Keystone Magazine - Page 18

Interview Q: Q: Language is not a subject matter at Keystone. Students have to learn through real life experience and real context. Foreign language instruction, in general, is based on textbooks, which makes it very limited. But this is not how we learn language. We have to learn language in a more natural setting. The vocabulary a student learns and his or her ability to correctly use that vocabulary improves because you are using it in different contexts. When teachers are planning or delivering a lesson, they should be mindful that class is also language-learning time. A: You have said that “each teacher is a language teacher.” Can you explain what this means? A: Collaboration between teachers is important because integrated learning will happen when all teachers are communicating with each other about the content of their respective subject matters. During these conversations, teachers will learn to not only look at content knowledge, but also think and talk about how they can deliver the content effectively with the goals of teaching language. This is very different than if teachers are expected to teach a foreign language as a subject. Mary Jew speaking at Keystone’s Education Salon in Guangzhou When you talk about recruiting teachers you emphasize that while having excellent teachers is important, training is perhaps even more critical. Can you explain your reasoning for placing such a strong emphasis on training? The standards that we have for our teachers are aligned with those in the U.S., Australia, and the UK. Keystone will provide a lot of professional development because we understand, through own experiences as educators, that there is a direct correlation between how well we prepare our teachers and student learning outcomes. And research confirms this. Teaching is a profession that requires its professionals to be regularly recertified. Technology changes so rapidly, and the number of tools available to teach is increasing. So we cannot afford to teach the same way we did 10 years ago. And we should regularly consider using new tools to teach. Teaching, learning and how students learn is very different than even five years ago. Professional development will be an ongoing process at Keystone, whether conducted internally or externally, or through regular exchange with professionals. Q: If a student is using Chinese 50% of the time at school and then goes home to a Chinesespeaking environment, for example, then how can Keystone ensure that this student’s English language abilities reach native-level proficiency? A: We will emphasize time, resource management, and quality control. You cannot assume that language acquisition results will necessarily be better if 100% of the day is taught in one language or is spent teaching language. There are many variables involved. Every one of our teachers will be trained to be a language teacher, so not only will they be very conscientious about each student’s acquisition of the target language, but they will have the necessary tools to manage students, class time and their resources, and use differentiation to maximize student learning outcomes. This will not be a problem. There are also many different ways that students can practice English outside of school time. But we will be intentional to ensure that the time and method in which the student is learning English is appropriate. We will not recommend that parents, for example, speak to their children in English at home, unless English is their native language. We do not even suggest that parents are the best role model for their native language. The tendency in both of these cases is for children to 16 The Keystone Magazine