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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Free This Week 4-10 March 2013
English Attack! was created to address the problem of insufficient exposure to real English by most English language learners. It does this by providing an entertaining, immersive, autonomous and motivational online learning and practice resource which is complementary to, not in competition with, classroom and course-based lessons.
TEACHER & SCHOOL ADVANTAGES
Class time is precious time, and there never seems to be enough of it. In part, that’s because too much class time is taken up by tasks designed to provide initial exposure to input, such as reading a text or viewing a video.
English Attack! allows some of this time to be shifted to the time in between classes, in the learner’s own time, at home, in the library, or in the language lab. This allows classroom time to be focused on those tasks requiring interactive, in-person teacher direction or supervision, such group work and discussion, role play, pronunciation work, error correction, and one-on-one teacher-learner discussion and coaching.
Our approach is anchored in the latest EFL/ESL pedagogical thinking, including the lexical and communicative methods; a lexical approach to grammar; and contextual learning. We reinforce this by applying the principles of cognitive neuroscience (a non-threatening learning environment; stimulation of learning via emotion; motivation through discovery; repetition to enhance retention; learning by doing) and games-based learning (immediate reinforcement; challenge vs. stress; "failure" as a normal part of the learning curve; very achievable rewards and enhanced social status instead of grades and proficiency tests), especially those most relevant to teen and young adult language learners.
We started by conducting market research that confirmed the target audience’s receptiveness to the concept. We then tested our approach over 12 months with over 25,000 Beta testers worldwide; and have furthermore obtained support and feedback from a number of highly experienced English language teachers, including several who are already using English Attack! with their learners. A full description of our pedagogical principles can be found below, and related blog posts can be found and commented upon on our English Attack! blog.
One of the biggest challenges in English language learning is that learners not living in an English-speaking country are simply not exposed to enough English, especially in the interval between one formal instruction session and another. Another challenge, especially for teens and young adults, is that learners are often not sufficiently motivated by traditional course books, classroom settings and teaching methods, and thus fail to reach their full elevated potential for language learning unless stimulated in other ways. Accordingly, we decided to create a highly accessible online platform providing a form of “digital entertainment immersion” which can greatly augment the quantity and frequency of learners’ exposure to a wide range of authentic spoken English, as well as increase their motivation to keep learning. The service features online video clips from the latest Hollywood blockbusters, global news providers and the top TV series; the latest chart-topping music videos; professionally produced online games; and social networking functionalities like friendship, comments, and messaging. The site's user interface is being localized into dozens of languages (thus facilitating take-up by beginners); it is intended for use by both learners and teachers; and is designed to be complementary to other methods of learning English, including classroom instruction - not in competition with them.
Labels: Arts, Education, English as a foreign or second language, English language, Hollywood, Motivation, Television program