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Planning & Supporting Strong English Programs (Part 3)

By Elaine Gallagher, Ph. D.   PART 3  – FUNDAMENTAL ECLECTIC ASPECTS OF A GOOD ENGLISH PROGRAM Vygotsky, Bloom, Gardner, Goleman, UNESCO, Competencies, Buzan ——————————————————————————————–                 Mexico’s PNIEB (Plan Nacional de Inglés en Educación Básica) is based on a variety of theories, each if which is described below. The basic theory of language acquisition is that […]

Autor: UNOi

Fecha: 26 de julio de 2013

Elaine Gallagher 10 cegBy Elaine Gallagher, Ph. D.  


Vygotsky, Bloom, Gardner, Goleman, UNESCO, Competencies, Buzan


                Mexico’s PNIEB (Plan Nacional de Inglés en Educación Básica) is based on a variety of theories, each if which is described below. The basic theory of language acquisition is that it’s a complex interaction between people, emphasizing social and cultural interactions, higher order thinking, group work, listening, and production. This eclectic approach is intended to reach the learner in a variety of ways, recognizing that we all learn using a variety of ways.

                The following topics in Part 3 will provide you with enough information so you can feel confident with the areas that the PNIEB is emphasizing as its base, but no so much that you are completely lost and overwhelmed with too much material.

[Since this part is quite large and some of its contents have been published before in The English Corner, we will put only the link for those already posted].


Social / cultural: Vygotsky


Higher order, critical thinking: Bloom


Multiple Intelligences: Dr. Howard Gardner


Emotional Intelligence: Goleman


In a 1994 report on the state of EMOTIONAL LITERACY in the USA, author Daniel Goleman stated,

       “The price we pay is failed marriages, troubled families,

       mental anguish, and tragedies, such as killings.”



These five abilities must be taught, gradually, over time, using examples, stories, modeling, films, and discussions.

  1. Self Awareness
  2. Mood Management
  3. Self-Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Managing Relationships


Key areas to develop in children in order to promote the          growth of the five emotional intelligences:

                                              Ability to Cooperate
                                              Capacity to Communicate



In other words, all the multiple intelligences in the world won’t matter if we haven’t developed emotional intelligence.

It is possible to improve our E.Q. (emotional quotient) by strengthening social / cultural abilities, creating awareness by using role play, films, stories, examples, modeling, and discussion.

Emotional development is crucial to academic success!




 Learning to Know

       Learning To Do

                       Learning to Live Together

                                       Learning To Be

                                                      RESULTS: Exhibiting the Learning




                This type of learning is concerned less with the acquisition of structured knowledge than with the mastery of learning tools. People have to learn to understand the world around them, at least as much as is necessary for them to lead their lives with some dignity, develop their occupational skills and communicate with other people.

                It is underpinned by the pleasure that can be derived from understanding, knowledge and discovery. That aspect of learning is typically enjoyed by researchers, but good teaching can help everyone to enjoy it. Even if study for its own sake is a dying pursuit with so much emphasis now being put on the acquisition of marketable skills, the raising of the school-leaving age and an increase in leisure time should provide more and more adults with opportunities for private study. The broader our knowledge, the better we can understand the many different aspects of our environment. Such study encourages greater intellectual curiosity, sharpens the critical faculties and enables people to develop their own independent judgments on the world around them.

                From that point of view, all children – no matter where in the world they live – must have a chance to receive an appropriate science education and become friends of science throughout their lives.


                This is closely associated with the issue of occupational training: how do we adapt education so that it can equip people to do the types of work needed in the future?

                Here we should draw a distinction between industrial economies, where most people are wage-earners, and other economies where self-employment or casual work are still the norm.

                In societies where most people are in paid employment, which have developed throughout the Twentieth Century, based on the industrial model, automation is making this model increasingly «intangible».

                 Now, in the 21st Century, the future hinges on the ability to turn advances in knowledge into innovations that will generate new businesses and new jobs. «Learning to do» can no longer mean what it did when people were trained to perform a very specific physical task in a manufacturing process. Skill training has to evolve and become more than just a means of imparting the knowledge needed to do a more or less routine job.


                Violence all too often dominates life in the contemporary world, forming a depressing contrast with the hope, which some people have been able to place in human progress. Human history has constantly been scarred by conflicts, but the risk is heightened by two new elements.

                First, there is the extraordinary potential for self- destruction created by humans during the twentieth century. Then, we have the ability of the new media to provide the entire world with information and unverifiable reports on ongoing conflicts.

                Public opinion becomes a helpless observer or even a hostage of those who initiate or keep up the conflicts. Until now, education has been unable to do much to mitigate this situation. Can we do better? Can we educate ourselves to avoid conflict or peacefully resolve it?

                While the idea of teaching non-violence in schools is certainly praiseworthy, it seems quite inadequate if we look at what is really involved. The challenge is a difficult one since people have a natural tendency to overestimate their own abilities or those of the group to which they belong, and to entertain prejudices against other people.

                Moreover, the general climate of competition that prevails in both domestic and international economies tends to turn competitiveness and personal success into modern values. In fact, this competitiveness is nowadays translated into a relentless economic war and a tension between rich and poor that breaks apart nations and the world and exacerbates historic rivalries. Regrettably, with its incorrect interpretation of what is meant by competition, education sometimes helps to sustain this state of affairs.


                At its very first meeting, UNESCO powerfully re-asserted a fundamental principle: education should contribute to every person’s complete development – mind and body, intelligence, sensitivity, aesthetic appreciation and spirituality.

                All people should receive in their childhood and youth an education that equips them to develop their own independent, critical way of thinking and judgment, so that they can make up their own minds on the best courses of action in the different circumstances in their lives.

                In this respect, UNESCO embraces one of the basic assumptions stated in the report Learning to Be:. the aim of development is the complete fulfillment of man, in all the richness of his personality, the complexity of his forms of expression and his various commitments – as individual, member of a family and of a community, citizen and producer, inventor of techniques and creative dreamer’.

                This human development, which begins at birth and continues all through a person’s life, is a process which is based both on self-knowledge and on relationships with other people. It also presupposes successful personal experience. As a means of personality training, education should be a highly individualized process and at the same time an interactive social experience.

5. RESULTS: Exhibiting the Learning

                Showing, demonstrating, or exhibiting the things children have learned is the final pillar of UNESCO’s pillars of education.

Building a bridge, drawing a picture, jumping over a puddle, reading a story and telling someone what it was about, solving a mathematical word problem, knitting a scarf, singing a song, playing a musical instrument, building a fire at a barbecue, writing a poem, playing a sport, driving a car, cooking a meatloaf, speaking fluently in a second or third language,  ………all of these are products showing what someone has learned.

Notice that «multiple choice test» is not on the list.

In the 21st Century, if you can’t do it, or can’t speak it, you don’t know it. UNESCO sees the Fifth Pillar of Education as being able to demonstrate what the student has learned.



A competency is a skill, at a level considered basic, that all students should be able to reach.


This list will help you see that competencies are varied, complete the human necessities for being productive, and can be applied to virtually all ages of people.


  1. Personal identity and autonomy
  2. Interpersonal relations
  3. Language & communication: oral and written
  4. Mathematical & logical
  5. Learning about our world: natural and social sciences
  6. Our world: culture and society
  7. Appreciation & expression: music, art, dance, crafts
  8. Drama & theatrical expression: acting
  9. Physical & motor coordination, strength and balance
  10. Health and safety

These are the basic, general, global competencies. The third one, «Language & communication: oral and written» is the competency most of interest and supported by the PNIEB.

A competency is a skill, an ability that someone has acquired and can demonstrate. When we use the term «COMPETENCY» in education, we usually are referring to a skill that could be academic, social, physical, mental, musical, artistic, moral…or a combination of all of those. Furthermore, «being competent» implies that someone has responsibility and high level thinking skills. 


These are part of the philosophy of learning in a STRONG English program.

  • Progress is measured, NOT evaluated.
  • The use of alternative assessment tools is required: rubrics, portfolios, presentations, creative writing, oral fluency.
  • The time factor to reach a competency is flexible.
  • We all learn at different speeds.

There are general, global, international competencies, that can be more specifically adapted to each country’s needs and expectations. General competencies include the following:

COMPETENCIES are within the area where these three attributes overlap:

  1. Knowledge and comprehension
  2. Attitudes and values
  3. Abilities and skills

To work well with the idea of teaching to reach a «competency», teachers need to develop two major skills: 

  • to be able to analyze things (within the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy), and
  • to be able to express and demonstrate what they have analyzed, to be able to show others

 Competencies being demonstrated by children indicates that the learning process in being successful. They are basic to educational principles and objectives.




These are support tools which enhance teaching, learning, and language  development.

An educational leader with his own methods and theories about learning is TONY BUZAN.  While his ideas are not new, educators have used graphic organizers for generations, he has compiled them in a book about mind mapping which is being used world wide to help promote better teaching and learning. Tony Buzan has emphasized mind mapping, or use of graphic organizers as a method of better teaching.

The mind-mapping technique could also be called  a “graphic organizer”, even though Buzan prefers his system to be called «Mind Maps». Technically, any graphic, diagram, or chart that shows data, could be called a «graphic organizer».

Humans learn well from graphics, often better than with words, especially if the topic has several areas to be mastered.

When teachers use time lines, Venn diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. , the students’ learning and absorption of ideas and topics is much clearer and more complete.  Buzan’s work shows a wide variety of ideas on how to use the “mind maps”, supported by research.


Mind mapping is the process of visually depicting a central concept with symbols, colors, key words, and branches. Mind mapping is a fast and fun way to take visual notes, facilitate creativity, and improve students’ learning skills as they relate the visual/spatial intelligence. Mind maps may also be used to plan lessons or units and present information to students.

Every mind map must include:

  • A central topic
  • Spokes or lines coming from the central topic
  • Colors
  • Pictures
  • Few words

Why Make A Mind Map?

Brain-Compatible Learning-Mind mapping reflects our natural thinking processes, and is a balanced, whole-brained approach to learning. As mind maps are created and viewed, both left and right brain processing styles are utilized. 

  • Creativity-Students must use their imaginations to capture the essence of each topic they are mapping.
  • Comprehension-Students are able to see the “big picture” and create their own connections which embeds learning in more complete, meaningful context.
  • Memory-Mind maps provide visual and linguistic cues that are short and easy to remember. Students remember more of what they see and draw than what they read and hear.
  • Multiple Intelligences-Mind mapping engages four intelligences simultaneously: verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, and intrapersonal.

                                                                Mind Mapping

 1) Create the Central Image

In the center of the page, write the name of the topic and illustrate the central concept with a recognizable image. Make the central image large enough so you can see the subject of the mind map at a glance, but small enough to leave space to add main ideas and details radiating out of the central image.

2) Brainstorm Main Idea

Brainstorm the main ideas relating to the central topic. Around the central topic draw images or symbols to represent the main ideas. Connect the main ideas to the central image with branches, arrows, or spokes. Use key words on or around the main idea, or use the connecting line to identify the main idea. Alternatively, draw lines radiating out of the main image, with a key word on each line describing the main idea.

3) Add Details

Using colors, images, symbols, and words, draw related details branching out of each of the main ideas.

Steps to Mind Mapping

  • Introducing Mind Maps-Lead the class in creating a class mind map before asking students to create their own.
  • Planning and Presenting-Use mind mapping to plan lessons or units.
  • Mind Mapping Notes and Journals-Encourage students to use mind maps as visual notes. Students may keep them in journal form. Students may then flip through their journals at a later date to refresh their memories.
  • Cooperative Learning-Students can work in pairs or teams to create mind maps. Students may each take responsibility for researching and completing a main idea, or students may simultaneously add their ideas to a team mind map.
  • Brainstorming and Pre-writing-Mind mapping is a great way to generate creative ideas, solutions to problems, clarify thinking on a topic, and to organize ideas for subsequent writing or presentation.
  • Authentic Assessment-Analyze students’ mind maps to assess what they have learned, and what they still need to learn.

More About Mind Mapping

1. This is a fairly recent teaching technique based on brain research that proves that our thinking process is composed of several sensations at the same time. Sounds, music, word combinations, images, colors, and even smells, all work simultaneously to bring impressions to the brain. Perhaps because genetically we were programmed for images and symbols to be seen in our brains, (millions of years before the printed word had been invented), we still learn better and remember longer when we see images rather than only the printed word.

Mind mapping closely resembles how we naturally think, so it is a whole-brain experience, using both the right and left brains, combining affective (feeling) and cognitive (knowing) learning.

2. Mind mapping allows our students to see the entire concept graphically.  Sometimes, in fact, mind maps are called graphic organizers. Whereas 25 years ago, graphic organizers consisted of simple Venn diagrams, where two circles overlapped showing in the overlapped area the things in common that two items had, today graphic organizers come in all shapes and sizes.  The basic idea is that the students get to see the whole idea of a topic in a diagram.

The old-fashioned sentence diagrams, a common grammar task of 50 years ago, seldom used today, is an example of a mind map that showed the students graphically the parts of speech and how words in a sentence were used. Let’s learn how to diagram a sentence, and then teach your students.  It will make grammar much simpler for them to learn.

3. Mind mapping helps new learning to be planted in the brain so that students will remember more of what they see and draw.  When they see and draw diagrams and graphs, they remember more than if they only read about or heard about the information.

Fatal to real learning, which lasts in long term memory, (as opposed to temporary learning for the “test”), is having students do workbook pages, filling in blanks, or copying robot-like answers from questions at the end of the chapter. Be more creative, teachers, in giving assignments and class work! Engage the brain! Emphasize comprehension!

4. When teachers use mind mapping activities, four multiple intelligences are engaged simultaneously, resulting in better learning and comprehension for the students.  When comprehension is activated, students remember the material in their long-term memories. 

5. The four intelligences involved in mind mapping are: 

  • Verbal/Linguistic because key words and phrases are used in mind maps.
  • Logical/Mathematical because organizations and relations among them are imbedded in mind mapping.
  • Visual/Spatial because mind maps are presented using visuals, including pictures, images, symbols, and relations among items.
  • Intrapersonalbecause learning is more personally relevant when mind maps are made.



1. Create the center of the mind map, with a drawing and a few words.  Keep it simple but colorful, attracting attention to the middle as the main idea. An example could be DINOSAURS, with a small drawing or cut-out of a dinosaur.

2. Around the central image/words draw spokes, lines, arrows, branches, or hooks which connect these words to the main idea.  Have key words that relate to the main idea.  With dinosaurs as a main topic, you could draw different spokes saying things like: meat eaters, plant eaters, land dwellers, swamp, dwellers, flying dinosaurs.

3. The add details, branching out from each spoke, that help explain further.  You can also add pictures.  For example, under “meat eaters” you could write “Tyrannosaurus Rex”, and continue with specific names and drawings.

4. The idea is to keep the mind maps unique to each child.  They can work in teams cooperatively or individually.  Creativity and clarity of ideas help cement the learning in the brain.

5. A time line is another example of a mind map.  Have students keep personal time lines in their notes that continue as the year progresses. Coordinate with a classroom timeline.  Dates /events/persons/etc. can be written on 8.5×11” sheets of various colored paper, and taped/stapled high, where the wall meets the ceiling, for example, so that students are aware of the major concepts/dates you want them to learn long-ter.

                Picky facts  (such as naming a specific emperor of China in 503 B.C.) are worthless timewasters.  Much more important is that the students know that China had emperors and dynasties, and that China had major influences in the world since before our calendar even started, since 5000 years ago.  They should know that China insulated itself against the outside world, forbidding foreigners to enter until the mid 1800’s. Those are facts worthy of knowing, and they will be remembered using time lines and other mind maps.


Next issue: Part 4 – «Techniques to support a strong English Program»