The New Kid on the Block: Universal Design for Learning
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With so many different teaching techniques and methods evolving all the time in the field of teaching English as a Foreign Language, it can be difficult to keep up. This is why we’re here: to save you precious time and keep you updated on everything you need to know about TEFL.
Read more: 3 Teaching Methods for the EFL Classroom
You might have heard about Dogme, Grammar-Translation, the Audio-lingual Method, the Silent Way, Suggestopedia or any of the other MANY methods and techniques which have been utilised in the EFL classroom over the decades, but you might not know about a relatively new one.
This is why we want to introduce you today to Universal Design for Learning.
What is Universal Design for Learning?
Universal Design for Learning is otherwise known as UDL. It is an approach to teaching with the goal of meeting the different needs of the different learners in your classroom. Contrary to what its name implies, it doesn’t involve one teaching method for all learners, but rather many methods to cater for the different learning needs of all students. Its aim is to make learning accessible for all types of learners by removing any barriers to learning. It’s a flexible approach that helps all learners, including those with learning or attention disorders.
In our daily lives, we already incorporate many elements of universal design in order to help people with disabilities. Closed captions and automatic doors are just two examples of universal design in our daily lives. When you think about it, those very things are helpful to all of us, even if we have no disability. So while UDL benefits learners with disabilities, it can also be extremely helpful to other learners, as it provides different ways of scaffolding learning.
As you can imagine, this approach to learning and teaching is attractive to teachers from all different disciplines and subjects. Because TEFL teachers teach such a wide variety of learners, it is attractive to us, too. And interestingly, the techniques we use in the EFL classroom are generally applicable to all different ages and nationalities, which is why it’s a good idea to incorporate UDL into our classrooms.
There are a few simple techniques you can use to incorporate a UDL approach into your teaching.
Clarify the goals of the lesson
This means identifying the goals of the lesson and making them clear for your learners. The best way to do this is simply by telling them what the goals of the lesson are. Even better, write these goals on the board so that the students are aware of what is expected of them for the lesson.
Have a flexible classroom
Every learner learns differently. Some students need total silence to learn, others need to talk. Some learners need to figure things out on their own, while others prefer to work in groups. The UDL classroom caters for this by allowing for different learning environments. Once given a task, a learner can choose to sit at a group table, or sit by themselves with headphones to drown out the noise – or any number of different learning situations possible in the classroom. They can also choose to work with just one partner or in a group; the layout of the classroom will cater for these different needs.
Read more: 3 Easy Ways to Maximise Classroom Management
Use a variety of texts and materials
We all know we shouldn’t be chained to our coursebooks and this is just another reason for that. Coursebooks are primarily visual, but many learners learn better through auditory or kinaesthetic methods. This is why it’s important to include a variety of texts and materials in your lessons, from written texts and audio texts to videos and experiential, practical learning.
Read more: The Case For and Against Coursebooks
Offer assignment options
There are a number of ways we can assess our students’ learning. Again, different learners may prefer different ways of producing the language. If you need to assess whether they have learnt the present perfect adequately, let your learners choose if they want to talk about a past experience, or write an essay or maybe even record a voicenote or video. All of these options will allow you to determine whether or not your learners have incorporated this particular language structure into their language adequately or if they need more time to work on it.
Give regular feedback
Students need to be given regular feedback on their progress. This should be done on an individual basis so the feedback is personalised and focussed. Be specific and give concrete examples of ways the students can improve further.
Universal Design for Learning and the EFL classroom
If you have experience in the EFL classroom, then you would have realised that the EFL classroom already naturally incorporates aspects of UDL. Our classrooms are naturally more student-centred than teacher-centred (as in a traditional classroom). This is TEFL 101!
Read more: How Can I Make My Classroom More Learner-centred?
However, as with any new method or technique which is introduced to the classroom, there is definitely something we can take away from UDL. In the EFL classroom, it wouldn’t do any harm to be more mindful of the principles of UDL to make our lessons as accessible as possible.
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- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.