My teaching approach
When it comes to
teaching there are many methods with no one way more correct than the
other. One teacher’s method may be
successful with some students and another teacher’s method may work with the
other students. When it comes to
teaching English as a second language there are many methods that have been put
into place and as a teacher we now have many techniques to choose from. Teachers must take different factors into
consideration when choosing which method to use, such as the student’s age, the
student’s reason for wanting to learn a new language, and also the student’s
motivation level. Three different
methods with key similarities are the Direct Method, Total Physical Response,
and the Communicative approach; each has pros and cons and each a very
different approach to teaching.
Direct method, created by Maximilian Berliz, is one of the original methods for
teaching English as second language. The
main idea of the method is that the second language should be taught just like
the first with no use of the students’ original language. The focus for this method is vocabulary and
the teacher uses a lot of repetition, pictures, and demonstrations to teach. This method also places high importance on
pronunciation from day one.
Pronunciation is very important but too much criticism from the teacher
can discourage students from wanting to continue learning this new language. I feel vocabulary is very important when
learning a new language, as well as grammar.
This approach to teaching English does not teach grammar rules; instead
the teacher assumes the student will learn the grammar rules through imitation
and trial & error. When it comes to
teaching English I agree that repetition of vocabulary can be very useful but
the teaching of grammar is necessary.
English is a rich language with many rules and exceptions to those rules,
and it is the job of a teacher to make sure the students know more than
approach to teaching English is through Total Physical Response. The main idea behind this method is that
students will learn by acting out the commands of the teacher. The teacher has the authority in this setting
and tells the students what to do and the students must repeat it. This approach, like that of the Direct
Method, does not allow students to use their native language. By forcing students to only use the target
language the teacher is forcing them to think in English in order to speak
English, which is ultimately the main goal.
I think this method is quite alternative but can be very successful when
teaching children. It is hard to capture
the attention of a child by making them read and write but by asking them to
repeat gestures they learn the language without realizing. This method is good for beginners but when
the students begin to develop their own thoughts this method does not allow the
students to express their thoughts through words.
Finally, the Communicative approach seems to
be the best approach by using successful aspects of the approaches that came
before it. This method focuses on all
four communicative skills but primarily listening and speaking. What makes this approach so beneficial is
that it uses the target language in real context with authentic materials. Authentic materials, such as a real newspaper
article, allow students to share real opinions and have real discussions rather
than a discussion on the gingerbread man, which would not happen in daily
communication. The teacher acts as a
guide, not an authority figure, who helps students and corrects them only when
they feel necessary. Errors are part of
learning and teachers of the Communicative approach tolerate those errors. By not reprimanding the student each time
they pronounce a word incorrectly the students can feel comfortable expressing
themselves and practicing the new language.
Just like the other approaches, the target language is the only language
used in the classroom in an effort to force the students to think only in English. The best part of this method, in my opinion,
is the task. Each task in this method
has a goal, input (reading, news
article, activity, etc.), and activity. By having these three factors in each task it
breaks up the learning process into a fun way to successfully engage the
students and have them practice the target language in real life situations.
All three of these approaches have one main
similarity: the only use the target language.
Not all approaches feel this is the best way to teach a foreign
language, one of those exceptions is the Grammar Translation Method. The
Grammar Translation method translates words from one language to the next. As a teacher it is easier for me to follow
the Grammar Translation Method when a student does not understand a new word,
but as a student of this method I know the handicap it placed on my listening
and speaking ability. By translating
words from your native tongue to the target language it slows down your thought process and doesn’t allow for
communication to flow. When speaking in
Spanish I find myself still thinking in English, which is not what I want. We want students to think and speak in the
target language, so as a teacher I will not follow the Grammar Translation
method; instead I will take the approach of the other methods and only speak in
the target language with students and require the same of them.
Another similarity between
these methods is the use of games. Total
Physical Response and the Communicative approach both use games as a mean of
practicing the target language. After
giving examples and practicing language the teachers use games to use what was
learned in a fun way. Learning is not
meant to be only from a book, it can happen through memory games, story games, and
conditional games for example. These
methods allow the teacher to assess the students’ progress without giving them
tests and asking them one comprehension question after another. The games help motivate the students by
making the learning process light. As a teacher I feel seeing the students have
fun and enjoy using the target language is just as important as them receiving
an A on an exam.
Another factor to consider
when choosing a method for teaching is why
the student is choosing to learn a new language. If the student wants to learn English for a
specific purpose, such as business English, or medical English, the Direct
Method has its benefits. By focusing on
vocabulary needed for the specific purpose the student can focus on words and
terms that are beneficial for their specific need and not be weighed down by
vocabulary that is not applicable to them.
If a student wants to learn English for communication then the Communicative
Approach would help this student by using authentic material and teaching them
grammar so they can speak properly in the target language. Also by using role playing in the target
language it can better prepare students for encounters they will have with
English speakers, or interviews, or even when dating.
When I become a teacher I
think I will take a few key aspects of all three of these approaches when I
teach. I will take the vocabulary
repetition approach from the Direct Method.
I feel that in some cases it is necessary to drill vocabulary into the
students mind in order for them to learn.
From the Total Physical Response method I will use gestures and
actions. I won’t necessarily have the
students repeat the gestures but I feel it is a good way to describe words
nonverbally and sometimes an abnormal gesture can help the students remember
abnormal words. From this method I will
not be taking the role of the teacher as an authority, instead I will be acting
as a guide like the Communicative Approach describes. I want to be there to help the students learn
and not make the process seem demanding.
A teacher who guides their students gains a better rapport and students
respond better to a teacher they are comfortable with. From the communicative approach I will also
focus on the tasks using authentic materials.
From the classes I have observed and the activities I have taught in the
past two weeks the real life discussions have been my favorite part. I am looking forward to having discussions on
current events with my students and watching as their ability to speak English
improves week to week.