¿Could english teachers develop Sexual Education through ELT lessons?

Autor: Yury Basulto Oliva y Yordanka Brunet Valle

Formación y capacitación

18-11-2011

Introduction

The teaching of English in Secondary school aims at developing oral skills in our students to prepare them to establish conversations using the language, this way our secondary school students will not only acquire a scientific and artistic education but a more complete linguistic education as well. The teaching of English in secondary schools should contribute not only to functional language proficiency, but also to the ability to construct and reconstruct new knowledge. Different methods have been applied to teach English in our secondary schools for many years with different results. Teaching the English language allows the teachers to analyze different topics and familiarize the students with some topics of their interest. One of these important themes that need to be developed through the English lessons is the Sexual Education due to its importance in the formation process of the new generations and mainly during the adolescence period.

Through these years, it is demonstrated that topics related to sexual education have become really important, due to the increase of behaviors that are causing notables and unexpected results to the society; this is why it is important to include the sexual education in all spheres as possible in order to educate since the adolescence because, adolescents need and appropriate orientation towards sexual education cause is in this period where appear a series of inquietudes and preoccupations but also sexual intercourse desires. In this way, the school plays an outstanding role inside the society and consequently teachers in the education related to sexuality have to be accurate; together with teachers, the family should educate young’s people sexuality in a systematic manner.

At the present time in the Cuban secondary school, it is being developed a Program of sexual education and, it includes different topics related to the sexuality but, it is evident that is not enough and this is the reason it is necessary to include Sexual Education topics in the English Program at secondary schools. As Littlewood (1981:95) states, “Foreign languages teaching must be concerned with reality: with the reality of communication as it takes place outside the classroom and with the reality of learners as they exist outside and inside the classroom”. In this sense, the authors consider that it’s very important to teach students a significance piece of knowledge that may increase their motivation towards the English lessons by means of different topics such as Sexual Education, because this knowledge will help them at the present time and also during the future and at the same time, If the students feel motivated to the lesson there are going to receive, they will feel free to talk and the speaking skill will be highly developed, so it means that the feed back would be highly.

Development

Nowadays, youngsters are taught for being very well prepared people, so it is important to prepare them regarding Sexual Education topic because they have to develop the responsibility value helping them to make correct decisions in the future.

In concordance with the term “Sexual Education”, there are many different points of view that some specialists on sexual education have analyzed. Different authors have done many researches about Sexual Education and they have stated their own definitions, for instance as Hunt, R (2001:20) argues “Sexual Education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights , responsibilities ,abstinence, contraception, and other aspects of human sexual behavior”. Besides, “Sexual education may also be described as Sexuality Education, which means that it encompasses education about all aspects of sexuality, including information about family planning, all aspects related to reproduction, plus information about one’s sexuality including body image, sexual orientation, sexual pleasure, values, decision making, communication, dating, relationships, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and how to prevent them, besides birth control methods”. (Hunt, 2001:22)

However, after having consulted different definitions, the authors consider that Sexual Education is an education based on values and behaviors that must be teach since early adolescence to foment adolescent’s knowledge in a general and specific manner according to this topic due to its importance and how vulnerable adolescents are in concordance with the difficult period they are experimenting.

Due to the importance of this topic, the authors consider advisable to include it into the English lessons because educating on sexuality is creating attitudes for the life, with respect to other people and at the same time with oneself. It is not only to talk about sex, but also about the wonderful relationship that there could be between a man and a woman, besides the characteristics that should be keep in mind to select any relationship in terms of love.

The authors have also analyzed that a correct sexual education helps to achieve an integral education taking into account that it prepares to adolescents for the constitution of a functional family and the responsibility in; also it promotes the humble and deep respect and the reciprocity that there should be between sexes. Moreover, topics related to sexual education increase and develop the sexual orientation and at the same time the gender identity but also powers the decision of a free and responsible sexuality of each individual.

However it is not an easy issue for teachers to achieve activities in an ELT lesson related to sexual education because they need to be fully aware about the topics they are going to teach at school for two main reasons. The first one is, that teachers need to be prepared enough about the information they are going to teach in that level because it should be in correspondence with the level of knowledge the students require and the other one is that teachers need to have adequate knowledge about the content they are going to teach in order to answer questions that students may ask, but also because the activities or exercises related to sexual education should be created to develop students’ values.

According to this issue, Witmer, D. (2009:01) refers that: “In the present day, there are two different types of sexual education classes: Comprehensive Sexuality Education on the Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage”. Besides, this specialist in Sexual Education also refers that: “Comprehensive Sexuality Education, it is a formal way program headed to secondary school students and it should be developed through classes, workshops, programmed activities in which the teacher knowledge and abilities related to safe sex, STDs, contraceptives, masturbation, and body image”.

On the other hand, Witmer, D. (2009:01) refers that: “The informal sexual education is mostly based on taboos and it is referred mainly to emphasize abstinence from all sexual behaviors without covering any information in which teenagers learn informally sexual education through posters, radio, or TV programs, informal conversations with friends, explanations on the basis of taboos, through magazines, religion or books and theses are means through which the students could acquire wrong definitions”.

Taking into account of what has been said, the authors consider that: The formal way is the most appropriated for learning about sexual education, because it takes into account a methodological process for the development of the learning circle in which students get precise information about the content they are dealing with.

Moreover, the authors consider that: the integration of topics related to sexual education during the English lessons would mean a curricular process in which teachers should keep in mind a methodological treatment with its corresponding analysis of the content, at the same time, the methodological orientations with the use of text books and videos, as well as current situations of the students.

According to what it has been stated, there is a need to develop topics related to sexual education in a formally way. It means that it has been necessary to include this topic through the English lessons at Secondary level.

In order to develop sexual education through the English lessons a set of exercises was designed to increase students’ knowledge on this matter. This set of exercises was designed taking into account the suitable vocabulary and grammar that is taught at Secondary level through English lessons.

It will allow students to increase their knowledge regarding sexual education in general and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The set of exercises has been linked with some short videos because as teachers know, the use of videos in class provides a favourable impact to the acquisition and development of the English language.

The evidence suggests that the use of videos is very useful and important for both teachers and learners, but the students are the most favoured. As Brunet, Y. (2009) states: “The use of videos in ELT lessons has provided a favourable impact to the development of the languages, because they could increase students’ motivation towards any topic and could develop students’ target language, mainly the listening and speaking skills because the students will have the possibility to listen to authentic materials and then reproduce, talk and discuss about them. So in this way students could also develop their vocabulary because if the material selected rise their attention, it will increase students’ interest towards the topic and will give them the chance of adding a new or different detail about it, if they are not sure about how to express the proper word, then they should ask the teacher for help. Also, when students are learning and increasing the knowledge about any topic they are acquiring not only the knowledge concerning the target language, but also the culture and this is another main benefit that can be acquired by means of a video”.

A sequence of videos selected has no long duration and it shows some short dialogues among young students speaking about the sexual education topic, some interviews done to parents, teachers and specialists about the topic. Through the videos people express their points of views about the prevention of STDs on the basis of the use of condoms and its myths; also, in these videos appear young people speaking about their points of view on the basis of the education on sexuality what made students be more interested according to the topic expressed.

After having achieved in some ELT lessons with a group of 8th grade students the set of exercises with the videos selected, the authors who are both teacher trainers realized that students had more knowledge regarding Sexuality topic and their level of motivation towards the acquisition of the English language highly increased. Besides, the students were able to communicate in pairs by means of dialogues and short conversations improving the foreign language´s vocabulary, pronunciation and grammatical structures.

These are some examples of the set of exercises designed for the English teachers to achieve in ELT lessons with their students.

Exercise # 1

Type of exercise: Before listening.

Objective: To recognize Sexually Transmitted Diseases in a list given.

Methodological procedure: Pair works for the analysis and discussing their answers.

Underline the words related to Sexually Transmitted Diseases and write it on the board.

-Sore arm.

-Syphilis

- AIDS

-Gonorrhea.

-Tonsillitis

-An earache.

-Genital Herpes.

-Condyloms

-Pneumonia

a) Please, comment on the importance and responsibility to prevent these diseases.

Exercise # 2

Type of exercise: While listening and after listening.

Objectives: To analyze pieces of advices related to sexual education topics and commenting with students own word.

- To create new pieces of advises addressed to de development of sexual education.

Methodological Procedure: Groups of work.

Exercise: Read carefully the following warnings. Pick out which are related to sexual education.

-You need to be careful walking on the street!

-You should go to a doctor if you suspect you are suffering from a venereal disease!

-Take care when cooking!

-You should tell to your parents, you are having sexual intercourse.

-Do not be self-confident, use condoms!

-An abortion causes serious problems during the adolescence!

-AIDS could be everywhere, protecting yourself it is the best option!

1.1) Explain your answers.

1.2) What other pieces of advice would you provide to prevent STDs?

1.3) Where would you look for information if you suspect you are suffering from any STDs?

Exercise #3

Type of exercise: After listening.

Objective: To analyze the correct definition in each STDs and providing pieces of advice for preventing any of these diseases.

Methodological Procedure: Group of works.

Exercise: Analyze and decide which definition you think is the correct in each case. Match numbers with letters.

1) A contagious swelling of the genital mucous membrane caused by the Gonococcus germ.

2) A chronic contagious venereal disease caused by a Spirochete (Treponema Palladium) and characterized by a clinical course in three stages continued over many years.

3) A warty growth on the skin or adjoining mucous membrane, near the anus or genital organs.

4) The most chronically stage that courses the Immune Deficiency virus.

5) A virus disease marked by a group of blisters on the skin or mucous membranes, generally on the genital area.

6) Tonsils swelling. a) Tonsillitis b) Herpes Simplex c) AIDS d) Syphilis e) Condylomes f) Gonorrhoea

1.1) Provide some suggestions on the basis to prevent any of these STDs.

1.2) What would you do if you suspect you have got any of theses diseases?

Exercise # 4

Type of exercise: After listening.

Objective: To identify inside the crossword different sexually transmitted diseases.

Methodological Procedure: Individual work.

Exercise: Analyze carefully the following crossword and identify the different sexually transmitted diseases.

Sopa de letras

List:

- Genital Herpes

- Condyloms

- AIDS

- Syphilis

- Gonorrhoea

As a conclusion, the authors state that the theoretical- methodological background for teaching Sexual Education have shown that the English lesson at secondary school is a suitable space for teaching this topic to adolescents, because this interest teenagers and requires a particular treatment in the teaching- learning process.

Besides, the designing of a set of exercises, whose purpose is to teach sexual education by means of the English lesson, is going to strengthen the interdisciplinary approach in 8th grade while enriching the English vocabulary in this area.

Finally, the applicability of the proposal showed that English lessons have proved to be a useful and powerful means for teaching sexual education in 8th grade.

Bibliography

1. Brunet, Y. (2009) Integrating videos into ELT lessons. IATEFL Voices. Linking, developing and supporting English language teaching professionals worldwide. November-December 2009 Issue 211. ISSN 1814- 3830

2. Hunt, R. (2001). Sexual education in the adolescence. From Wikipedia.

3. Littlewood, W. (1981). Communicative Language Teaching. An introduction. Cambridge University Press.

4. Witmer, D. (2009). Sexuality in the adolescence period. English Teaching Professional. Publishing Ltd.

Lic. Yury Basulto Oliva

MSc. Yordanka Brunet Valle

Valle MA in TESOL Profesora Asistente.

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