Teens in Motion adopts the orientations of the Communicative Language Teaching approach, which focuses on developing students’ communicative competence through the use of pair and group work activities, role-plays, and project work. It also includes contributions of other approaches, especially the Task Based Learning and the Cooperative Language Learning. Quoting Richards, “students are asked to participate in classroom activities that are based on a cooperative rather than individualistic approach to learning. They are expected to become comfortable with listening to their peers rather than relying on the teacher for a model” (Richards, 2006).
This approach to language teaching is characterized by the following features:
-an emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language
– the introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation
– the provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language, but also on the learning process itself
– an enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning
– an attempt to link classroom language learning with language activation outside the classroom
Task-based learning is also linked to classroom experiential learning. In experiential learning, immediate personal experience is seen as the focal point for learning, giving “life, texture, and subjective personal meaning to abstract concepts and at the same time providing a concrete, publicly shared reference point for testing the implications and validity of ideas created during the learning process,” (KoIb, 1984: 21).
Regarding the definition and nature of tasks, they have a pedagogically-oriented characterization. In Teens in Motion, a task is any classroom activity or action such as: drawing a map while listening to a recording or listening to an instruction and performing a command, which is carried out as the result of processing or understanding language and that “provides a purpose for the activity which goes beyond the practice of language for its own sake” (Richards, Platt, & Weber, 1985, p. 289).
At the same time, Teens in Motion has also focused on developing the following aspects that are regarded as the main strands of the Chilean Curriculum:
Critical and creative thinking
It is essential that students develop critical thinking abilities that will enable them to face 21st century demands. These require learners capable of analyzing, synthetizing and interpreting information, solving problems and also reflecting about their own learning process.
Explicit teaching of learning strategies
Students should be taught strategies that enable them to learn language on their own without their teacher’s help. Knowing which strategies are the ones that best work for them saves time, gives confidence and motivates learners to go further.
Connecting school subjects promotes holistic learning and motivates students to look for information in areas that really interest them. When students make connections with other school subjects, not only do they use authentic material that they can recognize from other classes, but also they strengthen and expand their comprehension in those areas.
Culture and intercultural competence
Learning a foreign language does not only mean learning about that language’s form, but also about the culture behind it. They learn to value diversity. Students realize there is not one way of life, but many and therefore become more open-minded and respectful of other people.
The writing process
Teaching students to follow the steps of the writing process allows them to analyze and reflect on the process of writing and not only the product itself. Focusing on the different strategies and steps (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing) helps students gradually develop the ability to write organized, coherent and well-thought-out texts in an easier and faster way. In this process, students notice and check their mistakes and errors, and discover and develop strategies to improve the final product.
Use of information technology and multimodal texts
Technology and multimodal communication are great tools that can really enhance the experience of learning a foreign language. Students who are used to them, and know them well, are less dependent on the teacher when searching for information or completing a task and become more autonomous learners. Technology also helps students cope with different learning styles and use time efficiently.
Assessment for learning
A strong body of evidence has demonstrated that improving formative assessment raises student achievement. Assessment for Learning is also known as formative assessment and has been defined as “the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there” (Assessment Reform Group, 2002).
Assessment for learning is any assessment for which the first priority in its design and practice is to serve the purpose of promoting students’ learning.
An assessment activity can help learning, if it provides information that teachers and their students can use as feedback in assessing themselves and one another, and in modifying the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged.
Assessment that fosters understanding (rather than simply evaluating it) has to be more than an end-of-the-unit test. It needs to inform students and teachers about both what students currently understand and how to proceed with subsequent teaching and learning.
In Teens in Motion, the evaluation activities are not different from the rest of the tasks that are proposed, but they include evaluation instruments that provide opportunities for a variety of perspectives on assessment over each unit: self-assessment, peer assessment, and teacher’s assessment.
This aims at helping students develop the skills they will need to provide one another and themselves with useful feedback. Self-reflection and peerassessment does not come easily to most students, but both can be learned from practice
Each lesson has a lead-in section that introduces the learning objectives and their purpose, and presents an engaging task to activate students’ previous knowledge and trigger their curiosity, interest and motivation. The lessons have special sections to practice and integrate reading, oral communication and writing skills. In the section called Subject Connections, students are asked to connect and apply what they have learned with other subjects or curricular topics. Ultimately, this better enables students to achieve higher level critical thinking and collaborative skills. Throughout the lessons, there are also activities that can be used as embedded evaluation. A self-evaluation rubric is provided so as to promote students’ independence.
Oral Communication: Listening is developed in a process consisting of three stages (Preparing to listen, Focusing on listening, After listening). Speaking skills are approached from a process-oriented perspective, considering oral practice as the initial stage that prepares students for independent practice.
Reading Comprehension: This skill is also presented in a three–phase approach, with before, while and after reading activities. A variety of texts are presented to students throughout the units. With the help of activities and strategies, students are guided to comprehend, discuss and analyze the texts from a critical perspective.
Written Production: This skill is developed in the section called Writing Workshop in which tasks are approached considering the different steps of the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. In this section, students go through an initial instance of guided practice in which they analyze a model and see how the writing process is developed. It prepares them to work independently and produce their own pieces of writing.
Assessment for learning
Teens in Motion advocates the benefits of the assessment for learning, over the assessment of learning. Assessment for learning is used at the beginning of an instructional period to check for student understanding. Diagnostic tools determine what students already know and where there are gaps and misconceptions. It also includes assessment as learning, where students reflect on and monitor their own progress. Assessment of learning is used towards and at the end of the instruction period.
Teachers document students’ learning achievements through tasks that invite students to demonstrate their mastery and knowledge of the course content. The evaluation activities are not different from the rest of the tasks proposed, and are aimed at providing evidence about what a student knows, understands and is able to do. The evaluation instruments consider: selfassessment, peer and teacher’s assessment.