My teaching approach
“Making English grammar conform to Latin rules is like
asking people to play baseball using the rules of football.”
Bill Bryson, author.
Modern English is generally dated from about 1550, and when
the United Kingdom became a colonial power, English served as the lingua franca
(a language systematically used to make communication possible between people
not sharing a mother tongue) of the colonies of the British Empire. A
significant number of English words are constructed based on roots from Latin,
because Latin in some form was the lingua
franca of the Christian Church and of the European intellectual
English is the third most
natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
While it is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the
language most often taught as a foreign language; it is most often studied as a
foreign language in the European Union by 89% of schoolchildren.
There are different approaches to teach a target
language, called teaching methodology. A teaching method comprises the principles and methods used for
instruction. All these methodologies have their own basis,
structures, rules and goals. The choice of an appropriate teaching method depends
on the information or skill that is being taught, and it may also be influenced
by the aptitude and enthusiasm of the students. In
which way are the teaching methods taught and what are their goals? What are
the advantages and disadvantages? What is the best methodology to teach a
The grammar translation method
The Grammar translation method set the
pace for many classrooms for many decades. The method is derived from the
classical method of teaching Greek and Latin. The
method´s focus is on grammar; communicating in the target language is not a
primer goal. Grammar tests as well gap fill activities are used to learn the
target language. The emphasize lays on reading and writing, which can be a
disadvantage for the student as a proper conversation will be difficult. The
advantage of the method is that students are capable to read and literally
translate, which is the goal of the grammar translation method.
The direct method
direct method was an answer to the dissatisfaction with the grammar translation
method. The focus with this method is teaching vocabulary through pantomiming,
real-life objects and other visual materials. The basic rule is that no translation is allowed. Objects
like pictures can help and the teacher should demonstrate objects and actions;
not explain or translate. With this method the vocabulary is emphasized over
grammar and the pronunciation is very important. The grammar should be taught
within the communication, learning of the target language is based on topics
and the goal of the direct method is to reach a high level of communication,
which is the advantage of this method. Tough the disadvantage is that writing
and reading skills will probably be at lower-level.
The audio-lingual method
audio-lingual method is similar to the direct method. Like the direct method,
it advises that students are taught a language directly, without using the
students' native language to explain new words or grammar. The students
overcome habits of their native language and learn habits of the learning
language. However, unlike the direct method, the audio-lingual method doesn´t
focus on teaching vocabulary. Rather, the teacher drills students in the use of
grammar, based on oral approach. Lessons
in the classroom are focused on the correct imitation of the teacher by the students.
Not only are the students expected to produce the correct output; attention is
also paid to correct pronunciation.
Furthermore, the target language is the only language to be used in the
classroom; the goal is for the students to practice the particular construct
until they can use it spontaneously.
Also for this method counts that students will find more difficulties
reading or writing a text, while communication should be on a high level.
The Vaughan method
Vaughan method implies an emphasis on the oral aspect of
language learning. Like the audio-lingual method this method is based on oral
approach by drilling the students the use of grammar. However, with the Vaughan
method, use of the native language in the class is aloud; translation from
native language into the target language is used to understand the grammar. The
use of projectors, electronic whiteboards, text books, grammar worksheets,
PowerPoint displays, songs, movies or even a dictionary in class is avoided.
The students are depending on the caliber of the teachers and their ability to
inspire students and encourage their development with the target language. As
the focus is on oral approach students will have a high level of communication;
reading and writing skills will be on a lower level.
The Callan method
The Callan method is focused on teaching students the
basic grammar of English and the most essential vocabulary by listening and
speaking. Question, answer and repetition is the basis of the
method; students are asked a series of questions which they must answer, and
repetition of the questions and the answers engages the memory. The pace of
classes immerses students in the language. Rare or complicated vocabulary is
not used in the class; students must concentrate on picking up the basics of
the language. Students increase their knowledge of grammar and vocabulary step
by step and the aim of the Callan method is to get students to speak, which
also means that writing and reading skills will be on a low level.
The silent way method
silent way method is a teaching
method that makes use of silence in the classroom as a teaching technique. The
method emphasizes the autonomy of the student; the teacher's role is to observe
the students' efforts, and the students are encouraged to have an active role
in learning the target language. Criticism is avoided by the teacher as it can
discourage students from developing self-reliance; students
need to develop their own inner creativity and correct their own errors.
Group cooperation is stimulated in order to let students help each other
learning and understanding the target language.
With this method the pronunciation is
seen as fundamental; beginning students start their study with the pronunciation, and much time is spent
practicing it each lesson. These principles situate the silent way in the tradition of learning, which
sees learning as a creative problem-solving activity. The goal of the silent way
method is to help beginning-level students gain basic fluency in the learning
language, with the ultimate goal being near-native language proficiency and
good pronunciation. Students should be able to express their thoughts,
feelings, and needs in the target language which means that communicating will
be on a better level than writing and reading skills.
The total physical response method (TPR)
total physical response method relies on the learning of a language trough observing and
performing actions; students respond to commands that require
physical movement. In the classroom the teacher and students take on roles
similar to that of the parent and child. Students must respond physically to
the words of the teacher. The method can be used to practice and teach various
objects and various tenses and aspects. It is being used to teach classroom
language and other vocabulary connected with actions. It is a method that can
be useful for story-telling, as actions from the story can be expressed.
Because of its participatory approach, the method may also be a useful as an
alternative teaching strategy for students with dyslexia or related learning
disabilities, who typically experience difficulty learning languages with
traditional classroom instruction (the grammar translation method). The
students are taught by following
directions after instructions and learning trough observing and performing
actions. The goal of the total physical method is that students enjoy the
experience, associated with fun learning.
teaching, a good method must be adopted by a teacher. A teacher has many
options when choosing a style by which to teach. When deciding what teaching method to use, a teacher
needs to consider students' background knowledge, environment and learning
As any good teacher knows, all
students do not learn in the same way. In addition, it is common for a class of
students to be at a variety of levels in any particular subject. Teachers need
to use different teaching methods in order to reach all students effectively. A
variety of teaching strategies, knowledge of student levels and an
implementation of which strategies are best for particular students, can help
teachers to know which teaching methods will be most effective for their class.
If the teacher finds the best
teaching method for a particular group of students, the students are likely to
learn more quickly and be more engaged. Moreover
it is important that the teacher feels confident with the methodology in order
to teach with enthusiasm and with the capability to motivate the student
wanting to learn more every day!
TEFL October 2011