STEM/STEAM in ESL language learning – part 1

In this series of articles I want to go deeper into stem/steam teaching. The first articles is as always an article on the technique itself and after that I will offer worked out STEM/STEAM lessons.

Why is it important in TEFL / ESL lessons? Well a lot of students lack STEM instructions. They never get a change to thoroughly learn or practice these terms in classic language lessons.

What is it? Well STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, while STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. There is a bit of a discussion for the moment whether or not Arts should be a part of STEM. For me in language learning it could indeed enhance the whole process depending on how you implement it of course.

A very important part of STEM/STEAM is that it is lead by EDP or Engineering Design Process. This means there are fixed steps to follow, because it is still a language lesson I always monitor the groups to see that English is used sufficiently and I always have a presentation at the end.

EDP – Engineering Design Process

Another important part of a STEM or STEAM lesson is that it needs to evolve around a real world problem. I can hear you think how do you do this in kindergarten or first grade. Well you of course need to lead your group a bit more. In a follow up articles I will work out complete lessons for you.

What are other concepts are important in a STEM or STEAM lesson:

  • Teamwork: getting students involved in productive teamwork.
  • Apply math and science content: why is this interesting in a language learning environment? Well with the content comes subject related language which will give your students an advantage in their future academical or professional career.
  • Multiple right answers: by experimenting students can come to different solutions or conclusions and as long as the solution works that is absolutely fine.
  • Open ended exploration: within limits the learning path is open ended. Most limitations are time and available materials. Although I had students ask if they could work through their break time.

What are the advantages?

  • Develop inventiveness and creativity
  • Encourages to experiment
  • Encourages teamwork
  • Build confidence and flexibility in a safe environment
  • Develop problem solving skills
  • Stimulates independent an collaborative

In the next lesson I will give a STEM/STEAM lesson suitable for preschool.

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