When talking about scaffolding, people may picture a building under construction. There’s an undeniable fact that scaffolding is a temporary process. It will be taken down once the building is finished. That’s the same as the Teacher’s assistance in language learning.
There is a quote by Jerome Seymour Bruner, a professor from Harvard University. "Scaffolding refers to the steps taken to reduce the degrees of freedom in carrying out some tasks so that the child can concentrate on the difficult skill she is in the process of acquiring"(Bruner, 1978, p. 19).
In language learning, scaffolding is a teaching strategy that teachers use to provide support through modeling and dividing difficult tasks into smaller steps, and leading them to complete tasks independently.
Teachers help students focus on the most complex task, then after teachers offer support, students will be able to complete it independently later. There are various types of scaffolding, such as verbal scaffolding, emotional scaffolding, and social scaffolding. Verbal scaffolding is the commonly used one because it deserves case-by-case analysis. Here are some examples in the Qkids classroom:
Eg.1- Teacher Guidance and Language Choice
In any case, teaching instructions should be straightforward, which is termed as “KISS”-- Keep it short and simple.
The ultimate goal of scaffolding is to have students complete tasks by themselves. The whole process can be easily divided into “I do, we do, and you do”.
* "I do"
-- Teacher sets an example first.
-- He is cycling by the lake. (From Level 2 Unit 1 Lesson 6)
* "We do"
-- Teacher asks a series of content-based questions or guides students to do role-play and group discussion(In Qkids Animation and Role-play sections).
-- Yes/No questions: Is he cycling by the lake?
-- Optional questions: Is he cycling by the lake or on the playground?
-- Tag questions: Is he cycling by the lake, isn't he?
-- What is he doing? Where is he?
Eg.2- Hints and Tailored Assistance
Scaffolding usually goes step by step. Teacher can use body language, descriptions, and/or tools on the platform, etc. to assist students to output language targets by themselves, especially when Teacher notices some students need extra time to finish.
1. Use body movements to help build connections with meanings
When students are thinking about “What is Koby doing?”, Teacher could use body movements timely to help students understand the meanings. For example, Teacher pretends to run so as to guide students to say "running". This helps students learn both visually and verbally.
2. Use simple language to describe the target language
When students are unable to understand the word “college”, Teacher could simply say “Now you are in elementary school. Then after middle school and high school, you might go to college. Do you understand?”
3. Use tools such as text board to type sentence frames
In Qkids classes, when students finish the task after learning sentences, Teacher could use the Text-board to type the target sentence frames to practice, such as “It is a _____.” or “I used to____when I was___.”.
4. Resort to phonics to help students in spelling games
Besides reading each letter of a word, Teacher could also use phonics to help. For example, “Students, could you spell dentist? d-d-d, den-den, t-t-t, ti-s-t, dentist!”.
Eg.3- Chunking Materials
Chunking materials refers to the process of breaking down a new teaching target into individual pieces(also known as meaning groups) and arrange them into a sequence to support language learning.
“There are two dorm buildings in my school.” might be difficult for young students to read. However, if it is divided into “There are”, “two”, “dorm buildings” and “in my school”, it would be much easier to read.
2. Practice each separate unit individually
When guiding students to practice the separate units, Teacher can offer timely support. Using teaching tools, such as Highlighter and Spotlight, to put stress on sounds would be a great help for students to gain fluency.
3. Organize the information
After practicing, Teacher can guide students to group all smaller units together by asking students related questions to elicit student output.
T: How many dorm buildings can you see?
S: Two dorm buildings.
T: Where are the dorm buildings?
S: In my school.
T: How many dorm buildings are there in your school?
S: There are two dorm buildings in my school.
Here are the steps for corrections in class:
Teacher presents → Students struggle/make mistakes → Teacher gives corrections → Students repeat the correct forms & practice
1. Correction on pronunciation
2. Correction on the plural form
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