My teaching approach
TEFL Fundamentals Module:
essay I will be looking at 3 commonly used methods for teaching a second
language. I will be looking at how they approach learning, how they approach
teaching, the involvement of the students, how the syllabus is organised, the
teacher’s role, and I will also be providing my personal opinion on what I
think is the most effective method for learning a second language.
start by going back in time and looking at the Grammar Translation
method, which was derived from a very classical method of teaching Greek and
Latin. The method’s approach to learning basically required the students to
literally translate whole texts word for word, memorize numerous grammatical
rules and exceptions, and to add to that they needed to remember enormous lists
example, students would be given a passage or chapter of text from an important
writer like Plato; to keep it simple we shall say that the text was written in
English. The students would then tediously have to translate the text word for
word into their mother tongue. They would be drilled on the grammatical
structure without paying much attention to the content, pronunciation or any of
the communicative aspects of the language. Simply, sentences were deconstructed
and translated with emphasis being put on the grammatical structure and the
method, while teaching the text, the teacher translates every word and phrase
from English into the learner’s mother tongue. The method emphasizes the study
of grammar through deduction and drilling the rules of grammar to effectively
achieve a translation in the correct context. The teacher would have a massive
list of bilingual vocabulary; they would take the grammar straight out of the text
and elaborately provided the rules for assembling the words into sentences. This
was seen as a way to exercise and strengthen knowledge, based around reading as
the main skill to exercise, but only in the context of translation, with the
teachers roll being authoritarian.
syllabus is purely organised around grammar rules, reading and vocabulary, with
the goal of this method being that students are able to read and translate
literary masterpieces and classics (How very boring!).
personally would never use this method as I believe that it would kill the
motivation of modern students and my own motivation for that fact. It may be
useful as a punishment to show children that if they don’t behave, they will
have to do exercises that will bore the socks off of them. As a trainee teacher
I would much rather have interaction in my class than silence, open discussion
about the language being acquired and constant use of the target language would
prepare the students for communicating in day to day scenarios, whereas being
able to translate Plato will only aid you in extremely specific circumstance
(not a skill I would take to a party with me!).
to something slightly more modern! The Direct Method, which was established
in Germany and France around 1900, is really a direct contrast from the Grammar
Translation method (the students have been saved!).
method is based around teaching a foreign language in the actual target
language itself. The method refrains from using the mother tongue and might be
seen as a way to throw the students in at the deep end. In this case swimming
is not essential, so no casualties will be tallied up on the teacher score
board! In fact this method is probably one of the best ways to push learners
and is friendlier than it first seems.
teachers roll is more focused on demonstration rather than translation or
explanation. Therefore teaching vocabulary is done through pantomiming, realia
and other visual materials, which beats staring at a text book hands down!
very beginning teachers will work on the four skills, but oral communication is
the key, with reading and writing exercises being based on what the students
have practiced orally first. Vocabulary is emphasised over grammar and grammar
structures are practised orally rather than being explained with explicit
rules. The theory is that grammar should be taught inductively (having learners
find out rules through the presentation of adequate linguistic forms in the
is also a key factor in the Direct Method as students have to learn how to
communicate in an effective manner. Students will practise the target language
with lots of question and answer activities, with self correction also playing
a role in the learning process, plus some drilling of the pronunciation just to
make sure that the students have the skills they need communicate clearly in
real life conversations.
syllabus used in the direct method is Situational. The target language is always used in a
social context and cannot be fully understood without reference to the
contextual settings, the Situational Syllabus is constructed on the analyses of
situations and behaviours.
personal opinion regarding the direct method is that it is a great system. Most
students are not interested in the grammar of a language, they only want to
learn how to communicate and use the language in real life scenarios, which is
exactly what this method offers. The only downside is that it is difficult in
incorporate specific language into the syllabus as it has to be more
generalised by the teachers. This does depend obviously on the level of the
students and the age but, I feel that individuals who just want to learn
English to communicate in a certain environment (finance, archaeology,
aviation, etc) will be left out. Other than that this is a great system for
young learners as once they have overcome the basics they can advance into a
specific field as they grow and progress, as long as the opportunities are
final part of this essay will cover the Audio-lingual Method. This method
was basically a direct result of the need for foreign language proficiency in
listening and speaking skills during and after World War 2. With the
Audio-lingual method; drilling, repetition, and habit-formation are the key
areas of focus for the teacher. The teacher should provide a correct model of
native language to be mimicked and they should always reinforce good habits and
punish bad ones.
classroom, lessons were often organized by grammatical structure and presented
through short dialogues. Students listen repeatedly to recordings of
conversations and focus on accurately mimicking the pronunciation and
grammatical structures in these dialogs.
theory behind the Audio-lingual method is that language is composed of
structural building blocks (sounds, morphemes, sentences, etc), that language
forms do not occur by themselves, they occur in context so; particular parts of
speech occupy particular places within a sentence. Native language and target
language have different forms of structure so; they should be kept apart with
the native language interfering as little as possible.
then put across to the students in a process of habit formation (the more we
repeat the stronger the habit formation becomes), positive reinforcement
(helping the students develop correct habits), structural patterns (this being
the major objective of language teaching, with vocabulary being learnt
afterwards), induction (students do not need to memorise rules in order to use
the native language so, this should be applied to learning a second language)
and contrastive analysis (finding areas where native language habits need to be
replaced by target language habits).
The syllabus is grammar driven, but in a
structural fashion. Listening and speaking come before reading and writing.
another method that I like, but there is definitely one area that I do not
agree with. Constant repetition, is ok to a certain extent, but I feel freedom
to express yourself with the new language is just as important. Listening and
repeating should obviously be done first so that the student can get an idea of
how the target language sounds and is used. Then they should be given the
opportunity to play around with the newly acquired language, everyone expresses
themselves in a different way and this should be shown to the students so that
they can add their individuality to the way they use the language.
To conclude this
wonderful essay, I would like to say that there is a definite method that can
be used to teach a new language with 100% proficiency, but this is simply not
What I have found
is that we really do need to mix and match the approaches and methods to really
cover all of the areas that a student needs to acquire a second language. If we
just stick to one method then we are potentially limiting many students from
progressing and learning. We have to understand that individuals learn and
understand information in a different ways; we have to give all individuals a
way to learn without shutting them out. The only way to do this logically is to
combine elements from all the methods and to use them in moderation, constantly
changing the techniques to give the students the best possibility of learning a
new language. If we fail to do this then we are potentially letting the student
down; which as far as I am aware is not the role of the teacher. Teacher’s have
to be able to adapt and be flexible as they never know what their students
needs may be.