WizIQ Featured Teacher – Larissa Albano

Interviews Webinars

Does learning have to be boring? Do only books teach? Can I get a break from this monotony?

Like me, at some point in your student life you must have asked yourself these questions.
Interestingly, we all have same ones. The problem is we rarely discuss them; and, thus, we find no solutions.

These BIG questions in education have remained below the surface until recent developments in interactive learning through technology. The focus has shifted from information accumulation to active learning; and teachers are also becoming more experimental and bold with their teaching approaches.

Larissa Albano, renowned ESL teacher and founder of Larissa’s Languages, is one such teacher. She swears by the words of Pablo Picasso in her teaching,

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Larissa believes in letting her students be creative thinkers. Her passion for teaching languages and focus on addressing students’ needs has helped her make a name for herself in the online teaching world. She finds inspiration in simple things and uses them in creative ways to motivate her learners. Give her a gift bag, she’ll get back to you with an amazing teaching idea. She’s serious about using games to teach her students and has found great success with this approach.

Larissa is now planning to share her ideas with teachers around the world, LIVE on WizIQ on Nov 23rd, 4pm UTC in a free webinar “Games in the English Classroom”, hosted by Fluency MC. In an interview with me, she talks about her experience experimenting with various teaching strategies and how game-based learning promotes engagement.

What creative teaching strategies have you tried in your classroom so far? And what has worked best for you?

Creative teaching enhances creative learning. From brainstorming activities to problem solving situations, from role-plays to jigsaws reading activities, I’ve been using many of these teaching strategies since I started teaching. There is not one strategy which works better than others. Personally, I think we need to adapt our strategies and approaches to the needs of our learners. What works well for a group of students may not work at all with another; that’s why we cannot stop looking for new methods and strategies to include in our classrooms.

You have also been using games in your teaching. They are synonymous with fun. How do they support language learning?

Games provide access to another world, one that is typically safe from the consequences of the “real” world. They allow players freedom and control to create new identities and interact with both the environment and other people in novel and surprising ways. They can also create a sense of fun and enjoyment, removing some of the stresses and pressures that are often associated with formal education, and allowing learners to engage with the game activities in a relaxed and light-hearted manner. Moreover, game-wise, making mistakes is not only seen as an intrinsic aspect of many games, but it is also part of the progress from novice to expert player.

There is a myth that game-based learning works for young learners only. What has been your experience with it?

Games and fun activities benefit adult English learners as much as they do younger age groups.Games and playful activities will help to build up class cohesion, raise energy levels and most importantly, provide a framework in which learners are motivated to produce target language.

Is using games to teach simply about amusing and engaging students? How do your students respond to using games for language learning?

Using games in the English classroom is not only for fun. In my opinion, “game for game’s sake” is nonsense. Games represent a form of fun whose aim is creating a pleasant, enjoyable learning environment. Games have rules and goals; thus, they give learners structure and motivation. The outcome and feedback of games represent real learning. Finally, in games there are win states and this makes learners feel rewarded.
My students are eager to play games because of the playful atmosphere, the adrenaline of the competition and the interaction with the other students.

How do you decide on games to be used in your class? Do you use any specific types of games for teaching?

When it comes to choosing a game for a lesson there are three aspects I always take into account:
Age and level of the students
Target language (grammar structure, vocabulary, functional language, etc.)
Stage of learning (teaching, reviewing, assessment)
I usually adapt board games, party games, quizzes and word games for my students’ needs.

What advice would give to teachers who want to incorporate games in their teaching?

I strongly recommend using games in the EFL classroom at any age but you must remember to work as referee in this learning context . If a student always loses, he will feel frustrated. Therefore, pair or group students according their skills in order to have balanced teams. Finally, always promote fair play.

Catch Larissa, LIVE, in her free one-hour webinar “Games in the English Classroom” on Nov 23, 4pm UTC on WizIQ.

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Amanjot Kaur

A marketer by profession and an explorer by nature. I love to read, learn, travel, experiment with new music and food, and have a good laugh.

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