By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, January 23, 2012
In partnership with Calliope, the British Council organized a free ESL (English as a Fecond Language) workshop delivered by Peter Lucantoni in Hotel Rivioli in Casablanca. A large audience of 300 attendees, made up of mainly ESL teachers and teacher trainees, were active partakers in the event. The workshop, centered on the theme “Coping with Multilevel Classes and Differentiation in Action,” provided tangible solutions to address the discrepancy in language proficiency among students in the same class.
Peter Lucantoni, a renowned ESL trainer and published author of a number of children’s and young-adult’s books, targets ESL students in his writing. He is also credited for designing books for Cambridge International Examinations, such as IGCSE Workbook and IGCSE English as a Second Language.
It is common to have diverse abilities, learning styles and levels of motivation in the same class. All too often, however, these variations are overlooked, negatively impacting the learning environment. Peter Lucantoni introduces the concept of “differentiation,” an educational approach that addresses students’ needs, allowing them to reach their potential regardless of their level of proficiency. Lucantoni rejects the categorization of students based on their pace of learning and has expressed reservations towards the overt use of the “slow versus fast” learner dichotomy, which undermines multiple intelligences and different learning styles.
In this approach, he capitalizes on lesson planning and task design that are liable to match alternately and incrementally all students needs and expectations. Lucantoni provided the participants with a list of activities that lower considerably the anxiety filter and boost the students’ confidence.
In an interview with Morocco World News he declared that” the differentiation approach relies on simple resources .“ He added that the use of high technology is not always a harbinger of success for it can become a distraction or it can lose its appeal on the long run. When asked about the role of feedback in categorizing students’ needs, Mr. Lucantoni said that “providing feedback remains a key part in teaching. Students need to be constantly informed about their progress”. Concerning the feasibility of differentiation in large classrooms, Mr. Lucantoni recommend “the use of group work”.
During the workshop, Mr. Lucantoni invited the participants to perform a set of tasks, such as a quick writing and poem writing. While working on creative writing tasks, students can unleash their ideas unconstrained by any grammar rules and relieved from the fear of assessment. He added that setting a high standard for students in writing can be inimical to their progress since their lexical repertoire is often poor especially in the early stages of learning.
Being a seasoned trainer, Lucantoni seized the opportunity to give the participants few tips to overcome minor problems in class. For instance, he advised the teachers to use occasionally their L1 as a “quick and easy way” to get over communication breakdown in the classroom. He also invited the teachers to write once in a while the instructions on the board instead of uttering them orally. Thus they can satisfy more the visual learners’ needs.
Mr. Lucantoni has run a series of workshops across the country in Tetouan, Marakesh, Beni Mellal, and Kenitra. This workshop espouses the British council commitment to raise the standards of English teaching in Morocco. Mr. Nick Cherkas, the British Council project manager in Morocco talking to Morocco World News asserted” Our major goal is to improve the teaching of English in Morocco through seminars and workshops that entail face to face interactions as well as distance learning via our website and different links.”
Mr. Cherkas added that the British Council seeks to create sustainable partnerships with all institutions that share our goals and commitment to set up opportunities for teachers’ development”. In fact, throughout the year, the British council works closely with different institutions such the CPR and the ENS both affiliated to the ministry of National Education and civil associations such as the MAFE and MATE to provide support for professional development of English teachers in Morocco.
The participants in the workshop were given an attendance certificate. The lucky ones were offered a set of valuable books in raffle organized jointly by the British council and Calliope bookshop.
Editing by Caryn Benisch