For about two years the system has been closed for the general public, but each and every lesson of it was put into practice as soon as it was ready. I am grateful to my students for helping me test and identify areas to be improved.
What pedagogy is behind New Model? What approaches and methods are used? Here are the principles it is based on:
- All New Model courses have two sides: online and offline. Both modes have their specific features that we take into account in our work. It is also possible to call New Model a blended learning programme. Online and offline activities may vary considerably, but the main syllabus remains the same.
- New Model is suitable for online self-learning, but we fully realise that there are not many people who are ready or willing to learn in this way.
- The syllabus is reflected in the table of contents, which is the home page of each New Model course in Canvas LMS.
- The syllabus determines the minimal framework for effective learning, but it does not prevent teachers from adding relevant materials to compliment it in listening, reading, writing or speaking. In this respect teachers are given a good deal of freedom, but there are some guidelines and recommendations for them to follow.
- We do not exclude the native language (L1) of learners from online instruction (in texts explaining the tasks, in videos, and especially in self-teaching mode), but only at a lower level (New Model Start, and initial lessons of New Model Progress). However, the use of L1 is to be avoided in offline lessons and in individual or group online activities with a teacher even from the very start. L1 is totally excluded starting from New Model Progress, but there are some translation exercises from L1 into English used only for testing. Teachers must be very careful with any translation from English into L1.
- We consider total beginners (learners with zero level of English, or A0) to be a very special group of learners who need more attention and different approach. That is the reason why the instructional design of New Model Start (initial 20 lessons) is so different from other programmes. We begin not with conversational patterns, such as “what is your name? where are you from?”, but rather with “rewiring people’s neuron paths”, developing skills “to put words together, but not memorising which word follows which other word” (Steven Pinker “The Language Instinct”).
- All lessons are grouped into units. A unit focuses on clearly set goals: vocabulary, grammar, function. Between units there are revision blocks. Revision is given a lot of attention throughout the course, and it occurs not only between units, but also in most lesson.
- Language is social, so all tasks and activities must be realised through meaningful conversation and interaction.
- Language is physical and physiological, we must focus on developing specific practical skills, rather than simply knowledge.
- Language is cognitive, it can not be acquired without thought, experience and senses. Language can not be acquired without context. A sentence is the minimal contextual element and a minimal requirement for creating context. A text is at the heart of each unit, it creates context and integrates language elements to be learnt within a unit.
- Learning a language is inseparable from knowledge, attention, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language. Human cognition is conscious and unconscious, concrete or abstract, as well as intuitive and conceptual. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge. All these assumptions are taken into account.
- Learning a language must be realised through interaction and communication. Any interaction is psychological. A teacher must establish positive emotional, psychological background for learners to feel comfortable. Teaching a language should be slightly psychotherapeutic, giving learners positives feelings and emotions.
- A teacher is a guide, but learners acquire a language by themselves, helping each other. A teacher shows and lights the way, but learners walk themselves.
These are just fundamentals outlining the methodology of New Model