My teaching approach
The centre of my teaching approach would be speaking. The
most important function of language is communication and speaking is at the
heart of any form of communication. Furthermore, other key skills can be
passively acquired through speaking practice. For instance, listening skills
will obviously be developed as speaking skills improve. As well as this, from
studying second language acquisition theories it is clear that immersion in the
native language is essential; academic Stephen Krashen went so far as to say
that comprehensible input is all that is needed for L2 acquisition.
More specifically I would have strong emphasis on correct
pronunciation from the beginning, in a similar fashion to the Berlitz or
Audio-Lingual methods. These early formative lessons are vital for the student’s
long term language acquisition so crucial skills, such as correct pronunciation
of basic sounds, should be mastered before progressing. If one continues
teaching more complex topics while the learner is still mispronouncing words it
is highly likely that these faults will become fossilised, making it far more
difficult to reverse these mistakes later on in the teaching process. Thus,
before venturing into role plays, debates and other forms of free practice, the
students should be drilled in basic sounds, with particular emphasis on common
mistakes (e.g. words with just one different sound: sheep and ship).
Reading is equally important to my approach, although
speaking is of prime importance. While basic communication is based on
speaking, reading is essential for anyone attempting to correspond on a regular
basis with native speakers, especially in the business world. As well as this, private
reading of authentic texts is a fantastic way to learn new structures and vocabulary,
as well as being pivotal for the comprehension of that language’s culture.
Just as listening skills are acquired from speaking
practice, writing skills can be gained from reading practice. So, all four
skills can be attained through reading and speaking. Reading will be part of
many, if not all, activities, with all articles being read out loud so that
speaking and listening are also improved. The reader of the article depends on
the level of the students; if they are at such a low level that they would
struggle to read the text then the teacher would read the text to them, with the
learners following the words whilst listening. When they have progressed to a
capable stage the students will take it in turn to read the texts out loud,
with the teacher correcting any pronunciation mistakes and explaining any
As in the Berlitz method the teaching of real life
situations are very important to my approach. Language is learnt to be applied
in real life situations so the skills taught in class should be immediately
transferable to the real world. Furthermore, real life situations are an easy
way through which one can combine a range of teaching approaches. For instance,
a lesson on how to go clothes shopping could be a topic activity but also
teaches structures (e.g. can I try this on? Do you have a smaller size etc) and
new vocabulary (e.g. different types of clothes). Thus, these situations are a
concise way of teaching a range of skills.
In addition to this, the teaching of native culture – as used
by the suggestopedia method- is just as important for understanding the
pragmatics and semantics of a language. A key example of this is the frequent
use of dry wit and sarcasm in British culture, which is often confusing to
I put far more emphasis on productive skills than receptive
skills as the former is the more important for communication. As well as this,
it is far easier to subconsciously acquire receptive skills through the
practice of productive skills. For instance, once one can speak one can automatically
listen as this is essential to any conversation. Therefore, although receptive
skills will not explicitly feature on the syllabus, they will still be taught.
The main syllabus will be dialogue based to ensure that as
much speaking practice as possible is available. This will also be mixed with a
situation based syllabus so that more skills can be incorporated into
activities. This combination means that I can focus on speaking and real life situations
so that the most important aspects of communication, which I have already
discussed, can be covered.
LESSON PLAN (going clothes shopping)
Give examples of things you buy when clothes
shopping e.g. ‘When I go clothes shopping I buy shirts, socks and a hat etc.
Ask the same questions to the students – ‘What
do you buy when you go shopping?’ After first student has answered get students to ask
one another so they understand the question form
new vocabulary in the same format e.g. I need to buy a new raincoat. Ask
students what they use a raincoat for to prove they know what it is. If they don’t
know explain it e.g. what it looks like, what it’s used for etc. Do this for
6-8 new words
Give students a sheet of paper with useful
questions for shopping e.g. ‘do you have this in a smaller size?’ ‘Can I try
Carry out this role with one student. After
demonstrating how it works get students to role play with one another so by the
end of the class they are well aware of the common language needed for this
The role of the teacher and of the student develops and
changes as the course continues. At first the teacher is a model, showing students
how to pronounce words so that they gain a basic understanding of the language,
and the learners are imitators, following the teacher’s lead until they have
developed enough skills to communicate on their own. When this stage is reached
the roles are altered. The student becomes the communicator, speaking for the
vast majority of the time to improve fluency, and the teacher becomes the
technician, interrupting the learner when necessary to correct mistakes or
guide his/her meaning when they become confused, so that accuracy is also
acquired. This evolution allows students to continue to learn no matter what
stage they are at.
Part of the technician’s role in my method is a heavy emphasis
on praising students when they succeed, especially if they have struggled to
answer or understand this concept. As well as this, correction is a large part
of the teacher’s job. At the beginning one should only correct major errors so
as not to break the fluency and confidence of the student. However, as the
student becomes more proficient and fluent the teacher should correct more
minor errors to improve accuracy. Any error that is not immediately corrected
should be noted and brought up at the end of the activity and again at the end
of the class to ensure that the problem has been resolved.
The teacher should encourage self correction as much as
possible. For instance, if a student makes a mistake use facial expressions
suggesting a problem and prompting them to immediately self correct. If they are
unaware of the mistake the teacher should repeat the sentence but pause before
or emphasise the incorrect word along with an inflection in the voice to show
it to be a question (e.g. my parents IS married?). If the student still does
not know the answer rephrase the answer as a question, comparing the incorrect
answer with the correct one (e.g. my parents IS married OR my parents ARE
married?). The learner will better remember how to avoid the mistake if they
have solved the problem themselves.
Realia would be key to the teaching of vocabulary. Using the
visual style I would directly associate words with images when teaching them.
This association means that students don’t need to translate from L1 to L2 as
they have learnt the word from an untranslatable image, as opposed to a word in
their native language. This allows learners to think in L2, greatly increasing
In a similar fashion I would use kinesics to associate words
and structures with movements (e.g. to throw etc), as is done in the Total
Physical Response (TPR) method, to avoid the need to translate from L1 to L2.
This also allows teachers to quickly check students’ memory and understanding
by asking them to repeat the action.
Depending on the students’ level either authentic or adapted
material will be used. Lower levels will only use adapted material as their
comprehension of the text is the most important focus. However, as the student progresses
authentic texts should be used as they can only attain native fluency if they
immerse themselves in the native language.
I would use a mix between drilling, role play activities,
games and debates. Drilling would be used more with lower levels to teach
essential structures and vocabulary (e.g. where are you from? Where is pizza
from? Where is Messi from? Etc). This rapid and intense drilling will commit
the information to memory, reducing the need to translate from L1 to L2. As the
students progress role play activities, games and debates are used more to
encourage greater Student Talk time (STT), which is essential for the
amelioration of their fluency.
I would not use tests to assess the students learning,
instead continuously evaluating the student’s ability through conversation.
Their progress will be evident through the improvement in their fluency,
accuracy and the increasingly advanced language that they use. Likewise any
difficulties that the students may encounter will be obvious from the mistakes
they make in conversation, either problems with pronunciation, grammatical
structures or linguistic concepts. I believe that this informal assessment will
create a more comfortable and less stressful learning environment as students
are not constantly worried about passing the next stage of the course. The
stress from tests is often a negative affective factor to the learning process.
Learning can also be improved by positive affective factors, such as continual
encouragement and a well light classroom.
The method and techniques will clearly change depending on
age. I have already gone through a lesson plan for adults but this must be adapted
for children and teenagers. Younger learners are hard to engage so more
pictures and fewer texts should be used to maintain their attention. On top of
this, young children generally enjoy physical activities to learn so more TPR
activities should be used. Just as activities should be adapted depending on
skill level, it equally must be adapted depending on age. Therefore, any
complex topic activities (e.g. about politics, economics etc) should be omitted
from the syllabus for younger learners.