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Action-based pedagogy: definition, principles and examples

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Action-based pedagogy is the conceptual basis of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​(CEFR) proposal of the Council of Europe (2001 and 2008) which “is action-oriented insofar as it considers users and language learners primarily as ‘social agents’, i.e. members of society who have tasks (not exclusively language-related) to perform in a given set of circumstances, in a specific environment and in a particular field of action”. 

With regard to the execution of these tasks, the action-oriented approach takes into account the cognitive, emotional and volitional resources of the person, as well as all the specific capacities that the person implements as a social agent. The action-oriented approach places great importance on the formulation of learning objectives . 

Indeed, action-oriented pedagogy is an approach to teaching that places the learner at the center. It is grounded in socio-culturally mediated human agency and focuses on what teachers and learners do and say when engaged in meaningful teaching and learning activities.

Definition of action-oriented pedagogy

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The action-oriented approach to language teaching sees communication as a social activity intended to accomplish specific tasks. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​( CEFR ) advocates going beyond the communicative approach to emphasize the active use of language which develops five language skills: oral production, interaction oral, oral reception, written reception and written production. It recognizes learners as active participants in the learning process. 

Action-based pedagogy is a teaching method based on brain research that supports the connection between movement and learning to improve academic achievement and behavior. 

She focuses on applying brain research to the learning environment, understanding the connection between brain and body, and how we can use movement to prepare the brain to learn. 

Action-based pedagogy uses active learning strategies and meaningful activities for learners. 

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Benefits of action-oriented pedagogy

When learners actively engage in solving real-life problems or creating purposeful projects, they are not only engaged in meaningful communication, but they are also exposed to cognitively stimulating content while researching, evaluating and organizing resources and information to complete tasks. 

Processing this content requires complex, high-level thinking, allowing learners to engage in meaningful and authentic intellectual work. Manipulating, transforming, synthesizing, explaining, and interpreting meaningful information improves knowledge retention and comprehension and thus offers a better chance of leading to greater student engagement and academic achievement .

In addition, an action-oriented curriculum that is culturally inclusive, as it takes into consideration the socio-cultural values ​​and perspectives of the student and their community, is conducive to improved learning outcomes. It helps to develop a positive sense of self in the learner. We value and respect its multicultural and multilingual identity.

Finally, more than language skills, by placing the learner at the heart of the action, the action-oriented approach creates an environment and a dynamic conducive to the development of lifelong learning skills such as critical thinking and creativity, resilience, intercultural competence and autonomy.

The principles of the action-oriented approach

Here are the key points of action-oriented pedagogy:

1. Learning is a non-linear process

The action-oriented approach asserts that learning is a nonlinear process that manifests itself in unpredictable ways. It involves a series of meaningful activities; these activities are effectively part of the dynamic system of school activities . Teachers often think that the system, in many ways, is cueing or self-organizing. From the activities, a community of practice emerges as a result of shared goals, routines, and procedures, evident in interactions, relationships, and personalities.

2. Guided participation

In addition, action-oriented pedagogy emphasizes learning processes that combine social interaction, cognitive and reflective work in the classroom. It represents a process-oriented participation in educational actions. Diverse strengths are allowed to be taken into account at school, particularly with regard to individual differences. Through the various forms of activity that teachers and learners engage in, achievable processes emerge. Students learn new skills through choices and needs.

3. The learner is a whole person

Action-based pedagogy sees learners as whole persons. The teacher listens to and respects the student as full speakers and agents of their own educational destiny. They must have things to say to each other and to say to the teacher in class that go beyond the sentences offered in textbooks opened on the same page at the same time by all the students in the class. She emphasizes that active learners, whose actions are self-initiated rather than instructed by the teacher or the system, become strong in terms of intrinsic motivation and autonomy. Action-based pedagogy stimulates motivation and autonomy in learning.

4. The learner is an active person

The action-oriented approach is closely related to other approaches such as project-based pedagogy , exploratory experience, computer-assisted learning, etc. They all see the learner as an active person who not only memorizes facts by rote or receives information, but who is also engaged in building knowledge. 

In addition, she emphasizes that an individual’s experience can infer the educational process. This situation requires the inclusion of the person, personally, socially, intellectually, culturally, in order to allow him to operate in the environment at the individual, social or political levels, for his own benefit and that of society. 

Action-based approach: examples of tasks

The action-based method was developed in the 2000s. In this method, words are taught in a social and cultural context and with action-based exercises. 

In addition, we do not teach the words, the learners appropriate the language through tasks that meet the immediate needs of the learners. 

There is no doubt that multimedia tools and materials are developing very rapidly these days and the action-oriented approach results in unique and original materials. In teaching vocabulary, apart from the various exercises and activities that take place in the course books, any type of material can be used, from music videos to weather reports, from social media to newspaper advertisements. Activities such as the question-and-answer technique, demonstration, brainstorming, educational games and role-playing are at the service of teaching vocabulary.

We maintain the teaching of vocabulary by the agency of the missions that are carried out in society in the content of common actions. 

Learners act (ie, take action) to accomplish tasks. So here are the key elements of a job:

  • Learners see themselves as “social agents” acting in real, authentic and meaningful learning situations.
  • The action has a specific purpose, with an application in real life.
  • There is an end product or an artifact.
  • Learners deal with authentic and real texts and experiences.
  • There are conditions and constraints.
  • There is a collaboration.
  • Learners call upon all their resources and develop them.
  • Learners make choices, think and act strategically.
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