Inge Tuijnman





My teaching approach

Essay on teaching methodology

 

 

Word Of Mouth

 

 

Introduction:

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.

 

The 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 the approach:

· 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 sentences.)

 

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 learning".


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 teaching?

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

 

 

 





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