James Crowdy

My teaching approach

James Crowdy

Assignment on how I would approach teaching English. An approach with a personal touch.
In this assignment I will explain why I think this approach would be the most beneficial to my students.

Many people first encountered learning languages other than then first through the education system. In my experience of studying French in school for five years, I found the teaching method to be uninspiring and unhelpful in my ability to use French in both a communicative and constructive way. I left school having very poor communicational skills in French and having only attained basic phrases and small knowledge of grammar. 

When it comes to teaching foreign languages there is an ever increasing amount of methods, all with different philosophies and preferences as to how best to teach. These methods take into account how students may learn and acquire the target language in the most successful way. This leads to many variation in teaching approaches and methods which is helpful to new teachers in that it gives them the ability to formulate their own way of teaching through awareness of these various methods. 
Students also have preferences as to how they best acquire new knowledge, some people are very sensitive to auditory styles, others visual and some to kinaesthetic styles. These considerations have been taken in to effect in various methods and has led to some very interesting and exciting teaching styles.

Methods of the past which are still used in many class rooms across the world focus more on studying the language rather than gaining competence in speaking. In the example of my experience in French lessons, more attention was given to reading and writing rather than ability to speak the language confidently. In many modern methods such as the Oxbridge system the philosophy is that once language is understood and can be spoken correctly it is easier for the students to be able to write and therefore read the second language. In order to explore my own views on teaching I have briefly explored and examined a selection below highlighting there most notable and differentiating features.

The Silent Way is a unique method to teaching which involves the teacher being silent and using props to relay messages. This allows the teacher to do more observation on the students and encourages group participation, opening the way for students to use their own initiative to self correct, giving space for their own understanding. Through the teacher observing more they can see how best to aid the students in their learning. This method can be empowering for the student however it lacks in development of listening and speaking skills, which are essential to good communication in the second language.

Grammar Translation Method focuses on written texts with an emphasis on reading and writing as this method assumes the position that literary language is far superior to spoken language. Speaking, listening and pronunciation are given little consideration and students are expected to give authority to the teacher, setting the roles in the learning environment very clear. This is an excellent method if the student is unconcerned with the ability to understand the spoken language and has no need to be able to communicate efficiently.

The Audio Lingual Method is an oral method and focuses on grammar patterns over vocabulary,
the goal being to learn how to communicate correctly with the target language. In this method the students often repeat together the subject matter that the teacher has outlined. In my opinion from what I have seen and in relation to the use of group repetition of language this method is not very exciting or engaging. This leads to the problem of students possibly losing focus due to boredom. 

Total physical Response resembles the way children learn their first language through listening, watching and imitating. Meaning in the target language is learnt through actions incorporating multi sensory processing of language, through visual, audio and kinaesthetic learning.
This method is taught in a fun way and is great for beginners, aspects could be incorporated to adult learns as well.

Suggestopia as a method looks to remove psychological barriers to learning by making learning fun. This method often uses music to accompany the teaching in order to set a fun mood working on conscious and subconscious learning. This conveys that learning is easy as the music takes the mind off the stress of trying to understand and remember the target language being taught.

Berlitz method know as the direct method, focuses on vocabulary over grammar, translation is not used and the teacher will aid learning by demonstration. Objects are used such as pictures to convey meaning and students learn real world conversations and usages relative to the students life.
The focus is on oral communication first following by reading and writing, pronunciation receives special attention from the start. This is a popular method well know to many self study students and is a very balanced approach.

The Communicative approach uses authentic language used in real context enabling communication in the classroom and not just as an object of study. Games are used as they relate to real communicative practice to exchange meaning. Mistakes are tolerated as they are seen as natural in the learning process, this features differs from many other approaches. There are many aspects of this method which are very attractive however generally it may best be suited to younger students or complete beginners.

Callan Method is notable for the pace of its class and the amount of communication used. The students attention is kept as there are no silences, communication is continuous with the teacher asking individuals questions randomly where by they don't know if they will be questioned next.
The speed and intensity of the class ensures the students are involved and don't have a chance to think in their mother tongue. The students learn fast as they are bombarded with the target language and thorough continual repetition attainment is gained. This method is very attractive to me as students appear to learn fast and the time is utilised very well through the pace of the class and the amount of conversation. I do feel however that this method could be to intense for some people and so would advice it in relation to an individuals personality and reasons for studying a second language.

The Oxbridge System is an amalgamation of many other methods, pens are not used and neither is translation. The teacher guides the class and communicates in an encouraging down to earth way creating a friendly atmosphere as an equal rather than an authoritarian figure. This method is highly focused on communicative competence which is the first step in being able to use the language effectively. I feel this method incorporates many of the best aspects which are utilised in many of the other methods and so believe this to be an effective and result producing system.

These methods all have different aims in what they are trying to inspire the students to learn and so the motivations and requirements of the student need to be taken into account if they want to choose a method best suited for their needs. The Grammar translation method for example may best be suited for some one who is not concerned with speaking the target language and may only be studying in order to read literature in the TL. Through considering what I have learnt from the other methods I believe many aspects of each can be incorporated but in relation to specific tasks. For example when teaching complete beginners I would consider incorporating total physical response methods in my teaching. As a general method I would be following aspects of the Oxbridge method and also the direct method, as I believe speaking only in English is essential and using questions to inspire students to think in English is highly effective. The Silent method however does not inspire me and therefore I could not inspire students with this methodology.

I would aim to teach in a very clear and focused way with a goal in mind for every activity, utilising preparation to create order and fluidity in my teaching. To generate good understanding of the second language in students the balance between receptive and productive skills is essential and no aspect can be ignored. I would focus firstly on listening and speaking which I feel is fundamental in beginning second language acquisition, later introducing vocabulary and grammar concepts in line with understanding. Reading and writing I would ensure went along side the students understanding and speaking ability in order to reinforce the L2 attainment. Consideration of students difficulties such as pronunciation and effects of interlanguage would be considered with empathy and in order to over come these difficulties I would break it down. Starting with explaining movement of the mouth and tongue when using pronunciation. Continuous support and guidance in relation to the effects of the interlanguage will be overcome with continued awareness of grammar and sentence structures in L2.

All students have different reasons for wanting to learn a second language and this can effect their motivations. If a student was unmotivated I would look to reverse this trend by ensuring the student was having fun, understood the benefits of gaining a second language and relaying the increase in confidence to be attained as self esteem is boosted when learning new skills.
Involvement of all student will be a given in ensuring successful teaching and delivery of the class in a relaxed non authoritarian way helping the learning process to be engaging and fun. The syllabus will be progressive working with repetition and continuous concept checking through out, to gage and confirm students understanding. I feel that awareness of teacher talking time in relation to student talking time is essential and knowledge there of will be utilised. As the teacher knows the language already it is a priority that students should be talking more so as to develop their competence in speaking and understanding, which will encourage thinking in the second language. 

As a way of delivering target language I would be sure to use authentic material to expose students to various ways of using the language and the different types of language used in different mediums such as adverts, newspapers and literature. Tools such as white boards and computers take away the human element and also take the teachers attention away from the students and so I would only incorporate these tool on a rare occasion if I felt it could enhance my class. Above all the attitude of the teacher is highly important and I would like to come across as an engaging, positive and a well informed teacher encouraging students and giving praise where its due.

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