Thefield of language acquisition has gone through substantial changes in recenthistory and it still is the focus of innovative research and development. Thisfield is highly influenced by the ever-expanding reach of technology and thegrowing demands of globalization. In the past couple of decades, many countriesaround the globe have been investing on expanding, improving, and viewing educationas a means to reduce poverty, strengthen economic development, and improvepeople’s lives. This increasingly globalized economy has produced shifts in thejob market and essentially changed what is required from our education system.
The world economy has also become knowledge based and the need for highly specializedworkers has increased, along with the skill demands within each field.Therefore, teaching English in this context must move away from traditional andgeneralized approaches and head toward a more localized, tailored experience.Moreover,we are witnessing the spread of the “global village”, heading toward anincreasingly open and multicultural society in which borders are blurred, andconcomitantly, a culture of self-sufficiency, nationalism, and fear grows, anaversion toward what is different, foreign, things seen as a danger, a threat, anda nuisance. It is in this context that education plays a vital role; it is aprocess of fostering the acquisition of personal maturity and allowing peopleto develop their capacities through the acquisition of knowledge, skills,virtues and attributes; it promotes the dominion over people’s own actions. Educationdevelops the individual’s capacity to use their personal freedom effectivelyand ethically, participating harmoniously in community life. TheEnglish teaching material featured in this paper was developed taking intoaccount the aforementioned concepts and principles. Its objective is to notonly offer up-to-date and relevant content, but also allow for customizationand welcome creativity.
This was a core concept when designing each unit andits components, considering that teachers have different teaching styles, profiles,and personalities. Comparably, students also learn differently and have distinctexpectations. Furthermore, this material aims to promote effective and criticallearning, raising awareness about subtle social aspects of our lives andcultures, and promoting discussions and debates both directly and indirectlyquestioning our reality and the pillars of our society. Lastly, I believe analliance between critical education, freedom and citizenship will inspire ameaningful teaching practice and enable teachers to empower students to make adifference in the world. Thismaterial is entitled Speak up and Speakout! and it is designed for teenage and young adult students at B1 levelaccording to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The mainfocus of this teaching material is to promote meaningful and plentiful communication,hence the title. Although the current tendency in the field of languageacquisition is to adopt the Communicative Approach, there is still too muchfocus on grammar and structures at this level.
Concurrently, I firmly believethat, given the ideal circumstances, students at this level are not only ableto understand great amounts of input, but also produce language and carry ontasks that are typically reserved for upper-intermediate students. Consequently,this material aims at providing teachers with these ideal circumstances toenable students to produce at the desirable level of performance and achievethe ideological goals of this work. Thefirst unit opens on a lighter note and approaches a popular topic of popculture: fantasy and fiction TV series, movies, and games. This unit would beideal for providing students with a familiar setting, facilitating theclassroom discussions and contextualizing the grammar beforehand, thus simplifyingthe inductive teaching of the Second Conditional. The unit brings tasks thatallow the activation of previous knowledge and the use of familiar informationas a starting point. On the other hand, the second unit tackles a more complexsubject: cultural differences. This unit provides the necessary material topromote critical education and raise cultural awareness in the classroom in aninformative, non-intrusive way, still keeping things on a light note, so as notto suppress students’ opinions. As a starting point for understanding the grammarinductively, the topics will provide context and the modal verb should will be used to introduce must, the new language to be learned.
Inorder to embrace creativity and permit customization, these units are, aboveall, flexible. All activities can and should be adapted to the specificities ofeach group. The choice used for engaging students’ emotions and arousing theircuriosity is suggested in the teacher’s guide, but it is not mandatory. Theteacher’s guide also includes answers for the items that are not open-ended,and, when applicable, students’ personal opinions are welcome and should beheard.
Ultimately, the teacher is free to teach a lesson best suited for thosespecific learners and tailored to his/her particular teaching style and levelof experience.