June 06, 2016

Teaching Young Learners Affectively

During the month of April I lived an amazing experience!
I gave my very first online course on Teaching Young Learners Affectively!

Everything started when Chuck Sandy kindly offered me to teach an online session on affective language learning at iTDi's Summer Intensive last August. I rapidly accepted it and got ready for my online debut. I was a little nervous at first, but slowly I got more and more comfortable with this means and I was overjoyed at the end. The marvellous feedback I got showed me that I had an opportunity to pursue!

Last December in talks with Barbara Sakamoto I told her I was interested in giving an advanced course on affective language learning. She agreed and we scheduled it for April of this year.

This was one of the banners used to promote my course:

I had four weeks to share my 20-year journey learning and discovering affective language learning with young learners and I decided on the following program:

Week 1: Introducing Affective Language Learning concepts to get you started. 
Week 2: Empowering resources for you and your learners to learn affectively.
Week 3: Unleashing creativity and fantasy through storytelling and puppeteering.
Week 4: Making grammar and writing enjoyable and meaningful.

We started advertising the course and slowly participants from many different countries started enrolling. In the end there were 31 participants from 13 countries. The countries were Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Egypt, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the USA. Wow, what a privilege to be able to learn and share with such an audience!

Then the first day was getting closer and closer. In the previous week Steven Herder gave me a course on how to use the Adobe platform and also gave precious hints to make the course run smoothly. Here are some of these:

My computer was on boxes for me to be better on screen.

I had a lamp with a sheet of paper to difuse the light.

I had earphones to avoid echo.

I had all my slides printed in a list I had by my side.

Each session lasted an hour and sessions happened on Sunday mornings in Brazil and that worked fine as most participants could watch the session live without having to be awake in the middle of the night. Participants also the opportunity to watch the recording of the sessions or even watch these again to get more details.

This is the screen that I had in front of me while delivering the course. I had to manage time to cover all the planned content in one hour and also to keep an eye on the running chat box to comment on and answer the questions that were coming from the participants.

Affective learning has to do with responding to students' demands, so my challenge was set there!

I was very happy by the end of the first session that I even cheered on screen. Facebook feedback was also great. Then I was ready for the second component of every session: the google community forum. Every session I present three tasks from which students had to choose two to share their views on the forum. One of the first tasks was to take a picture that represented affective language learning for them. Their pictures and the motives were brilliant. Check some of these below:

One area that we had in the Adobe platform that I like very much is the lobby. The lobby is a customizable area where I welcomed participants while they were waiting for each session to start. 

One affective strategy that I used was to display there some of the pictures that participants had shared in the forum the previous week as a way to validate their work and celebrate our learning. 

I could clearly notice how teachers were excited to see their pictures in the lobby. I will certainly do this again in my next courses! 

Another important moment was circle time when we shared about what we had thought since the last session. It was also a great way to acknowledge the great work that was done in the discussion forums. 

Throughout the course we explored how to foster affective language learning through everyday objects, storytelling, and puppeteering. In the last session we focused on how to engage young learners in writing and grammar in meaningful and creative ways.

Participants also recorded lovely videos of how they would present puppets to their students. Here I would like to share here a special video made by Damien Herlihy from Thailand in which he even used chroma key. Check it out! 

Every week I had the most adorable time engaging in dialogue through the participants' discussion forum posts. There I was able to bond individually with each teacher validating their dedication and commenting on their ideas. A highlight were the puppets that teachers made and their sharing of how they introduced them to their students using the techniques learned in the course. 

The ending was a very special moment that I will always remember. We turned on our cameras and we were able to see each other around the world. Many of us got emotional, including me, and we were all very excited to celebrate these four intensive weeks in which we share our experiences, lives, and dreams. I feel that lots of the affective learning seeds are already germinating!!!

I am certainly going to give many more online courses as I simply loved this experience. I met lovely teachers all around the world, discovered online tools, and learned a lot about affective language learning.

I would like to thank iTDi for this amazing possibility and in special to Barbara, Steven, Chuck and Gareth for all the all the support and attention!

There are always great courses, given by passionate teachers, happening at iTDi .
Check here iTDi's advanced skills courses and choose the next one you will join!

Sending you all a big hug,

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Thank you!


  1. Thank you so much Juan for such a valuable and enjoyable experience , and thank you for bringing back all those wonderful memories .

  2. wowow... what a lovely post Juan!! Thanks for all you have taught and shared with us! I really enjoyed the whole course, the wonderful people I met and the amazing creativity all the participants had to create puppets. I do hope we can keep learning from you! Smiles from Argentina, Maria :)


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