My teaching approach
The main purpose of learning English is the possibility of being able to communicate. Bearing in mind this purpose, the reasons for wanting to study English can differ greatly. Some students need English because they are moving into a target language community and so therefore they need to be able to move around within that community, others need English for a specific purpose, or they would just need it to communicate, so having full knowledge of their needs, a teacher must analyze the teaching and learning goals in order to apply the adequate method. Not only are there marked differences in terms of their age and level, but also in terms of different abilities and knowledge. Because students at different ages have different characteristics, the way we shall teach them will differ too. This is why it is so important, to know beforehand, the type of learners we are going to have so we may prepare the syllabus which will help us reach our goal, to be able to communicate.
In my opinion, the four basic skills in any language, receptive skills which are listening and reading, and productive skills, speaking and writing, are to be considered individually in order to be able to apply each one of them according to the students' profile. I tend to believe that an exposure to receptive skills will lead to a productive one, so although we may only apply one of the skills at a time, eventually they will be incorporated in a lesson to reach a balanced approach. The skills share the same purpose, to be able to communicate. There are teaching systems where writing is not a skill which is practised as it is focused on speaking skills. I believe that when a student is able to communicate orally, he/she will also be capable to read, and writing should not be ignored. Both, receptive skills and productive skills, therefore, are equally important and their presence in a syllabus is a positive asset.
In my opinion,the language areas I would highlight are the structures and the vocabulary,, taught in an oral way. How would I reach these? First of all, the target language must be the only one used in the class, therefore our students will get used to listening and understanding in a natural way. I think these two areas are closely related and they also cover the grammar and pronunciation areas, although, the latter may not be my main target. When a student is able to express him/herself by using the vocabulary they have learnt and is able to create a sentence with the proper structure, this will eventually lead onto improving the pronunciation by listening and speaking followed by writing and reading. I would focus on structure and vocabulary when giving a class to an advanced level as well as to a lower level. It would also depend on the students' needs and the amount of time available. For school students, for instance, I do think grammar rules are important as they would want to know why, for example, a verb or an adverb is used in one way o another, whereas an adult's needs may be more specific. Practising the structures and vocabulary orally will give them a chance to practise real-life speaking and this will provide feedback to both teacher and student, and gradually they will become autonomous language users, with no difficulty. I would encompass talking, structure and comprehension, the latter being my feedback. Vocabulary would be present in all these activities. Group discussion and team work would be an important activity in order to get them talking about a variety of subjects, needless to say that this would be held in English language.
The syllabus I would organize would be based on structure as well as dialogue, and if necessary with the aid of pictures. It is of vital importance to be active in creating an engagement when preparing a syllabus. Students, when listening, will acquire the native language sounds and gradually will become familiar with them.
A sample is shown below:
Length of the class: 60 minutes
Class profile: Students level 2
Activity: Manage simple conversation such as talking about occupations, current activities, and describing themselves and people
1. Review vocabulary they already know and introduce new vocabulary
2. Learn new grammar
3. Introduction to present perfect tense
Time. Stage. Aim. Activity
10'. intro. Review. Ask Ss to describe themselves and other Ss
20'. Vocab. Learn new Ask Ss to read topic and show them pictures to describe
20'. Grammar Introduce. Teacher reads topic in this tense and Ss practise, teacher asks questions
10'. Conclusion. Comprehension Make sure Ss have understood. Teacher goes through new vocabulary and grammar and asks questions(repetion, if necessary)
The presence of good rapport between teacher and student in the class is essential. We have to be able to be seen as a professional, someone who they will find both effective and interesting. Also, to be able to solve unexpected situations . I would expect their confidence in me to be greatly enhanced. I would like to become an assesor more than a controller and be able to advise them on their work; this would entail, that they can trust you and expect a good response when a problem is present. I believe if students feel secure in a class, the result will be shown in their progress. A teacher should guide and encourage students in the issues in order to provide a good environment for the students. On the other hand, students should be active participants, they have to be motivated. The students should use the information they have been given to coordinate a task for him/herself or share it with the rest of the class. They must assume responsibilities to integrate in the classroom, develop intellectually and ensure a good relationship with the teacher and the members of the class.
When a teacher corrects, in a way, he/she is motivating the student to improve. I think corrections should always be made at the right moment. Certain errors may be corrected at the moment but others may be done so during the follow-up. We want our students to gain from our correction and learn from it so this must be done in a positive attitude.
Praising should also be present as this will encourage our students to work harder in order to reach their goals. It is a powerful tool we may use to motivate our students.
Although my syllabus would be based on communication, there qre different types of class materials I would find suitable for teaching. If I were to teach at a school, most probably I would have to rely on and follow the text books, but I would also like the students to interact with images or materials such as magazine or newspaper articles. This would help them to face an English-speaking environment. Games would be very suitable too as they are highly motivating since they are amusing and at the same time challenging.
Affective factors are important for successful language learning,this is why the activities must be well chosen in order to motivate our students. By using the proper affecive strategies we shall be led to a successful goal; the role of a teacher in providing feedback and encouragement, is vital.
In order to assess students' learning outcome and difficulties, I would go over the lesson and ask questions to see if they have understood, and repeat the vocabulary and structures which they have struggled with.
Teaching beginners may be far more difficult than teaching advanced students because they will not understand the concepts, and an explanation given to them using other references will not be accomplished. Also, the interference of L1 is present most of the time. When teaching children, we may focus it in a different way. They will absorb the language in a more natural way through games, pictures, colours,etc.
Finally, I would say that although there is an influence of the L1 when learning L2, if our students develop a communicative competence, they will be able to use the language effectively, this is the theory I have learnt during this course.