Creating mental challenge
Children need to struggle a little to increase their thinking and learning ability. It is what Vygotsky refers to as the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ (ZPD) and where learning happens. The ZPD is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he/she can do with the teacher guiding them.
By making something challenging, you make it engaging. This is done primarily through a careful questioning process where teachers:
- Encourage speculation by highlighting possibilities
- Develop depth by asking for explanations
- Ask questions that probe rather than test
- Create a dialogue rather than ‘ping pong’ questioning
In Let’s Think in English lessons children are challenged to work at their upper limit of the ZPD thus creating “desirable difficulty” (Robert A. Bjork, 1994) and so making them think harder.
Evidence of Impact
Let’s Think in English is one of only three educational programmes backed by robust and rigorous research (Philosophy for Children and Instrumental Enrichment are the other two). There is a mountain of empirical evidence for the effect of LTiE on children’s attainment.
Approaches such as LTiE, “have consistently high levels of impact with pupils making an average of seven months’ additional progress.” (The Education Endowment Foundation).
At the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City, our data for Primary levels is showing increased attainment in English.
“The impact that LTiE has had on our students has gone well beyond our expectations. For students who have accessed the programme for nearly 2 years, we have seen a significant rise in academic attainment. Our students have become more articulate as well as understanding and respectful of others’ opinions and views.” - Deirdre Grimshaw, Head of Junior Campus, BIS HCMC
“I think that we are really starting to see the long-term impact of student engagement with LTiE lessons. There’s a strong feeling within the English Department that the methods and pedagogy that underpin the programme are evident in many of our lessons. Students are really developing as critical, reflective learners who understand the importance of social construction when analysing and discussing texts.” - Gavin Donnelly, Head of Secondary English, BIS HCMC
It appears Let’s Think in English is making our students think harder, is challenging them and, as we are seeing, this is positively impacting on their learning.
Last word from Aristotle: “The pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and learn all the more.” My hope is that all of us as educators are giving our students every opportunity to do just that.
Shaheena Pall, Let’s Think in English Lead, BIS HCMC