Active Learning and Inclusion in English Active Learning

Subject: Linguistics
Pages: 15
Words: 4219
Reading time:
16 min
Study level: Master


Inclusion has become one of the most critical issues in sociology relatively recently. Modern trends in society are dictated by the processes of globalization and highlight equal opportunities, respect, and solidarity for every person. Inclusive education implies that the learning process must be built on these values. If at first glance, it may seem that inclusiveness cannot bring anything new into the policy of building the educational process, then this fact is valid only in theory. In practice, equal opportunities for choice and diversity of students are not always encouraged. Moreover, many possible solutions lie not only within the framework of organizational activity, but within the educational process itself.

There are different approaches to teaching English as a second language. One of these approaches is active learning, which involves the interactive interaction of students, different media content, and additional materials for an interdisciplinary and multisensory method (Sarudin, Hashim & Yunus, 2019). The main driver of the learning process is not the teacher, but the students themselves, who form a self-organizing system. This approach is considered more attractive for the applied use of English as a second language. Integrating an interdisciplinary approach into the educational process, coupled with intercultural interaction, can explicitly and indirectly support inclusiveness in education. This paper discusses in detail various aspects and methods of active learning English as a second language and their social and educational significance in the context of inclusiveness. It will analyze both the individual characteristics of teaching and learning in the classroom, as well as the organizational aspects of inclusiveness in education. What I smore, this work considers the main forms of active learning, possible problems of this methodology and the theory of multiple intelligences, as one of the important concepts of the need for implementation.

Active Learning

The modern educational environment should form an integral system of universal knowledge, abilities, skills, as well as the experience of independent activity and personal responsibility of students, the so-called vital competencies that determine the modern quality of educational content. For a teacher, this is a transition from the transfer of knowledge to creating conditions for active knowledge and practical experience for children. For students – the transition from a passive assimilation of information to an active search for it, critical comprehension, and use in practice. The main problem of the teacher is the search for methods for the development of educational competencies of students as a condition that ensures high-quality assimilation of the program.

The focus of modern, effective forms and teaching methods is the participants’ independent educational activities and intensive group interaction. Therefore, in contrast to traditional learning, in which communication developed, mainly between teacher and student, and teacher and class, new interactions arise in interactive learning. The need to organize group work and communication within the group is often referred to in official government documents – educational standards (Williamson & Piattoeva, 2019). For the formation and development of communicative and social competence, the ability to listen and engage in dialogue, participate in the collective discussion of problems, students must integrate into a peer group and build productive interaction and cooperation with peers and adults.

Active teaching methods ensure the solution of educational problems in different aspects: the formation of positive learning motivation; increasing the cognitive activity of students; active involvement of students in the educational process; stimulation of independent activity; development of cognitive processes – speech, memory, thinking; effective assimilation of a large amount of educational information; development of creativity and non-standard thinking; development of the communicative and emotional sphere of the student’s personality; disclosure of the personal and individual capabilities of each student and the definition of conditions for their manifestation and development; development of skills of independent mental work; development of universal skills.

Considering the practical goal of teaching English – to teach it as a means of communication, the leading methodological principle should be considered the principle of communicative orientation. It means that teaching should be structured in such a way as to involve students in oral speech, such as listening and speaking, and writing – reading, writing – communication. The use of active teaching methods provides a transition from information-explanatory to activity-developmental training, which replaces monologic methods of presenting educational information with dialog forms of communication between teachers and students and students with each other. It is immediately reflected in improving the quality of knowledge. At such English lessons, students are not bored; they are not indifferent to their studies, there is no time for this – everyone is busy.

Educational Process

Significant development of speech and communication skills is quite evident in active learning compared to other approaches. Inclusion can manifest itself at different levels in education. Students will develop intercultural skills when it comes to language classes, with a proper presentation by the teacher and the establishment of appropriate communication rules, including respect and solidarity. Methods of effective communication will be learned spontaneously and not in an imposed or forced style of theoretical lecture. As a result, students will work together to solve the same problem, helping each other and finding themselves in a situation of equal opportunity. However, it is the teacher’s responsibility to create such an environment.

An essential aspect of inclusiveness in active learning is achieved through interaction within schools with native English speakers and learners of it as a second. The interaction and integration of these teams give students confidence and a sense of acceptance in the community. It is essential to create an environment where each student values ​​and respects everyone’s strengths and differences. A multilevel approach makes it possible to consider different levels of learning, opening up the field of various activities to help lagging or unsuccessful students jointly. Each of the students himself becomes a participant in the process and is responsible for the team equally with everyone. This fact indicates a clear manifestation of inclusiveness at the micro-level of the learning process.

Different active learning styles tend to have multisensory aspects. Methods for creating and receiving messages within a team of students, as well as between a student and a teacher, are formed not only verbally, as in the classical approach, but also at the non-verbal level of communication. Students interact much more openly with each other during the active learning process, more revealing different sides of themselves and demonstrating their talents (Hwang et al., 2018). Confidence is essential for developing critical thinking and practical communication skills, essential for further learning and careers (Kusumoto, 2018). Aspects of inclusiveness give this confidence to students, in fact, providing equal opportunity in every single learning process.

The layered approach also contributes to better memorization for several reasons. Firstly, each message, topic, or aspect has a meaningful context for the student, with a specific multisensory power (Williamson & Piattoeva, 2019). In other words, during open interaction with members of the language group, the student better assimilates the topic due to the unusual situation, various visual images, auditory sensations, and much more, which can be used as additional material for studying the topic. Secondly, each student is equally responsible for the solution with the teacher. This fact means that the goals set at the beginning of the course determine both the teacher’s competence and the student’s abilities in precisely the same way (Lin, 2017). The only difference with the classical approach is that the students are active, not just the teacher. The inclusiveness that postulates equal opportunity will also be evident at this educational stage.

Finally, the skills gained through this approach open up a host of opportunities for students. First, the language is better assimilated as the subject’s mandatory and primary goal (Hwang et al., 2018). Second, practical communication skills are almost a requirement in any corporation where communication between employees is expected. In addition, by developing cultural and social values ​​under the supervision of a teacher, students will be able to respectfully and delicately communicate in the future, taking the words of the interlocutor seriously. Given the current trends of globalization, this skill may also soon become mandatory in the corporate culture of every organization, as is already the case in many companies (Hwang et al., 2018). By adopting this learning style, students will be able to shift and use it to learn other subjects or languages.

Intercultural Approach

The study of foreign languages ​​always at its core contains communication, regardless of the approach. Vocabulary-based techniques are fast enough but not profoundly understood (Itmeizeh & Hassan, 2020). Grammar-focused approaches are designed for more reliable and lasting results (Moradkhani, 2019). However, reading, listening, and communication combine any approach to teaching a foreign language. Communication, moreover, indirectly and explicitly develops some other functions and capabilities of the student: thinking skills, adaptation, flexibility, critical thinking, and practical and polite communication skills (Khan & Alasmari, 2018). As a result, a particular type of thinking is formed from these skills, including cultural aspects. The study of a foreign language can be built on the creation of intercultural situations, within which the student will not only conduct a dialogue, immersing himself in another culture, but will interact with it, exchanging experience.

It is not only the educational process itself that is important but also the result at which it is aimed. Participation in cultural exchange, which is possible in an active learning environment, is only part of this method’s general paradigm of inclusiveness. Achieving critical social skills and critical thinking abilities empowers students to competently and sincerely share their experiences and listen to the interlocutor, even if they have a different point of view (Kusumoto, 2018). Conflict avoidance is a consequence that is important in the current trends of globalization. The language forms and words that students learn in English have a wide range of meanings, depending on the context. Very often, this context is dictated by established traditions and national mentality. It is within the framework of active learning that comprehensive coverage of this context is possible without prejudice to the primary function of the educational process.

Education Forms

Active teaching methods include using games and game situations, introducing a problem situation in the lesson, the project method, the use of ICT, and others. Without game actions, the reinforcement of foreign vocabulary in students’ memory is less effective and requires excessive mental stress caused by a stressful environment in the classroom or front of the teacher (Benoit, 2017). A game as a means that guarantees a positive emotional state increases the ability to work and the interest of students, which is reflected in the quality of assimilation of educational material. The possibilities of the game are fully revealed among students and their peers for several reasons. Firstly, the game acquires a competitive moment that arouses the interest of the participants, and as a consequence – the motives for learning (Xu et al., 2020). Secondly, the atmosphere of learning new knowledge is discharged and becomes comfortable for students who do not waste energy on tension and adaptation. It is much more interesting to look for a solution to the problem playfully, within the framework of which it is possible to search for new extraordinary approaches and the possibility of realizing all of its strengths. However, it is important to highlight an essential detail in the playful form of training: victory is achieved by joint efforts, and new knowledge gained is the primary condition for victory. Thus, no student stands out from the others, and the possibility of losing is excluded – in certain situations, it will simply take more time to win.

The project method, often used as an approach that goes beyond the scope of one lesson and class, in principle, makes it possible to more often return to the topics studied by students after the educational process itself. Students learn to pay attention and time to each other during presentations of the results obtained, which is an essential skill in respectful communication. Inclusiveness is achieved by equal opportunities in choosing a topic, speaking time, freedom in using sources. As a result, a small but healthy and sincere community is modeled within the classroom, the attitude, and atmosphere within which will subsequently be transferred through the life of the students (El Shaban, 2017). Thanks to this approach, students will be able to feel more confident in a variety of situations, including public speaking, work meetings, and more.

The introduction of a problematic situation encourages students to look for a new explanation or mode of action. A problematic situation is a pattern of productive activity (Lin, 2017). Naturally, the teaching materials, even with the classical approach, imply the modeling of real situations with the help of dialogues, appropriate tasks, and much more. The advantage of active learning is that these situations are accompanied by an appropriate environment, active participation of students in each stage of the process. If, in the classical approach, the general implementation of tasks is carried out to analyze the topic or the need to obtain marks by sure students, which the teacher strictly regulates, then in the case of active learning, the students have much more freedom.

Given the significant and severe interest of students in information technology, it is necessary to use this opportunity as a tool for developing motivation in English lessons. Computer technology is beautifully woven into the various topics of the lesson. The use of computer presentations in the educational process intensifies the assimilation of educational material by students and conducting classes at a qualitatively new level. Information technology makes it possible to increase students’ motivation; use a large amount of illustrative material; intensify the lesson by eliminating time for, for example, writing material on the board. Engaging learners in the use of technology is essential for several reasons. First, young generations appeared in the era of technological development and grasped the possibilities of managing technology on the fly, often outstripping adults in understanding. Continuing this use, students acquire essential skills, without which further employment in many professions is almost impossible (Alkamel & Chouthaiwale, 2018). Secondly, technical capabilities give access to a tremendous amount of information and tools for its processing. Students can create presentations, learn the basics of paperwork, and exercise their creativity using technology.

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory

To demonstrate the benefits of active learning and how they relate to inclusion, this section explores this issue using the concept of multiple intelligences. According to Gardner, intelligence can be categorized into nine different types that define a person’s ability. All people are predisposed to different activities; as a result, each person has several types of intelligence, but usually three or four dominate (Ernawati, Tsurayya & Ghani, 2019). Gardner identified the types of intelligence by observing how a person perceives the world and information, his motivation for action, and how he makes decisions (Ernawati, Tsurayya & Ghani, 2019). Active learning can involve each of them, which is consistent with the principles of inclusiveness: each student, with their unique development, will have the opportunity to realize their potential.

Aspects of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence develop in the process of solving various problems that are posed to students in a play or other form. When students are working as a whole team, interpersonal intelligence is actively developing. In the process of communication and presentations with projects, students have the opportunity to use linguistic intelligence. Other types are already more dependent on the form of study and goals. The methodology chosen by the teacher can affect each of the remaining types to varying degrees; however, with the full development of children, everything must be involved.

Logical and mathematical intelligence and natural intelligence in general help organize information and see relationships. Synthesis of new information based on what has already been obtained, also known as professional intuition, is quite common in the context of learning another language. Learning happens much faster when the student has the opportunity to immerse himself in the culture of a country where English is native and national. The project method can allow the development of natural intelligence, while the method of modeling situations – logical and mathematical intelligence.

Creating the right environment and using visuals to immerse someone in the language learning process can help develop spatial intelligence. The teacher, as in the case of naturalistic intelligence, can be an example. With proper preparation for the lesson, during which the teacher organizes the space, students can use these means of expression to design their work. Introduction to culture by influencing the visual sense organs, the formation of specific, vivid images attracts students’ attention to the subject of study and motivates them to further activity.

The process of forming values ​​in communication involves existential and musical intelligence. Musical intelligence allows one to feel the interlocutor’s mood, sincerely experience emotions, and, based on this experience, form new ideas. Existential intelligence forms the life principles of the student, opening up opportunities to look at any issue from the outside. This ability is critical in integrating inclusion into the educational process and, as a result, fosters respectful communication. Finally, through a rich experience of communication and extraordinary situations, students will begin to develop intrapersonal intelligence, better understanding, and control themselves. As a result, they will be able to formulate their own goals more clearly and achieve specific achievements both in the framework of learning English as a second and later in life.

Knowing the strengths, one can rely on solid strategies and constantly be in a resourceful state. That is why it is first necessary to determine the leading types of intelligence in the child and then develop others in him. The predominant type of intelligence can be understood simply by observing a child in an environment that offers him a choice between several activities. It is crucial to capture the characteristics of the child. For example, a kinesthetic will never sit still: even when he is busy with a toy, he will walk around the room with it, constantly transfer it (Nulhakim & Berlian, 2020). Therefore, applying this model, the teacher is assigned one more critical competence. However, its successful application in practice can yield results that go beyond language learning.

Organizational Aspects

Inclusive education is based on the fact that all children, despite their physical, intellectual, and other characteristics, are included in the general education system and study together with their peers at the place of residence in a mass public education school that takes into account their special educational needs. Inclusive education has evolved from the belief that education is a fundamental human right and that it creates the foundation for a more just society (Koutsouris, Anglin-Jaffe & Stentiford, 2020). All students have the right to education, regardless of their individual qualities or problems. However, the problem extends not only to the differentiation of children with disabilities but also on other grounds. Inclusion in the broad sense of this word includes not only the sphere of education but also the entire spectrum of social relations: work, communication, entertainment (Koutsouris, Anglin-Jaffe & Stentiford, 2020). An accessible and friendly atmosphere must be created everywhere, barriers of the environment and public consciousness must be overcome. By creating a similar atmosphere in English lessons, students will be able to develop this ability to accept.

Inclusiveness should not be confused with integration and related, usually quantitative aspects. Equal opportunities do not mean the absolute sameness of schools, educational process, number of students in language groups. On the contrary, each educational process is unique due to the relative freedom of the teacher’s approach to organizing the lesson and the individual personality traits of each student. As a result, inclusiveness is not dictated from the highest government levels but is laid down individually within the framework of each situation. Equal opportunities are manifested in the possibility of choice and not in the path already chosen and the same for all: as a result, the range of decisions made is unique for each lesson.

One of the essential features of inclusiveness is the acceptance of diversity. The essence of the category is to overcome barriers for all students, without exception. If earlier the state bodies responsible for education were more focused on children with special needs or disabilities, providing them with unique opportunities, now the problem of equality applies to absolutely every student (Ainscow & Messiou, 2018). The unification of special schools and ordinary schools is even now a significant step for which modern society is still preparing. From the moment parents choose a school for their child and end with the attitude in language groups, inclusiveness postulates social solidarity and acceptance from each participating party. An essential difference with integration is that inclusiveness is strongly linked to social models, while integration may be individual and not based on society’s core values.

Inclusion in English lessons as a second language is realized primarily in the essence of the subject itself. Students get acquainted with a new culture through various grammatical rules and lexical meanings of words. Etymology often provides food for thought that reveals cultural differences between students and English speakers. Given that English is one of the most widely used languages ​​globally, the cultural context has a critical value for students, regardless of their future activities. English lessons form essential tools of communication and thinking that allow understanding better and confidently navigating social mechanisms.

Possible Problems

In theory, active learning has practically no drawbacks, having advantages in almost every aspect over the classical approach. Most often, applying active learning in practice, the teacher is faced with the following problems: conducting events is time-consuming, intensive teacher training is required; often there are problems associated with the lethargy of the participants; high costs, limited or vice versa, too many participants (Cattaneo, 2017). The obstacles against which conflicts can arise lead to the complication of achieving the goals of inclusiveness as an aspect of the educational process. In many ways, the solution to these problems lies on the teacher’s shoulders and depends on the competence.

In addition, even active teaching methods sometimes fail to overcome the student’s reluctance to participate in the learning process. For some students, active methods appear to destroy their usual understanding of the learning process, which, accordingly, creates some internal discomfort. Despite listening to different opinions, one person’s opinion can dominate when speaking if the speaker is psychologically dominant in the group. For some students, teamwork using active methods is just a way to do nothing. If the teacher does not adequately master the interaction methods, then the learning process can turn into ordinary anarchy. Here again, the question is raised about the competence of the teacher, who must have a solid psychological knowledge of the age group of students with whom he works. The teacher’s capabilities should include both active influence and maintaining a relaxed atmosphere within the educational process (Cattaneo, 2017). The absence of one of these abilities can become a determinant of problems that will worsen without proper attention to them.

On the other hand, if the teacher is not afraid of the necessary additional preparation and goes beyond the traditional framework of the lesson, the advantages of all the considered methods of active learning techniques are apparent. The reasonable and expedient use of these methods significantly increases the developmental effect of teaching, creates an atmosphere of intense search, evokes a lot of positive emotions and experiences in students and teachers. The teacher’s place in English lessons using an active teaching methodology is reduced to the direction of students’ activities to achieve the lesson’s goals since the backbone of active approaches is active and interactive tasks and exercises that students perform.


Active teaching methods make it possible not only to increase students’ interest in the subject being studied but also to develop their creative independence and teach them to work with various sources of knowledge. In the process of conducting such lessons, favorable conditions are created for the versatile development of the individual. Thus, active teaching of a foreign language is aimed at dominating the activity of students in the educational process. In parallel with teaching and upbringing, the use of active learning methods in the educational process ensures the formation and development of so-called soft or universal skills in students, including effective communication and intercultural experience. Today, these skills – the ability to make decisions and the ability to solve problems, communication skills and qualities, the ability to formulate messages and set tasks, the ability to listen – play a key role both in achieving success in professional and social activities and for ensuring harmony in personal life.

The inclusion of active teaching methods has great potential. The creation of a relaxed atmosphere, the use of technology, unusual approaches to the lesson contribute to healthy upbringing and adaptation in society. English lessons, as a platform, are more than suitable; however, many aspects depend on the teacher’s competence. If not taken under the control of an experienced teacher, all possible problems can lead to poor learning outcomes and difficult situations in the team, which will be much more difficult to fix if they are started. However, only experience will make it possible to overcome these difficulties, changes are not possible without mistakes, and the mass of advantages that lie behind the implimentation of this technique speaks of the need for such attempts. Active learning can provide a long-term perspective for taking inclusiveness as a given, injecting necessary values into the parenting process.

Reference List

Ainscow, M., & Messiou, K. (2018) “Engaging with the views of students to promote inclusion in education”, Journal of Educational Change, 19(1), 1-17.

Alkamel, M. A. A., & Chouthaiwale, S. S. (2018) “The use of ICT tools in English language teaching and learning: A literature review”, Veda’s Journal of English Language and Literature, 5(2), pp. 29-33.

Benoit, J. M. (2017). The effect of game-based learning on vocabulary acquisition for middle school English language learners. Lynchburg: Liberty University.

Cattaneo, K. H. (2017) “Telling active learning pedagogies apart: From theory to practice”, Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research (NAER Journal), 6(2), pp. 144-152.

El Shaban, A. (2017) “The use of Socrative in ESL classrooms: Towards active learning”, Teaching English with Technology, 17(4), pp. 64-77.

Ernawati, E., Tsurayya, H., & Ghani, A. R. A. (2019) “Multiple intelligence assessment in teaching English for young learners”, REID (Research and Evaluation in Education), 5(1), pp. 21-29.

Hwang, G. J., et al. (2018) “Effects of integrating an active learning-promoting mechanism into location-based real-world learning environments on students’ learning performances and behaviors”, Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(2), pp. 451-474.

Itmeizeh, M., & Hassan, A. (2020) “New Approaches to Teaching Critical Thinking Skills through a New EFL Curriculum”, International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 24(07), pp. 8864-8880.

Khan, M. S. R., & Alasmari, A. M. (2018) “Literary texts in the EFL classrooms: applications, benefits and approaches”, International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 7(5), pp. 167-179.

Koutsouris, G., Anglin-Jaffe, H., & Stentiford, L. (2020) “How well do we understand social inclusion in education?”, British Journal of Educational Studies, 68(2), pp. 179-196.

Kusumoto, Y. (2018) “Enhancing critical thinking through active learning”, Language Learning in Higher Education, 8(1), pp. 45-63.

Lin, L. F. (2017) “Impacts of the Problem-Based Learning Pedagogy on English Learners’ Reading Comprehension, Strategy Use, and Active Learning Attitudes”, Journal of Education and Training Studies, 5(6), pp. 109-125.

Moradkhani, S. (2019) “EFL teachers’ perceptions of two reflection approaches”, ELT Journal, 73(1), pp. 61-71.

Nassim, S. (2018) “Digital storytelling: An active learning tool for improving students’ language skills”, PUPIL: International Journal of Teaching, Education and Learning, 2(1), pp. 14-29.

Nulhakim, L., & Berlian, L. (2020) “Investigation of multiple intelligence of primary school students”, Jurnal Inovasi Pendidikan IPA, 6(1), pp. 101-113.

Sarudin, N. A. A., Hashim, H., & Yunus, M. M. (2019) “Multi-Sensory Approach: How It Helps in Improving Words Recognition?”, Creative Education, 10(12), pp. 3186-3187.

Williamson, B., & Piattoeva, N. (2019) “Objectivity as standardization in data-scientific education policy, technology and governance”, Learning, Media and Technology, 44(1), pp. 64-76.

Xu, Z., et al. (2020) “A scoping review of digital game-based technology on English language learning”, Educational Technology Research and Development, 68(3), pp. 877-904.