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Summer School Success for RoyalABC and Youyu Learning Centre

In July 2017, Prosper Education partnered with progressive Hangzhou learning centre Youyu to launch the RoyalABC British English programme into China. Together, we ran a joint venture Summer School held at the Hangzhou Science and Technology Museum. Young learners from Youyu aged 4-6 spent three weeks learning RoyalABC British English lessons and coding. Youyu is a perfect strategic partner.

for RoyalABC as the Youyu company values strongly resonate with ours. Youyu’s ‘Flipped Class’ concept focuses on integrating the fun of playing games into education, creating simple and friendly online teaching tools to help teachers give lessons, and improving education quality.. Their vision is freeing teachers through technology and improving online education with quality products. Youyu Flipped Class is developed by Hangzhou Cimu Software Technology Ltd, a company with many years of international game developing experience and made up of young, passionate, creative game developers. It was so exciting to watch the students as they learned from RoyalABC’s beautiful interactive storybooks, becoming more and more confident speaking new words and numbers. The original songs composed by RoyalABC were a favourite, especially ‘Hello!’ where students learn to ask each other their names and ages, along with some specially choreographed dance moves. The children could often be heard breaking into the chorus of ‘Hello’ especially when the RoyalABC team entered the classroom. Arts and Crafts were also a favorite, and the names of colours and zoo animals were reinforced with mask and puppet-making. These total physical response activities are an integral part of RoyalABC’s curriculum and blended learning approach to British English and 21st century skills. The kids loved playing active and collaborative classroom games to practise the language and communicate with each other. When it was time to play RoyalABC World, there was nearly a riot as excited students couldn’t wait to grab an iPad and try language learning in a beautiful 3D environment. As Flipped Class participants, they were already comfortable with learning and technology integrated together, and were taking on harder language challenges in no time as they explored the activities in RoyalABC World in teams. It was hard to say goodbye to the children at the end of the RoyalABC and Youyu Summer Camp, but we know we will be saying ‘Hello!’ again soon.

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Principles of Pre-built lessons

The RoyalABC Teaching and Learning team come from diverse global teaching, writing and training backgrounds, and bring their collective experience together to create pedagogically rigorous content for the RoyalABC programme.

One of the components of the programme is the pre-built lessons. These make preparing and delivering a classroom lesson simple, with all elements necessary to teaching young learners British English in an engaging blended learning format pre-designed so teachers simply need to select their lesson and start teaching.

For each RoyalABC unit, there are 4 pre-built lessons. The pre-built lessons are sequential, scaffolding the communicative learning journey across the unit with highly motivating, engaging and fun activities to make students more confident in producing language.

The lessons are designed to be as student-centred as possible, employing teacher-led activities only where necessary.

1. Sequence of lessons

The 4 sequential pre-built lessons in each unit are:

Lesson 1: IntroductionLearners become engaged with the new language in a fun, age-appropriate context that’s relevant to their lives, with a focus on meaning.
Lesson 2: ReinforcementLearners review and practise the new language, progressing from a focus on accuracy to a focus on fluency, working towards being able to produce the form of the language automatically, without too much thinking.
Lesson 3: ConsolidationLearners engage in more communicative activities, working towards producing language in short conversations. Students review the storybook to as a way for students and teachers to gauge the progress they have made since the start of the unit.
Lesson 4: Arts & CraftsStudents to freely explore and produce language, while building on other skills such as motor skills, eye-hand coordination and self-management. Students are encouraged to use their imagination and express themselves creatively, taking ownership over their learning while developing their patience and perceptual abilities through experimentation with different art media.

2. Review

Review of current unit language is appropriately integrated into the start of each lesson (e.g. language checkgamesong) as a way of providing an opportunity to recap and check understanding and to boost confidence levels to increase engagement in following activities as well as to overcome the forgetting that inevitably happens between lessons.

Due to current limitations of the platform, review occurs only ‘within’ the unit, not across units.

The unit storybook is revisited at the end of Lesson 3 as a way for students and teachers to gauge the progress they have made since the start of the unit.

3. Phonics

Phonics practice (e.g. phonics check, phonics games, phonics worksheets) is integrated throughout the series of lessons to space out the learning as research shows that in the early years, phonics needs to be introduced in regular short intervals.

4. Songs

Songs are integrated throughout the lessons as a way to practice and reinforce new target language. As young learners need a lot of repetition of a song to be able to join in and sing along, songs are repeated throughout the series of lessons.

As well as a way to practice the taught language, songs are also used as warm-ups, to review language, to transition between activities, and/or to wrap-up the lesson.

5. 21st Century Skills and Growth Mindset

21st century skills are those that go beyond simply absorbing information and learning basic skills such as reading and writing and which are deemed essential for living and working in the fast-moving 21st century. For example, they include communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, as well as digital literacy. They are not an add-on to the curriculum; instead, they are woven throughout all areas of the curriculum. For example, communication is embedded through RoyalABC’s use of modern communicative approaches, with all lessons aimed at developing communication skills; many of the activities involve collaboration; and worksheets and arts and crafts activities involve creativity.

6. Activity Order

The principles of communicative language teaching (CLT) are deeply embedded in our approach and the ordering of activities in the lessons take advantage of children’s natural desire to imitate. The activities across a unit are scaffolded with the aim of achieving genuine communication and skills are integrated as much as possible and occur in logical order, e.g. students listen to what another says and responds with an action OR by speaking.

Practice of language progresses from:

  • Drilling/repetition activities: (e.g. Freeze, Cards Up)
  • Structured communication activities: (e.g. Stepping Stones)
  • Genuine communication activities: (e.g. Peer Conversations and Arts & Crafts)

Generally, the practice activities flow from:

  • whole class/choral practice
  • group/collaborative practice
  • individual practice

This progression helps to boost the students’ confidence and encourage active participation. Starting with whole class/choral activities provides a safe environment for all students to practice, safe-guarding those who feel less confident about speaking out in English. It gives every student a good introduction and foundational practice that can then be further enhanced by small group and individual practice.

For units where the target language involves subjective/personal information, e.g. Introductions and How old are you?, this flow does not work and the games are selected on what is most appropriate for those units.

Example

Here is the pre-built lesson breakdown outlining the structure and purpose of each activity for the series of lessons in the RoyalABC unit Animals 3.

LessonActivityPurpose
1: IntroductionPicture Prompt (hello)Introduce and engage students in the unit topic.
Zoo Animals storybookIntroduce students to the new language through a fun narrative.
Language checkCheck understanding of the target language.
Phonics checkCheck understanding of the new sound-letter relationship.
Game: 5x (action)Practice chanting the target vocabulary and connecting it to meaning by doing the associated animal action. This is done as a whole class so students aren’t singled out. Although teachers can elicit the words from the students, this isn’t a requirement. At this stage, they are not expected to identify the language. Generally, the students will hear the language modelled for them, practise speaking it through choral chanting while looking at the image, then demonstrate understanding of meaning by doing the action. The chanting/repetition will help them recognise the words in subsequent games.
Game: Cards UpStudents practise listening to and identifying the target words by physically responding to what the teacher says. Speaking may occur at this stage if students are ready, but shouldn’t be an expectation. This is a group game so students work together. Focus is on the group, not the individual.
SongBreak up the lesson and get students up out of their seats moving their bodies and to practise the language using a different medium of delivery.
Game: SlapAnother game to practise listening & responding physically. This game is played in teams with 1 student from each team playing at a time so the focus is on the individual. By this point, students have had a whole-class practice & a group practice activity. Speaking may be included in this game if students are ready, but it shouldn’t be an expectation for all. If a student is ready, they can play the role of the teacher and call out the target language.
Language checkRecap the new target language covered in the lesson.
Picture Prompt (bye bye)Wrap-up and signal the end of the lesson.
2: ReinforcementPicture Prompt (hello)Remind students about the topic of unit. This activity gives the teacher the opportunity to gauge what students have learnt/remembered.
Language checkReview the unit language & check understanding.
Game: Teacher SaysTo get students moving and practise listening to the new language and demonstrate understanding by physically responding to what is said. Individual students can play the ‘teacher’, giving them the opportunity to practise speaking.
Game: What’s missing?Get students identifying and verbally producing the target language. This can be played as a whole class, in small groups, or in pairs depending on the abilities of the students.
SongBreak up the lesson and get students up out of their seats moving their bodies and to practise the language in a different way.
Phonics checkReview the new sound-letter relationship and check pronunciation.
Game: FreezePractice identifying the target letter (or letter combination) and saying the target sound.
Phonics worksheetPractice writing the target letter (or combination of letters).
SongTo bring the worksheet activity to an end and get all students ready to end the lesson.
Picture Prompt (bye bye)Wrap-up and signal the end of the lesson.
3: ConsolidationPicture Prompt (hello)Signal start of lesson.
SongWarm-up and engage the students.
Language CheckQuickly review the target language.
Game: Stepping StonesGet students interacting and communicating with one another using the target language. Students ask and answer questions prompted by images or words.
Peer ConversationsAn opportunity for students to engage in short conversation, using the language more freely. This activity needs to be scaffolded to get students at a point where they can sit and have focused conversations. This should not be two students stood at the front of class with the rest watching, but a student centred activity where the whole class is engaged and the teacher is facilitating.
Unit worksheetPractise reading and understanding by connecting sentences to matching images, and to practise letter formation by tracing the words.
StorybookReview all language in the unit and gauge the progress students have made.
Picture Prompt (bye bye)Wrap-up and signal the end of the lesson.
4: Arts & CraftsPicture Prompt (hello)Signal start of the lesson.
Art & Craft: Finger puppetsFreely explore and produce language while expressing themselves creatively by making finger puppets of their choice.
Peer ConversationsRound off the arts & crafts activity and get students to use language meaningfully in relation to whatever they have created.
SongFun way to wrap up the unit.
Picture Prompt (bye bye)Wrap-up and signal end of the lesson/unit.

Learn more about the RoyalABC Teaching and Learning team.

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Leading Hangzhou Learning Centre Golden World Education Partners with RoyalABC

Golden World Education Training Centre is a premium specialised learning centre based in Hangzhou, with a number of venues across the province. After twenty years of operation, Golden World Education has won many prestigous awards, including Advanced Organisation in Hangzhou in The Star & Torch English Talent Competitions of Chinese Youngsters (“星星火炬”全国少年儿童英语风采浙江展示活动“组织工作先进单位”) as well as a title of Zhejiang Province Industry Integrity and Public Satisfaction Organisation (“浙江省行业诚信暨公众满意单位”的称号). As testimony to their status as a provider of quality British English training and education, Golden World Education has the honour of being licensed by Zhejiang Provincial Education Examination Authority to be one of the training centres for Cambridge English Young Learners (Licence No. 330143300).

As a progressive and innovative educational organisation, Golden World Education was looking for a product to use with young learners that would begin their British English learning, and take them through to the Cambridge English Young Learners exams. Golden World visionary owner, Mrs Yao, was very clear that the key age for beginning the study of English is 4-6 years old. If children could have access to high quality English classes at this age, they would benefit greatly in their future English study. When Mrs Yao saw RoyalABC being demonstrated in the classroom, she knew that it was a perfect pedagogical and brand fit for her business. RoyalABC’s curriculum is designed by globally recognised curriculum writers with deep experience in the Cambridge learning system. By ensuring that the content gives young learners the language skills they need to begin their journey to English fluency, it prepares them for the Cambridge English Young Learners exams and entry into prestigious local schools. Parents had been asking Golden World Education for a pathway to English learning for their children aged 4-6. Now, by partnering with RoyalABC, Golden World Education offers not only quality in-class blended learning lessons, but gives families the home-play learning extension of RoyalABC World. RoyalABC is a proud partner of Golden World Education, and we have officially trained and certified their team of dedicated teachers in using the RoyalABC product. Together, we are teaching the next generation of Chinese global citizens and giving them the world through confident and competent British English language and 21st century skills.

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RoyalABC Certifies 21 ELT Teachers and Staff at Prestige Nanjing Kindergarten Group Demay International

Jiangsu Demay Education Group, headquartered in Nanjing, was founded in 2008 and directly operates more than 10 kindergartens across the Jiangsu province. In order to develop premier international bilingual kindergartens, Demay Education has consistently introduced international advanced education theories and practices to their suite of programmes. The organisation collaborates with partners in the USA, Australia and Germany, and has support from the World Bank. Currently, Demay Education has over 4,000 students. To provide a professional and premium English class to students age 4-6, Demay Education decided to introduce premium British English using RoyalABC into its kindergarten. Aside from hundreds of hours of quality curriculum, Demay wanted to take advantage of the comprehensive training offered to teachers by RoyalABC. Demay now uses the RoyalABC teacher training programme as one of its key professional development opportunities for staff.

At RoyalABC, our teacher training Director is Yvonne Dagan, a Delta (2012) accredited University of Cambridge CELTA and TKT Trainer. Yvonne is passionate about training and is currently one of only 40 University of Cambridge ICELT Trainers worldwide. Yvonne designed and, with her team, delivers the RoyalABC teacher training to all organisations who use our suite of products to ensure the quality of classroom delivery is maintained. Demay Education enrolled 21 of their teaching and management staff into the RoyalABC four-day intensive teacher training programme. Participants had to complete a number of training modules, as well as prepare and teach RoyalABC classes to kindergarten students, and be observed and graded on their capacity. We keep track of teachers’ progress through follow-up observations and support them to grow their teaching skills. One of the unique features of the RoyalABC Teacher Training is that it is also integrated with growth mindset principles. Because we help teachers to develop a growth mindset, they have greater capacity to fully use growth mindset techniques with their students, helping them push themselves to take challenges and try hard things with excitement and resilience. It was a large cohort of teachers that went through the August training camp in Nanjing. All of them worked hard and at the end were awarded official RoyalABC Teacher Training certification. RoyalABC welcomes Demay International as one of our product partners for the Jiangsu Province.

http://www.idemay.com
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The RoyalABC Learning Ecosystem – Delivering the Young Learner Pathway to an Innovative and Talented China

Education in China is rapidly evolving to meet the needs of its people, ensuring that the learning of today is agile enough to meet the changing demands of future work and life. As boundaries between people and culture become more porous, and many jobs of the future are unknown, the 21st century citizen will have to be resilient, curious, creative, innovative and most of all adaptable.

These characteristics have been recognised by China’s Ministry of Education and enshrined in the China Education Development Thirteenth Five-Year Plan, which lays out the road map to an education system that approaches individual development holistically and takes into account the challenges of educating for both the known and unknown.

The challenges of education for China share similar characteristics with the changing modes of education globally. How can teachers and parents incorporate technology and creativity into their classrooms and homes and achieve a balance of screen and play time? How can they work with a range of skills and needs so everyone has access to a meaningful education? How can content map from early learning to meet a new standard of education incorporating global languages, 21st century skills and a robust STEAM pedagogy? How can the values of Chinese culture be maintained while embracing the diversity of the East and West?

When developing the RoyalABC learning ecosystem, our knowledge lead teams of global curriculum designers, teachers, teacher trainers and education technologists had to carefully consider all of these questions, anticipating the future needs of the children of China while still working with the classrooms and traditions of today. Ensuring that our programmes aligned with contemporary Chinese education policy was the start, along with some futurist projections to enable the same agility and access in our curriculum and content as was needed in the design and build of our platform and technology interfaces.

Additionally, leading international research had encouraged us to focus on the young learning sector, targeting our content at ages 3-6. What has become clear in early childhood education is the immense capacity of the young brain to retain complex new information, and the value of building capacity in these neural pathways as early as possible. Especially when it comes to language training, beginning the acquisition process early is of great benefit, especially when the context of the new words is embedded in a social and cultural experience rather than in simply repetition and rote learning.

The China Education Development Thirteenth Five-Year Plan set out clear objectives in their educational plan that RoyalABC looked to amplify in our ecosystem including:

  • promoting economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress;
  • the focus on improving education quality and promoting education equity;
  • accelerating education modernisation; and
  • the development of an innovative country and a talented country.

Additionally, we wanted to incorporate one more concept in the RoyalABC learning ecosystem that was an enabler of realizing all of these ambitions, a concept developed at Stanford University called growth mindset. Developed over two decades by renowned psychology Professor Carol Dweck, the theory of growth mindset promotes the idea that people have two basic mindsets: fixed and growth. Mindsets are the implicit beliefs we hold about our core abilities and intelligence. People with a fixed mindset believe that their ability and intelligence are largely fixed and outside of their control, where people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence and ability are developed through hard work and effort over time.

Professor Dweck’s work is important to young learners as by embedding growth mindset concepts in lessons, especially for learning languages and other difficult skills that require resilience and determination to succeed, children learn from a very young age not to fear challenge or failure but to see it as a critical step on the path to success. Growth mindset also encourages creativity and collaboration, encouraging individuals to understand that innovation is collaborative and ‘none of us are as smart as all of us.’ This is a concept that harmonises well with 21st century skills and the social behavior that is an integral part of young children’s classroom learning and their later engagements in the workforce.

To be able to achieve an innovative and talented country, and all of the educational qualities required to fulfil that goal, we viewed creating an educational product for China as far greater than simply producing another English Language Training program. We needed to create an ecosystem through three key factors:

  • providing premium classroom content through the RoyalABC Curriculum
  • delivering exceptional classroom experiences through empowering teachers with RoyalABC Teacher Training; and
  • delivering an at-home language-learning extension for students and their families using the RoyalABC World Online School APP.

These three factors acknowledged that English language content needed a framework around it that helped children learn to be creative, think critically, explore problems, build hand-eye co-ordination, and gain an awareness of themselves, the environment, their families, friends and surroundings. Each lesson had to have a balance of activities, developed from a robust language-learning pedagogy, that were engaging, fun, playful, challenging and could be built on like a scaffold with every unit students completed. The combination of interactive technology, AI, machine learning and gamification principles brings the education modernisation element of the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan into RoyalABC, utilising these gains in learning into both the content itself and the intuitive digital Teacher Platform that delivers our content in the classroom.

For teachers, especially non-first-language speakers, to be able to confidently deliver RoyalABC, we knew they would need to produce consistent quality lessons easily. Teachers would need product training. They would also benefit greatly from training and support that would provide pedagogical insights and help with their classroom management, their self-awareness as teachers, and their presentation skills. And this training would need to be ongoing over years.

The RoyalABC teacher training is where the element of the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan focusing on improving education quality and promoting education equity happens. When teachers are intensely trained by world-quality trainers, they are empowered to teach their students with confidence over the material, assisted with RoyalABC having first-language pronunciation built in to the programme to help teachers guide their students. With the teacher-training programme offered to all teachers and the cost built into the per head price for students, no matter where you teach, your professional development can be supported.

Parents are an integral part of the learning ecosystem – not only do they have a strong interest in their children’s education and welfare, they are primary carers who play an active role at home in extending the learning and helping their children to embed new words and behaviours. RoyalABC wanted to give parents a voice and a role in the programmeme so they were connected to the home classroom and teachers, sharing the learning journey.  Children learn through repetition and layering of language in different contexts. RoyalABC students continue their learning journey at home by logging into RoyalABC World, the 3D immersive online school APP designed like a virtual prestige British school. In the RoyalABC World online school, students can revise the content they learnt that day in class with their virtual class friend avatars, and be guided by the helpful teacher animals that live in RoyalABC World and are part of the storybooks and songs.

Home-play scheduling is set by the teacher and progress tracking takes place in the APP, so teachers and parents can take control of the learning journey.  Parents, grandparents and siblings are able to share in the new language skills at home with interactive songs, storybook, games and challenge-based online and offline activities. It’s fun, safe and educational play which the whole family can enjoy together.  Parents can ensure that the values and traditions of home become part of the new language retention, while learning British English and broadening global cultural awareness.

Our CEO, Founders and teams spent two years talking to teachers, kindergarten and learning-centre owners, education bureaus, other education companies, and parents and children across China while developing the ecosystem of RoyalABC’s programme to ensure that our product was purpose-built for its users and their needs. While technology is at the heart of being able to deliver an agile education solution, the balance of screen time and classroom activities meant that the technology was a true enabler of content, working seamlessly in the background so teachers could connect with their students personally and meaningfully as inspirational educators. By honoring the importance of aligning the RoyalABC programme with the educational policy of China’s Ministry of Education, RoyalABC uniquely merges learning British English with 21st-century skills and the capacity-building tool of growth mindset.

We’re proud of the innovation that underpins every part of the RoyalABC learning ecosystem, and our commitment to empowering teachers, students and parents to share the learning journey on the road to enhancing China in becoming an even more innovative and talented country.