My teaching approach
The aim of this essay is to take a brief look at some of the many ESL teaching methods and while comparing the benefits of each method construct my own method for teaching . The various methods we have looked at include;
The Grammar Translation Method (GTM)
All learning is by translation from the original language to the target language. Grammar rules and vocabulary are memorised. There is very little emphasis on communication. In my opinion this is not a very good method because of the lack of communication. Although it can be helpful to memorise language structure early in a students learning
The Direct (Berlitz) Method
Much more to my liking we have the direct method in which the student is taught entirely in the target language. Students cannot speak their native language. Grammar rules are not stated and there is emphasis on good pronunciation. I agree a lot with the no students not being able to use their native language and will teach only using English in my own method. The main focus on in communication is another positive but I still disagree with no grammar rules being taught.
The Silent Way
The aim for the teacher is to say as little as possible in order that the student can be in control of correcting his own errors. The teacher does not use a syllabus, corrections or praise. Much can be said for a student developing his own criteria for corrections but this flawed to me. The teacher should act as a guide and not stay silent but help with errors in grammar, pronunciation while teaching vocabulary as well
I think stating your actions aloud while doing said action can be helpful to learning; I think basing your entire method around it does not aid the student much. I also think that comfort can be nice, to much comfort can lead to distractions and that will not aid the learning process
Total Physical Response
TPR works by having the learner respond to simple commands and observing actions. The method stresses the importance of aural comprehension. The students learn through repetition and observation, and I believe this to be one of the most useful in teaching the basics quickly.
The focus of this method is to enable the student to communicate effectively in the situations they are likely to find themselves in
The Callan method also has a very sound principal at its heart, in learning to speak first we emulate the natural learning process, and then after learn to read and write. I do however believe that the process with which students learn to speak is overly intense and leads more to repetition of phrases, rather than understanding.
From here on I shall describe my own method, which I have constructed with concepts used in the above methods. This method is obviously untested and will mostly be what I think might work from my experience of learning another language.
The goals of my method are
- Development of all skills with a focus on communication
- Teaching structure with a view to understanding rather than
- Versatility and flexibility
- Interactive lessons with hands-on
Activities and cooperative learning,
- Encouragement of creativity
- Encouragement of self-correction among students
For this method have decided to go with a no translation approach, as it can be confusing for students and is likely to cause errors further down the line. Although I have said, No Translation, I use this only for structure, as when students begin to talk I think it is important for the teacher to translate vocabulary, such that they can build sentences creatively and are not restricted to their limited vocabulary. This is important as it gives them the ability to say what they want, and they hopefully will be more willing to engage with the course.
My main focus will be on communication, speaking fluently being the goal, but will include reading and writing exercises. Notes can be taken but the teacher will not give any spelling in lower levels and will allow them to make errors, so long as their speaking and pronunciation is improving. The reason for this being that some students learn better by taking notes, but by giving students written words the student begins to pronounce using his natural (1st language) pronunciation. By giving the student the ability to write things down how said student believes it to be spelt, we can hope that the pronunciation will always be correct.
I am of the opinion that if students are told the grammar rules that can only be a good thing, so in the early levels each class will begin with the structure, that is the object of that lesson, being taught to the students ,with them then repeating it back to the teacher. (E.g I am, you are, He is…..) This is all done orally, but as I mentioned the students can take notes, if they are so inclined.
Once the grammar has been taught, I believe using interactive speaking activities is the best way to learn. Most activities will begin with quick questions to introduce the topic, and then using pictures, or articles, the student will be made to practise the objective of the class. Activities will include questions and answers, discussions, role playing, and description activities. The student should be encouraged to express his or her opinions and talk freely about the topic. Error correction should be common as long as it doesn´t stop the flow or discourage the student.
At higher levels short video clips and audio clips can be introduced to practise listening, and written questions to test comprehension of the clip. This is to develop listening, reading and writing skills, but at the end of the questions students should discuss the videos and questions and in groups aid each other in correction of answers. The use of video and audio can also help the student’s comprehension of different accents as, a limited number of teachers are likely to be available.
Classes should be kept small with no more than 6 to a group, and no fewer than 2. This is to facilitate conversation but to not make the group so large that the teacher cannot focus. Groups will always be centred around a table for ease of discussion and so that the all students are facing the teacher. the
At the end of each activity, and the end of each class a wrap up should be done.
This should be questions asked by the teacher to each student testing the target language of the activity/class.
In general, for an hour long class, the students should spend 20mins on the theory, then 17-18 minutes on each activity. At the end 5 minutes should be used for the wrap up,
Basic structure of a class
- Introduction to the grammar
- Grammar rule, or vocab explained by the teacher, through speech and gestures.
- Students repeating Grammar/vocab
- Pictures, Article, or Audio/video introduced to class
- Questions, discussion, or role play using the target language of the class
- Wrap up for checking the students understanding
To wrap up, I would like to say that this strategy is untested in a class room setting and so I cannot confirm its success. I believe it could be very useful in teaching English, but believe it could be polished with practise in a classroom.