topic
Peer teaching – such as helping a partner to develop ideas in a paragraph
Peer reviewing – such as doing peer editing of a paragraph
3. Group Task
Interview – such as interviewing classmates on the best way to stay fit
Mentoring members – the good group members assist the weaker ones to write an essay
Research – each group member does his own reading on the pros and cons of implementing night curfew among teenagers
Opening a booth – such as promoting a country or place of their choice
Video clip – such as about the Go Green Campaign
Module – compiling sample essays with merits
The above mentioned active learning strategies definitely vary from context to context. Surely, they should be adopted, adapted by the teacher to suit the needs and leaners’ diverse backgrounds. Whatever it is, the crucial point is to allow active learning to take place in our ESL writing classrooms. The rule is simple, to improve writing, learners have to write, write and write. They should also read, read and read!. They may also need to prepare, search, discuss, collaborate, plan, select, develop and finalise. In short, they must act! It is difficult for them to improve writing if they only sit and listen, listen and listen to the teacher.