Gael Aldeano

My teaching approach

Comparing Methodology

Language is a skill which not only expands the horizon of an individual but opens up new possibilities for one’s social and professional life.

In an time where the whole world is becoming a global entity it is all the more important that one gets to learn a foreign languages to be able to establish new relationships and establish a communication with the world. Not knowing any foreign languages becomes a barrier in many ways.

The new concept of foreign language schools among the third world countries in particular, is a clear depiction of their desire to excel and grow. It's obvious that learning a new language is not just a simple addition to one’s knowledge but a dire need to keep up with the pace of the fast changing trends of this world. Teaching a new language presents its self as a great challenge with very big rewords, not only do you teach grammar and phonetics but you also develop a cultural awareness. But the real challenge presents itself when we have to decide HOW to teach. There are many possibilities.

When we start to look at the correct teaching method, we must take into consideration the students that the class is intended for (their age, level...), the environment and the set of learning goals and ourselves. Students respond differently to different methods of teaching. They have their unique way of demonstrating the knowledge acquired and absorbing the information that is given. Therefor, to aid this process of demonstrating the knowledge, the teacher has to adopt a technique that assists the students in retaining the information and increasing their understanding. We must do this always with a methodology that we feel comfortable in. This, in my opinion, is extremely important. One loses credibility in front of their students if they do not believe in how they teach.

Some specific factors one must take into consideration are:

Questioning. This has always proven to be an effective method due to its interactive quality. The teacher asks questions with the intention of getting to know what the student has learned form the previous lesson and therefor determine what should be taught further.

Modeling. Its considered a visual aid for teaching and learning. A student will retain the information better with this teaching tool, also known as reinforced behavior.

Demonstrating. This helps to understand the theory from a different perspective. It enhances the students understanding by practically applying the knowledge, hence, being able to identify and organize the theory in a more efficient way.

Explaining. It can be considered as a part of the knowledge. The explanations should be adapted to the students and their levels, it should also be accompanied with appropriate examples for a better understanding.

There exist different types of teaching methods, each with its own approach and learning dynamic. Using one of them in the classroom depends on various factor, mentioned before.
These are the methods I have selected to comment on:

The Direct Method.
It emphasizes on immersing the student in a new language the same way he/she was immersed in their mother language. The teaching is done using “useful” TL, they focus on speaking and listening wile grammar is taught in an indirect way. The teacher uses visual aids, demonstrations and realia to help explain the vocabulary.

In my opinion, I find the method to be very natural in its approach but I do not believe it can be effective with every student, specially taking into consideration the age and background. It would be extremely successful with children.

The Audiolingual Method.
It is similar to the Direct Method in the sense that they are both opposing the Grammar-translation method. The main difference between both is that while the DM highlights teaching vocabulary (TL) the AL M emphasizes on drilling grammar.
Its main objective is to achieve correct pronunciation and grammar. It wants the SS to have the ability to respond quickly and accurately while communicating, as well as having the sufficient vocabulary to use the grammar structures.

I find this method to be better than the DM for adult SS. It lets the learner visualize the grammar instead of having it learned implicitly, which I think that older SS will find it easier to understand.

It is another different approach to teaching, its based on a modern understanding of how the brain works and how it learns more efficiently. Its main focus is on creating a positive atmosphere, it believes in positive reinforcement, and a rich sensory learning environment (with pictures, colors, music...). It encourages a lot of active participation on the SS part.

In my opinion, this is a very interesting method. I like the active participation, creating a pattern in class is always very beneficial for low level SS in particular (every class opening up with a dialog ). But I find it a bit childish to always have a positive approach, it is not good to over criticize but I dont think its good to only stimulate with positivity. From early on in life we are taught YES and NO, so we must use this in class as well.

Vaughan Method.
This method is based on the knowledge that the SS already know the grammar they just do not know how to use it. It specificity concentrates on the oral aspect of the language. They even use direct translation of vocabulary as a teaching technique.

I believe this teaching method might be tempting to SS, it always seems easier to learn something if you can relate it to something you already know. But I dont think its positive in the long term, if the SS become accustomed to translating they will make more mistakes and they will create false friends. Concentrating on oral aspects of the language and have little or no grammar can be something very good, but only for high levels that you are certain have a previous knowledge of the grammar structures.

The perfect methodology for me would be one that has a mixture of several, for example, I would make an emphasis on student participation. It is very important for them to cover all aspects of the language. We must tend away from old fashion methods that only concentrate on grammar and structures.

We can encourage class participation with activities, roll-play, questions.... by asking questions you can even maintain two way conversations, giving the student the opportunity to practice using vocabulary and structures. This gives the information that they learn a purpose.

Even though we must concentrate on oral use of the language we must not put aside the theory. This depends in a big way on the level, age and the goal the student aims for. This can also be taught with interactive activities or with traditional methods such as fill-in or writing activities. This, I believe to be, a very good reinforcement to learning. You do not learn a language over night, therefor it must be a constant process. In the classroom its good to have a more communicative approach, that way you are able to correct mistakes and teach how to incorporate new TL. But there should be practice at home as well, that is when it would be good to have written activities, the SS then have the opportunity to put their knowledge to use in an oral and written way, helping with memorizing and understanding.

Making corrections in class is fundamental. We must use YES and NO, make a balance between the two. Especially in low levels, when making corrections we must do it on the most important errors first and then continue progressively. If not, if a teacher corrects ALL the mistakes a student does it can feel demotivating.

But the most important aspect when teaching is for the teacher to be ENGAGING! To motivate learning and to create a worm and inviting atmosphere. That will make the SS feel more at ease and more willing to learn.

“You can teach a student a lesson for day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives”
-Clay P. Bedford- 

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