Duha Dayem

My teaching approach

The Summative Approach

By: Duha Dayem


All of the modern teaching methodologies created provide useful ways to help our learners; however, as we have noticed throughout history, some of them are more effective depending on societies’ needs. The only way to success in teaching is taking into account that working with people implies a sense of sympathy; learners have feelings, intellect, fears, instincts, special needs, interests, expectations and desire to learn. It is crucial that language teachers have the chance to adjust procedures and to adapt their materials, activities, assessments, etc according to their students’ needs.

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 Direct Method:

The direct method sought to immerse the learner in the same way as when a first language is learnt. All teaching is done in the target language and student cannot use their native language, grammar rules are not taught which in my opinion is not very successful, there is a focus on speaking and listening, and only useful “everyday” language is taught. I think that the weakness in the Direct Method is its assumption that a second language can be learnt in exactly the same way as a first, when in fact the conditions under which a second language is learnt are very different.


The Grammar Translation Method:

This method is probably not new to many of you because it has been used by language teachers for many years. To understand the target language, the teacher and the students must use their native language for making the grammar more familiar. I think that this method lacks appeal because it focuses on only form, to the exclusion of function.  Students memorize grammar rules, but spend no time actually using the information in ways that reflect common daily use of the target language.  As a result, students lack motivation because of a lack of relevance and transference.


This method provides relaxed environment; low lighting, soft music; the teacher teaches the material in “a playful manner” instead of analyzing lexis and grammar of the text in a directive manner. I believe that using some of the suggestopedic methods can be effective but basing your entire method around it does not aid the learning process much.




The Silent Way:

The teacher is passive so that students develop inner criteria for correctness. This method lacks appeal as it is too learner-centric, with minimal teacher involvement.  (Learners are responsible for their own learning.)  I think that the instructor should be more actively involved in facilitating learning, rather than assuming a hands-off approach.


Total Physical Response:
This method works by having the learner respond to simple commands and observing actions. The method stresses the importance of hearing comprehension and gestures. The students learn through repetition and observation, and I believe this to be one of the most useful in teaching the basics.


The Communicative Approach:

This is an approach that emphasizes interaction as both the means and the ultimate goal of learning a language. Students practice with authentic materials in small groups. .It gives priority to meanings and rules of use rather than to grammar and rules of structure.



I agree with the possibility of combining different methods to get the “most effective” one. As I said above, without considering learners as human beings and being flexible no method will be successful. So what I find helpful is to take “pieces” from the procedures available to get my own.


The Summative Approach

This method is called summative because it sums all of the advantages of each methodology in one ideal approach. It is also summative because it focuses on all aspects of the language equally. In this method, students are taught to read, write, listen, comprehend and speak the language. It is divided into 5 starting from basic and developing into a fluent user of the foreign language. The Summative Approach works best in schools and can be adapted to teach adults as well.


English is the only language used in the classroom and no native language is contemplated. Skills are divided in each session depending on the time or the days given to teach. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays are vocabulary and Topic days, Wednesdays are for grammar, Thursdays are for oral and speaking skills, and Fridays are for the writing.


Text books are not used in the Summative Approach. Instead, the teacher prepares the topic and all the handouts and worksheets needed. As I mentioned above, this method focuses on all the language aspects equally and they are all taught in a fun and a communicative way. I do believe in repetition as long as it is done in a fun way. using colorful visual images and incorporating songs as way of getting the children to memorize the TL in a fun engaging way and they also help link the information in one’s brain for the longest period. This helps the student become motivated and engaged throughout the lesson.

Introduction: the teacher starts the class with a video, a poster, questions or anything that triggers a small discussion to give the students an idea about what they will be talking about for the week. A video is always a good idea because it is entertaining and helps develop listening skills.

Topic: the teacher prepares a topic that is suitable for the level and the interest of the students. The topic chosen is usually non-fictional and related to real life subjects and situations. Students read the topic individually and answer a few comprehension questions. After that, students share and discuss their answers with their group and their teacher to check if they were able to comprehend the text.

Vocabulary: the vocabulary taught in the Summative Approach is integrated with the topic. So after reading and discussing the topic, the teacher starts the vocabulary activity prepared that is related to the same subject. Of course, the vocabulary activity must be communicative and preferably done through songs, games, charades (taken from the silent approach) and using a dictionary or a thesaurus is always a plus.

Structure: grammar is also integrated with the topic in this method. The teacher should find a topic that provides examples of the grammar skill targeted. The structure activities should be simple, interesting and communicative like games, songs or role plays. I believe that grammar should be taught in a very indirect way giving as many examples and practicing the function as possible, and then after making sure that the students have mastered the skill, they should be taught explicitly the form and grammar terminology used for the skill. In my opinion, this way of teaching grammar helps the student to relate the function with the form of the structure and will help the idea to remain in their heads as they speak and use the language.

Oral communication: this is what I like to call my “Oprah Winfrey Day”.  This day is meant to be an extended discussion of the topic and the readings. Students participate together, and the teacher tries to bring to the discussions the most provocative elements of the issues they are studying.  Consequently on these Oprah Winfrey days the students are animated, heated, bothered, argumentative, and, most importantly, using the English language fluently. Oral communication activities can be done through one on one speaking (student-student or student-teacher), small group or team-based oral work, full class discussion, in class debates and finally speeches and presentations.

Writing: what writing ultimately does for new language speakers is give them time to think and practice the language at the same time. Because there is no opportunity to sit and think about how to actually use a language when you have to speak it in conversation, writing helps students develop the ability to truly communicate. No matter what they would like to say, once they've taken the time to figure it out on their own, they should write it down and read it over, it will be much easier the next time when they want to make a point out loud. In fact, the more often they write, the more their brain will be able to memorize their unique communication style. After truly learning how to write in a foreign language, students will find their own, personal style of communication and sentence structure. The Summative Approach emphasizes on free writing activities because they help students to practice the language fluently.

Assessment or Wrap up: Towards the end of each lesson the teacher goes through specifically designed questions in order to activate the target language. This ensures that even if the teacher has drawn from elements from other methods or approaches, the teacher still knows at the end of each lesson that not only has the student understood the context of the study but is able to reproduce their own examples. Ensuring the teacher that the student has activated the new language.

Classroom Arrangements:

Interactive board is used in the Summative Approach. The classroom seating arrangement changes according to the activity being worked on. The classroom environment allows the student to feel more relaxed and amongst friends.



The Summative Approach is a very effective method because it targets all the language aspects, it is teacher-friendly and it is fun and communicative. But in my opinion, the fact that there are so many different methods stands to prove that there is no “one right way” to teach a second language. Many factors affect how someone learns, not only the teacher, but the students themselves. No single method can encompass all students, however, the relationship they have with that language is in the hands of the teacher.

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