Analyze: Considering which "Traditions" We Want to Preserve

In teaching and planning instruction for 21st century learners in a digital age, we want to move forward without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We need to carefully consider the underlying intellectual tasks of traditional approaches. Which traditions represent genuinely important intellectual skills or essential language learning purposes? Which traditions are simply traditional?

Your task: Brainstorm a list of traditional or typical FL teaching and learning approaches. Evaluate the merits of each one and consider its digital equivalent. Is the digital equivalent truly better or just fancier? Which approaches ought to be replaced by new technologies and pedagogies? Create a text (whatever variety of text you choose) that provides a list of traditional FL teaching and learning practices we want to preserve and a rationale for each one. Also, identify which traditional approaches can probably be left behind.


One good point to make: Technology is not always a reliable source, both in it's information and with it's ability to work INcorrectly.

Traditional Approaches to be Preserved
Pop-up Grammar: Always useful because students might need a grammar lesson at that particular time.

Dictionary: Is the dictionary new or is out of style? On one hand, if students travel abroad they may not be able to have access to the internet. They still need to know how to use a dictionary (book) however websites such as is useful because if they need help they can go to the discussion forums and learn from native speakers, and with context.

Notebooks or note-taking:
Taking notes online could replace the notebook, however, students may not have access to the online aspect. Also, taking notes in class formulates the belief/value of note-taking in the real world. This is not a replacement in this case, it's a supplement because it reinforces what was learned and a 'permanent record' that does not get lost! Students can also see what their peers got out of the class.

Study techniques:
Traditional techniques: Flashcards (Online flashcards are just a fancy way.)
Technological/new techniques: Online review

Group Work: Traditional form of teaching that is still a necessary in the classroom. People searching for jobs will work with groups at work and need to learn good communication skills. However, the digital equivalent (such as using email, Google Docs, etc.) is still a resourceful skill to learn and a resourceful technology to have 'under their belts.'

Speaking Assessment: Online might be a more fanciful way to assess speaking instead of using a tape recorder, however, a cassette tape is going out of style, getting more expensive, and if you use online space you never have to delete or erase student speaking and you don't have to use all these tapes!

Traditional Approaches to Consider Leaving Behind

Assessment: If you're changing your teaching for the 21st century, you must change your assessments to match your new teaching methods.

Direct Translation: Is it really necessary to provide them a translation for everything? Probably not. However, must they be taught how to pick out phrases they understand? Absolutely. However, you can say it's necessary to learn language equivalents in your native language. This helps make connections between the two languages.

Explicit Grammar: Not a bad thing, but it certainly depends on the students. How dry is the information you’re giving, and how much do the students need to know at once?

Traditional Textbook: Yes, it's nice to have an outline, but a lot of curriculums do not get through the entire textbook. Students can look at the textbook if they need a reference, however, there are a lot of activities that do not fit inside many classrooms. Traditional textbooks are not as 'useful' as they used to be.

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