You Be The Teacher

“There is, in fact, no teaching without learning” (Paulo Freire)

The idea of doing a peer-to-peer-teaching project which would involve two of my English classes – class 6ag and class 4f – occurred to me when we dealt with similar topics related to ‘Being a teenager’ in both classes. The 4f students were supposed to write anonymous letters to the students in class 6ag telling them what life is like as a 13-year-old. The 6ag students then replied to those letters explaining what it means to be 15 and what advantages and disadvantages being that age might have.

As all the students seemed to enjoy that activity, I suggested ‘reversing the roles’ (teacher – student) to my 6th form students and they enthusiastically agreed. In groups they selected topics and created lesson plans including all kinds of activities, e.g. songs, video clips, grammar and vocabulary games or speaking activities, which they used effectively in their lessons with their schoolmates. In fact, the project turned out to be a great success as all the students took their roles very seriously and had fun!

All in all, peer-to-peer teaching is a valuable experience for both, student-teachers as well as students being taught. On the one hand, the students engaged as teachers realise that they have knowledge worth sharing as well as the ability to support their peers’ learning. On the other hand, the students being taught see their peers as role models with similar experiences, which encourages them to work even harder on improving their language skills. Not to forget, it is different and a change from regular lessons!

Last but not least, ‘You Be The Teacher’ definitely reaffirmed my strong conviction that ‘the best way to learn is to teach’.

Here are some of the students’ comments:

‘It was really cool. Can we do that again?’

‘It was a great experience.’

‘Being a teacher is quite hard.’

‘Teaching means that you have to concentrate and be focussed all the time.’

‘It was fun.’

‘The lesson was too short.’

‘It was cool because we learned new things in a different way.’

‘I loved the cool games.’

Dr. Ingrid Fischer