What do we mean when we talk about the coding mindset – and why is it relevant to language teaching? The mindset of programming sounds like a confusing concept, but it is actually quite simple. A computer programmer uses code to solve a problem with a computer. To do this, they need persistence, organization, and resilience, all skills that can help an English learner on their learning journey.
Similar to programming, learning a language doesn’t have a formula. And it’s a lifelong process – even when learners have advanced to an advanced level, they will inevitably come across unfamiliar expressions, slang or other accents. Developing a coding mentality will therefore help learners be prepared for these challenges and equipped to overcome them.
Some coding concepts in the classroom
Sequencing and properties are two coding concepts that we can use in English classes. Let’s look at two classroom activities that use these concepts to develop language skills:
A sequence is a basic algorithm, that is, a series of instructions in a specific order. The following activity from English Code (Level 1, page 18) is an example of sequencing. In this activity, learners need to identify and draw the next picture in the sequence. The activity aims to practice phonetic awareness (/ p / and / b /). Most educators working with young learners are already familiar with this type of activity, so you may have already helped your students develop a coding mentality without even realizing it.
The following activity is taken from the English Code Level 4. It is designed for young learners. The learners have to label organisms according to their type. This is based on the coding concept of properties. A property determines what the user sees (the output). A similar activity for older learners could be to label phrases so that they can be used, for example, to agree, disagree, or make a suggestion.
Knowing how to code can help you identify the concepts behind activities that develop a coding mentality. Teachers are not expected to teach students computer programming, but simply to help them develop transferable skills that will aid them in language learning and beyond.
Do I have to use technology?
Coding means giving instructions to a computer to tell it to do something. But developing a programming mentality means helping students think like a computer programmer rather than actually becoming one. This is how you can develop a coding mentality without having access to computers. Some activities can even be material-free.
Different restrictions in school and class can make it difficult to work successfully on different teaching approaches. Not all classrooms have freedom of movement or desks that can be arranged for pair and group work. The good news, however, is that coding mindset activities can be done individually or in pairs or groups with the same result.
Is a coding mindset only suitable for young learners?
The most important component of a coding mindset is willingness to experiment – and this can be easier for young learners. Adult learners may be less comfortable communicating in English. They may feel “blocked”, insecure, or overly dependent on their native language.
But developing a programming mentality can help learners of all ages take risks while speaking a new language. It is important to understand that mistakes are inevitable, but those mistakes do not define it. It just means they will have to try again another way. This helps them become more confident and resilient learners.
A coding mindset includes transferable skills such as perseverance, collaboration, and problem solving. These 21st century skills are useful for adolescent and adult students in their academic and professional lives. So having a coding mentality can help your students become flexible learners and attractive potential candidates for employers.
over English code
English code is a 7-level course for students aged 7 to 12 years. The course is available in both American and British English and offers 5 hours or more of language classes per week. It encourages creative learning and encourages learners to research and experiment with a range of fun, hands-on projects.
English Code helps children develop a programming mentality and improves their problem solving and collaboration skills. The curriculum includes STEAM learning and prioritizing the core functional language so students have the vocabulary and tools to become confident English speakers in the classroom and beyond.
Learn more about the English code or Download a sample now