My teaching approach
I believe anyone’s approach to teaching a subject comes from their own experiences as well as from a good understanding of the different techniques involved. Is like building a house, you can try and build it without the knowledge but it will last longer and be more firm when you know how to build it properly. The same approach can be transferred to teaching English. The very fact that you speak the language doesn't necessarily mean you can teach it. First you need to study the methods, understand the learning process and get a very good understanding of the grammar, and then, only from that point you can start developing your own strategy.
This has been my personal experience in this course.
English is a language that has opened many doors for me, from travelling and getting to know other cultures to give me access to better jobs and also have developed a “thirst” for learning as well as a passion for teaching it.
The trigger point that made me learn a lot faster as well as improve my speaking was travelling; I was forced to speak it to survive so that is where my teaching methodology has come from;the fact that you can study a language for years, but it is only when you have to use it that you really start to learn and understand. In my case, as many people in this country, the problem was the teaching methodology used.
We weren't taught to speak English, all was taught to us was the grammar, which we had to memorize. In terms of speaking, we got the examples from an Spanish teacher with a strong Spanish accent, so that was the model we followed. So it was when i first moved out of the country that i was faced with the real pronunciation and by listening and repeating, could finally improve it.
For someone that is considering the idea of learning a second language, the very idea could be either very scary or very exciting. As a language learner you can set out learning in a variety of ways, from studying on your own with the use of books and/or CD’s, to taking classes or, if you are brave enough, or simply desperate as some Spaniards are right now given the economic situation, oreven living in a place where the language is used.
There are many choices to be made, but having a good teacher guiding you provides you with a guide, someone to “hold your hand” through the process and who would be able to help you improve. That is what I want to be...but what makes someone a great teacher?
We all know that teaching does not equal learning. I am sure some of us can think of a teacher that made us hate a subject to the point where we weren't able to learn it. Teaching is a very complex job, as well as a complex process. I believe there is not a magic formula that will make you a good teacher, but your choice of methodology will definitely make a difference.
It is not simply a matter of what you believe is the best, but also about what it is appropriate in a particular place and with particular people. To improve your students use of a new language the very first decision you face as a teacher is how to find a technique that is going to be effective in your own classroom and also who your students are going to be.
I am not a native, so this for me is the very best lesson to learn, because I am a very good example of how someone learns a new language .I have my own personality and all students are different, and have very different ways of learning. As a teacher I believe you have to take into consideration various different aspects:
First of all , good preparation and knowledge about the subject are essential, as well as following a structure. Set goals and make your own syllabus for the course and each class will give you a very good idea of the students process and your own. You will have a reference to follow, a guide.
Present yourself in a way that is pleasant and always top that up with a genuine smile, sense of humour and a good disposition towards the students.
A good character and an engaging personality would allow you to manage the class and flow though it smoothly.
Paying close attention to your students individually as well as as a group is very important and there are some aspects of the learning process of the students that you will have to consider:
Not every student learns the same way. The methods that were used with me may not work with someone else, so you should be able to approach learning capacities and different levels of knowledge with the appropriate techniques.
The same way you wouldn't use a fork when eating soup, you should never use the same program or techniques to teach a beginners class as an intermediate one. You will always have to be able to rate your students level and then teach them according to this.
Motivation is also an important factor when teaching. I had a high level of motivation when I was learning, the process was fun and that fuelled my learning. But that is not always the case so you will have to be prepared to face different reasons why the students want to learn.
Finding what motivates them, being proactive and not getting discouraged if they don’t seem to be following it.
Some students learn from a more intuitive place, while others use their listening skills or are more visual. Getting to know the factors,difficulties and reasons for learning will allow you to get to them with more efficiency.
In this particular course we have been teaching Spaniards ;the fact that I am one of them allows me to have a better understanding of their learning process. The way we use our own language is a key to understand why we make certain errors, how to target them and, more important how to correct them. This will apply to any country you are teaching in. Getting to know the students cultural environment and native language is basic for a global understanding of their particular learning process.
Now, when it comes to planning my own syllabus I believe a good understanding of the English grammar is basic and thus, very important, so my personal program will focus on developing their vocabulary, improving their pronunciation by speaking and communicating, but will also, very strong in grammar.
I think no subject is boring to learn if you are able to make it fun. It was only when I had to speak the language that I gained a good understanding of it, so the classes will always be about getting the students to communicate as much as possible. In my learning process there have been a lot of books, films and radio involved, so I will try when possible to include this as classroom material. We will use the material and then do an activity related to whatever we are working with. I will ask questions related and we will play some games, this way I will make sure they understand and keep the sessions fun and relevant.
The benefits of the use of such material are that the students will not only learn and improve their skills, but also, will get a much better understanding of the cultural background of the English language.
I would like every class to be special on its own so that the students would never want miss one. Teaching for me has been a beautiful process that has led me to a better understanding of myself and others. I teach from my heart and with passion and love, not only for the subject, but for the ones wanting to learn it.
Paloma de los Reyes