What is Contextual Learning?

At Oaktree Primary we’ve adopted the theory of contextual learning. This way of teaching allows our team to deliver a more fluid class using experiential techniques. There will always be an element of repetition in teaching. Multiplication as one example requires a student to remember a sequence of numbers. Once memorised patterns form in the mind which help not only with multiplication but with addition, subtraction, scientific equations, and more. But what of subjects like language?

At Oaktree our non-English language classes are taught by native speakers. This allows students to learn first-hand how to experience a language, not just to speak it. Our teachers have the freedom to use examples from their own lives and the students to appreciate language is a part of life. A teacher may mutter something to herself as she goes about teaching. Perhaps making a mental note to make a phone call, or one to remember to collect the dry cleaning.

This may seem like inconsequential chat on the surface, but in the context of the classroom the student is immersed in the language they are learning. A native speaker won’t think twice about using their own language to ask a student to sit down, or stand up, or work with another student. Similarly, a native speaker will have experience of the country or culture the language comes from. This allows the teacher to use relevant examples when teaching. For example, would you know what an abra was if you hadn’t lived in the UAE? An English native teaching Arabic in London could teach the word boat, but abra does not mean boat. The word abra relates to a specific type of boat.

Something we believe strongly in at Oaktree is teacher choice. We have dedicated portions of the day to allow teachers to focus on the needs of children away from the curriculum. This could be allowing French speaking children to follow elements of the French curriculum. It could be extra art classes for those displaying creative tendencies, or it could be story time for those still getting to grips with punctuation or spelling. Schooling should never be a rigid experience.

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