My teaching approach
Essay on teaching methodology
Word Of Mouth
There have been many methods of teaching
languages and they are constantly changing. Deciding whether a method is
effective or not is difficult, if not nearly impossible, for every method has
its own use. However, deciding what makes a method effective is not. Depending
on the needs and goals of a student, different methods may be applied. This
essay will examine the more communicative approach to learning a language.
First I will give a summary of the methods I've chosen, focused on
communicative skills. These methods are the Communicative Approach, the Natural
Approach and the Michel Thomas Method. Then I will review the usefulness of
methods in relation to communicating. I will also talk about external factors
and how they effect the learning process. Finally, I will answer the question:
What is vital for the effectiveness of teaching?
First of all it's essential to answer the
question: What is communication?
It seems to me, communication is first of all
exchanging thoughts, information, notions of social, cultural, professional and
other aspects of everyday life. Communication always has associations with
written and oral discourse, but there's much more to it than that. A surprised
face, a smile, a frown, a nervously moving leg, a hand placed underneath one's
chin and all other nonverbal gestures are a important aspects of communication.
It is also appearance, colours, smells and sounds. Real communication is always
informative, unpredictable and unexpected. The world around us is the world of
communication in various spheres. In the classroom, the teacher is the source
of information, the guide of communication and depending on the used teaching
method, this communication varies from being controlled to being free. The
purpose of a teacher is to transform the communication with students to an
enjoyable, interesting and emotional lesson.
Summary of communicative methods:
The Communicative Approach grew out of sociolinguistics in the 1970s and
the belief that there is more to communication than just grammar and
vocabulary. This approach could be said to be the product of educators and
linguists who had grown dissatisfied with the audiolingual and grammar-translation
methods of foreign language instruction. They felt that students were not
learning enough realistic, whole language. They did not know how to communicate
using appropriate social language, gestures, or expressions; in brief, they
were at a loss to communicate in the culture of the language studied.
Communication involves the ability to make yourself understood in socially
appropriate ways. The teacher facilitates the communication in the classroom,
and he or she also acts like a guide and an advisor. The students are the
communicators. They actively engage in trying to make themselves understood and
in understanding others. The focus in on the use and the meaning of the
language rather than the form.
Natural Approach is a method
developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It aims to foster naturalistic
language acquisition in a classroom setting, and to this end it emphasises
communication, and places decreased importance on conscious grammar study and
explicit correction of student errors. Efforts are also made to make the
learning environment as stress-free as possible. In the natural approach,
language output is not forced, but allowed to emerge spontaneously after
students have attended to large amounts of comprehensible language input.
The syllabus focuses on activities which are
seen as promoting subconscious language acquisition. These activities are
devided into four main areas: content activities, such as learning a new
subject in the target language; activities which focus on personalizing
language, such as students sharing their favorite music; games; and
problem-solving activities. Because of the belief that through the process of
acquisition, students will begin to use language in their own time, errors and
all, students are not expected to start speaking until they are ready - when
they are ready, they will naturally do so. Here are three basic principles of
· Focus of instruction is on communication rather
than its form.
· Speech production comes slowly and is never forced.
· Early speech goes through natural stages (yes
or no response, one- word answers, lists of words, short phrases, complete
These principles result in classrooms where the
teacher emphasizes interesting, easy to understand input and low-anxiety
situations. Lessons in the natural approach focus on understanding messages in
the foreign language, and place little or no importance on error correction,
drilling or on conscious learning of grammar rules. They also emphasize
learning of a wide vocabulary base over learning new grammatical structures. In
addition, teachers using the natural approach aim to create situations in the
classroom that are intrinsically motivating for students.
The third method I want to focus on is one that
I personally find effective when it comes to communicative learning. It is
called the Michel Thomas Method. In
the experience of students "A unique and perfectly brilliant way of
teaching languages", "The most extraordinary learning experience of
my life", "Hugely inspiring", "The nearest thing to painless
With Thomas's method, which is all-audio learning, in a virtual classroom, the
teacher cautions students to avoid making notes and to refrain from making
conscious attempts to memorise, promising that the teacher will "be taking
full responsibility" for their learning. There are no books, no writing
and no memorising. The Michel Thomas Method works by breaking a language down
into its component parts, enabling you to reconstruct a language for yourself –
to form your own sentences, to say what you want, when you want. Because you
learn the language in small steps, you can build it up yourself to produce ever
more complicated sentences.
Thomas stated that
keeping the students relaxed, focused, and stretched with a feeling of mounting
successful achievement lies at the heart of the method. The removal of the
stress and anxiety of 'being put on the spot' of conventional language
learning, especially school language learning, is a key advantage of the
method. Michel Thomas teaches you through your own language, so there's no
stress, and no anxiety. He builds it up, step by step, and you don't move on
until you've absorbed and understood the previous point. And, as Michel Thomas
said, 'What you understand, you know; and what you know, you don't forget.'
In my opinion, these
three methods come closest to what I believe is effective communicative
teaching. Acquiring a language rather than being drilled to remember, endlessly
corrected and often discouraged makes all the difference in language learning.
I believe the learning process is much more effective through practise, through
using language in a more day to day kind of way.
External factors play
an important role in this process. The atmosphere in a classroom, whether the
students feel comfortable, at ease, confident. The click between the teacher
and his or her student. These are all factors that need to be considered in order
to give a good class. Teaching is not just about giving students information.
It's a transaction of both parts, the input and the output and the balance
between the two. The question is: What is vital for the effectiveness of
I don't believe that
there is only one effective method, but what makes a method effective is the
creativity of a teacher. Creative teaching methods are vital for the
effectiveness of a teacher. The world is always moving and as educators we need
to be able to move along and be open to new methods and new ways of teaching.
Teachers have to able to grasp and then maintain the attention of their
students. Creativity helps the teacher to give the students what they need, and
to do so in a manner that appeals to them. Good teachers use creative teaching
methods because they have to be flexible, anticipate problems and be able to
change the course of a class, if necessary. They must adapt to their
surroundings, know how to read their students, their level, adapt to the level
and know how to engage them effectively. There is a big difference between
teaching a beginner and an advanced student. A teacher has to know how to grade
his or her language and how to approach students that are completely new with
the language they are learning. A good teacher will be creative so that the
students can see things from different perspectives, and learn about their
courses through the best possible education. I think it's important to always
try and inspire students, guide them, give them something new and different,
something they can use outside of the classroom. Depending on the need of every
individual student, as a teacher, you can provide them with what they need. Key
is to be a positive influence, to create a light environment for their learning
process, or better said, their acquisition of the language.
By Inge Tuijnman