My teaching approach
Compare and contrast several different teaching methods and approaches by considering their effectiveness in creating a communicative lesson
TEFL, or Teaching English as Foreign Language, includes several different methods of teaching a second or a foreign language. Social, cultural and economic relations involve students and teachers to find and create the best methods for learning and teaching different languages. Some of these methods are: The Direct Method (Berlitz Method), Audio-Lingual, The Silent Way, Suggestopedia, Total-Physical-Response, Callan Method, and Vaughan System. As well known, for the past few decades, English language has become a necessity and different adaptations needed to be optimized for different countries. In this paper, we will compare and contrast few of these teaching methods in attempt to bring out the importance of the optimal methods and techniques for language teaching and learning.
First and most common method is a Grammar-Translation method, also called Classical method. This method is still the most recognized and practiced method all over the world. It teaches students in their mother tongue and concentrates mainly over grammar and less on active target language. Teachers are following syllabus based on reading and writing, which automatically pushes back communicative ability in the foreign language. The goals of the students are to build up the basics for the foreign language, which will provide them secure base for future language knowledge.
Like, the curriculum of public schools in Bulgaria and in Spain, the Classical method is the only method that has been and will be practiced, which I think is very important but not the most important factor. In spoken language, grammar is important to the point where correct construction of speech is essential for understanding. In my opinion, this method provides the rules for putting words together, focuses on the form and delivery of words, and little attention is given to pronunciation. Also, often the only activities are exercises in translation disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue, and the other way around. No thinking process involved.
Another method is the Direct Method, known as the Berlitz Method. In this method is important to use English as target language and as teaching language as well. In other words, no translation is allowed and everything should be communicated or demonstrated. Teachers are instructing students to explain a word or to do an activity only by using the second language together with pictures and drawings. Students are replying in the second language and when needed, the teacher is repeating the task for clear understanding. Although, this method is not very clear for what is happening in the classroom; studied material is not as effective as wanted and remain uncertain. This method lacks “any element of classroom observation, relying simply on pre- and post-testing” (Pennycook).
I think The Direct method is great for children as well as for beginners, no matter their age. When I was in Bulgaria, I took some Spanish classes and I found The Direct method they used as very easy going and extremely helpful. Is similar to what Oxbridge is training, which I think is very practical, interesting, and very successful. Also, this method is the fastest spreading method around the globe.
Next, the Silent Way of teaching is also very practical method, because is helpful when classes are containing more than 15 people. This is very common practice in companies with low budged and higher needs for integration. Teachers´ approach is focused on making students talk and repeat words over and over again. In the Silent Way, the teaching method and the teacher´s attitude are key factors. The teacher is silent as long as possible and keep showing the students words, objects, or pictures so they repeat and pronounce these words as many times as needed. Too, the teacher is distant and has no tendency of explaining anything. The class is based on a group work and there is little or no personal attention to students, but learners develop independence and autonomy and cooperate with each other in solving language problems. Students´ goals are centered on pronunciation of words and on making short and simple sentences. While everyone repeats the given word, together with the rest of the class, there will always be undefined definition or unclear vocalization. The target language is simple and easy, therefore, this method is not successful in modern world.
I believe this method is very harsh, limited, with low individual attention, and the classroom environment is not conducted to learning. Teachers might concentrate on how students are saying words, drawing their attention to the differences in pronunciation and flow of words. On the other hand, I think studying second language in a group bigger then eight people is not as common as it used to be in the past; therefore, being part of a smaller group is more helpful, it has better focus on teaching and learning, and is well communicated between every individual within the class including the teacher, and more corrections could be done.
Following, TPR or Total Physical Response is the method that convey target language through action. The teacher says and shows the word and then the students repeat the action. This role-playing action is very popular around children classes because the base is focused on fast repeated action that each individual comprehend naturally. The target language is expressed to influence the behavior of the student and to express it when confident. Is similar to using body language when children learn mother tongue. Children find this method fun, motivating, and most importantly positive. However, they are problems with self-evaluations and test materials. This results from the lacking mixture between productive and receptive force skills that have been used. For example, the use of teaching speech more than writing or high level of listening with no reading (Pennycook).
This combination of skills may by helpful to children or even beginners but in general, Total Physical Response method is not effective when taught by it-self. It is clear, simple, easy and visually expressed for more clarification. Therefore, youngsters will learn the material faster and easier then any other method. Unlike, I think this methodology is highly extreme and is limiting students from thinking, observing, and understanding the target language. Of course, motivation, entertainment and diversion are important factors for every school subject, but foreign languages are taught at very different surroundings. For example: small private classes (one to one or in a group); company classes (organized in smaller and bigger groups); English for Academic Purposes (studying a higher education in an English speaking country); or English for Specific Purposes (medical English, financial English, business English, etc.). Therefore, TPR is not efficient only by it-self. It needs combination of few methodology and target drills to complete full results.
Last, I want to introduce the Vaughan System, which method is focused on learning English from grammar and pronunciation to translation and speaking. It concentrates in small groups, so teachers and students can interact with each other, with the target language and with the material in the best possible way. However, this method provides students with materials that need to revised after class time, which puts unnecessary pressure on learners. In that sense, teaching approach is very dynamic, motivational, and direct, unlike all other methods above. Teachers are talking most of the time with an idea of clarifying target language and explaining structure. Books and other materials are used to help students understand the material, so teachers are managing long talking-time during class.
My personal experience shows that “pressure”, “intense”, and “quick” are terms of unsuccessful tasks. As its founder, Mr. Vaughan, this method is based on the American lifestyle – very quick, easy, and simple. Although, pressure is always around the corner by giving students additional homework. We have to keep in mind, that working people are very busy people; also, life in general is very busy and when something more comes on, people are ready to step back and lock their minds. On the other hand, I find this method very effective and easy to learn from it. The reason is because includes every area of English that students need to know. For example, to speak correctly, students will have to know grammar or if students want to write properly, they will have to learn speaking with the correct stresses and manners. But, this method unlikely helps students who only want to speak English and do not have interest in writing nor students who have some knowledge in English and interest to continue in specific area of English (Technical, Medical, or Economical). So, this method is not fitting every student´s need especially people with limited time.
From all of the above we can conclude that construction of the different Methods in language teaching is based on different techniques and views for current implementation of knowledge. This is the same way how Oxbridge was created: “In 2002 as a result of the sum of many teachers? experiences with different approaches to English teaching. We noticed that if we put together different experiences we can achieve original and improved results” (Oxbridge web page). While it is clear that language teaching is undergoing many transformations during time, an examination of these past experiences give the modern look of teaching skills and practices. Of course, some of these changes are due principally to shift in the social, cultural, political, and philosophical climate; however, all these methodologies are based on close and equal goal - how to teach English in the best sufficient way (Pennycook).
“What is Oxbridge? Learning system.” 15. Oct. 2011. Oxbridge English Teaching System. 2011.<http://www.oxbridge.es/main.php?p01=what-is-oxbridge&lan=en&s01=learning-system>
Pennycook, Alastair. “The Concept of Method, Interested Knowledge, and the Politics of Language Teaching.” TESOL Quarterly Vol. 23, No. 4, December 1989: 589-608