Erika Castrillon





My teaching approach

THE CASTRILLON METHOD

The best way to learn English… today

 

In the World of language teaching, there had been different studies in order to find the easiest way to learn a second language. Even that, as teachers we will always have to deal with the fact that It is more difficult to learn a language if learners live in a different speaking country, because they won’t have the opportunity to acquire the new language by other means, but the time they spend with us. In other words, their learning experience is limited to the hours they decide to work on their second language learning. That is why the methodology used develops special importance, so learners stay engaged to the learning process.

According to the mentioned above, the key to success for all kind of learners, is willingness. That is why it’s enormously important to be aware of the reasons and needs of our learners, in order to maintain their motivation during the course.   

As first step of the methodology hereby proposed, it is suggested to create an enjoyable and fun environment, so as not to lose students interest in learning the new language. We could reach our first goal by having different kind of classrooms for every kind of group. In particular, young kids would learn in a colorful classroom, through games, handcraft activities, storytelling, images, sounds, and at least one play-ground activity a week. In the case of teenagers, a good way to keep them motivated would be capturing their most crazy dreams on the wall, such as travel around the World or explore new cultures. As well we could mark a target with their professional desires (at that age we don’t really know what we want to be, but at least teens should be aware of how important will be this knowledge whatever they decide later on). Other important resources we could use to engage teens are entertainment news and cultural means such as books, movies or music.

In the case of adult students, interests are different, but knowing their motivations and goals, for a practical approach, as well as our good attitude, will make easier the learning process. 

Second step to study in this essay is the order in which learners should develop their skills. First of all, we can’t forget the reason that brings our learners to our classes, that is the need to communicate in a different language. That’s why speaking should be a very important part of the learning process. Even that, an effective communication wouldn’t be possible if learners are enable to understand a message. That makes listening one of our priorities in this new teaching system. Writing and reading would be developed as well, but in less intensity. For kind of groups, classes would be focused on interactive conversation between students and teacher, in order to reach proficiency in listening and speaking, given that both cover 75% of daily communication. Writing and reading would be lightly introduced in earlier levels, and reinforced in later levels, in order to assure a complete coverage of the language we are teaching. In higher levels, writing and reading would cover at least a 30% of the learning process, in particular through homework, such as essay writings and books reading for example. The last example is an amazing way for students to gain some more vocabulary they can use later on when developing their productive skills. 

Another important matter for the system here exposed is the teacher’s ability to know learners problems in advance, and have a quick response for the student need right in the class. The only way to get it, is through preparation. Even play-ground activities should be well prepared. However it is also important for learners improvement, their usage of the second language out of the class. That’s why we encourage teachers to know why students are learning a second language. For example, a university exam, a multicultural relationship, vacations plan. No matter what our learners plans are, as teachers, we could always use that information for preparing activities they will use more often out of the class. That is absolutely beneficial for learners. They would feel more motivated by using the knowledge acquired in class.

Nevertheless, when learners don’t have an opportunity to use the second language out of the class, it’s important to encourage them to use it, even through a language exchange friendship or internet forums. This kind of ¨homework¨ is great to keep them motivated, by using what they are actually learning, and making them feel they are not losing their time in class, learning a language they will never use.                  

In relation to the above mentioned, the syllabus plan would based on language its functionality. Even though Low levels learners would have to work more with structure, in order to know how to link ideas, and express themselves with ease. It is important to focus on function, so learners feel they are growing their most difficult communicative skill, speaking. This system would focus on speaking and grammar during the class, while vocabulary through homework, by reading a text, looking up for definitions, or watching videos for example. It would be useful to create a learners site where they can download all this material to work with. Classes would help students to work with target language introduced in the class, but also to practice the vocabulary acquired by reading texts or watching videos at home. So learners own effort gets an great relevance in the learning process.                    

Last but not least, teachers are the most important piece on the learning process. We should try to remember our favorite subjects at school, college or University. There’s always a person we will never forget, the engaging teacher. That’s why teacher’s attitude should be engaging and attractive for students. In this system, teachers become actors and actresses about to play a role everyday. Smile and good presence in the class are essential in order to maintain learners engaged. A boring activity could become a great activity just by teacher’s tone of voice and attitude. The opposite happens when teachers don’t play their role. They could ruin an activity and lose their students attention. That class would be completely lost. Materials get an enormous relevance at this point as well, as a resource used by teachers to transmit their knowledge and keep students interested. Correction, praise and drills would be more used in lower levels, letting higher levels students to perform in a freer way. All materials are welcome, but it’s suggested a limited usage of white boards, only if they are absolutely necessary, or as a game tool. With this methodology we encourage speaking in class, and effort at home, through homework. This is because as human beings we are meant to learn by experience. In class we would give the learner a chance to discuss what they learnt outside the class, and clarify ideas, guide and correct mistakes. That’s why It’s very important to engage learners in the class, to make sure they will work outside. This is also possible if learners are engaged to learn. The most they use the second language in real life, the most they will be engaged in the class.

As a conclusion, we could say this system seems similar to other systems, as well it does not seem easier. However, we truly believe that student’s own effort and willingness are the clue for unforgettable knowledge. Teachers are only the guidance learners need to keep their motivation and dreams on the table. 



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