Julio Laverio





My teaching approach

                     ESSAY ON LANGUAGE TEACHING METHODS

 

There are lots of language teaching methods around the world. Teachers are always looking for a new way to teach and make the students learn a language. A language teaching method may include class participation, memorization, recitation, demonstration or a combination of all of them. But is the teacher’s role in front of a class is also very important. A teacher must be well-prepared to know how to lead the students to do their best in the classroom. And this means that the teacher must know more than one teaching method. But is the students’ way of learning what will determine the use of one or more methods for the teacher.

 

 

 

The teacher, who uses the GRAMMAR TRANSLATION METHOD, looks for the best results in written language. This method was first created to teach Latin and it’s primarily concerned to Classical Literature. Translation may be good in some cases, but it’s not a communicative way to teach. Students in this method will be good in grammar and structure, but will probably fail in speaking.

 

 

 

 

Repetitions used in the DIRECT (BERLITZ) METHOD are probably the most important part of this method. The teacher uses as many materials as possible to introduce the target language in basic levels. He is also the model of a good pronunciation. And the students are inducted to find out the rules of the target language. Despite the use of the oral communication since the first class, the real use of the language could be not as useful as the student could think.

 

 

 

“The teacher as a mime” could be another name for the SILENT WAY method. Here the students are forced to use the target language based on silent instructions. Structure or syllabus is always recycled. The teacher’s role is to monitor the student’s efforts. The problem with this method is that the students pay more attention to the vocabulary and pronunciation than to communicate effectively.

 

 

 

Suggestion is used in psychology and hypnosis. The teacher who uses the SUGGEST-O-PEDIA method desuggests students’ psychological barriers like fear. It means that students are liberated from the negative barriers in the process of learning. Music and art are both important elements here. But, important factors as speaking and writing are left aside.

 

 

 

When we are children, we often follow our parents’ commands. That’s the starting point of the TOTAL PHYSICAL RESPONSE method. The teacher gives commands to the students and they answer with physical movements. In this method there is a great input in listening and writing. Beginner students will probably enjoy this method, more than intermediate or advanced levels.

 

 

A method used for more specific purposes is the CONTENT BASED INSTRUCTION or CBI. Not to be confused with ESP, in this method the students are given the language in a real life context. The teacher uses motivation and interest to introduce the language to the students. CBI is a mix of the GRAMMAR TRANSLATION and AUDIO-LINGUAL method, with vocabulary. High level students could find this method better than others because of the academic contents; very useful for their real needs.

 

 

 

 Born between the 50’s and 60’s, the AUDIO-LINGUAL method makes over-emphasis in repetition and accuracy. “Mimicry and memorization of the dialog” was its slogan. As a parrot, the students only repeat words and sentences without (almost) any understanding. In this method the lexical meaning and an effective communication are not so important. Relevant interests of the students are generally ignored.

 

 

 

Probably one of the fastest methods to learn a language is the CALLAN METHOD. It was created by Robin Callan in 1959. The method has only 14 levels, and it is based in a great quantity of questions. The students answer must be given immediately. Structure is taught by repeating the sentences frequently. The down side of this method is that it’s automatic. The interaction between the teacher and the student is based in questions not in a real context.

 

 

 

Different situations are the base of the SITUATIONAL METHOD. Students are pretended to be for example, “at the supermarket” or “at the beauty shop” to try to use the new language. The teacher uses pictures and real objects to help the students’ utterances. In this case, the problem is that the students don’t know how to use a structure or an expression. And the situations are not graded. So, maybe low level students could find this method extremely difficult and boring.

 

 

 

“Reading is more appropriate for school students” said a professor who was against the DIRECT METHOD. That’s why Professor Coleman introduced his READING METHOD in the 30’s. In this method, intensive reading and grammar rules based on the structures of the reading passages were the principal points. Obviously, this method was forced to change for its lack of communication between the teacher and the student.

 

 

 

 The FUNCTIONAL NOTIONAL APPROACH was created in the 60’s. This method places major emphasis on the communicative purpose of a speech act. It focuses on what students want to do through speech. The problems in this method are the syllabus and the order when using the functions or the communicative act. They are not well structured.

 

 

 

In 2002 the Oxbridge model was born. Based on the TRIANGULAR PROJECTION MODEL (Topic, Structure and Vocabulary), Oxbridge gives more emphasis to a full interaction between the teacher and the students. The teacher is just a part of the system. But, it doesn’t mean that he’s not so important. The teacher’s role is basically a playmaker. The structures, vocabulary and topics are introduced and taught as a game. The system takes some things from other learning methods. For example, there is no translation; the L2 is in the class since its first minute; there is not a system book like in many other methods, activities are specially prepared for the different levels; no time to write and no time to read aloud and the traditional blackboard disappears. This is a really innovative and communicative way to teach. Because the students don’t need to study like in the traditional way. They just get the L2 in a very easy and enjoyable way.

 

 

 

Well, based in all of these methods or language teaching systems, I’ll propose a new one, the FREE METHOD. This method is based in the student’s real and current needs.

A method containing just 3 books or syllabus for the 3 main levels, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced, could be easier and (with the correct use) understandable since the very beginning. The teacher’s role could be more than just a playmaker sitting on a chair or standing in front of the students. A teacher prepared not only to teach a language, but prepared to be an artist in front of the students could be more engaging than the ones in the traditional methods. For example, in some British schools the teacher is a conductor and the students are “forced” to produce the language they are being taught, in a literature way. Teachers must use all their aims: artistic (literature, poetry, acting, etc.), real material (magazines, newspapers, fruits, food, etc.) he has, to be sure their students have understood the target language. Psychology studies could be a must for the teachers to analyse students’ difficulties for learning. The principal aspects of this new method could be like this:

 

--- L2 is the principal and first language used in the class.

--- No translation is accepted. In this point, the students could receive some basic sentences (simple questions to use in the class like: How is it in English please? or greetings and farewells: like Hello! or Goodbye!), before the first class.

--- The teacher introduces the language with relevant questions for them. For example, if someone asks me, “how’s your aunt?” without knowing her or without having mentioned her before, my answer would probably be “fine”. But, if the one who asks me knows my aunt, my answer could probably be “She’s fine thanks. And how is yours?”

--- Structures are presented like mathematical formulas. To put things in order can make learning easier. If the students know the structure and the way (position) words are put in a sentence, they will probably know how to create new ideas based in the order and their vocabulary.

--- Vocabulary is presented with the help of different type of materials, depending on the level. For example, in Elementary the teacher could use sport stuff (balls, sport clothes), in Intermediate the teacher could choose between songs (the new and popular ones) and daily routine things (a cup of coffee, bread, newspaper, travel ticket, etc.), and for the Advanced level, the teacher could break some rules. He could ask the students to perform a film or a play.

--- Speaking is also important in this method. The students are encouraged to use the L2 since the first class. They are asked about relevant things and the teacher’s role is to join to the students and make them feel like if he was one of them. When this occurs, the students feel free to talk to him. And the L2 flows in a natural way.

--- To make this method better I propose no less than 4 hour classes a week. It is widely known that any person needs this time (at least) to know any language.

--- Syllabus could last no more than 1 year for each level. It means that in 3 years anyone who uses this method will be prepared to face real life situations.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                 Bibliography

 

 

Wikipedia

 

 

The Functional-Notional Approach by Mary Finocchiaro & Christopher Brumfit

 

 

Classroom Techniques by Edward David Allen & Rebecca M. Valette

 

 

 



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