James Rodriguez

My teaching approach

Learning a second language has become an extremely common situation within present day society. The main two main factors that cause this urge to acquire a second language are, increasing chances of obtaining a professional job nationally and internationally or an interest in learning the many different types of languages for one’s own goal.

There are many languages that can be learnt throughout an individual’s life, none as easily as one’s mother tongue. The natural way at which a child soaks up (subconsciously learns) their mother tongue with no effort at all is an amazing process. As humans gradually get older the soaking up motion of learning a language doesn’t occur so easily and so a different approach is aimed for. Acquiring a language is the correct terminology used for an adult learning a new language, as a mother tongue is already spoken fluently and in many instances when learning a new foreign language the assistance of the mother tongue is almost always processed within the learning (acquiring) procedure. To gain an effective way for individuals to learn second language’s (which always depends on the suitability of that person) many teaching methods have been created over a period of years. These methods depend on the individual’s needs and which method is more affective with producing results quicker and retaining the results longer.


Direct Teaching Method (The natural approach)

The direct teaching method is an interactive way of teaching speech, primarily, more than anything else. This is concentrated at on a basic level so that the student can grasp pronunciation and pattern differences within repetition of words; for a later level. The method does have a drill (repetition aspect built into it) aspect involved, so that students retain the vocabulary, which can also be done by the continual usage of the attained vocabulary in certain sentences.

The method was also named the natural approach, as when a child is soaking up its first ever language, he or she is always attempting to use the word or words learnt correctly in a sentence (trial and error) to gather the knowledge to speak the language fluent and naturally.

It is said that the main goals of the students where to gain practical knowledge of the language instead of practical knowledge about the language which the grammar translation method was aimed at.

The teacher’s involvement within the language process was to an adequate percentage as the main aim was to ensure that students talk for the majority of class time (thus ensuring the natural approach, just like a child, to the language). Although vocabulary followed at a later level, it was still taught, but at all time the concentration lay with continual conversational aspects throughout the class to ensure the student’s conversational skills where put to the test and practical attainment of the language was always achieved, as one would do when learning a mother tongue.   


Silent Method (The silent way)

The silent teaching approach is an old teaching method, which can be said, “a dead teaching approach”, that focuses primarily on the discovery process (trial and error) of the student attaining the language. This trial and error motion was conceived by an individual logically thinking that when one bears a wrong answer in any learning situation and corrects oneself before obtaining the actual answer, the mind retains the corrected information more effectively than any constant repetition or correction of the language, by the teacher.

The silent method aims at enabling first time learners of a language (basic learners) to grasp and gain a concrete, basic level of language fundamentals. This means that the grammatical aspect of language is not focused on as much as the other subunit teaching methods such as the pronunciation and discovery / creating process (instead of repetition) of language fundamentals.

The teacher’s involvement within the learning process is minimal and so the LTTT (Low Teacher Talking Time) is kept to a minimal to allow brain function and self correction but also facilitation of the student to learn (acquire) the desired language. Criticisms are also not used to ensure a progression of self-reliance. This extremely visual way of learning has its main benefit of ensuing logical thought is continually taking place and therefore students only needed minimal help, after a long period of time learning the language, from the teachers at hand. Learning stress relation to the words is highlighted throughout the pronunciation process.


Communicative Approach

This approach is very interactive in the sense that the communication between teacher and student is always there, whether in language (mother tongue or foreign language being spoken) or in clear gestures. In quite a lot of instances teachers may also sit back and monitor the interaction between the students to students when discovering the required answers. The method has come about due to the result of other teaching methods that were primarily used many years back not allowing conscious activity to occur between teacher and student and also the main crucial factor that no real life experience situations where ever used when teaching. This meant that everyday spoken language skills were not attained and so when the individual was set out into the real world with the supposedly learnt language, the student would find it difficult to interact and use his or her newly developed skills in public.

The emphasis of the teaching is on the speaking aspect, when the speaking aspect is achieved correctly between peers or between students to teacher discussions, the listening aspect immediately comes along with it. The goals of the students are always at highest priority, and so realistic real world fluency is the aim where a student would have the confidence to interact with any individual, whether it is another student, the teacher at hand or a passerby.

One exercise that clearly shows the manner at which the teaching method highlights is the “Eavesdropping activity”. Students were asked to eavesdrop into conversations around the public world within the foreign language being learnt and reply in that same language within their head. This built up confidence within the individual and also concentrated on the reality aspect of the language.


The Grammar Translation Method

Textbooks are highly used within this teaching method, as it primarily concentrates on translating the foreign or second language into the mother tongue language (learning is more textbook related than teacher talking time related). The grammatical aspect of language learning is mainly focused on within this teaching method. The translation of words and sentences back and forth from both source and target language enables the student to identify similarities and patterns within both languages when translating.

The manner at which the foreign language texts are used to learn the language is by the student breaking down the sentences and translating them word for word into their own mother tongue language. This gives the student an overall grasp of what is being portrayed within the sentences. As well as this, the translation of mother tongue sentences is performed into the language being learnt, to give an idea of comparisons and slight differences within the translation process in either direction. This large percentage of grammar usage and understanding does not benefit the communicative or pronunciation aspect and so leaves these subunits at a dire level. Never the less, there is a slight involvement of the speaking and listening aspects, but very minute.

The method has been around for a number of years and was initially used for “dead languages” such as Latin and Greek; to concentrate on the philosophical and cultural aspect of the language at hand. Usage of this language method for everyday spoken foreign languages do instigate disadvantages, the main one being an inadaptable change to how the individual will ever learn the language. A slow progression is normally expected after a certain point due to the lack of listening and speaking subunit involvements, which normally, when up taking a mother tongue these subunits have a huge part to play as well as experience throughout day to day life. This teaching method is still in effect as teachers have minimal interaction when teaching. Specificity in the foreign language is also not particularly needed for the teacher, as continual translation occurs and mother tongue language is spoken during classes.


Although many teaching methods are being taught at present day, I believe that every teaching style has its positive and negative advantages. Other teaching styles will always arise and better the one prior to it. This is a clear display of correction and improvement to always attempt to attain a more effective way to teach a large group of individuals. The 4 main subunits of acquiring a language are Speaking, listening, reading and writing and I believe this is the way an individual, whether young or slightly older, should learn a language as there is a more natural process and structure to the layout of attaining the target language. It had been an effective way when mother tongue speakers where children and I truly believe it is the same at an older age with the slight disadvantage of slower progression. 

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