Please find below information that will support you and your students taking an online Language course with Pamoja Education.
Language Learning Principles
To learn a new language takes time and it can be challenging.
For true beginners, a student will begin their language learning journey by mimicking what they have heard. At this stage their language is often free from errors.
However, students will quickly begin to independently create with the language and should strive to think in the target language. If students try to think about a task in English, they may resort to using online translators or try to seek help from others to express their ideas. A second language ab initio student should try to keep their message and language simple.
There is a correlation between what a student is able to say when speaking and what they are able to write. They are both productive skills. In both instances, spontaneous and independent production is strongly encouraged so that personalised feedback can be given enabling students to learn and grow. Students cannot expect to be perfect and should see mistakes and errors as learning opportunities.
Ultimately, the goal is for students to be independent and creative in the language.
Principles into Practice
We have established the following guidelines to help support this goal:
- In speaking sessions, students should review the material beforehand and think about questions they may be asked. They should be discouraged from trying to memorise answers to any guiding questions in the lessons as they progress through the course.
- In the first week of the course, students are reminded about academic honesty in languages.
- Our teachers are all very experienced in supporting ab initio If, in their professional judgement, they feel that a piece of work may have been proofread by a native speaker (a friend or tutor) or gone through a translator, they will remind the student of the need to use their own words, or to clearly indicate if they have looked something up. Students should also avoid copying whole chunks of sample material from the course.
- If there are persistent concerns about how work is being produced, or if there is a marked discrepancy between written and spoken skills, these will be flagged to the SBC to ensure a conversation focused on learning takes place with the student. The student should be encouraged to not focus solely on grades, but on learning and practising the language.
- Depending on the situation, we may require pieces of work to be completed under an SBC’s supervision so that the teacher is able to authenticate the language level of the student. This will also help to determine an accurate Term Grade and ensure students receive meaningful, personalised feedback.
- A formal academic honesty report will be filed if continued discrepancies arise after the above steps have been taken.
We appreciate your support in helping us to enforce these guidelines and support student learning and language acquisition. We also encourage you to speak to your students about these guidelines.
Guidance for the placement of students in language courses
Schools are responsible for selecting the appropriate language course for their students. The IB underlines the importance of selecting a course which provides appropriate challenge:
Misplacement of a student into a language course which does not provide an appropriate degree of challenge for the student may provide the student with an unfair advantage over those who are appropriately placed into the course. Intentional misplacement may be considered school maladministration according to Academic Integrity.
The IB has a publication: ‘DP language courses overview and placement guidance’ which provides specific, practical support for schools and students in deciding on the appropriate language level.
If the Pamoja teacher feels that a particular student may not be in the appropriate language course, the SBC will be notified.
Synchronous Conversation Sessions
As a language course, the development of speaking skills is of utmost importance.
The course content is structured to provide quality input in the target language and therefore does expect the students to produce quality output at their current proficiency level.
To really foster the speaking skills, we have a structured system where students have the opportunity to have interactive group conversations with their classmates and their teacher on a regular basis. These excellent learning opportunities allow for students to interact and communicate with the peers in their chosen language and to have the teacher assess their communication and offer them immediate feedback to focus on improving their speaking skills.
The system works in the following way:
- Conversation practice takes place every 2-3 weeks
- Sign-up sheets are sent round to students to their personal email address using Microsoft Sharepoint. Students should bookmark this sign-up sheet link as it will be the same all year.
- All dates and times are posted in GMT
- Students are to select a time that is suitable for them and set a reminder
- Log into the platform and join the conference room via Zoom at least 5 minutes prior to the start time.
Please take a moment at your next meeting with students to go over this information with them and to underline the importance of engagement and time management.
Students should be mindful of the time it takes teachers to schedule and organise conversation practice. As a courtesy to their peers and teachers, students should sign up promptly and attend their practice on time. Please note the following:
- If a student does not sign up, we will remind them to sign up prior to the deadline. If they choose to not sign up, they will not be able to make up that session at a later date because they have consciously chosen not to take action.
- If they do not show up for their time, without justifiable reason, they will not be able to make up their session, unless they can join another upcoming time slot in the same session.
- If students fail to attend an oral, teachers will leave a comment in the gradebook confirming lack of attendance.
- Where a student’s absence is due to illness, or is another legitimate absence, the engagement rating will not be affected but it is important that this is confirmed by the SBC.We therefore suggest that students email their teacher and copy in the SBC.
No Grade Policy
In order to receive a numeric Term Grade, students must have completed at least one assignment in each of the four skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing) during each term. Without evidence of all four skills, teachers will not have the evidence required to award an accurate numeric Term Grade and students may receive a No Grade (NG).
To help you best support your students and track their engagement, you will receive automated emails from the School Services team if students miss key assignments and may therefore be at risk of a No Grade. These emails are designed to encourage a conversation with your student about their ATLs primarily focussing on self-management (working habits) and for you to offer guidance and support for the student.
Challenges for students:
Converting time: We have provided students with multiple explanations and tools on how to convert time-zones. However, you may need to follow up with them and support them in learning how to accurately convert the time or use a web-based time zone converter. This is an example: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
Accessing sign-up sheets: Sign-up sheets are shared by the teacher to a student’s email address using Microsoft Sharepoint. If students are not receiving sign-up sheets, or are struggling to open sign-up sheets, they should contact their teacher via the platform messaging system.
As a possible solution, students can try setting up a new Microsoft account with a new email address: https://help.pamojaeducation.com/hc/en-us/articles/360058805571-How-to-create-a-Microsoft-account
If issues persist, they should email email@example.com with relevant screenshots and clear, written explanations.
Unknown technical difficulties: At the scheduled time of the conversation practice, if students encounter an unknown technical issue, they should contact their conversation teacher via the platform messaging system as soon as possible to be able to chat, and to navigate or troubleshoot the technical issues.
This article covers some Frequently Asked Questions for troubleshooting: https://help.pamojaeducation.com/hc/en-us/articles/360058805491-IB-Live-Lessons-Zoom-FAQs
Typical troubleshooting tips are:
- close the browser and start it up again
- shut down/restart the computer
- clear cache/cookies/history
- check internet connection (wifi/Data/etc)
- communicate with teacher immediately if something isn’t working (platform messaging)
We would encourage SBCs to check with their students after the first oral (first orals take place around week 4) if they were able to successfully join the conference. It is important to try and resolve technical issues early on.
Communication. If they are having difficulty finding a suitable date/time, or have any other concern, they need to communicate with their teacher via the platform messaging system as soon as possible.