As we try to bridge the gap between online and traditional learning, it is important to take a step back and audit our progress as a society. For decades, Singaporean education was very traditional. Our exam-focused education system necessitated that teachers push their students to perform. However, since 2019, Singapore has decided to adopt a more holistic approach to education. Instead of pitting students against one another, this shift is meant to inspire a love and a joy for learning.
Unfortunately, we were also hit with a worldwide pandemic, which forced institutions to find a way to adapt their new system to an online mode of delivery. Teachers particularly would feel the brunt of these changes as now, rather than a distributor of knowledge or a sage, they feel a bit more like a guide.
This requires new practices, which of course require a bit of new thinking and lots of trial and error. During this on-going Covid crisis period, the Agape School of Education (ASOE), as well as many other educational institutions have faced many difficulties.
Not only have we tried to adapt our courses for our students trying to learn at home, but we also have to solve the new problems faced by our teachers.
Lessons from the Agape School of Education
From the online classes (zoom or blended) we discovered that a majority of our students fell into one of the 3 categories below:
- Those who are not well-established self-learners and require structured guidance by a teacher.
- Those who love the language, and therefore are ready to go the extra mile and work very hard to meet their goals.
- Those who are gifted at self-learning and self-motivate themselves to do well.
Ultimately, the students who are not independent self-learners, tend to struggle with the new format of education and progressively learn less and less, resulting in poor school performances.
We’ve written a host of articles/blogs on how parents can support their children to become successful self-learners as well as how we have successfully brought self-directed learning into the online classroom and other home-based learning situations.
Translating to home-based learning
Often the learning goals need to be changed to fit a virtual environment. That means, a 2-hour classroom course cannot be simply converted to a 2-hour online course. Holding and adapting current learning objectives to meet online learning and re-purposing learning material for the right mix of digital learning delivery is important. Face-to-face and online learning are not exactly the same and it would be a mistake to solely rely on technology. This may mean integrating types of teaching and learning practices that encourage continuous participation in a virtual environment.
The Elite Course (EC)
From this past year, we have found that while it is easier to manage students of differing levels in a face-to-face situation, when converting this to a virtual class, the gap between students is often wider and more segregated. This has led to slow progression in learning, unequal need between students and this often comes at the expense of advanced students.
At the Agape School of Education, we always prioritize each and every student, regardless of their linguistic proficiency or skill. While this helps students who need more guidance, we must also consider the needs of advanced students.
That is why we are launching our newest Gifted Education Program, the “Elite” Course, available for German, French, Spanish and Japanese students who are top self-directed learners.
These courses will not only follow the same program and syllabus that they need to learn, as set by the MOELC or other international standards. However, the progress and speed of the course will be tailored to the advanced needs of these gifted students.
- Group Class Size: 4 minimum/8 maximum. This will also apply to private and semi-private students.
- Current students will be analyzed and referred to this program by their respective teachers.
- If student’s standard drops during the course of the class, the student will be encouraged return to their normal classes so provide them with the extra support they require. Remember, not everyone is good at everything and that’s ok!
- Lessons will be conducted at a faster and more in-depth pace. The teacher will, in addition to textbooks, use a variety of teaching supports such as audio-visual tools, interactive sessions, quizzes and polls.
- Certain languages will follow a “Hybrid Approach” structure where students are taught by two teachers, a local tutor for linguistic semantics and an international tutor for context and real-life exposure to culture.
- These courses will be taught primarily in the language chosen with minimal to no English instructions.
- Students will be given projects to implement and/or specific subjects to present and debate in class.
- Emphasis will be placed on the social and cultural aspects of the language.
- Students will be encouraged to prepare for international certifications like Goethe Institut Exams (German), DELF/DALF (French), DELE (Spanish) and JLPT (Japanese).
This new organization and course offering is intended to inspire our advanced students, avoid frustration within classrooms and to allow them to continue falling in love with the language at their own self-directed pace.