I find it really hilarious when people post tips on how to succeed in B2. Advice like 10 things to do in order to succeed in the exam is not only intimidating but also totally unnecessary. For me, it is not about the exam, the practice papers, or keeping scores with mathematical accuracy. It is about really knowing the English language. If our students are engaged in this wonderful journey of acquiring knowledge then everything will be possible for them.
Of course, one ponders ‘how will this learning process be enriched so students remain engaged?’ Greek students, unfortunately, are encouraged into using rote memorization not only in school but in the English classes as well. Students are led to believe that if they have memorized endless grammar rules, vocabulary items, model compositions, and speaking phrases success is guaranteed. I still laugh when I remember one of my students proudly telling me in class that her English teacher at school gave them a list with the most probable words to appear in the open cloze section of Cambridge B2. As if the English language needs a manual! But this is the reality we have to fight against!
Text by: Eleni Dougekou
I wholeheartedly believe teachers should move away from exam-oriented teaching. Immersing students in the learning process requires alternative teaching methods: role-playing, drama techniques, oral presentations, debates, and critical thinking questions all amount to gaining real knowledge of the language. Adopting CLIL methodology is essential to creating a student-centred environment where the abilities of each student come to the surface. Addressing up-to-date social topics draws students’ attention and students eagerly participate in class rather than being lethargic after solving endless monotonous exercises.
In our school, we extensively use Educational Drama. This holistic liberating teaching approach emancipates both teachers and students from conventional teaching methods. Drama is a teaching tool that allows students to participate in everyday situations and act them out. Thus, students are given the opportunity to express their emotions and practice language through communicative activities in a real context. Students experiment with language and learn to improvise, use their imagination, and become confident communicators in a nurturing setting. Drama activities improve reading comprehension, and numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between drama involvement and academic achievement. In an ever-changing world, having a creative and imaginative approach is so important for thinking ‘outside the box’ and coming up with new and interesting ideas and solutions. Furthermore, students develop empathy- the ability to view the world from another person’s perspective without judgment. This in turn will build our students’ emotional intelligence a crucial factor when taking exams.
Last year I worked with my students on femicide using different drama techniques. I would never have guessed how engaged students would be. The emotions that came to the surface cannot be described. It is evident that while students build social and communication skills their self-esteem grows as well. They become confident and assertive; traits necessary when you have to take an exam. Believing in yourself is of great importance as in times of exams stress piles up.
As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right”. That is why it is so important to instill in your students not grammar rules but confidence and perseverance. Nothing good comes if we do not step out of our comfort zones.