By Formative Educator Murat Türk
Murat Türk has been an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) college instructor for almost 11 years. He has delivered a wide range of courses in EFL settings including ESP Science, ESP Medicine and English for Fine Arts. Now he is currently giving CEFR B2 Reading and Writing courses at college. He is also an author of three English-test-prep books which have been on the Turkish market since 2010. Besides his professional work, he is also a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology. His research interests include Flipped Instructional Model in EFL settings, blended learning, instructional design and social media.
“Let me start with something striking: My students attitudes towards foreign language learning, namely English, have drastically changed for better ever since I started using Formative in my classrooms. I have been using Formative in my Speaking, Reading and Writing classrooms and I have received very positive feedback from my students so far. You can easily see that having studied in a traditional, paper-based system for years, students feel tired of being passive elements in their learning process. Formative has made it possible for me to transform them into active and engaged participants in our EFL journey. Below you can find how I have been using Formative in my EFL classrooms for the past year:
Speaking Experience: Formative enables you to create different tasks on ready templates on which you can write your questions. I use Short Answer template to assign short answer, intriguing questions to my students that will promote curiosity and critical thinking. Before class, students read my question, think about it, come up with some ideas and come to class prepared and ready to engage in more sophisticated discussions in class, which is an integral part of Flipped Classroom today. It really encourages them to come to class prepared as they know that they will be asked to discuss the issue at hand and that they will have a certain audience to address.
Reading Experience: I use Formative to create different tasks intended to improve my students’ EFL vocabulary. I use Formative Multiple Choice templates on which I prepare multiple choice vocabulary test items which I myself write, considering their current level of interlanguage through which they are trying to build up the target L2. I assign it to my class and my students answer the questions. While they are doing the task, I can receive live results! Considering their overall performance on these vocab tests, I make my decision whether to move along with the next unit or review the vocabulary items which seem to be problematic for my students. This gives the teacher a great opportunity to provide scaffolding for students whenever they need it.
Writing Experience: As is well known, EFL writing is one of the most complicated processes in language learning as writing is a productive skill that requires persistence, perseverance and immediate feedback to develop in a healthy manner. I use Formative to assign writing task questions to my students. For instance, I give them a writing task in which they are supposed to write an introduction paragraph on the basis of what they have discussed with their peers in class. This dimension also makes communication and collaboration more valuable for students, as they depend on their pair or group discussions in class for the proper fulfillment of the writing task that I assign on Formative.
After they write and submit their paragraphs, I give them instant feedback on the strengths and weakness of their writing pieces. My students love to read my feedback on their cell phones because they feel that their writing is being analyzed and assessed in a systematic and serious way. Based on my observation and my one-legged interviews with my students, I can easily say that Formative engages students in their own learning process and helps them take ownership over their own foreign language development. Using their cell phones, which they normally use for social media and texting messages, also adds the element of fun and the sense of “being different from others”, which makes them feel “cool learners”. This psychological dimension should not and cannot be ignored because these people were born into the digital age and they are 21st century learners who must be empowered with the technological tools necessary to fulfill the standards and requirements of this digital age.