Dialogue helps to overcome misunderstanding whether in a classroom, workplace or even during simple interactions. Similarly, the concept of dialogue when utilized as a learning tool can have a significant impact on how students develop required topic vocabulary, consequently leading to a better understanding of concepts the being taught.
Correspondingly, the UAE has initiated educational reviews in improving students’ performance to be among the top-performing countries by the year 2021 as mentioned in a strategic plan referred to as the ‘National Agenda’. Educational reviews include enhancing students’ learning experiences with special focus on Emirati children. It becomes imperative therefore to structure learning provisions for children whose language is not the language of instruction. Likewise, the DSIB ( Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau) School Inspection Key Findings in 2016 indicates that out of the 266,299 students in the 173 schools in Dubai, 31736 were Emirati (DSIB, 2016). Although not a majority, the number of Emirati students attending private schooling with foreign curriculums delivered in English continues to rise (Pennington, 2015).
Findings derived from the statistics above show that significant modification needs to occur in improving classroom instructions for second language learners. Moreover, curriculum modifications need to also consider experiential, social interactional processes where children are given opportunities to be cognitively engaged. Equally, literature also suggests that children who are raised in environments that stimulate their capacities through dialogue with their teachers acquire enhanced cognitive capabilities, developing mastery in their learning (Duffy & Pugh, 2013).
School policymakers in the UAE therefore, need to review provisions especially in teaching practices and curriculum modification that acknowledge the importance of incorporating active dialogue in classrooms which include:
(a) Investing in quality programs that have been enhanced and modified to suit second language learners, these would include reviewing current policies governing early and primary years such as effective and age-appropriate resources and the emphasis of teacher-student interactions using dialogue to enhance learners experience (Wharton, 2015).
(b). Including a prerequisite for educational institutions to provide stimulating learning environments with special focus in the early and primary years comprising of an assortment of resources that would further support relationships between teachers and students (Elmore, 1996). This is further supported by Dewey (1938) who also emphasises on the significance of learning environments in building worthwhile experiences for students.
(c).Reviewing assessment policies to include both verbal and written feedback, an essential component for teachers in building interactive communication with their students to address any misunderstanding or misconceptions about topics being taught (Everton, Emmer & Brophy, 1980). More importantly, this feedback needs to a central and focal point in understanding students ability and understandings in driving instruction; establishing consistent assessment strategies that view these evaluations as inquiry; teachers are not mere administrators rather teachers and students become active creators of knowledge as compared to the current practice of viewing students as passive recipients (Serafini, 2001).
(d). Reducing dependency on standardised testing which has consequently led to a ‘teach to test’ mode of instruction, where teaching has become dearth with rote memorisation of concepts nurturing individuals who lack innovative and creative skills, affecting the long term (Zhao, 2014). Instead focus on building students’ critical thinking skills, allowing them to experiment and discover constantly applying concepts to real-life (Dewey, 1998).
(e). Establishing stringent and mandatory regulations that accommodate teachers’ professional development specifically for teachers teaching second language learners. Educational courses still rely heavily on content as detailed in the coursework rather, it should be designed to include practicums or supervised fieldwork that would prepare and empower teachers to teach in the setting they were trained in; this would consequently develop a more personalised perception leading to self-efficacy (Amobi, 2006).
By: Fatima Khalid
My name is Fatma Khalid and I have embarked on a journey of improving my knowledge so I then can adequately inspire knowledge and growth in others. My educational background includes Teacher training from Cambridge University (UK), coaching and mentoring Graydin Ltd (UK) and Masters in Educational Leadership in Middlesex University.