All students bring knowledge and experiences from the world and their lives into the language classroom. A reading passage or a spoken message means something different to each person, based on the individual’s experiences, education, and culture.
One of the challenges in teaching a diverse group of learners is that everyone comes to class with different life experiences and expectations! As you prepare to do an activity, think about how you might prepare your student or students. How can you link the material to what they already know? Here are a few suggestions:
Now, let’s put you in the role of the student. The following video demonstrates clearly, and with humor, the value of activating prior knowledge or schema. If the two men in the video were ESL teachers, what suggestions would you have for them, besides the importance of revealing the topic to you before they start? What questions could they ask to assess your knowledge before the presentation? What vocabulary might they pre-teach? What props or visuals might be helpful? What tasks or activities might they give you to complete during and after this listening exercise? Now watch the video and replay it as many times as you need to.
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