I learn a lot from the teachers that I work with when volunteering in Nicaragua. These are teachers that have very limited resources and often don’t see their students regularly. For various reasons children are unable to come to school. Many times they must help cart water to their houses from a distance or there is a need to stay with younger siblings our cousins while parents work. The reality is that the Panamá School teachers must take full advantage of the time that they have with their students to make everything that what they teach is directly applicable to the lives of their students. There is a mantra among the teachers, “APA…Aprendo, Practico, Aplico,” which means “Learn, Practice, Apply.”
They explained to me that is not a good use of the kids’ time to learn and practice anything in school if there is not a clear and obvious application to their lives. It’s a simple, yet profound, way of approaching education that I try to keep in mind as I plan my foreign language class lessons. It’s a small change in approach, but now I first consider how the structure or vocabulary could be applied to accomplish a task (apply) and let that inform how students will learn and then practice it. If I simply consider the learning and practicing and only get to the application if there is time I have not made the best use of my students’ (and my) time. Here is a post that describes activities that I have created using “Learn,Practice, Apply.”
Thanks for this excellent article.
As a student I always felt motivated to learn things I could use in every day life. I had a very hard time concentrating if I didn’t see a practical application.
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