Veronika Raventos

My teaching approach


The knowledge has always been a treasure. Human being consider knowledge as part of his evolution and life. Thus is not difficult to imagine that we had been looking for better forms of sharing it since the beginning of the times.

The figure of the “Guru” is one of the oldest in our history. The word comes from the Sanskrit and is taken as somebody that knows more than another about one specific subject, understanding that all of us we will be at some point “guru” and with the responsibility of sharing our knowledge.

Regarding English teaching as foreign language we have been through few methodologies with different approach to the learning experience.

In my opinion any of those methods who works from the negation will always be one legged. Many times we encounter ways of teaching based on a reverse methodology. When a system fail we tent to go to the opposite side until we fail again and then we find a balance.

That balance should be the key to help teachers to get the best from their students being at the main time able to give the best of them selves.

The art of teaching is as alive as our society and both evolve and change at the time.

When communication was basically over written letters, international phone calls were a luxury and the main source of knowledge was a library the GTM (grammar teaching method) did a function, catering to the needs of the students and making them a coveted staff. They didn't need to be in a conference call, they needed to write and read perfectly and they succeed.

But times change and communication era stepped in our houses with TV, and to have a phone at home became normal and traveling became easier, then society couldn't cope with the sudden changes and a lot of people felt lost. At that point we have methodologies based on psychological needs coming our way. We can mention the Suggestiopedia here as example.

Last century left giving us an unforgettable gift, waves. With being able to be in touch with more than half of the world at a real time, communication became a must. Software designers, very cleverly, made the change. Voice and image are the main tools of nowadays human interaction. Grammar and spelling tools will assist you in your writing but nothing can assist your voice, your tone, except for a good training.

Professionals around the globe put hand on work to develop that type of training. And Berlitz system, Audio-Visual system, and many more try to give students what the needed: To Talk.

Oxbridge method is, with no doubt, a well elaborated version to fulfill learners expectations. Communication is the priority when lesson planning and levels are structured to motivate students in they oral production.

A P4 student feels confident to talk because he has been placed in P4, however I find is a bit daring to compare that level with the European Frame C1.

Any methodology who caters the real social needs will be successful while those needs remain and we have to be ready to evolve as fast as society does to keep a system alive. Being able to be ahead of the times would be priceless.

As a teacher we should be able to adapt to different methodologies and in my opinion the conscious knowledge of the subject to be taught is the only way to be able to work with different methods, students and environments.

I totally agree that translation is not a good practice for today students, as exposure to the L2 is easy through the new technologies and class translation is not needed anymore. Even though I believe the use of L1 in a class has to be inversely proportional to the L2 knowledge of the students.

That principle reduce the possibilities of finding instructors but that is something that time will change as global society is creating naturally bilingual individuals, in many cases already trilingual.

I would dare to forecast that future methodologies will include L1 use in L2 lessons as a must, as well as L1 and L2 use in L3 lessons.

The use of L1, not for vocabulary translation purposes but for further explanation, comparison and clarification purposes is a tool who makes learning process faster and more effective as student become conscious about his L1 at same time that learns L2. Giving birth to generations of potentials language teachers, translators, writers, in one word, communicative people.

A good class flow should have as a result happy students with growing knowledge.

To introduce new vocabulary within a structure, to give the guidance so they can build their own sentences and to advise them on pronunciation and grammar is the perfect content for each class.

Working from a topic in every class takes students to a better understanding but they might not being able to link contents from class to class if the system is not integrating every topic in one course structure.

I would like to introduce the concept of proximity.

We have been learning about methodologies created with a clear target. Western First World methods created to Western First World students. Only proximity would assist on adapting it.

Oxbridge system caters clearly Spaniards and I found the method very comfortable to native-English speakers, what proves that proximity is an added value thus, with no doubt, Oxbridge system is working among locals and appreciated by the companies using your services.

Same concept should be used for teachers, those who are close from students and able to follow up improvements will be able to perform according to every group needs. Here is where I see a double blade in Oxbridge method. Taking in consideration that to change teacher and expose students to different accents and teaching techniques is a great and innovative idea, I wonder if the progress of students is under evaluated what would affect to their long term improvement.

Personally I find writing production a very important piece of the learning process as it stimulates the memory and the capacity of using structures and vocabulary out of the lesson context. It is often that SS struggle with their time optimization and homework is taken as a load. Facing that situation I created an email where SS can submit their writing exercises any time and as an optional activity. All of us we spend long hours in front of the computer and some times we just need a break. To open a .doc and write a few sentences could be as good as to go for a coffee. This formula gives no pressure to SS while leaving a door open in the event they find the time or the mood to do it.

I was greatly surprised when my mail box started to get interesting exercises full of new vocabulary and proving the understanding of structures worked in class.

I would like to conclude with what I consider the key points to take into consideration when choosing or creating a foreign language teaching methodology.

To know the target student needs and define L2 exposure. To identify L1 and his alphabet and detect possible interferences. To establish the length of every syllabus and to work out sessions materials based on age group focusing on communicative activities.

Methodologies are necessary to a global teaching system and English, being the most spoken international language, had to create a worldwide syllabus and evaluation chart that only from proximity can be improved.

Veronika Raventos

Barcelona, 23.02.2013

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